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5 superfoods for eye health which you might not know

People are spending a longer time over computer screens, televisions and smartphones. Also, the modern lifestyle has brought several changes to the diet, which may not be good enough for the eye health. Hence, it has become imperative to include foods in the daily diet that protect and promote eye health.

While most people know that carrots are excellent for eye health because they contain high amounts of Vitamin A, there are several other foods that are equally good for your eyes. Let’s know them:

Dark Leafy Greens – Dark Leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard and collard greens contain high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin. Your eye needs these carotenoids for optimal health. Lutein is present in the macular pigment, while zeaxanthin is present in the retina. Research shows that when your body lacks these two carotenoids, it increases the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Hence, munching on dark leafy greens can prevent eye diseases while ensuring you enjoy vision acuity.

Orange Bell Pepper – Orange bell pepper is nutritious besides tasting delicious. These peppers contain high amounts of vitamins A and C. Vitamin A or beta-carotene helps to keep eyes healthy. It protects the cornea of the eye, thereby ensuring good vision. It also helps to alleviate dry eyes. Age-Related Eye Disease Study that was commissioned by the U.S. National Eye Institute found that when people with mild to moderate age-related macular degeneration consume Vitamin A along with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, copper and zinc, the risk of the eye condition progressing reduces by 25 per cent.

Egg Yolk – If you haven’t been eating eggs, it is time to incorporate them in your diet. The egg yolk is a rich source of lutein, zeaxanthin, protein and healthy fats. While egg yolk contains less carotenoids compared to green leafy veggies and brightly colored vegetables, the amount present is sufficient to maintain your eye health. Just remember that heat can destroy the carotenoids present in egg yolk. Hence, it is advisable to consume raw, soft-boiled or poached eggs along with the yolk.

Oily Fish – Oily fish like wild salmon is a powerhouse of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. The DHA in these acids is needed to maintain the retina of the eye. It protects the functioning of the retina and also offers structural support to the membranes of cells. Certain research claims that consuming Omega-3 essential fatty acids can slow the progress of age-related macular degeneration.

Bilberry – Bilberry, also known as blueberry, is one fruit that you cannot ignore if you want to promote eye health. It contains anthocyanin, which protects your vision if you experience retinal inflammation. A study published in Advances in Gerontology journal states that supplementing bilberry or blueberry on a long-term basis can prevent cataract and age-related muscular degeneration.

So, if you want to enjoy optimal eye health, include these 5 superfoods in your daily diet.

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Food Blog Health

How soda negatively impacts your health?

From a child to a middle-aged person, everyone loves soda. No social gathering is complete without drinking aerated drinks. But if you’ve been reading magazines and research reports, you would know how bad these aerated and artificially sugared drinks are for your health. Most of them are nothing but water with heaps of sugar and a lot of CO2, devoid of any nutritional value! Despite knowing all the drawbacks, have you tried to dig more into its negative impacts on your health? Let’s have a look.

Unexpected spike in sugar levels, type 2 diabetes – 20 minutes after drinking soda, your blood sugar level spikes leading to insulin burst. In response to this, your liver starts turning any sugar into fat. After 45 minutes of gulping down a glass of soda, caffeine from the drink is completely absorbed, resulting in a rise in blood sugar levels and blood pressure. People who regularly consume sugary drinks, for example, 1 or 2 cans per day, have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely consume such drinks.

Reproductive problems – Nearly all the soda cans made of aluminum are lined with bisphenol A (BPA), an epoxy resin used to keep the acids in soda reacting from metals. BPA is a strong chemical which interferes with hormones and may lead to obesity, diabetes, infertility and some forms of reproductive cancers too!

Obesity – According to a research by Harvard, soda is closely related to the obesity epidemic. They have calculated that each additional soda consumed increases the risk of obesity 1.6 times. It also leads to an increase in cholesterol, liver fat, skeletal fat and triglyceride blood fats and other organ fat, leading to obesity. Even diet sodas that contain artificial sweeteners are equally bad. They induce hormonal responses that cause weight gain.

