Category Archives: antioxidants

Too much of a good thing? Antioxidants and the cardiovascular benefits of exercise.

FoodFacts.com has always included information in our blog posts about the benefits of the antioxidants found in natural, fresh fruits and vegetables. There have been so many good things to tell our community about the benefits of these compounds. The antioxidant resveratrol has made news in the last year for the possibility of its anti-aging properties. It’s found in red wine, red grapes, as well as peanuts, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Resveratrol has been associated with the protection of the heart and circulatory system, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as reducing the risk of certain cancers. All great news!

But now, new research at The University of Copenhagen surprisingly suggests that eating a diet rich in antioxidants may actually counteract many of the health benefits of exercise, including reduced blood pressure and cholesterol.

In contrast to earlier studies in animals in which resveratrol improved the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, this study in humans has provided surprising and strong evidence that in older men, resveratrol has the opposite effect.

While antioxidants like resveratrol have plenty of positive effects on our health, this information seems to point to the idea that some degree of oxidant stress might be necessary for the body to work correctly. So too much of this good thing might actually be detrimental to our health.

The study comes out of the University of Copenhagen. Researchers studied 27 healthy, physically inactive men who were about 65 years of age for 8 weeks. During the study period, all of the men performed high-intensity exercise training. Half of the group received 250 mg of resveratrol daily, while the other half received a placebo. The study was double-blinded so that neither the subjects nor the scientists knew which participant received the antioxidant or the placebo.

Researchers found that the exercise training undertaken by all the participants was very effective at improving their cardiovascular health. They did discover, however that resveratrol detracted from the positive effects of the training in areas including blood pressure and oxygen uptake, among others. Scientists were surprised to find that resveratrol in older men appeared to lessen the benefits of exercise on heart health. The results contract the findings from previous animal studies. The need for larger, more extensive studies on varied age groups was noted in order to confirm the results obtained. In addition, it was noted that the resveratrol supplementation provided in this study was greater than the amounts obtained through natural food sources.

FoodFacts.com looks forward to further research regarding the effects of antioxidants on our health. This is important information regarding how these compounds work in our bodies to promote our well-being. Perhaps the “too much of a good thing” concept for resveratrol and other antioxidant compounds is related to supplementation, as opposed to obtaining these compounds through natural food sources. A balanced diet, rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables can provide us with the nutrition our bodies need to remain healthy and strong throughout our lifetimes.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130722071955.htm

Great news about grapes!

FoodFacts.com likes nothing better than learning that a simple, natural, fresh food contributes even more than we had previously realized to our good health and well being! Today we learned more about grapes and their health benefits.

A new study from the University of Michigan Health System shows that grapes can reduce the risk of heart failure from chronic high blood pressure. It appears that they can increase the activity of a number of genes responsible for antioxidant defense in heart tissue. Grapes are a natural source of antioxidants and polyphenols.

The study involved rats with high blood pressure who were prone to heart failure. The rats were fed a grape-enriched diet for 18 weeks. The grape consumption reduced the occurrence of enlargement of the heart muscle and improved the diastolic function of the heart. But in addition, the study revealed that grape consumption turned on the antioxidant defense pathways by increasing the activity of the specific genes that produce glutathione, the most abundant antioxidant in the heart.

While prior studies had shown that grapes could protect against heart failure due to high blood pressure, this study was able to illustrate exactly how that is accomplished. The study will be extended, continuing into 2014. The research team is looking to further define the mechanisms of grape action. They currently believe that the consumption of the whole grape is important to realizing these benefits. The whole fruit contains hundreds of individual components and they suspect that those components work together to provide the beneficial effects.

It is estimated that about 1 billion people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure, which increases their risk of heart failure. We know that antioxidant-rich diets, high in fruits and vegetables help to reduce hypertension.

FoodFacts.com will follow this great news about grapes and keep our community informed of any new information that further reveals how these tasty, small globes of goodness can help us improve and maintain our health. In the meantime, let’s remember that grapes are an easy snack, a great tasting addition to salads and even to main dishes. It’s definitely well worth the effort to find ways to increase grape consumption in our diets.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/260045.php

Chia, the hottest newest health trend

FoodFacts.com has a very clear memory of the first time we ever heard of Chia. It was on television commercials advertising a unique novelty plant called a Chia Pet. It took off right away … and was spun off into many different forms. The original pet was a ceramic animal with seeds that a person would water and Chia grass would sprout on its body. They’re still sold. You can even buy a Chia Dinosaur.

