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4 Reasons to Eat Garlic

A kitchen staple, garlic offers more than taste to your meals – it has health benefits as well. Find out what garlic can do for you, and why chopping it and letting it sit for 10 minutes before using it is a kitchen must.

Garlic is more than a culinary mainstay that can add flavor to meals; it is a natural, traditional medicine that has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Research indicates regular consumption of garlic may:

  1. Alter how cholesterol is metabolized in the body, making it less likely to oxidize.
  2. Lower blood pressure and decreasing clot formation, thus reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
  3. Combat respiratory infections such as common colds and sore throats.
  4. Reduce fungal or yeast infections.

Eating raw garlic (chopped or mashed) releases the herb's full potential. That’s because the active component, allicin, forms only on contact with air. I suggest chopping garlic and letting it sit for 10 minutes to get the full health-giving potential. Garlic loses its antibiotic properties when you cook or dry it, and commercial garlic capsules do not preserve the full activity of the fresh bulb.

You can make raw garlic more palatable by chopping it fine, mixing it with food and eating it with a meal, or cut a clove into chunks and swallow them whole like pills.

Try these appetizers featuring garlic:


8 Reasons the French Are Slim

There is a reason the French tend to be slim: eight reasons actually! Find out what many French citizens do to keep their weight down – and consider adopting the healthy and easy-to-implement habits into your lifestyle.

For years, scientists on both sides of the Atlantic have been trying to unravel the "French paradox" - the finding that despite a high-fat diet, the French appear to have a lower rate of heart attacks (as well as a lower rate of obesity) than other Western countries, particularly the United States. One major reason: nutrition researchers now feel that sugar, flour and oxidized vegetable oil (such as soybean oil used in processed foods and for deep-frying), and not natural saturated fats such as butter that the French enjoy, are the major drivers of obesity and heart disease in the U.S.

There may also be other reasons for this paradox. These eight tactics are the norm in the typical French diet - consider changing your approach toward eating by adopting these strategies and see if it makes a difference in your life:

  1. Eat smaller portions.
  2. Avoid snacking, and eat only at mealtimes.
  3. Eat a wide variety of food.
  4. Don't skip meals.
  5. Enjoy your food and focus on dishes made from fresh, locally grown, quality ingredients.
  6. Stick to your internal cues. When you no longer feel hungry, stop eating.
  7. Eat less sugar. The French eat less than half as much added sugar as do Americans.
  8. Eat meals with family and friends so that eating becomes a pleasurable experience as opposed to something to "fit into" a schedule or feel guilty about.

Are You Deficient in Vitamin B7?

Also known as biotin, vitamin B7 is necessary for optimal health. Learn more about why you need it, and ways to get this vitamin!

Vitamin B7, also known as biotin, is a water-soluble nutrient necessary for several key metabolic functions.

Biotin is a co-factor in many enzymatic reactions, and serious complications can result from biotin deficiency, including diseases of the skin, intestinal tract, and nervous system. Biotin plays a role in:

  1. Regulating blood glucose levels and may help in decreasing insulin resistance and improving glucose tolerance in those with type 2 diabetes.
  2. Maintaining healthy hair and nails, and possibly in preventing birth defects.

I recommend 50 mcg of biotin as part of a B-complex that contains a full spectrum of B vitamins, including thiamine, B12, riboflavin and niacin. You can also obtain biotin from foods including organ meats, barley, brewers yeast, egg yolks, milk, royal jelly, whole soy foods, and wheat bran. Avocado, broccoli, cauliflower, cheeses, chicken, fish, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, pork, potatoes, and spinach also provide biotin and are nutritious parts of my Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid.



Worried About Age Spots?

Brown spots on your skin happen with age and sun exposure. There are ways to diminish their appearance – and times when the spots may signal a more serious problem. Learn more.

If you are noticing brown spots on your skin - up to an inch in diameter - you may have solar lentigos. These "age spots" are the result of years of sun exposure. Typically, they appear on the chest, face, or the back of the hands - areas of the skin that have been most exposed to the sun throughout your lifetime. The best ways to prevent age spots are to avoid too much sun exposure, and use sunscreen regularly (SPF 15 or higher). However, this won't help get rid of age spots you may already have. 

To reduce the appearance of age spots over time, see your physician or dermatologist. He or she can recommend a prescription or over-the-counter skin cream containing alpha-hydroxy or retinoic acid. If you use these, be diligent about applying sunscreen, since these creams can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun's rays. Laser treatment is also an option; while this approach is more costly, it does offer immediate results. 
Even if your age spots are not a concern, it is advisable to see a dermatologist about them. Occasionally, what appear to be age spots are identified as precancerous lesions that should be removed for medical rather than cosmetic reasons.



Meal Planning: Buy These Canned Goods!

Looking for a cost-effective way to get nutrient-dense foods into your meals this week? Consider canned foods. Quality canned foods offer a convenient and economical alternative to fresh foods, and can provide nutritional benefits from seasonal items all year round.

