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Saturday
Aug282010

Vitamin E and Alzheimer's

Vitamin E may help you keep your wits about you as you get older. That's the conclusion of a new study from Sweden that looked at vitamin E levels in a group of 232 men and women all of whom were above the age of 80. Investigators measured blood levels of all eight components of natural vitamin E in each volunteer at the beginning of the study. None of the participants showed any sign of dementia at the time, but after six years, 57 of them had developed Alzheimer's. When the researchers checked vitamin E levels they found that those with the higher levels of all vitamin E components had a reduced risk of Alzheimer's compared to those with lower levels. Study leader Francesca Mangialasche, M.D., said that the protective effect seems to be related to the combination of the different forms of vitamin E and suggested that "the balanced presence of different vitamin E forms can have an important neuroprotective effect." The study was published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

More on vitamin E.

Friday
Aug272010

How To: Cooking with Grapeseed Oil

While canola oil may have the lowest amount of saturated fat, and olive oil more monounsaturated fats, grapeseed oil is still a useful addition to a healthy kitchen. Pressed from the tiny seeds of grapes, grapeseed oil is a good choice for salad dressings - it has a neutral taste, though some brands may have a slight grape flavor or aroma. It is also ideal for use as a cooking oil, especially for high-temperature cooking such as sautéing or stir-frying, since it can be heated to higher temperatures than canola oil before it starts to smoke. Try it out and see if you like it - look for an organic brand, store in a cool, dark place and don't buy more than you can use up in a month or so.

Feel free to substitute grapeseed oil for olive oil in any of the salad/dressing recipes in my Healthy Kitchen.

Thursday
Aug262010

4 Steps to Pretty Summer Feet

A "corn" is the layman's term for a thickening and hardening of the skin's surface layer with a deep-seated core or nucleation. These callous growths can cause pain or discomfort when standing, walking or running, and are often the result of wearing shoes that do not fit properly. A corn generally appears wherever there is continuous pressure or friction on the foot. If you have corns, make sure your shoes fit properly and avoid wearing socks or stockings that bind your feet too tightly. To deal with the irritation that corns can cause, try the following:

  1. Use a pumice stone to reduce the thickness of a corn. Soak your feet prior to using it so that the corn is soft when you rub it.
  2. Use moleskin or other non-medicated pads to reduce the pressure and pain.
  3. Discard ill-fitting footwear and find products that offer both good support and a proper fit.
  4. Consider using an over-the-counter corn-removal solution. Apply with caution, as they often contain acids. Never use these solutions if you're diabetic or have any problem with circulation in the feet.

If the remedies above don’t help, see a podiatrist or other health-care professional who treats foot problems.

In the summer, flip-flops are a common footwear choice that, like ill-fitting shoes, can cause problems with your feet. Here's my opinion on flip-flops.

Wednesday
Aug252010

Best Frame of Mind for Food Shopping

We all know it's not a good idea to go food shopping when you're hungry, and new research suggests that you probably should avoid the supermarket when you've been drinking, right after exercising, or if you're involved in intense negotiations. Investigators at Indiana University and the University of Houston have concluded that the arousal involved in these activities may interfere with the ability to resist temptation. To demonstrate the influence of arousal, the researchers asked one group of volunteers to watch a calm movie clip, while another group watched a more exciting one. Then they offered both groups a snack of either a cup of grapes or a cup of M&Ms. The volunteers who watched the arousing clip were more likely to choose the M&Ms. Next, volunteers were asked to do some light exercise before watching a calm movie clip. This time, they were more likely to choose M&Ms. For the third study, participants were asked to remember either two or seven digits. The ones who learned the seven digits were more likely to choose M&Ms afterward - here, an acute shortage of mental energy was deemed responsible.

My take? Arousal is a by-product of stress, either internal or external, and there's little doubt that when you're under stress, your best intentions can go out the window. But forewarned is forearmed. If you think you're going to be keyed up when you go food shopping, you could postpone your trip to the store, or make a list in advance and don't deviate from it.

Not sure what to put on your grocery list in the first place? Use my Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid as a guide.

Tuesday
Aug242010

Jasmine Scent Works Like Sleeping Pills

That's the word from German researchers who found that the scent of jasmine is as effective as valium and similar drugs for relieving anxiety and promoting sleep. In fact, they reported that two jasmine fragrances have the same neurochemical mechanism of action as barbiturates.

The investigators from Ruhr Universität in Bochum, Germany tested hundreds of fragrances to determine their effects in humans and mice on the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which helps control nervous system activity. The two jasmine fragrances that were strongest increased the GABA effect by more than five times, making the scents as powerful as some pharmaceutical drugs. One of the investigators noted that the results could be seen as supportive evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy. The researchers have been granted a patent for their discovery. The study was published online in May by the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Learn more about treating insomnia here.

Monday
Aug232010

Newport Beach True Food Kitchen

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have heard that my second True Food Kitchen restaurant recently opened in Newport Beach, California. Here's what I had to say at the opening (tour included!):

You can also view a slideshow of photos from the opening in my Multimedia Library.

Sunday
Aug222010

Healthy Dinner Idea: Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti squash may look funny, but it's chock full of vitamins and minerals, especially carotenes - so don't be afraid to try it. This vegetarian casserole is low in calories and fat, and very satisfying as a main dish. Add a mixed green salad and some whole grain bread and you've got a great meal.

 Ingredients:

1 spaghetti squash
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of ground allspice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 pound part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

1. Place the spaghetti squash in a large pot of water (it should float) and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and boil gently for 50 minutes.

2. Another option is to bake the squash first. Cut it lengthwise and place the halves skin-side down in a baking dish with an inch of water. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350º F for about 45 minutes, or until meat is tender.

3. While squash is cooking, peel and slice the carrots, celery, onion and bell pepper.

4. Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the onion and carrot, with some water to prevent sticking. Sautéover medium heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining vegetables with some red pepper flakes and a dash of salt, if desired. Sauté, stirring frequently, till vegetables are barely tender, about 10 minutes.

5. Add crushed tomatoes, basil and oregano to taste, and a sprinkle of ground allspice. Squeeze in 2-5 cloves of garlic. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the mozzarella and Parmesan.

6. Remove squash from pot or oven and allow to cool until you can handle it. If it is whole, cut it in half lengthwise, then remove seeds with a spoon and squeeze any excess water out of meat.

7. Remove meat and break it up into strands with a fork or potato masher. Mix squash well with vegetables and put half in the bottom of a large baking dish. Top with half the cheeses, the rest of the squash, and then the rest of the cheeses.

8. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Let cool 15-20 minutes before serving.

Food as Medicine: Spaghetti squash, like all winter squash, may be particularly good for men. Juice from winter squash has been shown to help reduce symptoms of the enlarged prostate condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH.

In the mood for lighter fare? Try this Green Squash Soup instead.

Saturday
Aug212010

Curbing Electrical Bills - And Helping the Planet!

Going Green: Pull the plug. Even if they are not in use, common household appliances and electronics such as microwaves, computers, DVD players and televisions use power when simply plugged in. This not only increases your electric bill but increases overall energy consumption - a television that is plugged in but not turned on can consume as much as 20 watts per hour. Help curb your energy consumption: unplug items you rarely use, once portable devices are charged up unplug the charger from the outlet, and use electronics only as needed. A simple step to a healthier planet!

Another way to green your lifestyle is to use natural household cleaning products and natural fibers for your home.