Tag Archive for healthy eating

How to eat key foods that benefit your health

How much fruit and vegetables is best?

Source The Times We are all familiar with the mantra of eating “five a day”, but last week a study by the University of Oxford challenged that accepted wisdom — instead, it said, we should increase the daily intake to eight portions. Meanwhile, a new book, The Obesity Epidemic by the nutritionist Zoë Harcombe, dismissed the five-a-day “fairytale”, adding that “in terms of health and nutrition, fruit and veg have little to offer”.

“in terms of health and nutrition, fruit and veg have little to offer”

So what are we to believe? No one could ever come up with a definitive one-size-fits-all target; we are all physically different. Medical science does, however, reveal key foods that can help to prevent a host of diseases. And science tells us something else vital — how you eat them can make all the difference to the benefits they offer.


The bright-green vegetable has high levels of vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidants. These enhance our immune system and may prevent some cancers. Eating broccoli regularly helps to fend off stomach ulcers by killing the bacterial culprit, H. pylori. It also contains healthy amounts of calcium, beta-carotene, potassium, iron, fibre and protein. In addition, it helps to keep arthritis at bay by providing us with significant levels of the trace element selenium. And there’s more: broccoli contains the antioxidant sulforaphane. Tests have shown that this can protect against bowel cancer, and has anti-inflammatory properties. This has inspired American scientists to develop broccoli juice as a sunscreen that helps to stop sunburn and skin cancer.

How to eat boccoli

Raw is commonly thought healthiest, but Italian scientists have found that broccoli is more nutritious when lightly steamed. Investigators at the University of Parma say that a couple of minutes’ steaming raises the level of glucosinolates, compounds known for their cancer-fighting powers. It also takes off the bitter edge. Don’t just eat the buds: although the buds are rich in B-complex vitamins and minerals, the stem contains compounds that can protect against cancers and improve immunity. If you overcook it, don’t worry. Your stomach enzymes are good at rescuing much of the good stuff, a University of Illinois study has shown. Aim for one serving of broccoli a day.

Green tea

Green tea is far richer in catechins — antioxidants that block cancer and protect arteries — than more highly processed black tea, says a report in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. The researchers at Yale University believe this may explain why people in Asia have nearly half the rate of lung cancer and heart disease than Westerners, even though they smoke more. Catechins also protect against fatty liver disease and insulin resistance. Green tea is also a morale booster: it contains high levels of plant flavonols that promote the growth of brain cells in areas of the brain concerned with good mood and self-control, says a report in the Journal of Neuroscience. Green tea may also protect against Parkinson’s, finds a study by the Institute of Biophysics, Beijing. Antioxidant polyphenols in the tea can shield the brain’s dopamine neurons, which are lost in Parkinson’s patients.

How to drink Green Tea

Use water that’s just off the boil and leave the bag in for at least two minutes. This protects the vital ingredients. To make your drink even healthier, take it with lemon. Studies by Purdue University, Indiana, show that citrus juice protects the tea’s antioxidants from being broken down by digestive fluids in the gut.Two cups a day is best.


These little bulbs have the power to combat high blood pressure and cholesterol build-up, as well as brain tumours and other cancers. Many of the benefits come from the substance that is its main social drawback: allicin. Pharmacologists at the University of California say that allicin, a smelly element in garlic, sparks an inflammatory chain reaction that can cause pain. This may have evolved to deter animals from eating the bulbs. But allicin’s ability to inflame cells also makes our blood vessels dilate, improving blood flow and so reducing the risk of blood clots. Garlic is also linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, reports the British Nutrition Foundation. This is down to the compound allyl sulphide, which prevents cancer cells from replicating. Garlic also contains three organic compounds that may protect against brain tumours, say experts at South Carolina Medical University.

How to eat garlic

Scientists at South Carolina Medical University scientists recommend that you peel garlic and let it sit for 15 minutes before cooking, so as to release the anti-cancer compounds. Meanwhile, Argentine scientists recommend that you crush the cloves, then bake them slightly before adding to food. They report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that this gets the most thiosulfinates out of the garlic and into your blood. These are believed to lower blood pressure and break up clotting platelets. The scientists recommend three cloves of garlic a day.

