6 Foods For Your Brain

On Tuesday, I shared how greens are good for your brain (“Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!“). Today I’ll share which are also good for the grey matter.

Let’s face it, keeping the brain healthy is just as important as keeping the rest of the body healthy. I doubt there is anyone who disagrees with that last sentence, but I do think many people are perplexed as to how we can keep cognitive functions clicking along at full speed. After all, we can feel our muscles getting stronger, and we can when out “guts” are well fed, but how do we know if our brains are being correctly exercised and fed? In future posts, I’ll discuss exercising the brain, but today the post is about feeding the brain.

In a Runner’s World article, six foods are given focus because of their brain protecting qualities. First item on the list is arugula, what I would consider a “stand in” for all leafy greens. (frankly, I would have chosen Swiss, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, “An Ode To Leafy Greens…”,  I’m a little biased) Arugula does a fantastic job of feeding the brain with loads of vitamin K, and can be easy found in grocery stores and served in restaurants.

Others on the list include:

  • Blueberries – could lower Alzheimer’s risks by 53%
  • Egg Yolks – Choline in yolks is beneficial in allowing brain cells to communicate more efficiently
  • Olive Oil – The antioxidant oleocanthal may play a part in the reduction of plaque formations in the brain
  • Salmon – The Omega 3’s in salmon help reduce inflammation and oxidation in the brain.
  • Walnuts – Like salmon, these nuts are rich in Omega 3 oils, and thus protect the brain.

For additional details on why these foods work for your brain, click on the Runner’s World link here. https://www.runnersworld.com/healthy-food/best-foods-brain-health

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An Ode to Leafy Greens: Nutritional Values and How to Eat Them

photo created by the author

Yesterday’s post (Tuesday, 1/16/18, “Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!”) I shared how adding a serving of leafy greens to your diet everyday is good for your brain. In today’s post, you’ll see the nutritional values for a variety of leafy greens that you’ll find in the marketplace, and some ideas of how you can consume greens other than in a salad.

For a while, kale has been written about with the title, “Super Food”. When you review the nutrition data associated with kale, “Super Food” is a title that is well deserved. But there is one problem with kale; many people don’t like the flavor. The bitter, astringent flavor of most kale is too strong for the palates of most folks. Personally, I like to add kale to a salad, but I rarely eat it alone. The question then becomes, what other leafy greens offer similar health benefits but not with the same bitter kale bite?

Nutritional values of leafy greens

Click on the table to expand it for better viewing.

I’ve been promoting the virtues Swiss chard to family and friends for years. Chard is a mild flavored green like spinach, but I believe chard has a lot more going for it than spinach. First off, chard is very easy to grow. The colorful leafy chard is very forgiving in a harsh growing environment, like where I live in Central Texas. Conversely, I have found spinach to be rather demanding, especially water consumption. Secondly, the nutritional profile of chard is outstanding. At a 100gr per serving, Swiss chard delivers 692% of the daily vitamin K needs (limits neural damage to the brain and promotes bone growth), 204% of the daily vitamin A needs (critical for good vision, bone growth, cell reproduction and cell growth, and thus supports a healthy immune system and skin), 50% of the daily vitamin C needs (powerful antioxidant that supports your immune system), 22.5% of your daily iron needs (nearly the same amount as spinach, and iron is a much needed supplement for many women) and powerful antioxidants such a beta carotene which turns into vitamin A once the phyto-nutrient is consumed. Why not swap one Super Food for another, and enjoy what you are eating.

Once you start to look at the nutritional profiles of leafy greens, I think you can make a good case as to why you should consider adding one or more of these vegetables into your diet. I suggest that you just eat one by itself, but instead mix them together like a salad because the different flavors and textures make for a satisfying meal. Personal tips: I like to add mustard greens to my salads. The sharp peppery-horseradish mustard flavor adds a punch of flavor to a mild lettuce salad. You don’t need too much to add a “wow” factor to your salad.