Tooth decay – Aerated drinks contain phosphoric acid, which is usually used in industrial cleaners. This acid erodes the tooth enamel leading to cavities. This acid when coupled with acid produced from bacteria, doubles the threat to tooth enamel. As a result, multiple teeth problems like pain, temperature sensitivity, cracking, transparency and darkening of the teeth emerge. Moreover, the caramel dye used to add color to these drinks contributes to yellowing of teeth.

Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition where your skeletal system starts weakening. The phosphoric acid content of the soft drinks increases the phosphate levels and lowers the calcium levels in your blood. When calcium in the blood is low and phosphate is high, the calcium is pulled out from your bones, which leads to Osteoporosis.

Heart diseases – The presence of a high percentage of fructose corn syrup, a cheap replacement for cane sugar, increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, which leads to heart disease and diabetes. This metabolic syndrome is also associated with elevated fasting triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, central obesity and low levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. In a study following 40,000+ men for two decades, it was found that those who drank one sugary drink per day had a 20% higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart attack, as compared to men who rarely consumed sugary drinks.

Accelerated aging – Regular, as well as diet colas, contain phosphoric acid and phosphates which are responsible for improving their shelf life and adding the tangy flavor. Too much phosphoric acid can also lead to kidney stones, heart problems, osteoporosis, muscle loss and accelerated aging.

Apart from the above, sodas can also damage the liver and increase the risk of liver cirrhosis; and lead to an increased risk of gout, dementia and cancers.

So, the next time you gulp down these sugary treats, you know what diseases you are inviting!

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Food Blog

Healthy habit: reading food labels

When you are trying to live healthier, you know you need to consider a lot of things. For example, you need to cut back on your sugar intake, start eating more vegetables and fruits, exercise 4-5 times a week and sleep sufficiently. However, there is one more important factor that can improve your healthy lifestyle –‘smart food shopping’.

While buying your grocery, you need to be particular about what packaged foods you choose. What may seem healthy to you, on closer inspection, may not turn out as advertised. Hence, you need to check the contents and the ‘nutrition facts’ provided on the food labels on the packaging.

Here’s how you can read and interpret the food labels:

Serving size – Start with the serving information at the top of the label. This will tell you the single serving size and the total number of servings per container or package. Be careful, as the company’s serving size may differ from the quantity you usually eat.

Nutrition information panel – This panel provides information on the amount of calories, protein, cholesterol, sodium(the amount of salt), total and saturated fat, carbohydrates (total and sugar) the food contains in 100 gm or a particular serving size. If you are consuming the exact serving of the product, then you are consuming the exact nutrition as mentioned on the label. However, if you consume 2 or 3 servings of the product, then you need to multiply the given information accordingly.

Ingredients – All the ingredients used in making the product are listed on the label in order of their weight. For example, for a blueberry yogurt, it will you tell what percentage of the yogurt package is made up of blueberries and what is the amount of sugar used. It’s best to avoid a product where sugar is one of the first few ingredients on the list. Also, trans fat (hydrogenated oils and MSG) are two ingredients that should be avoided at all costs.

Calories – Do not be afraid of calories – calories are the amount of energy you get from a serving of food. Your caloric need depends on your daily activity, age, gender, height and weight. However, it’s important to understand where these calories are coming from. For example, calories from carbohydrates/sugar are harmful than those coming from fats. Also, if you are planning to lose weight, you need to decrease your daily calorie intake.

% Daily Value – The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. Usually, the % DV is based on a 2000 calorie diet. Choose foods with a lower % DV (5% or less) of saturated fats, sodium, cholesterol and higher % DV (20% or more) of dietary fiber, iron, calcium and vitamins.

Other important things to note on the food labels are:

Food additives: Information about food additives, including colours, flavours and preservatives are also provided in the ingredient list (they may be in form of numbers). If you are sensitive to a particular additive or do not want to consume it, it can help you avoid those foods.

Food allergens: Information about major allergens like peanuts, milk, eggs, soybeans, tree nuts, shellfish, sesame and gluten is also provided. If you have an allergy to any of these foods, it’s best to avoid all products containing these ingredients.

