Who says we have to suffer...to live a healthy happy vibrant life?

Red wine and dark chocolate... might seem decadent...but these guilty pleasures also might help us live longer...and healthier lives. Red wine and dark chocolate definitely improve an evening..but they also contain resveratrol..which lowers blood sugar. Red wine is a great source of catechins..which boost protective HDL cholesterol. Green tea? Protects your brain..helps you live longer..and soothes your spirit.

Food for Thought, the blog, is about living the good life...a life we create with our thoughts and our choices...and having fun the whole while!

I say lets make the thoughts good ones..and let the choices be healthy...exciting...and delicious! Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Red Wine and Dark Chocolate. Guilt Free Pleasures That Romance the Heart

Resveratrol which lowers blood sugar and relaxes arteries is found in red wine and also dark chocolate, making them ideal for heart holidays like Valentine's Day and year round consumption for heart health.

Red wine, and Green Tea provide catechins, which lower LDL and total cholesterol and relax blood vessels for blood pressure control. To say nothing of boosting mood!

Dark chocolate, (70 percent or higher cocoa content) is a treat you do not have to feel guilty about. When was the last time you were really excited about eating healthy? “Truffles, souffl├ęs and even hot chocolate can be a great source of resveratrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids) as long as dark chocolate with a high content of cocoa is used.”

Other heart healthy choices?

Salmon/tuna - “Especially white, or albacore, tuna and salmon are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and canned salmon contains soft bones that give an added boost of calcium intake.”

Oatmeal - “Cooked for a breakfast porridge or used in breads or desserts, oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, niacin, folate and potassium.”

Black or kidney beans – These foods provide niacin, folate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, soluble fiber.

Walnuts and almonds - “Both walnuts and almonds contain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats.”

Blueberries/cranberries/raspberries/strawberries - “Berries are a good source of beta carotene and lutein, anthocyanin, ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber.” Yes! You can dip them in dark chocolate!

Green Tea Catechins Reduce Cholesterol levels

A review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials looked at the relationship between compounds called catechins in green tea and serum lipid levels. Twenty trials were assessed and the results showed that Green Tea Catechins in doses ranging from 145 to 3000 mg taken daily for 3 to 24 weeks reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. HDL and Triglyceride levels were not affected.

Note that the average cup of green tea contains 100 mg. of catechins. So to get to 3000 mg you'll be drinking a lot of tea! Supplements are available.

Also the way you handle, brew and store your green tea at home can also make a difference in the catechin content. These tips come from a definitive guide to all things green tea:

  • Use flow-through tea bags instead of flat tea bags, so the water can easily circulate through the leaves and the catechins can be released efficiently.
  • Use purified water, as the chlorine in tap water degrades the catechins and destroys the subtle flavor of green tea.
  • Avoid tea kettles made of metal alloys containing iron since iron lowers the antioxidant of activity of catechins.1 Kettles made of high-grade stainless steel, nickel-plated metal alloys, copper, polypropylene plastic, lead-free porcelain or glass are best.
  • Bring the water to a full boil and add the tea immediately. Steeping tea leaves at 212° F for five minutes releases approximately 80 percent of the catechins. In contrast, the catechin release is over one-third less when tea is steeped at 176° F.2
  • Don’t put the tea leaves in water and then microwave them. This will “overcook” them and destroy some of the catechins.
  • Keep your tea in an airtight container, even if it comes in pre-packaged bags. This will keep the tea leaves fresher and help preserve the catechins.

Multivitamin Use Improves Survival rate in Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer patients who take multivitamins with minerals are less likely to have disease recurrence than patients who do not take multivitamins with minerals, according to new data.
The routine use of multivitamins with minerals also appears to be associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer–specific and overall death.
Findings of the prospective Life After Cancer Epidemiology study were reported by Heather Greenlee, ND, PhD, who is a naturopathic physician and assistant professor of epidemiology and medical oncology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.
Her group analyzed questionnaires completed by 2239 women diagnosed with a first primary early-stage breast cancer between 1997 and 2000.
“Many women diagnosed with breast cancer have questions about what lifestyle changes they can make to improve their prognosis as a breast cancer survivor, including whether taking vitamin supplements can reduce adverse side effects from treatment, decrease their risk of recurrence, and improve survival,” Greenlee pointed out.
Compared with healthy women, breast cancer patients appear to be more frequent users of multivitamins and vitamin/mineral supplements, she added. In fact, data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show ed that 57% to 62% of women with breast cancer use multivitamins compared with only 38% of healthy women.
“To date, no studies have examined the association between multivitamin use either pre- and/or postdiagnosis and the risk of breast cancer recurrence and death,” she said.
Of the study population, there were 363 breast cancer recurrences, 202 deaths from breast cancer, and 372 deaths overall, as of May 7, 2010.
Forty-four percent of patients reportedly took multivitamins with minerals at least three times a week for at least 12 months during the 5 years before they had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After diagnosis, 60% of women reported using multivitamins with minerals. In the study, women who were categorized as having used multivitamins and minerals after their diagnosis had to have taken them at least three times a week for at least 1 year after their diagnosis.
Women who reported that they had continually taken multivitamins with minerals before their diagnosis and continuing afterward were 31% less likely to have a disease recurrence than women who said that they had never taken multivitamins with minerals. They were also 47% less likely to die of breast cancer and 27% less likely to die of any cause.
Further analysis revealed that the protective associations occurred only in women who had undergone radiation and hormone therapy.

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Providing a simple nutritional program to follow, the authors show how micro-nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants can enhance the beneficial effects of conventional cancer treatments, decrease their toxic side effects, improve long-term prognosis, and reduce the risk of new cancer. Explaining how antioxidants regulate gene expression and cancer heredity, the authors detail how to counteract the risks of dental and medical X-rays, CT scans, mammograms, cell phones, frequent flying, and other unavoidable hazards of modern life; reduce the oxidative stress of free radicals in the blood; and decrease chronic inflammation. Reviewing recent studies, they deflate the controversies surrounding the use of antioxidants in cancer treatment, revealing everything from the reason why many vitamins in foods are destroyed during storage to the surprising role of selenium in cancer prevention.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Red Wine protective against breast cancer!

This is certainly good news for those who love the darker grapes. For years we've been hearing that alcohol raises a woman's risk of breast cancer due to the lift in estrogen that happens when we drink. Turns out if we like red wine we have protection...not increased risk. It has to do with aromatase.

Previous research has suggested that all alcoholic beverages increase the risk of breast cancer since they activate the aromatase enzyme (responsible for a key step in the production of estrogens from androgens).

By comparing levels of important hormones in people consuming a moderate amount of red and white wine daily, this new study investigated whether red wine
consumption was associated with hormonal changes that may reduce the risk of breast cancer .

The researchers found that red wine consumption was associated with increased free testosterone and lower levels of female sex hormones.

Their findings suggest that components in red wine act as aromatase inhibitors, which challenge the wide-held belief that all types of alcohol increase the risk of developing breast cancer.

So women at risk of breast cancer who enjoy having the occasional cocktail, may find some relief in this study, as long as they stick to red wine.

Here's the study:

More evidence that red wine is healthier than other wines and drinks? The amount of alcohol and certain unique substances that are present in the red wine helps it to increase the “good” cholesterol and also prevents the artery, blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, from damage. Antioxidants, like flavonoids and resveratrol certainly have heart healthy effects and these are present in red wine!