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25 Amazing Food Cures

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1. BE MORE POSITIVE
Dark Chocolate
Research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and increase the flow of blood to the brain. It also boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with improved mood and greater concentration. Look for chocolate that is 60 percent cocoa or higher.

2. REDUCE ANXIETY
Garlic
Tuck a few extra cloves into your next stir-fry or pasta sauce: Research has found that enzymes in garlic can help increase the release of serotonin, a neurochemical that makes you feel relaxed.

3. FIRE UP YOUR MORNING METABOLISM
Caffeinated Coffee
A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over those who drank decaf. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing. (Want to know what else coffee is good for? Read 25 Best Nutrition Secrets Ever to find out.)

4. FIRE UP YOUR EVENING METABOLISM
Chile Peppers
It turns out that capsaicin, the compound that gives chile peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also jumpstart your fat-burning, muscle-building engines. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, eating 1 tablespoon of chopped red or green chiles boosts metabolism by 23 percent.

Fried Eggs5. LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
Fried Eggs
Go ahead, crack under pressure: Eating fried eggs may help reduce high blood pressure. In a test-tube study, scientists in Canada discovered that the breakfast standby produced the highest levels of ACE inhibitory peptides, amino acids that dilate blood vessels and allow blood to flow more easily. (For up-to-the-minute tips like these, be sure to follow me on Twitter here. You can lose weight effortlessly and look, feel and live better than ever!)

6. REDUCE STRESS
Gum
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at work, reach for the Wrigley’s: Chewing gum can help tame your tension, according to Australian researchers. People who chewed gum while taking multitasking tests experienced a 17 percent drop in self-reported stress. This might have to do with the fact that we associate chewing with positive social interactions, like mealtimes.

7. STAVE OFF DEPRESSION
Salmon

Omega-3s may calm your neurotic side, according to a study in the journalPsychosomatic Medicine. Researchers found that adults with the lowest blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were more likely to have neuroses, which are symptoms for depression. Salmon is loaded with EPA and DHA, as are walnuts, flaxseeds, and even cauliflower.

8. SPEED WEIGHT LOSS
Yogurt
The probiotics in yogurt may help you drop pounds. British scientists found that these active organisms boost the breakdown of fat molecules in mice, preventing the rodents from gaining weight. Try the Horizon brand of yogurt—it contains the probiotic L. casei, the same organism used in the study.

Bonus Tip: Don't let all of your hard work go down the drain: Avoid this shocking list of the 20 Scariest Food Creations of 2010!

9. AMP UP YOUR ENERGY
Grilled Chicken Breast
The protein in lean meat like chicken, fish, or pork loin isn't just good at squashing hunger and boosting metabolism—it's also a top source of energy. University of Illinois researchers found that people who ate higher amounts of protein had higher energy levels and didn't feel as tired as people with proportionally higher amounts of carbs in their diet.

Kidney Beans10. BE MORE EFFICIENT
Kidney Beans
These legumes are an excellent source of thiamin and riboflavin. Both vitamins help your body use energy efficiently, so you won't be nodding off mid-Powerpoint.

11. STABILIZE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Barley
Swedish researchers found that if you eat barley—a key ingredient in whole-grain cereals—for breakfast, the fibrous grain cuts blood sugar response by 44 percent at lunch and 14 percent at dinner.

12. IMPROVE YOUR ENDURANCE
Clams
Clams stock your body with magnesium, which is important in metabolism, nerve function, and muscle function. When magnesium levels are low, your body produces more lactic acid—the same fatigue-inducing substance that you feel at the end of a long workout.

13. BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY
Rooibos Tea
Animal research suggests that this South African tea, also known as bush or redbush tea, may provide potent immunity-boosting benefits. In addition, Japanese researchers found that it may help prevent allergies and even cancer. Adagio offers a wide range of great-tasting rooibos teas.

14. STOP COUGHING
Honey
Penn State scientists have discovered that honey is a powerful cough suppressant—so next time you¹re hacking up a lung, head for the kitchen. When parents of 105 sick children doled out honey or dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines like Robitussin), the honey was better at lessening cough frequency and severity. Try a drizzle in a cup of rooibos tea.

Kiwi15.TAME A COLD
Kiwi
The vitamin C in kiwi won¹t prevent the onslaught of a cold, but it might decrease theduration of your symptoms. One kiwifruit provides 117 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.