Olive oil

Consuming olive oil regularly appears to suppress genes that cause the inflammation behind heart disease and strokes. Researchers at Cordoba University say that the beneficial effect is down to phenol chemicals in the oil. But there is more: Gary Beauchamp, a biologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre, reports in the journal Nature that he found a naturally occurring chemical in fresh extra-virgin oil that works as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. He has named the compound oleocanthal. His research team calculates that a 50g daily dose of olive oil is equivalent to about 10 per cent of the ibuprofen dose recommended for adult pain relief. Beauchamp speculates that eating top-quality olive oil regularly might bring extra long-term anti-inflammatory benefits, such as reduced cancer risk.

How to eat garlic

Get the very best quality extra-virgin oil that you can. Not only does it taste marvellous, the good stuff is much higher in phenols, which reduce the activity of inflammatory genes. If you cook with it, don’t get it so hot that it smokes: its chemical make-up may be damaged. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September recommends one tablespoon of olive oil a day.

Red wine

Drinking moderate amounts of red wine — or eating as many unskinned grapes as you fancy — can help to protect against cancer and raise levels of good cholesterol. It can also boost your brain, says Dr Clinton Wright, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University, New York. He says that red-wine drinkers score highly in mental agility tests. Studies also show that red wine can also help insomnia: the grape skins contain melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep. And a new study has shown it can even help your weight. Researchers in Boston have found that moderate women drinkers put on less weight than those who stick to soft drinks. The findings, by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suggest that the calories are turned into heat, not fat. Many of these benefits are attributed to resveratrol, a chemical in the skins and pips of grapes. So far, though, attempts to make a drug out of resveratrol have failed because trials have revealed serious side effects. Herbalists would argue that you need the whole grape because it contains a natural balance of elements that give an overall benefit.

How to drink red wine

Moderate drinkers tend to live longer than people who abstain completely. And choose the ruddiest, bloodiest wines that your palate can take. These will contain the highest levels of beneficial grape chemicals. To maximise the benefits without risking your health, Government Drinkaware guidelines suggest that women drink one 175ml glass of 13 per cent wine per day, men up to two glasses. Cheers!

Healthy Eating to Lower Blood Pressure | Diet

Blood pressure and Diet – Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating

High blood pressure is a serious condition – it’s the major risk factor for stroke and heart attack – but there are so many ways to keep your blood pressure numbers to a healthy level, particularly through eating well and staying active.

Although many people with high blood pressure will need to take medication, eating healthily and reducing salt intake in particular can help medicines to work better, and can even reduce the amount of medicines needed.

Even people with healthy blood pressure numbers can make proactive choices – blood pressure tends to increase with age, so this will stand you in good stead for the future.

Eat your way to good blood pressure health:

What you eat and drink can play a major role in keeping your blood pressure healthy. In general, the healthier your diet is, the lower your blood pressure will be.

Salt is a key offender in raising blood pressure and most of us eat far too much of it – we should be eating less than 6g a day, but the majority of us are eating around 9g. All this extra salt makes our bodies hold onto excess water, which then raises blood pressure.

It’s not too hard to cut down on the white stuff – just try to shake less at the table and when cooking, and try to boost flavours with herbs and spices or seasonings like chilli, ginger or lemon juice instead.

But it’s also important to remember that around 80 per cent of the salt in our diets comes from manufactured foods, so beware the hidden salt in bread, breakfast cereals, and cheeses.

Healthy Eating Lowers Blood Pressure

  • Cutting down on salt and eating no more than 6g a day could lower blood pressure by 2-8mmHg.

Getting your five a day or fruit and vegetables is also excellent for your blood pressure health. You’ll not only be getting essential vitamins, minerals and fibre, but fruit and veg also contain potassium, which can help to balance out the negative effects of salt.

Some fruits and vegetables – such as bananas, asparagus or spinach – are particularly rich in potassium, but eating the same foods all the time can be a bit dull, and different foods have different nutrients, so we’d recommend getting a good variety.

  • Eating five, or ideally seven to nine, portions of fruit and vegetables a day can lower blood pressure by 7mmHg or more.