Before you start perusing the canned goods section, however, keep in mind that canned foods are often high in sodium, so always choose no- or low-sodium versions. Also, a recent study indicates that daily intake of canned soup appears to raise levels of BPA, an endocrine disruptor, dramatically for short periods, so choose jarred soup over canned soup if possible. Some canned items to look for include:  

  1. Fish: Sockeye salmon is a great choice, as it is always wild caught, and the canning process softens the bones, making them an edible source of calcium. Sardines packed in water or olive oil are also a good option.
  2. Beans: Always a healthy addition of fiber and protein to your meals, these time-savers can be used straight from the can after a quick rinse. Look for organic varieties of kidney, pinto, black, and garbanzo.
  3. Fruits and vegetables. Because fruits and vegetables are usually canned soon after they are picked, many of their nutrients are maintained. Some types of processing - heat processing of sweet corn, for example - even boost antioxidant activity. Look for brands made from organically grown produce and choose canned fruit that is packed in its own natural juices or water, rather than in heavy syrup, which adds unnecessary calories and sugar.

More research is needed to determine if foods like canned soup raise BPA levels. So consume canned goods in moderation to round out your diet, and eat fresh or frozen foods instead whenever your time and budget permit.
Try these recipes!


Do You Have an Ethical Will?

As we go through life, we acquire wisdom and life lessons that can benefit others. One way to pass along your stories and experiences is through an ethical will. Unlike an ordinary will or last testament, an ethical will has less to do with material possessions and more to do with nonmaterial gifts and spiritual well-being. It's a love letter of sorts for your family, friends and community.

Writing an ethical will benefit you as well. It can:

  • Help you to make sense of your life and the aging process.
  • Provide a way to share your hopes, dreams and values with loved ones.
  • Help you take stock of your life experience and distill from it the values and wisdom that you have gained.

Regardless of your age, you should consider creating an ethical will. You can choose to share your insights while you are alive, or leave your thoughts for loved ones to share after you are gone. It is often an ongoing process - put the document aside, read it over as the years pass, and revise it from time to time as you see fit.  Certainly, while an ethical will can be a wonderful gift to leave to your family at the end of your life, its main importance is what it can give you in the midst of life.

Learn more about legacy writing and ethical wills with Rachael Freed's Tips & Tools Annuals. Her Monthly Legacy Reflection and Writing Assignments Annuals are interactive magazines that compile her legacy reflection and assignments into writing tips and assignments. See them here!


5 Reasons to Eat Sage

Sage is a well-known culinary herb that imparts depth and complexity to sauces and stuffings. But it also has medicinal benefits as well. From sore throats to asthma, find out more about the conditions sage may help to relieve.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an herb known for both its culinary and medicinal uses. A good source of vitamin K, sage has known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and has been used to help relieve:

1.    Sore throats (try drinking sage tea).

2.    Respiratory problems, including bronchitis, congestion and sinusitis, when used in a steam inhaler.

3.    Excessive perspiration - herbalists commonly recommend sage for menopausal women troubled with night sweats.

4.    Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and atherosclerosis.

5.    Cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease and depression.

So why not add sage to your next meal? It provides a subtle, savory flavor that works as a seasoning in sauces, stuffings and marinades. It is available fresh or dried, but fresh is the better choice when it comes to cooking for the most appealing flavor – it is also a fairly hearty herb and can be grown indoors during colder months.

Try the Miso Pate recipe, which uses sage!



Is Tilapia Unhealthy?

Dr. Weil recommends fish as part of his Anti-Inflammatory Diet, but farm-raised tilapia isn’t one of his top choices. Find out why – and what fish is a healthier option.

Farm-raised tilapia is one of the most commonly consumed fish in America, yet it has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fats compared to its content of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6's are essential, but the American diet typically includes far too much of this kind of fat. An overabundance of dietary omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is a key contributor to many chronic health conditions. 

In addition, farmed fish (tilapia or not) are raised in crowded conditions that are unnatural - and to help prevent infection they are given antibiotics. This means the fish are likely to contain residues of antibiotics and other synthetic compounds used to control diseases that occur when fish are crowded in pens. They may also have lower levels of protein - as much as 20 percent less - compared to wild fish, and higher concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals such as PCBs and dioxin. They represent environmental negatives as well – they are resource- and energy-intensive (it takes several pounds of feed fish to produce one pound of farmed fish) and do not protect dwindling wild stock.

Tilapia is not necessarily unhealthy, but I recommend reaching for the best fish of all - wild-caught Alaskan salmon. It has an impressive omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio and is a species associated with fewer concerns about environmental toxins. While it is more expensive than tilapia, it is a worthy investment in your health that can reap dividends for the future. If you prefer white fish, look for wild-caught halibut or black cod as a healthy alternative.

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