16. SOOTHE A MIGRAINE
Olives
Foods rich in healthy monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation, a catalyst for migraines. One study found that the anti-inflammatory compounds in olive oil suppress the enzymes involved in inflammation in the same manner as ibuprofen. Avocados and almonds are also high in monounsaturated fats.

17. LOWER YOUR CHOLESTEROL
Margarine
Not just any margarine, mind you—those containing plant sterols. In a Tufts University study, people who ate a butter substitute containing plant sterols with three meals each day saw their LDL (bad) cholesterol drop by 6 percent. How? The researchers say that plant sterols prevent cholesterol from being absorbed by the intestine. Promise Active and Smart Balance HeartRight are two great options.

18. REPAIR MUSCLE
Spinach
Popeye was onto something, it seems. Rutgers researchers discovered that treating human muscle cells with a compound found in spinach increased protein synthesis by 20 percent. The compound allows muscle tissue to repair itself faster, the researchers say. One thing to keep in mind, however: Spinach doesn't automatically make any salad a healthy option. Check out 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper to see what I mean. You'll be absolutely shocked!

19. RECOVER FROM A WORKOUT
Green Tea
Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of the beverage every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise. That means that green tea can help you recover faster after an intense workout.

Chocolate Milk20. REPLENISH YOUR BODY POST-WORKOUT
Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
Nothing like a little dessert after a long workout. British researchers found that low-fat chocolate milk does a better job than sports drinks at replenishing the body after a workout. Why? Because it has more electrolytes and higher fat content. And scientists at James Madison University found that the balance of fat, protein, and carbs in chocolate milk makes it nearly one-third more effective at replenishing muscles than other recovery beverages.

Bonus Tip: Sign up for the FREE Eat This, Not That! e-mail newsletter, and get super nutrition and weight-loss tips like these delivered straight to your inbox.

21. IMPROVE FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
Sardines
According to research published in Nutrition Journal, fish oil can help increase your ability to concentrate. Credit EPA and DHA, fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. Salmon, trout, halibut, and tuna are also great sources of EPA and DHA.

22. AVOID ALZHEIMER¹S DISEASE
Bananas
The antioxidants in bananas, apples, and oranges may help protect you from Alzheimer's, report Korean scientists. The researchers discovered that plant chemicals known as polyphenols helped shield brain cells from oxidative stress, a key cause of the disease.

23. PROTECT YOUR BRAIN
Steak
Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient found in meat, milk, and fish, may help protect you against brain loss, say British scientists. The researchers found that older people with the highest blood levels of the vitamin were six times less likely to have brain shrinkage than those with the lowest levels.

24. BUILD LONG-LASTING BRAINPOWER
Carrots
Researchers from Harvard found that men who consumed more beta-carotene over 18 years had significantly delayed cognitive aging. Carrots are a tremendous source of the antioxidant, as are other orange foods like butternut squash, pumpkin, and bell peppers.

25. SHARPEN YOUR SENSES
Ground Flaxseed
Flax is the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle 1 tablespoon flaxseed on salads or oatmeal once a day, or mix it into a smoothie or shake.

17 Ways to Safeguard Your Heart

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Meet Dr. Goldberg

Meet Dr. Goldberg

Twenty years ago, when Nieca Goldberg was in medical school, heart disease was known as a “man’s disease”―something most apt to befall a 55-year-old businessman. Today the disease is the number one killer of U.S. women, claiming nearly 500,000 lives annually. Goldberg, now 50, devotes her career to helping fellow females protect their hearts at Total Heart Care, her practice in New York City. She also teaches the science of heart health as a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University. But the doctor doesn’t have to look to research for evidence that diet, exercise, and stress management can prevent future problems. Even though she has a family history of heart disease, her habits have kept her health in check. “Making consistent, small, smart choices can have a huge effect,” says Goldberg. To find out how to care for your heart for the long haul, learn from this doctor’s daily practices.


Start With Breakfast

Have a low-cholesterol breakfast. Every morning Goldberg and her husband eat breakfast together. “I have a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal, like Kashi GoLean, with low-fat milk and antioxidant-rich blueberries,” she says. Fiber is filling, and the soluble form―found in oatmeal, beans, fruits, vegetables, and this cereal―can lower cholesterol. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day.