Sugar free: Many people get misled by Sugar-free boldly written on the package. Sugar free only means that the product doesn’t contain any added sugar. However, it may still contain natural sugars. For example, dates, corn syrup, maltodextrins, maltose, dextrose, fructose, fruit concentrates, honey, maple syrup, etc. are used in high quantities to make the product sweet. And, some of these when consumed in large quantities can be worse than plain sugar.

Fat free: Another marketing gimmick to watch out for. Fat free does not mean calorie free. A fat free version will have the same calorie content as compared to a full fat version because it is usually loaded with sugars to make the taste appealing.

Trans fat: Your food label might say it contains zero trans fat, however, if you can see partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list, it means the product contains trans fat even if it is as low as 0.5gms of trans fat per serving. But, don’t be deceived. If you eat more than one serving, you would have reached your daily limit of trans fat. So, instead of the ‘zero trans fat’ label, look at the ingredient list, and if you find hydrogenated oils or shortening, it’s wise to put it back on the shelf.

It may take you a while, but if you make it a habit to read food labels, it will make your goal to live a healthy life much simpler.

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Food Blog Health

5 best drinks for your health

It goes without saying that water is the best drink for optimal health. The U.S. Institute of Medicine states that an average man should drink around 15 cups or 125 ounces of water while women should consume 11 cups or 91 ounces of water each day. However, this is just an average as a majority of people gets 80 per cent of their daily water needs from beverages and 20 per cent from food. So, it is prudent to select the best drinks for your health.

While some of the best drinks for optimal health are water-based, there are few that are not filled with water, but can benefit your health and wellbeing significantly.

Lemon Water – If you have been guzzling down calorie-filled sodas, you will find water bland and tasteless. You can add flavor to your drinking water by adding slices of fresh lemon. A study reveals that drinking lemon water can help reduce systolic blood pressure. But, there are more benefits of lemon water. It functions as a digestive aid and helps to detoxify the body by flushing out toxins and waste more efficiently. Lemon is replete with Vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant and an immune booster. The acidity of lemon juice eliminates bad bacteria from the mouth, thereby helping to freshen breath and prevent oral infections.

Green Tea – Over the years, green tea has become an indispensable beverage in households that value health and well being. Besides relieving indigestion, green tea is also known to prevent complications arising out of osteoporosis. One research found that regular consumption of green tea can positively affect bone mineral density, thereby reducing risk of fractures due to osteoporosis. Green tea is an antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and stimulates the activity of antioxidant enzymes to ensure bone health.

Kombucha – This is a fermented tea-like beverage that has high content of probiotics. The healthy bacteria present in this fermented drink minimize bloating, prevent proliferation of candida and yeast and soothe the gut to ensure optimal digestion. It is believed that Kombucha has the ability to boost mental clarity, making a person feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Cranberry Juice – A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that drinking cranberry juice can ward off recurring urinary tract infections in women. Cranberry juice contains a component called non-dialysable material that prevents bacteria from adhering to the gums. This, in turn, prevents gum disease. However, bear in mind that cranberry juice has high sugar content and hence, you shouldn’t be looking to consume more than six to eight ounces a day. It is advisable to pick up 100 per cent cranberry juice from health stores.

Coconut Water – Coconut water is nature’s answer to oral rehydration. It naturally contains phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, calcium and potassium. In addition, water of a tender coconut contains B vitamins, ascorbic acid, zinc, selenium, iodine and sulfur. This is just the drink you need on a hot summer’s day to replenish the lost salts and revitalize your body. If you want to avert diseases and health-related issues, make these five drinks a part of your daily life along with regular exercise. You will love the endless energy and vitality that these beverages can impart.

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6 best high-fiber foods you must try

Fiber is required for healthy growth and well being. It is imperative for achieving your weight loss goals and reducing the risk of hypertension, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, PMS and even heart disease. So here are a few foods that are high in fiber, and are also tasty enough to consume without making a face.

Figs – One of the best sources of fiber includes dried figs and fresh figs that come with the right balance of soluble and insoluble fiber. Along with providing your body with necessary fiber, it also assists in lowering blood pressure and protects you from macular degeneration. If you aren’t a fan of dried figs, try gorging on fresh ones. You can make figs more interesting by adding them to your salads or cereals. You can even consume it with honey or goat cheese.

