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Top Foods To Cure What Ails You

What to Eat to Fend Off a Cold

White Button Mushrooms – Foodies rave about exotic mushroom types, but the common white button variety could be your key to a cold-free winter, suggests research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. They contain polysaccharides, which activate natural killer cells that destroy cold- and flu-causing viruses, says Dayong Wu, PhD, a scientist at the center.

Salmon – Three ounces of salmon can supply nearly 800 IUs of vitamin D, close to the amount that some experts recommend you get each day. That’s a good defense against sniffles: Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver found that people with low levels of D had significantly more colds. Without enough of this crucial nutrient, your body can’t produce antimicrobial proteins called cathelicidins, which destroy bacteria and viruses, according to lead study author Adit Ginde, MD.

Sunflower Seeds – This healthy snack is packed with vitamin E, which has been shown to boost the activity level of the body’s infection-fighting T cells. That may be why scientists at the Center on Aging found that this nutrient lowers the risk of getting a cold by 20 percent.

Yogurt – People who ate two cups of yogurt a day for four months had four times the gamma interferon, a natural substance that fights viral and bacterial infections, than those who skipped the calcium-rich food, a University of California Davis School of Medicine study reveals. The key: Choosing yogurt with live active cultures.

What to Eat to Beat Stress

Shrimp – Omega-3 fatty acids in shellfish may boost your mood by reducing stress hormones, like cortisol. People who ate three to four ounces a day lowered their risk of anxiety, depression, and stress by 30 percent, according to a study from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain.

Curry – The curcumin in turmeric — a spice in curry — lowers stress levels by inhibiting cortisol secretion, says a study conducted in China.

Milk – In a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who ate four or more servings of calcium a day had a 30 percent lower risk of PMS symptoms like anxiety and irritability.

Pistachios – Eating one and a half to three ounces of pistachios daily can lower blood pressure when you’re faced with a mental challenge by relaxing blood vessels, say researchers at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

Red Bell Pepper – Vitamin C, which is abundant in these peppers, lowers stress by limiting cortisol production and stimulates the release of oxytocin, a feel-good chemical. When researchers at the University of Trier in Germany subjected people to the anxiety of public speaking, those who took 3,000 milligrams of C felt calmer and their blood pressure returned to normal faster than those who skipped C.

What to Eat to Soothe Stomach Pain

Yogurt –In a study at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who ate two 4.4-ounce servings of Activia yogurt daily for a month saw up to a 78 percent decrease in bloating. The yogurt contains probiotics — good bacteria that help restore normal stomach and intestinal functioning.

Fennel – Anethole, a substance in fennel leaves, seeds, and oil, is known to alleviate stomach cramping. It even helps colicky babies, says research from St. Petersburg Medical Academy of Postdoctoral Education in Russia.

Ginger – Studies show that this root quashes nausea from motion sickness, morning sickness, and even chemotherapy by 30 percent. This may be because ginger reduces inflammation in the stomach, according to study author Julie Ryan, PhD.

Peppermint Oil – Seventy-five percent of IBS patients had 50 percent fewer symptoms after taking two capsules containing 225 milligrams of peppermint oil twice a day for four weeks, say researchers at G. d’Annunzio University in Italy. The menthol in peppermint appears to soothe irritated intestinal muscles.

Raspberries – Fiber, which is found in oats, vegetables, and fruits like raspberries, was more effective than a placebo in taming symptoms of IBS, according to a review of studies at McMaster University in Canada.

Head Off Headaches

Snapper – The omega-3s in fish are great for your head. Almost 90 percent of people who got migraines reported fewer of the headaches after taking two grams of omega-3 concentrate daily, according to a Brown University School of Medicine study. “Fish and fish oil lower the production of a prostaglandin, a chemical that causes inflammation and pain,” says researcher Zeev Harel, MD.

Black Beans – Beans contain riboflavin, a nutrient that has been found to reduce the number of headache days by at least 50 percent in more than half of sufferers, say researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium.

Cayenne Pepper – The compound that gives cayenne its heat, capsaicin, can ease cluster headaches (which typically affect one side of the head and occur several days in a row), probably by destroying a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. Although people who get cluster headaches often inhale capsaicin through a nasal spray, try adding cayenne to your cooking.

Quinoa – Magnesium, often deficient in migraine sufferers, is plentiful in this grain. “The mineral relaxes blood vessels and normalizes serotonin receptors,” explains Alexander Mauskop, MD, director of the New York Headache Center in New York City. In one German study, patients taking 600 milligrams of magnesium daily saw their headache frequency plummet by more than 40 percent.

Source:  http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/what-to-eat-to-cure-anything/?sssdmh=dm17.619475&esrc=nwfitdailytip092912

 

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Fish: Wild or Farmed?

Fish farms

Fish farms (Photo credit: mattroyal)

These days, an increasing number of health-conscious consumers are choosing to eat fish for its heart-healthy benefits. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat fish twice a week to meet their needs for omega-3 fatty acids, but how do you know if the fish you’re eating is beneficial?

There are many factors to consider when choosing which fish to eat, two of which include species (the type of fish, such as halibut, salmon, etc.) and source (where the fish was raised or caught). These aren’t simple decisions when you consider that the nutritional value of fish varies from species to species, and that each source carries a different potential for contamination, nutrition and environmental impact.

There are millions of fish species, but only a handful are popular for eating and even fewer are considered healthy choices. To choose which species to eat, consider first its fatty acid profile. Fish that live in dark, cold waters naturally contain higher levels of Omega-3’s. The fish richest in omega-3s are cold water fatty fish like salmon, rainbow trout, anchovies, sardines, bass, herring, and tuna.

