By Linda Knittel
Healthnotes Newswire (July 15, 2010)—Improving how you eat can naturally affect your long-term health and well-being—but you might not realize that even small changes can make a big difference. Try these foods to give yourself a health-promoting diet upgrade.
Pick pomegranate juice
Not only is pomegranate juice packed with antioxidants, it has been shown to reduce cholesterol buildup and improve circulation. In a double-blind study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, drinking 1 cup (237 ml) of the juice daily for three months significantly improved circulation in patients with restricted blood flow.
• Drink one 8-ounce (237 ml) glass daily.
Consider organic dairy products
The World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, and numerous medical associations have concluded that milk and meat from cows treated with rBGH (a hormone given to livestock to increase production) is safe for human consumption, but the medical debate about health risks remains inconclusive. People interested in minimizing exposure to synthetic substances in their own food or who have concerns about their effects on livestock may choose to avoid products made with rBGH.
• Governments in Canada, Europe, and elsewhere have blocked the sale of rBGH, and some large retailers have made the decision not to carry rBGH-containing products.
• Though organic farmers are the only group required to not use the hormone, many conventional dairy farmers now choose to produce their products without using rBGH, and will state so on their packaging.
Cook with coconut oil
While it is well known that unsaturated fats are generally more heart-healthy than saturated fats, unsaturated fats are unstable, and cooking with them forms heart-damaging free radicals. Because it is an almost completely saturated fat, coconut oil is stable enough to resist the heat-induced damage that can make other oils unhealthy.
• Use coconut oil in place of butter, margarine, or any other type of oil in all types of recipes. (Note that olive oil is resistant to oxidation too, and is therefore also pretty healthy.)
• Choose fresh, organic, and unrefined coconut oil, because it contains the most nutrients and no chemicals.
Look for omega-3 eggs
Omega-3-enriched eggs do not appear to increase cholesterol levels in the way regular eggs can, and in clinical studies, omega-3 eggs have been shown to actually lower blood pressure.
• Buy eggs produced by hens fed special diets to produce eggs with enhanced amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
• These eggs contain 100 to 200 mg of omega-3s (three to six times that of a normal egg).
Go with grass-fed beef
Cattle that graze on grassy fields produce healthier meat than those fed grain. Grass-fed beef:
• has less fat and is lower in calories,
• is higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and
• is a richer source of vitamin E.
A nutritional anthropologist by training, Linda Knittel works as a nutritional counselor and health writer. She writes regularly about nutrition, alternative medicine, traditional diets, yoga, and fitness for publications such as Natural Health, Yoga Journal, Body & Soul, Fitness, Gourmet, and Let’s Live. She is also the author of the User's Guide to Natural Remedies for Depression (Basic Health Publications, 2003).
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