Take a supplement, if necessary. “A healthy diet is still the best way to get your nutrients,” says Goldberg. “A bag of chips washed down with a vitamin isn’t a good solution.” However, she does suggest taking an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement daily if you don’t eat fish regularly. Choose one with the two forms of the acids that aid the heart: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Or twice a week set a goal for having two to three servings of natural omega-3 sources, like a small handful of walnuts or a 3 1/2-ounce portion of salmon. (For those with high triglyceride levels, she recommends prescription-strength omega-3s.)

Related: Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Be honest with your doctors. Goldberg implores patients to see her as a nonjudgmental confidante. “I’ve had people on cholesterol-lowering drugs neglect to take them and not tell me. So I then check their blood and consider increasing their dosage unnecessarily,” she says. “No one should ever be embarrassed when it comes to their health. Your doctors can give you the best help only when they really know all the information.”

Take baby aspirin, if needed. For those people who are at high risk for heart disease, who have it, or who are over the age of 65, Goldberg often suggests taking a daily baby aspirin (81 milligrams). “I tell many of my patients to take one,” she says. “This is a cheap and effective prevention strategy.”

Photo by: Tara Donne

Start With Breakfast

Have a low-cholesterol breakfast. Every morning Goldberg and her husband eat breakfast together. “I have a bowl of high-fiber, low-sugar cereal, like Kashi GoLean, with low-fat milk and antioxidant-rich blueberries,” she says. Fiber is filling, and the soluble form―found in oatmeal, beans, fruits, vegetables, and this cereal―can lower cholesterol. Aim for 25 grams of fiber a day.

Take a supplement, if necessary. “A healthy diet is still the best way to get your nutrients,” says Goldberg. “A bag of chips washed down with a vitamin isn’t a good solution.” However, she does suggest taking an omega-3 fatty-acid supplement daily if you don’t eat fish regularly. Choose one with the two forms of the acids that aid the heart: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Or twice a week set a goal for having two to three servings of natural omega-3 sources, like a small handful of walnuts or a 3 1/2-ounce portion of salmon. (For those with high triglyceride levels, she recommends prescription-strength omega-3s.)

Related: Fast, Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Be honest with your doctors. Goldberg implores patients to see her as a nonjudgmental confidante. “I’ve had people on cholesterol-lowering drugs neglect to take them and not tell me. So I then check their blood and consider increasing their dosage unnecessarily,” she says. “No one should ever be embarrassed when it comes to their health. Your doctors can give you the best help only when they really know all the information.”

Take baby aspirin, if needed. For those people who are at high risk for heart disease, who have it, or who are over the age of 65, Goldberg often suggests taking a daily baby aspirin (81 milligrams). “I tell many of my patients to take one,” she says. “This is a cheap and effective prevention strategy.”


Cut Back Where Needed

Drink caffeine conservatively. The doctor enjoys a mug of coffee but tells anyone prone to heart palpitations to keep their caffeine intake to less than 300 milligrams a day, which is the equivalent of two to three cups. Or consider an alternative, like green tea, which has less caffeine but is rich in antioxidants that can improve the flexibility of your arteries, which may help prevent plaque from building up in them.

Eat sweets sparingly. A 2008 study found that women with elevated blood-sugar levels had a risk of developing coronary heart disease similar to that of women with full-blown diabetes. “If you want dessert, make it one that has heart benefits, like dark chocolate,” Goldberg says. “Have a small piece made with 70 percent cocoa so it’s high in antioxidants.”

Related: Keeping Tabs on Your Caffeine Intake

Tweak family recipes. Instead of frying foods, the doctor bakes or grills, and she uses whole-grain pasta and brown rice in lieu of basic white. She makes healthier versions of the things she grew up eating and incorporates fresh vegetables into them whenever possible: “When I make my mom’s chicken soup, I toss in a bag of baby carrots or use a mandoline to quickly slice and add antioxidant-rich onions or scallions.”

Make small changes. (They work.) Goldberg had a patient who smoked, didn’t exercise, and had a family history of heart disease. She prescribed statins to help reduce the patient’s cholesterol while the patient slowly cut down on smoking and started exercising more and eating better. Within a few months, Goldberg was able to lower the patient’s medication, since the patient’s modest efforts had made a huge impact. “Your health is not pass/fail. Just having risk factors does not mean you’re doomed,” Goldberg says.

