Fun Food Facts For Your Holidays

Popcorn machine
Betsy’s Health Foods loves our organic popcorn, made with Nature’s Way coconut oil.

Now that even your Thanksgiving leftovers are thin on the ground, it’s time to take a moment to learn some facts about foods that may not be on your Top Ten list, but should be.


Live Longer with Nuts

Nuts are rich in nutrients and healthy monounsaturated fats and prior studies have found various protective health benefits. In this largest study on nuts and lifespan, doctors followed 118,962 men and women over 15 years and found, compared to those who did not eat nuts at all, those who ate nuts less than once per week were 7 percent less likely to die from any cause.

Those who ate nuts more than seven times per week were 20 percent less likely to have died compared to non-nut eaters after 15 years of follow-up. As people ate more nuts, deaths from cancer, heart and respiratory diseases declined, and lifespan increased.

Reference: New England Journal of Medicine; November, 2013, Published Online


Fruits & Veggies for Healthy Hearts

Women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables in their 20s were less likely to have clogged arteries in their 40s. Doctors measured the diets of 2,508 people and took a CT scan after 20 years of follow-up. While there was no benefit in men, women who ate the most fruits and veggies—8 to 9 servings per day—were 40 percent less likely than women who ate the least to have calcified artery plaque, the best predictor of heart attacks and heart disease. Even if adult diet and lifestyle changed, the benefits of fruits and veggies early in life persisted later on.

Reference: American College of Cardiology, Annual Scientific Session; March, 2014


Protein Benefits

People who got more protein in their diets, especially fish, had lower chances of stroke. Doctors reviewed seven stroke studies that followed 254,489 people for an average of 14 years and found those who got the most protein were 20 percent less likely to have a stroke compared to those who got the least protein.

For each increase in protein of 20 grams per day, chances of stroke declined by 26 percent, regardless of lifestyle and differences in health factors. Discussing their findings, doctors said protein lowers blood pressure, which may help explain its benefits, and that animal proteins—especially fish—were most beneficial.

Reference: Neurology; 2014, Vol. 83, No. 1, 19-25


De-Stress with Dark Chocolate

Chocolate protects the heart, but doctors don’t fully understand how. In this study, 65 healthy men aged 20 to 50 ate dark chocolate with or without 125 mg of its naturally occurring antioxidant flavonoids, two hours before a stress test. The test was an interview requiring mental arithmetic in front of an audience.

Doctors measured the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine before chocolate, and before and after the test. Stress increased in both groups but the chocolate flavonoid group produced less cortisol and epinephrine, suggesting lower levels of stress. Researchers concluded eating dark chocolate can have a stress-protective effect.

Reference: Journal of the American College of Cardiology; 2014, Vol. 63, No. 21, 2297-9


Almonds for a Healthy Heart

Almonds improved blood flow and pressure in this new study where men, aged 19 to 62, some with health factors raising chances for heart problems, added about 1.7 ounces of almonds per day to their regular diets. After four weeks, circulating levels of alpha-tocopherol—a form of vitamin E and the antioxidant in almonds—were higher, blood flow had improved, and systolic blood pressure had declined in all the men. Diastolic blood pressure also declined, but only in the healthy men.

Commenting on the findings, doctors said almonds are a superfood, and snacking on a handful a day can help ensure a healthy heart.

Reference: Free Radical Research; 2014, Vol. 48, No. 5, 599-06


So, put aside the Ready Whip and pumpkin pies and make way for some veggies and nuts–at least until next month’s celebrations go into full swing!

In health,

*The articles in this post are copyrighted by Natural Insights for Well Being 2014.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.