Today, the Chia seed is the newest health trend. This tiny seed contains antioxidants, protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. It has all the properties of a “superfood.” The Chia seed is only a bit larger than a poppy seed, so it has a wide array of uses. It has binding properties, so it can even be used as an egg replacement in baking for people with egg allergies. One tablespoon of Chia powder dissolved in a quarter cup of water equals one egg. It’s gluten-free and contains anti-inflammatory properties. It has no discernible flavor, so you can’t have any real problem with the taste.

Looking at the nutritional content of one tablespoon of Chia seed, it’s easy to see why it’s becoming such a popular addition to the diets of so many people. It contains 60 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and 2.4 grams of Omega-3, 64 mg of calcium and 40 mg of magnesium. One tablespoon of Chia seed actually contains the same amount of Omega-3 as does four ounces of salmon. It is important to note that the body can absorb Omega-3 from fish more easily than plant-based Omega-3.

Because of the high fiber content of Chia, it’s of great use to people trying to lose weight, as it will help you stay fuller for a longer period of time. In addition you can keep it in your pantry for about five years. The high levels of antioxidants it contains prevent it from becoming rancid.

So what can you use Chia seed for? In addition to an egg substitute in baking (as was mentioned previously), Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, cereal, or yogurt. They can be used as a thickener in sauces and gravies. Because of their binding properties, Chia seeds can be used to make fruit “gels” … puree the fruit of your choice and add some ground seeds. You can use the “gel” to top ice creams or cake. Mix them into hot cereal. There are so many ways to add these tiny nutritional giants into your diet, we could go on and on.

Look for white or black/gray Chia seeds. Brown seeds are not yet ripe, so you won’t gain all the nutritional benefits you would from the white or black/gray seeds.

All of us at FoodFacts.com are excited to try the myriad of different ways to incorporate Chia seeds into our diet. We bet the Chia Pet had no idea all those years ago that it would be the precursor the latest healthy diet and nutrition news!

Read More:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/chia-nutritions-new-pet-project/2012/11/27/f3ce8ad2-245f-11e2-ac85-e669876c6a24_story_1.html

Reduce your stroke risk … include more tomatoes in your diet

FoodFacts.com just found another great reason to include more tomatoes in your diet. You could lower your risk of having a stroke!

Recent research released from the University of Eastern Finland have found a link between lycopene in tomatoes and stroke prevention. This latest finding illustrates just one more benefit from tomato consumption. Last year, the National Center for Food Safety & Technology found that tomatoes may provide protection from cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Seems like that juice, round, red globe packs a powerful health punch!

1,031 Finnish men participated in the study. They were between 46 and 65 years old and were followed for 12 years. They were all tested to determine their blood concentrations of lycopene when the study began. Significantly, the research showed that those men who had the highest levels of lycopene in their blood at the end of the 12 year period were at a 55% lower risk of stroke.

They compared the instance of stroke in the group of men with the lowest lycopene levels (258 in total) with the men with the highest concentrations of lycopene (259 in total). Of those with the lowest level, 25 experienced a stroke and of those with the highest concentrations, only 11 suffered from stroke.

When researchers isolated the instances of ischemic strokes which are caused by blood clots the connection to lycopene was even stronger. Those who had the highest levels of lycopene had a 59% lower risk.

FoodFacts.com recently posted a blog with information that recommended people increase their daily servings of fruits and vegetables and this research certainly seems to corroborate those thoughts. Lycopene isn’t just found in tomatoes. Fruits like watermelon, papaya and apricots are also sources of lycopene. We keep learning more about this powerful antioxidant and everything we learn points to tremendous benefits for the population.

So maybe you’re a fan of tomato based salads, or perhaps you enjoy homemade tomato sauce, or maybe roasted tomatoes are especially appealing to you – there are so many ways to include tomatoes in your diet. For FoodFacts.com, tomatoes get high points for versatility, flavor, texture and color. Experiment a little and you’ll find new and exciting ways, not only to get more lycopene in your diet, but also increase your daily fruit and vegetable servings in some flavorful new creations!

Read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/251246.php

Boost your vitamin C and beta carotene and you may protect yourself from dementia

FoodFacts.com found great news coming out of Germany today. In a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, new research from the University of Ulm has found that the amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene present in patients suffering from mild dementia was much less than in patients without symptoms. It is actually possible that a person’s diet (and their intake of specific antioxidants) may have an impact on the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

We know that Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Forgetfulness and disorientation lead to a patient’s cognitive decline. In this new study, 74 patients with Alzheimer’s were studied along with 158 healthy patients who showed no sign of Alzheimer’s symptoms. It is known that plaques forming in the brain, along with the degeneration of synapses are what cause the disease. The medical community has connected the constraint of oxygen in the body may actually be linked with the development of the disease. And that’s where the idea of antioxidants providing protection came into the picture. So the researchers investigated if there could be differences in the levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene and coenzyme Q10 in folks with mild symptoms of dementia and a population with no symptoms at all.