Raspberries – Raspberries, like all other fruits, are a great source of fiber. Raspberries are a wonderful source of manganese, which help to promote healthy bones, balance the blood sugar levels and improves the skin quality. Mixing this berry, which is also an antioxidant, with your morning cereal or oats will ensure you stay satiated for a longer time and also get your day’s dose of recommended fiber.

Artichokes – Artichokes can become a great addition to your diet as they are a fiber-rich food that is low on calories and high in essential nutrients. They are also rich in antioxidants and contain an impressive 10.3 g of fiber that will also help you in your weight loss endeavors while helping to keep your blood cholesterol level healthy. Consume artichokes with a mixture of lime, black pepper and garlic.

Black Beans – Each cup of black beans has 15 g fiber. These beans are excellent for your heart as they decrease the chances of heart disease and also lower bad cholesterol. Along with being high in fiber, beans are also a great source of plant-based protein. You can add cooked black beans into your salad or prepare a bean casserole. If you like, you can pair beans with sweet potatoes to add more fiber to your diet.

Broccoli – Another interesting food that is rich in fiber is broccoli. You will not say no to broccoli once it is made into sumptuous fritters that are as tempting and appealing as it can get. Simply combine onions, eggs, broccoli, almond meal and garlic. You will be taken aback by what an instant hit it will be on the dinner table.

Avocados – Avocados are called a superfood because they are a single source of vitamins, fiber and healthy fats. On an average, one medium avocado consists of around 10-13 g fiber, which is why adding it to your meals will ensure you not only satiate yourself, but also consume essential nutrients. Avocados also help reduce your risk of heart disease while bringing down your blood cholesterol level. You can simply pile it on top of a salad and enjoy the creamy fruit that will surely tantalize your taste buds. Or, make a guacamole and slather it onto some whole grain bread to up your fiber intake.

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Food Blog Health

Nutrition diva: 5 ways to slow aging

While aging is inevitable, it does not mean that you have to sit down and do nothing about it. In fact, you can slow down the aging process. The secret lies in eating right. Consuming the right food means your body gets the nutrition it requires to function optimally and perform repairs at the cellular level. When you start treating your body with love and respect, it will respond and you will notice that the aging process actually slows down. You will feel more energized and be able to do many things that previously you couldn’t because of your unhealthy food choices.

Here are five foods that can slow the aging process and help you stay young for a longer period of time.

Blueberries – Not only are blueberries delicious, but they are also replete with antioxidants. According to the oxidative stress theory, free radicals damage the body at the cellular level, thereby impairing their functioning and hastening the process of aging. In fact, free radicals are responsible for a number of age-related disease, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even certain types of cancer. One study states free radical damage to lipids, proteins and DNA increases as the body ages. But, when you provide your body with adequate antioxidants, like from blueberries, it will slow down the aging process.

Dietary Fiber – When you consume whole grains, fruits, veggies and legumes, you are consuming dietary fiber. This fiber ensures your digestive system works optimally and you do not suffer from constipation. On the other hand, if you shun dietary fiber and consume a diet that is high in fat and calories, you will be at a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers – conditions that are associated with being overweight and obese. Research shows that eating food that is rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, can keep your cholesterol in check and prevent age-related diseases as it keeps your weight under control.

Natural Yogurt – Bone loss is a major concern as the body ages. It can lead to osteoporosis. While women are more susceptible to osteoporosis, even men can get it. By consuming natural yogurt regularly, you can minimize bone loss. Also, yogurt contains beneficial bacteria that keep your digestive system running optimally.

Nuts – Almonds, cashew nuts, peanuts and macadamia nuts, are one of the healthiest foods out there if you are looking to slow down the aging process. They are rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids, unsaturated fat, proteins and fiber. Consuming nuts on a regular basis will keep your heart healthy and prevent onset of diseases that come with age. You will also have the energy to be physically active.

Broccoli – Remember how your mother used to force you to eat broccoli. Your mother was right in doing so. Broccoli is filled with antioxidants, fiber and different types of vitamins to ensure your body gets the nutrients to fight the natural aging process. As a result, consumption of broccoli slows down the aging process, allowing you to maintain a youthful body and mind.