Watch Your Diet

Stick with fresh foods. “Almost nothing in my meals comes from a package,” Goldberg says. “I snack on fresh fruits, especially clementines and peaches, and vegetables. I also like dried fruit, like unsweetened apricot slices, because it’s easy to pack and eat on the go.” In addition, Goldberg has at least one vegetable-laden salad a day. The base is dark greens, such as spinach, which she tops with lean grilled chicken or egg whites. She throws in lycopene-rich tomatoes and orange and red peppers for their antioxidants. “At a salad bar, I avoid anything glistening or creamy looking,” she says. “Two clues that they’ve got a lot of artery-clogging fat.”

Related: How to Break Bad Eating Habits

Snack smartly. “I have a handful of almonds or walnuts when I get home or while cooking dinner,” says Goldberg. “This prevents me from overeating at night.” The walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids, and almonds contain arginine, which helps keep arteries strong.

Try a Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have a 50 to 70 percent lower risk of recurrent heart disease, and those who get at least five servings of vegetables a day have about a 25 percent lower risk of a heart attack. So Goldberg consumes plenty of fish, grains, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. “I think this is a great nonfad diet. Most people who start it usually stay with it,” she says. “It’s tasty and easy to live with.” Indeed, her copy of The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is well-worn.


Do a Little More (or Less)

Go with red wine. “I’m actually allergic to alcohol, so I don’t drink. But if you like to, opt for wine, and limit it to one glass a day,” Goldberg says. Red, in particular, has a high concentration of the antioxidant resveratrol, which can help maintain blood vessels’ health. “But grape juice has the same benefits―something wine lovers don’t always want to hear,” she adds.

Throw salt overboard. Since excess salt can increase blood pressure, Goldberg tells her patients to keep their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day, which many people hit from processed foods alone. “Simply remove the salt shaker from the table,” she says. “One of the best substitutes is chopped chives. Sprinkle a few teaspoons on soups, salads, or pasta for a salty kick.”

Related: Shake Your Sodium Habit

Do better than butter. Goldberg occasionally uses a spread, like Benecol or Smart Balance, on bread. Both have plant-derived stanol esters, which can help lower bad cholesterol. “The labels tout this, but don’t think of these products as medicine,” she says. “You certainly don’t want to ingest the amount it would take to make them work that way. They’re just better choices than butter or margarine.”


Stick to a Routine

Make exercise nonnegotiable. Goldberg works out five times a week, alternating between personal-training sessions, Spinning classes, and a little Pilates. “I wouldn’t miss an appointment with a patient, and I don’t cancel my appointment to exercise, either,” she says. “It makes me feel so good afterward, and it keeps my cholesterol and blood pressure under control.”

Related: The Secret of a Better Workout

Take stress seriously. Constant stress can lead to elevated levels of adrenaline and the hormone cortisol, which makes arteries more vulnerable to plaque. “For me, reducing stress is all about saying no and planning alone time,” Goldberg says. To unwind, she watches the Food Network, schedules a manicure, and recently instituted “no e-mail” weekends.

Sack out early. Studies show that people who get less than seven hours of shut-eye a night can have higher blood pressure. Lack of sleep also leads to higher levels of cortisol and even weight gain. “I go to bed around 10:30 each night and wake up most mornings at 6:20,” says Goldberg.

25 Best Nutrition Secrets

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1. Drink a second cup of coffee. It might lower your risk of adult-onset diabetes, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

2. Keep serving dishes off the table.Researchers have found that when people are served individual plates, as opposed to empty plates with a platter of food in the middle of the table, they eat up to 35 percent less!

3. Think before you drink. The average person drinks more than 400 calories a day--double what he or she used to--and alone gets around 10 teaspoons of added sugar every single day from soft drinks. Swap out sweetened teas and sodas for no-cal drinks and you could lose up to 40 pounds in a single year! (To see more proof of how wayward beverages can utterly destroy your diet, check out the 20 Worst Drinks in America. Many of these drinks contain more than a day's worth of calories, sugar and fat!)

4. Practice total recall. British scientists found that people who thought about their last meal before snacking ate 30 percent fewer calories that those who didn't stop to think. The theory: Remembering what you had for lunch might remind you of how satiating the food was, which then makes you less likely to binge on your afternoon snack.

5. Eat protein at every meal. Dieters who eat the most protein tend to lose more weight while feeling less deprived than those who eat the least protein. It appears that protein is the best nutrient for jumpstarting your metabolism, squashing your appetite, and helping you eat less at subsequent meals.