Here are some ideas on where to add greens into your diet:

  • Make a salad: This is obvious, and I already touched on this idea.
  • Make a sandwich or a wrap: Add mustard greens, spinach, and watercress to your next sandwich and give your next bite some extra crunch.
  • Add to soup: Hearty vegetable soups like minestrone pair well with collard greens, kale, and Swiss chard. Many Asian soup recipes pair well with bok choy and cabbages.
  • Stir-fry: Add chopped spinach, bok choy or Swiss chard to your stir fry.
  • Steamed: Steaming collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach until they are slightly soft.
  • Saute: Quickly saute your greens with olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper.
  • In an omelet: One of my favorite ways to add greens to my diet. Saute the Swiss chard for spinach, then fold the greens into an omelet with tomatoes and little feta cheese. So good!

What are some other ways you have added greens to your diet. Please share your thoughts with the rest of us.

References:
https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2917?manu=&fgcd=&ds=Standard%20Reference
https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/vegetable-nutrition.html

Eat Your Greens. It’s Brain Food!

Do you eat greens? Some people eat salads to manage their waistlines. Some eat greens because they want more fiber in their diet. Some folks, don’t think about leafy greens at all. Would you eat more greens if I told you greens are good for your brain? And that if you eat greens regularly, your brain could be younger by an average of 11 years compared to non-greens eaters.

In a study published in the magazine “Neurology”, researchers found that by increasing the daily consumption of greens by 1.3 servings a day, test subjects significantly slowed down their cognitive decline. For those who added the additional serving of leafy greens to their diet everyday slowing of cognitive decline such that their brains appeared to be 11 years YOUNGER that the test subjects who did not eat leafy green.

What is the relation of leafy greens to a younger brain? It is believed that the primary nutrients and bio-actives in leafy greens, vitamin K (phylloquinone), lutein, β-carotene, nitrate, folate, kaempferol, and α-tocopherol, play an essential part in keeping the brain healthy, and thus slowing the natural decline that comes with aging.

A healthy mind and body, in sync with each other, is a great way to live out your life.

If you would like to read more about this topic, you can find the study published in Neurology here 

The LIVESTRONG site also has some additional studies done on this topic and those studies back up the latest study. Check that out here.

34 Minute Metabolism Busting Workout

Are you wanting a new routine or looking to make a change to your current routine? I really like the video being featured on the LIVESTRONG site. The routine is 34 minutes, so it isn’t too long. You are constantly moving; thus, your heart rate is accelerated and your fat burning metabolism is kicked up. Extra bonus, you don’t need any equipment!  You can do this in your home before you go to work, or as soon as you get home without dedicating hours of your time or breaking your wallet.

Check out the video from Stronger, located here

Video Creenshot from livestrong and stronger

Let me know your thoughts about the routine and if you add this to your workouts. I’m adding the routine to my “off days”, when I’m not running.

Don’t Let YOU give up on YOU

Here is a little fitness inspiration. The picture and associated article are from Runner’s World. What you will read is a cool little story about how 50-year-old Molly Friel just qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials! That was not a typo, and YES, she kicked butt. Read her story at Runner’s World:

Reading this article inspires me to say, “Don’t let YOU give up on YOU”. Don’t give on your health. Don’t give up on your fitness. Don’t settle for the slow slide into obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other degenerative maladies. Don’t put yourself in the position where you look back 20 years from now and say, “If I had only done a little more exercise, I could now … enjoy my retirement… travel more… explore places I have never been…. play with my grandchildren.”