Results of the study showed definite differences. In fact, it was found that the concentration of vitamin C and beta-carotene in Alzheimer’s patients as much lower than in the population of healthy patients. The levels of vitamin E, lycopene and coenzyme Q10 showed no differences at all between the two populations. The researchers did feel, interestingly, that food storage and preparation and stress levels may have played a part in their findings. They are, therefore, recommending further studies to find out more about how these two antioxidants provide protection for this debilitating disease.

FoodFacts.com encourages our community to continue their quest for good health by including foods rich in Vitamin C and beta-carotene in their diets. Citrus fruits, carrots and spinach are a great place to start. As always, research like this is an exciting insight into how our diets affect our health and may provide the information that can help us fight diseases through nutrition.

Please read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120911103040.htm and http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112691843/beta-carotene-vitamin-c-could-protect-against-dementia/

Foods you need to pay attention to

FoodFacts.com spends a lot of time educating our community on the foods we shouldn’t be eating, or at least that we should be trying to avoid. So we thought we’d explore some of the foods we might not realize are actually good for our health. There are some surprises out there … and if the following foods aren’t surprising to you, share them with friends and family, who may not understand their benefits.

Iceberg Lettuce
Generally this is the lettuce that isn’t flying off the produce shelves these days. It’s somewhat “out of fashion” in terms of salad preparation. But we really need to start a new trend. Half a head of iceberg lettuce contains more alpha-carotene than romaine lettuce or spinach. And it’s actually pretty tasty when used in a great salad recipe. Try it with a few different vegetables julienned with the lettuce and a tangy homemade dressing. And if you still like the texture of the leafier green lettuces, you can add iceberg into your regular salad preparation. Mix it up with romaine or green leaf lettuce to add an interesting crunch to your regular salad recipes. It also adds some iron, vitamin C and vitamin A to your already nutritious salad ideas.

Sardines
Yes, we’re talking about those tiny fish that can come in a can. There are so many things you can do with sardines and so many things they can do for you! Fatty fish, like sardines, are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They help you build your HDL cholesterol (that’s the good kind), and they’re good for you brain. Not to mention that if you or someone you love has had a heart attack, they can actually reduce the risk of a reoccurrence that could lead to sudden death. That’s a pretty powerful little fish. They’re great with pasta or salads. You can pretty much rest assured that any food you might add chopped bacon to would be equally tasty with sardines. If you don’t have access to fresh sardines, canned will work just fine. But they do contain sodium, so make sure you adjust your recipes accordingly.

Vinegar
Turns out that in this case the old wives tales about vinegar just might hold water. Vinegar has been shown to help with cholesterol issues, fight allergies and increase stamina. But, most importantly, a study has pointed out that when people consumed two tablespoons of vinegar with a high-carb meal, their blood sugar was actually lower by 23% than when eating the meal without it. That’s a pretty good reason to make your own salad dressing with those two tablespoons and eat that with your higher carbohydrate meal.

Blueberries
FoodFacts.com loves blueberries. They’re great for breakfast. Work well as a snack and make a pretty terrific dessert! The compound anthocyanin is a flavanoid (a type of antioxidant) that blueberries contain great amounts of. Flavanoids can protect against free radicals that cause cell damage and they are great for protecting your heart. Blueberries also seem to have a positive effect on blood pressure. So, especially during these summer months when blueberries are plentiful at the farmer’s market, go ahead and enjoy them, knowing that while you’re loving the taste they bring to your dishes, they’re loving your heart health in return!

Mushrooms
If you’ve ever been in a cooking class or gone to culinary school, you’ve learned that mushrooms are a “flavor enhancer”, as in, they really don’t have flavor themselves, but tend to brighten or pick up the flavor of other foods. That sort of leads folks to believe that they are kind of useless on their own. But they really aren’t. Mushrooms are actually are source of lean protein, without the cholesterol or fat. They are also low in carbs and contain fiber. They help burn cholesterol. They’ve been shown to be effective in preventing breast and prostate cancer and they’re great for a diabetic diet.

So that’s the FoodFacts.com list of five foods that you might want to pay more attention to in your diet. While a few of them might take some cooking creativity, we think all five are definitely worth their health benefits!

The Food Facts Summer Fruit Series: Here’s why watermelon should be on your table this summer

Watermelon is one of those special summer fruits. It’s refreshing, tasty and almost everyone loves it, even picky kids! But Food Facts wants to dig a little deeper into this beautiful red fruit that is at home on our picnic blankets, beach blankets, patio tables and our air-conditioned kitchens during the summer months.

