If you’re looking to take your health to the next level, it’s important to know the best way of preparing foods in order to maximize the nutritional benefits. For some food, cooking them increases their nutritional value so your body can take in more. However, when dealing with other foods this does the opposite and can even make it more difficult for the body to absorb all the vitamins and minerals as when eating them raw. Although cooked veggies can have more flavor or be easier to chew, you may be undoing some of great nutritional benefits. See why eating these foods raw is healthier:
- Beets – These vegetables are high in fiber, vitamin C and potassium but when cooked they can lose as much as 25% of their folate, a healthy brain compound.
- Broccoli – Among other benefits broccoli also contains sulforaphane, a compound which is more easily absorbed when consumed raw and has been found to fight cancer cells, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, and provide antioxidants that help with anti-aging and immunity.
- Onions – Allicin, the stuff in onions that makes you tear up, is a phytonutrient that helps curb hunger, prevent cancer, promote cardiovascular health, and reduce high blood pressure – and you get more of it when you eat onions raw.
- Red Bell Peppers – Roasting, frying, or grilling red bell peppers at a temperature over 375 degrees Fahrenheit will cause their vitamin C properties to break down, taking away from their full nutritional benefits.
- Garlic – A study revealed that eating raw garlic two or more times a week reduced risk of developing lung cancer – like onions, you’ll get more nutritional benefits when eating it raw.
We’ve all missed a workout before but when it comes to building muscle and staying in shape – is the old adage true that if you don’t use it, you lose it? While it’s important to rest, it can be a lot harder to bounce back from a break the longer you wait. According to studies, strength loss occurs after about two and a half to three weeks of inactivity for most people. Cardio conditioning falls faster but is easier to regain than muscle strength. Consistency is especially important if you’re new to exercise but thankfully, these new habits make it easier to retain strength. Experts suggest tips for staying strong during downtime, including performing light cardio, incorporating resistance training and eating right.
Best known as the substance in turmeric lending the yellow color to curry spice, curcumin has previously been shown to produce antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and lipid-lowering effects. One study used a lab animal model of high cholesterol in order to find out how curcumin impacts heart health. Rabbits that were fed a high-cholesterol diet with curcumin supplements for 8 weeks experienced smaller arterial plaques and less buildup in the aorta, compared to those animals fed the high-cholesterol diet without curcumin supplements. Authors of the study say their results showed that curcumin promotes less arterial clogging by lowering serum lipids and cholesterol-causing low-density lipoproteins.
Cocoa compounds enhance a region of the brain that is used for memory. The dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus whose function declines in correlation to aging is therefore considered to be a possible source of age-related memory decline. A number of healthy men and women ages 50-69, were randomly assigned to receive either a high-flavanol diet or a low-flavanol diet for three months and underwent brain imaging and memory tests before and after the study. Researchers observed significant improvements in the function of the dentate gyrus in those who consumed the high-cocoa-flavanol drink as compared to the low-flavanol diet. It was found that a high-flavanol supplementation enhanced function, establishing that dysfunction is a major factor in age-related cognitive decline.
Those with neuromuscular disease have often been found to also have a vitamin D deficiency. In previous years, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and Parkinson’s disease. A more recent study suggests that this may be prevalent in other neuromuscular conditions as well. Research shows that vitamin D supplementation may help improve functioning in elderly patients as well as individuals with myasthenia gravis and Parkinson’s. These findings may push physicians to consider monitoring vitamin D levels in their patients and supplementing in cases of neurologic conditions.
New research suggests that tea, citrus fruits and juices may help stave off the risk of ovarian cancer. Studies show that dietary flavonoids significantly lower the chance of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among women. Researchers say in particular consuming a couple of cups of black tea every day has been associated with a 31% reduction in cancer risk. The main sources of the protective compounds include tea, citrus fruits and juices, as well as red wine, apples and grapes, which are easily incorporated, making them simple yet effective dietary changes.
Green leafy vegetables may help improve visual processing because they contain carotenoid compounds, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important to eye health. Young, healthy men and women were enrolled in a study where they were randomly assigned to 3 groups: the first group received placebo, the second received zeaxanthin only and the third group received a mix of lutein, zeaxanthin and omega-3s. In both the group receiving zeaxanthin and the group receiving the combination supplement, researchers observed that visual acuity increased 12% while visual motor reaction time increased by 10%. Researchers say that supplementation resulted in significant improvements in visual processing speed.
Beneficial to mental and emotional health, B-complex vitamins need to be replenished daily. During a study, adults ages 50 years and older who reported experiencing depression were given a combination of antidepressant medication, vitamin B12, folic acid and vitamin B6 over a year. Participants were monitored for changes and found that remission of symptoms were achieved by 75.8% and 85.5% after one year. Results also showed a significant reduction in the risk of relapse among participants who took the B-vitamins. Researchers concluded that, while B vitamins did not increase short-term effectiveness of treatments, they did see improvement in antidepressant response after continued treatment.
Before there were “organic” labels, all meat was grass-fed until we began to manage animals’ diets in an effort to increase production and lower costs. Nowadays, there are all kinds of labels on the market, making it harder to discern which is healthiest. “Conventional” beef is the most common meat in the U.S. (95%) and comes from cows that have been injected with hormones and antibiotics and fattened with grains, making it nutritionally inferior as well as laden with pesticide residues and GMOs. Another type, “grass-fed, grain-finished” refers to what you typically get when you buy “organic” beef in the U.S. and means that the cows were raised on pasture, but then fattened up with grains for 30 days. Alternatively, meat labeled “grass-fed, grass-finished” comes from cows that were raised entirely on pasture and contains more nutrients than grain-fed meat, including omega 3 fatty acids, trace minerals, and vitamins B, E, and K. All in all, nutrition experts advise against eating conventional meat altogether if possible and say that grain-finished meat is a step above conventional whereas grass-finished meat is the best option when deciding what to eat.
In the past, studies suggested that dietary nitrate (NO3−) improves muscle function during exercise. Kansas State University colleagues recently found that beetroot juice can help increase blood flow to muscles during exercise by approximately 38%, especially to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles. After seeing that dietary nitrate supplementation via beetroot juice improves metabolic control in fast-twitch muscles, the study concluded that a drinking beetroot juice may be a method of inducing these beneficial effects during high-intensity workouts.