“Eating healthily and being active will also help you to keep to a healthy weight, which is good news for your blood pressure. And if you’re overweight a 10kg weight loss (i.e 22lbs) could help to lower your blood pressure by 5-10mmHg.”

A guide to blood pressure levels: Measure how healthy eating helps lower blood pressure.

One of the most common blood pressure questions is “what do the numbers mean?”

Less than 120/80mmHg – blood pressure is at the ‘optimal’ level so follow a healthy lifestyle to keep it that way

121/81 – 129/84mmHg – blood pressure is ‘average’ and you would benefit from lowering it

130/85 – 139/89mmHg – blood pressure is on the ‘high side of normal’ and should be lowered

140/90mmHg or above – if readings are consistently at or above this level you have high blood pressure, take action now to lower it

Eggs Lower Blood Pressure?

Until just a few years ago the British Heart Foundation advised people to eat no more than three eggs a week.

Fried eggs for breakfast could help keep blood pressure down, say researchers.

The UK public do not need to be limiting the number of eggs they eat.

Scientists have discovered that eggs produce proteins that mimic the action of blood pressure lowering drugs.

Eggs reacte with  stomach enzymes to produce a protein that acts in the same way as blood pressure medications such as Ace inhibitors.

And fried eggs are especially beneficial.

It comes just days after nutritionists concluded that the type of cholesterol found in eggs has minimal effect on raising causes of heart disease such as high blood pressure.

But the British Nutrition Foundation concluded that it is healthy to go to work on an egg.

It is saturated fat, rather than the cholesterol found in eggs, that is the main dietary culprit in raising cholesterol levels. Smoking, being overweight and lack of exercise also influence blood fat and cholesterol levels, raise blood pressure and increase heart disease risk.

All in all eggs truly are the flavour for those suffering blood pressure – now we can justify our eggy guffs – eggy farts lower blood pressure

“The ingrained misconception linking egg consumption to high blood cholesterol and heart disease must be corrected.

“People can be encouraged to include eggs in a healthy diet as they are one of nature’s most nutritionally dense foods.”

Healthy Christmas Dinner Festive Food Ideas

Have a happy, hearty Christmas feast!

Christmas is a time of year for indulging in good food and drink with family and friends.  Here are some ways you can have a hearty, healthy and happy celebration to remember.

christmas pasty

Christmas lunch can be a very nutritious meal – in theory, it contains all the right ingredients, from plenty of vegetables to low-fat turkey meat. In practice, the issue is the sheer amounts we tend to eat in one go – in fact many of us will eat up to 6,000 calories on Christmas Day. That’s the daily allowance for three women or two and a half men!

With a few little changes here and there you can cut down on the calories, and still have a delicious, indulgent Christmas dinner. Here are some tips to give you some ideas:

Instead of: Why not try:
Fat-laden pate starter Home-made vegetable soup. It’s delicious, warming and you’ll get one of your 5-a-day. Butternut squash with a hint of ginger is very moreish.Or a salmon starter – full of those heart-friendly omega-3 fish oils And if using smoked salmon, gently rinse or sponge it first to remove excess salt.
Goose-fat roast potatoes – high in saturated fats Olive-oil roast potatoes – a source of cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats
Boiling your Christmas veg Steam them. You’ll keep more of the vitamins in the vegetables
Roast duck, goose, beef, pork or lamb Turkey (it’s much lower in fat and very traditional, not to mention cheaper too)
Bread sauce ready mix Homemade bread sauce, made from crumbled, stale bread with semi-skimmed milk and a clove of garlic. It’ll be much lower in salt and fat and much tastier
Ready made sausage meat – a high-fat stuffing (100g can have 16g of fat) Chestnut stuffing – it’s low in fat and a good source of potassium, which will help to lower your blood pressure by countering the effects of salt. (100g of cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing has just 0.8g of fat)
Ice cream and cream – full of saturated fat Sorbet, frozen yoghurt or crème fraiche (all of which are light and delicious)
Christmas pudding Christmas pudding! It’s low in fat, high in fruit and a great Christmas treat – so tuck in! Just go easy on the cream and custard.