At 52 years old, I completely understand the challenges of a health and fitness routine. Can getting started on a fitness routine be difficult? Yes. Can staying vigilant of health issues be tiresome? Yes. I no longer bounce when I hit the floor. When I mix up my exercise routine, my muscles are now sorer for longer than when I was younger. But, I do believe that nothing worth gaining ever comes easy, and gaining and keeping your health is worth every sore muscle. Decide today that YOU won’t give up on YOU. I’m not saying that you need to run a marathon Molly Friel, but if you want to run in her footsteps, go for it! Molly is a great example as to why we shouldn’t let age define our health or our fitness.
If you don’t have an exercise routine today, think about it over the weekend, put together some simple plans, and get started. Starting is always the hardest part. Once you are in motion, you’ll keep moving. And don’t fret if your plans are too simple. Just move, and your health will fall into place. Plus, I’ll continue to provide you with new ideas each week and after a while, you’ll find the routine that works best for you.
I’ll have write more on this topic in the following weeks. Until then, I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, I hope you can enjoy some exercise, and if you cook this week’s food recipe, let me know how the recipe turned out for you.

Beef Vegetable Soup

photo by Graham Brown

I know, last week I posted a soup recipe and I’m doing it again today. What can I say, I like soup! And here is another soup that for me is hitting all the right notes: 1) Healthy, 2) Easy to make, 3) will warm you up on a cold day. Note that this recipe utilizes the slow cooker, just like last week’s recipe. So, get your prep down, drop the ingredients in the crock pot, and go take care of your busy life.

One thing I will change on this recipe is that I will drop the potatoes and add greens. I grow Swiss chard and it had become a favorite vegetable of mine to add to salads, soups, or to sauté. It is such an easy and versatile vegetable, packed with fiber and minerals, and yet has a mild flavor. By dropping the potatoes and adding the Swiss chard, I will increase the fiber count and decrease the simple carbohydrate count. Simple carbohydrates (starch, i.e. sugar) is the bane of my diet, and consequently, the bane of my health. I’m sure than many of you also face many of the same challenges health that I do because starch likes to take up residency around our midsections. I’m putting my foot down on starch!

Makes: 4 servings
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 14-1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup loose-pack frozen peas
  • Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

Nutrition facts per serving: 269 calories, 28g protein, 29g carbohydrate, 4g fat (1g saturated), 4g fiber

For directions on how to put these ingredients together for a delicious soup, please click here and see the rest of the details. https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/dinner/seven-easy-slow-cooker-recipes/?page=4

Five Reasons Why People Overeat

Photo created by Wide-Body

In a well-done article, Parade magazine explores five reasons people overeat. What I like about this article is that the reasons given for why people overeat is because people have formed poor habits that they are likely unaware that they have. And because these same people are unaware they have these poor habits, they are also likely to be unaware of how the poor habit is impacting their ability to stop overeating. How many of these bad habits do you have? I know there is one habit in here that I was unaware of until I read this article.

The Five Reasons Why People Overeat are:

  1. Overestimating the value of exercise. The treadmill says you burned 500 calories, so you think that it is okay to supersize your next meal. Problem, exercise machines inflate the calories burned number.
  2. Your primary social activity is eating out. Large restaurant plates, alcohol, and good friend can lead to overeating, and you may not even be aware it is happening. Try an event that is more active with your group of friends.
  3. You need more sleep. A lack of sleep messes up your hormone levels, leading you to crave more food, and thus overeat. You can keep your appetite in check by getting more sleep.
  4. You eat food labeled as “healthy”. Here is a something I never considered; Some people subconsciously associate healthy food choices with being less filling, and thus over eat the healthy choices. Who knew? Not me. Portion control doesn’t go away just because you’ve made a healthy food choice.
  5. You are not eating enough fat. “Say what? Are you saying I need to eat more fried chicken?” Eating more fat doesn’t mean eating more fried foods. In the case of fried foods, much of the fat used in the frying is saturated fat, which goes straight to your belly and hurts the heart. Instead, the fats you need in your diet are unsaturated and found in foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon, and olive oil. These fats add flavor to food AND satisfy your appetite

I have to say that I learned something new, and had a couple of suspicions verified. To read more details and see the opinions of experts cited in the please click here at parade.com.

Do you find articles like this helpful? Are there actions that you’ve taken in your own life that would be helpful to other people? If so, please share them as we would like to hear from you. Either make your comments below are send me a message through the contacts page. Thank you.