Protein

6. Choose whole-grain bread. Eating whole grains (versus refined-grain or white bread) has been linked to lower risks of cancer andheart disease.

7. Think fish. Consuming two 4- to 6-ounce servings of oily fish a week will sharpen your mind. Among the best: salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, and trout. They're high in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. Study participants who had high blood levels of DHA also performed better on noverbal reasoning tests and showed better mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary than those with lower levels.

8. Sign up for weight-loss e-mails. Daily e-mails (or tweets) that contain weight-loss advice remind you of your goals and help you drop pounds, researchers from Canada found. We're partial to our own Eat This, Not That! newsletter, and to the instant weight-loss secrets you'll get when you follow me on Twitter here.

9. Cut portions by a quarter. Pennsylvania State University researchers discovered that by simply reducing meal portions 25 percent, people ate 10 percent fewer calories—without feeling any hungrier. Serving yourself? Think about what looks like a reasonable portion, then take at least one-quarter less than that. (By the way, studies show today's restaurant servings are 2 to 5 times bigger than what the government recommends!)

10. Turn off the TV. Scientists at the University of Massachusetts found that people who watch TV during a meal consume, on average, 288 more calories than those who don't eat with the tube on.

11. Put your fork down when you chew. Or take a sip of water between each bite—eating slowly can boost levels of two hormones that make you feel fuller, Greek researchers found.

12. Choose rye (not wheat) bread for breakfast toast. Swedish researchers found that rye eaters were more full 8 hours after breakfast than wheat-bread eaters, thanks to rye's high fiber content and minimal effect on blood sugar. As a result you'll want to snack less and eat less for lunch.Veggies

13. Eat a handful of fruit and vegetables a day. In one study, people who ate four or five servings scored higher on cognitive tests than those who consumed less than one serving. (Remember: Salad isn't always the healthy choice. Check out20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper to see what I mean. You'll be shocked.)

14. Sip green tea. It might help you build a strong skeleton, say researchers in China, and help protect you from broken bones when you're older. And one study found that it helps fight bad breath, too.

15. Work out before lunch or dinner. Doing so will make the meals you eat right afterward more filling, according to British researchers—meaning you'll eat fewer calories throughout the day.

16. Hung over? Choose asparagus. When South Korean researchers exposed a group of human liver cells to asparagus extract, it suppressed free radicals and more than doubled the activity of two enzymes that metabolize alcohol. That means you'll feel like yourself again twice as quickly.

17. Sleep 8 hours a night. Too much or too little shut-eye can add extra pounds, say Wake Forest University researchers. Not there yet? Try these 7 simple strategies for longer, deeper sleep.

Miso Soup18 Discover miso soup. Brown wakame seaweed (used in miso soup) can help lower your blood pressure, especially if your levels are already high, say researchers at the University of North Carolina.

19. Drink two glasses of milk daily.People who drink the most milk have about a 16 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who drink the least. (I recommend nonfat or 1 percent milk.)

20. Take a zinc supplement. Just 15 milligrams of zinc a day (the amount found in a Centrum Ultra multivitamin, for example) will motivate your immune cells to produce more of a protein that fights off bacterial infections.

21. Go ahead, eat your favorite foods. Good eating doesn't need to be about deprivation—it's about making smart choices. Why eat a 1,000-calorie cheeseburger if a 500-calorie burger will satisfy you just the same? The bottom line: Eat foods that you enjoy, just not too much of them.

22. Choose foods with the fewest ingredients. There are now more than 3,000 ingredients on the FDA's list of safe food additives—and any of these preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colorings and flavor enhancers could end up on your plate. Do you really know what these chemicals will do to your waistline or health? Of course not. Here's a rule of thumb: If a 7-year-old can't pronounce it, you don't want to eat it.

23. Snack on popcorn. In a 2009 study, people who ate 1 cup of microwave popcorn 30 minutes before lunch consumed 105 fewer calories at the meal. Just choose the kind without butter.

24. Or snack on walnuts. Eating a handful of walnuts each day may boost your HDL (good) cholesterol fastest, while lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol.

25. ScrambleEggs your breakfast.People who ate eggs in the morning instead of a bagel consumed 264 fewer calories the rest of the day, according to a Saint Louis University study. That’s because protein is more filling than carbs.

Bonus Tip: Don't let all of your hard work go down the drain: Avoid this shocking list of the 20 Scariest Food Creations of 2010!