Many people mistakenly believe that there really isn’t much to the watermelon. And that’s really a powerful misconception. Let’s take a look:

Watermelon is packed with vitamin C. One serving can provide up to 39% of your recommended daily allotment. And let’s not forget about the Vitamin A content of that same wedge, providing up to 33% in the serving. Vitamin A is supportive of our vision and help with heart function.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in the body. Watermelon contains a tremendous amount of lycopene, this makes it a valuable food that helps prevent some types of caner, especially skin, cervical, breast and prostate cancer. In addition and can help improve short and long term memory and protect against heart disorders. Watermelon contains the highest concentration of lycopene of any fresh fruits or vegetables.

Additionally, this special summer fruit is high in electrolytes, sodium and potassium which we need to replace in our bodies during these months as they are lost through our perspiration.

Watermelon is a good source of thiamin and magnesium as well as the B vitamins we need to produce energy.
Food Facts is more than enthusiastic about watermelon. This sweet and juicy treat reminds us that nature really does know best and has given us what’s best for our health.

If you’re looking for interesting ways to incorporate watermelon into your meals, you might try a tomato and watermelon salad. Just make a tomato salad with red onion and add chunks of watermelon over a small bed of romaine lettuce. Add a bit of a simple vinaigrette and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.

Food Facts will bring you more important information on the nutritional value of summer fruits in the coming days. Meanwhile, enjoy watermelon every chance you can!

New reasons for women to love their fruits and vegetables

FoodFacts.com is always looking for information that will enrich and enlighten the lives of all our community members. So when we saw this important information for women we knew we needed to post about it here.

A new Swedish study published just yesterday is showing that diets rich in antioxidants from fruits, vegetables and whole grains appear to reduce a woman’s risk for stroke — even if she has a prior history of heart disease. The study involved more than 31,000 women with no history of heart disease and almost 5700 women who had a history of heart disease. All the women involved were between the ages of 49 and 83 and they were followed for eleven and a half years (those with no heart-disease history) and almost 10 years (history of heart disease).

During the study period, more than 1300 of the women in the disease-free group had strokes and more than 1000 in the group with a heart-disease history also suffered them. Each woman’s dietary information was used to determine her individual “total antioxidant capacity” or TAC.

In the heart-disease free group, the women with the highest levels of diet-based antioxidants had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels. But most impressively, it was found that the benefits of antioxidant-rich diets were extended to the group with a history of heart disease. Within this group, women with higher levels of dietary antioxidant capacity had up to a 57 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest levels.

Researchers found that fruits and vegetables contributed about 50% of the antioxidant capacity in women with a disease-free history. Of course the study also showed that the women who had the highest levels of antioxidants in both groups were also women who adhered to healthier lifestyles extending beyond their regular diets to include regular exercise and avoidance of smoking.

Of course, we at FoodFacts.com always knew there was a good reason our mothers always told us to eat our vegetables. This new Swedish research simply confirms they were right all along.

4 Foods You Should Try!

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:

There have been a variety of studies that suggest different foods promote beneficial health effects. We know walnuts help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease; yogurts help promote proper digestion; carrots play a role in eye health; and so on. Well, there are a few other foods that can be both delicious and valuable to your health.
Purple Potato blog.foodfacts.com
Purple Potatoes:
A new study done by the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania suggests that purple potatoes, which contain polyphenols found in most purple fruits and veggies, can help to reduce blood pressure by approximately 5% a month. These potatoes are a little more difficult to find, but are commonly found in natural food stores and farmers markets. Also, we would like to note that a similar study done at Harvard also mentioned slight weight gain with frequent consumption of purple potatoes, which isn’t too surprising.
kohlrabi
Kohlrabi:
This German turnip is packed with nutrients, potassium, and free-radical fighting antioxidants. It has a similar flavor to a radish or apple, and is commonly consumed in Kashmir where it is referred to as monj. This root vegetable would be a great addition to seasonal salads or used in combination with other veggies in a stir-fry.
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Amaranth:
A popular grain originating during an era of pre-Columbian Aztecs, Amaranth is a bit more advanced than grain we’re used to these days. This grain has a great amount of protein in its seeds, 5 times more fiber than wheat, and contains phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A & C. It is commonly used in diets for those recovering from illnesses because it is very digestable; and contains linoleic acid as a form of unsaturated fat.
yerba mate tea
Yerba Mate:

This tea has been found to promote cell revival faster and more effective than that of red wine and green tea. It contains natural forms of caffeine and alkaloids which help to promote muscle relaxation, and mood-enhancing properties.
Check out your local grocery stores and farmers markets to try new healthy foods!