Next, consider the source. There are two categories of sources of fish: farmed or wild. Each method has its own list of pros and cons, which every consumer will have to weigh to make the best decision for his or her own health and priorities.

Farmed Fish
Fish farming, or aquaculture, means that the fish are raised in floating net pens near the ocean shore. Another name for this method is “ocean raised.”

Pros of Farmed Fish

  • Price: Farmed fish are often cheaper and more readily available than wild fish.
  • Controlled diet: Some farmed fish can have higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than wild fish. This is because fish farmers can better control the diets of the fish they raise—making sure that their fish eat more feed that is converted into Omega-3s than a fish might normally eat in the wild. However, there is really no way for consumers to gauge the amount of Omega-3’s in one piece of fish versus another.
  • Ecology: When fish are farmed, there is a lower danger of overfishing (or depleting) the population of wild fish.

Cons of Farmed Fish

  • Contamination: Farmed fish usually contain more contaminants. Farmed fish are fed processed pellets, often made from processed anchovies, sardines and other small fish. Unfortunately, the types of fish used to make the pellets are usually caught in the polluted waters closer to shore and are often contaminated with industrial chemicals. As a result, farmed fish tends to have much higher levels of chemical contaminants that may cause cancer, memory problems, and neurobehavioral changes in children. Farmed salmon, for example, has been found to contain seven times more PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and pesticides than wild salmon. Consumers can reduce the amount of contaminants in farmed salmon by almost half by grilling or broiling it so that the juices drip off, cooking it until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit and removing the skin before eating.
  • Antibiotics: Besides being prone to industrial contamination, farmed fish are more subject to disease, which spreads quickly throughout the entire pen. Sick fish can escape into surrounding open water and spread disease to wild fish populations. To control disease, farmed fish are often given antibiotics to prevent the whole group from becoming ill. Research has shown that farmed salmon, for example, are administered more antibiotics by weight than any other type of livestock.
  • Lower Omega-3’s: While farmed fish can be fed an enhanced diet to increase its Omega-3’s, there is no way for consumers to know whether one piece of fish contains more healthy fats than another. According to research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutritionfarmed salmon contains two or three times fewer Omega-3’s even though it contains more overall fat than wild salmon due to its grain-based diet. The same is is true for other popular farmed fish, such as catfish and tilapia.

Wild-Caught fish
Wild fish, in contrast to farmed, live in open waters and eat a natural diet. Fishermen catch wild fish on open waters, their natural habitat.

Pros of Wild Fish

  • Flavor: Many people prefer the taste of wild fish. Farmed fish do not have as much room to move as their wild counterparts, which reduces the amount of muscle they can develop and affects texture and taste.
  • Appearance: Wild salmon is naturally bright in color due to its food source (krill and other small sea creatures), while farmed salmon is grayish in color and dyes must be added to bring the flesh to an appealing shade.
  • Nutrition: Wild fish are usually healthier (higher in Omega-3s) and less contaminated than farmed fish.

Cons of Wild Fish

  • Overfishing: Most marine biologists agree that there will not be enough wild-captured fish available to meet the growing demand, and many fisheries do not catch wild fish in a sustainable way. Overfishing can deplete certain species of fish, which affects the ecosystem at large.
  • Price: Fresh wild fish is sometimes hard to find and usually more expensive than farmed fish.
  • Distance traveled: Unfortunately, not every fish lover lives on the coast or near a fishery. An Alaskan salmon, for example, must be shipped thousands of miles to reach a grocery store near you. The shipping of fish all over the world uses fossil fuels and pollutes the environment.

Although there are established health advantages to eating fatty fish, the risks of contaminants can’t be ignored either. All fish, wild or farmed, must adhere to FDA limits for PCB content and mercury levels, but some fish may measure in just below that cutoff. This content can build up in the body over time and cause problems later. However, many scientists believe that the heart-healthy benefits of consuming fish outweigh the risk, especially for older adults who may have already had a heart attack. But younger consumers, especially woman who may become pregnant and have a lifetime of exposure to these pollutants ahead of them, may wish to limit the amount of farmed fish they eat.

Only you can decide whether the cardiovascular benefits of fish outweigh the possible safety, nutritional or environmental issues associated with the type of fish you eat. If you eat fish regularly, ask about its source when ordering at a restaurant and read labels for origin when shopping at the supermarket.

No matter what type of fish or seafood you choose, SparkPeople Dietitian Becky Hand offers these top 5 tips for adults* to enjoy healthy fish:

  1. Make seafood a priority. Enjoy fish or seafood at least twice per week.
  2. Be adventurous. Try various types of seafood that you enjoy.
  3. Reel in fatty fish such as salmon and trout. These offer the most health benefits. If you enjoy lean fish such as tilapia and catfish, think about adding another serving of fatty fish to your weekly dinner menu to make up for it.
  4. Don’t skimp on lean fish. They’re healthy, too! Aside from being low in fat and calories, lean fish and shellfish are also loaded with micronutrients that are necessary for good health. For example, tilapia is high in selenium; clams are high in iron; and oysters are high in zinc.
  5. Prepare fish properly. Use low-fat cooking techniques such as broiling, baking, stir-frying, and sautéing. Avoid fried fish and highly processed fish foods such as fish sticks. Season with herbs, spices, marinades and rubs.

*These fish guidelines apply to adults who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Seafood guidelines are different for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Editor’s Note: For more information on a variety of fish, sushi and seafood, including printable pocket-size reference guides, visit: www.MontereyBayAquarium.org or the Washington State Department of Health.

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople nutrition expert, Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.

 
 

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