Whether your go-to yogurt is traditional Greek, Icelandic or Australian, to make sure it's the healthiest choice, check the label to find out if it has more probiotics and less sugar. 

Whether your go-to yogurt is traditional Greek, Icelandic or Australian, to make sure it's the healthiest choice, check the label to find out if it has more probiotics and less sugar. 

Yogurt has become a healthy go-to for breakfast, snacks, smoothies, or in recipes to cut down on calories. 

Greek yogurt is The O Report's favorite because it has less lactose and sugar, but more protein, than traditional yogurt. (Greek yogurt has up to 20 grams of protein; traditional has 11-15 grams.) 

Also be on the lookout for Icelandic and Australian yogurts, which are just now appearing in U.S. supermarkets. Icelandic is the thickest of all varieties, but it's also the tartest; Australian is the creamiest but has a higher fat content. 

No matter which kind of yogurt you prefer, a recent article in Better Homes & Gardens magazine listed two things to check the label for so you can make sure the yogurt you choose is the healthiest. 

1. Probiotic Check. Look for the Live & Active Cutlures seal on the label of dairy and nondairy yogurts. It means that it contains the highest amount of probiotics. If you don't see a seal, make sure L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus are listed as ingredients. 

2. Sugar Check. Plain yogurts should have 9 grams or less of natural sugar per serving. Flavored yogurts should have less that 15 grams of sugar. If it's higher than 17 grams, it has the same sugar content as two Fun Size Snickers. 

 

 

A FROZEN TREAT

Cheers to frozen wine cubes! 

Cheers to frozen wine cubes! 

According to the July issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, a daily 5-ounce serving of wine may help reduce the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and Alzheimer's disease.

But what really has The O Report saying cheers is the magazine's genius tip that makes sipping on vino in the summer even more healthy and refreshing:

Freeze your favorite wine in ice trays (about 1-ounce per cube). Then pop one or two cubes into a light pour of wine to make it last longer. Or, add a few cubes to sparkling water to keep you hydrated and to make it easier to stay within the 5-ounce limit. 

 

SOLE POWER

With sandal season in full swing, it's time to focus on feet. In a feature in the June issue of Better Homes & GardensKaty Bowman, author of Whole Body Barefoot, shared some great tips for keeping feet healthy, which contributes to better body health overall. 

Her main point is that to stay strong, feet need exercise just like the rest of the body. And flexible toes give feet a wider base of support. She recommends these four moves:

1. Foot Stretch. While barefoot, sit near the edge of a chair. Fold the right foot back, tucking toes under so the top of your foot touches the ground, heel centered. Hold. Repeat with the left foot.

2. Toe Tense & Release. Keeping toes on the ground, spread them as far apart as you comfortably can. Hold for two seconds, relax, repeat. 

3. Big Toe Lifts. Raise your left big toe without lifting your other toes. Lower and repeat five times. Repeat with the right big toe. 

4. Hips Over Heels. Most people carry their weight on the forefoot rather than the stronger back part. Stand straight, and shift your weight (hips) back over heels without lifting toes.

A GREAT GADGET

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Trying to cut down on your carb intake? Or just looking for a fun new way to eat your vegetables? Try the OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer ($14.99; to order, click here.)

It works on a variety of produce including zucchini (perfect for veggie pasta); sweet potatoes (for making healthier baked curly fries); and yellow squash, carrots and beets for salads. For best results, use it on produce that is straight, at least 1.5 inches in diameter and 6 inches long. If it's longer than 6 inches, cut it in half; if it isn't straight, first cut the vegetables into straight pieces. 

Here are three quick and healthy ideas for putting the spiralizer to good use:

1. For veggie pasta, just substitute the zucchini noodles for your favorite pasta in Italian or Asian dishes. 

2. Add spiralized vegetables to lettuce to create a new look for your salad and dress it with a vinagrette made of a 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 3 Tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

3. To make sweet potato curly fries, toss the spiralized sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until crispy. 

 

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The new issue of Community Table magazine, has some great advice for couples to keep their relationship happy: Remember to be sweet. 

In the article, Dr. Stephanie Weiland Knarr, a licensted clinical marriage and family therapist, suggests spouses remember the sweet things they did for each other and the fun things they used to do in their early dating relationship and try them again. The article goes on to say that although it may sound counterintuitive, revisiting routines from your past is a great way to get out of a current relationship rut. 

EATING OUT CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU

Dining out with family and friends is one of life's great pleasures. Photo courtesy of The Capital Grille.

Dining out with family and friends is one of life's great pleasures. Photo courtesy of The Capital Grille.

Sharing a great meal with family and friends is one of the best things you can do for your emotional health. Entertaining at home is fun, but so is the stress-free option of dining out. 

If you're always looking for new restaurants to add to your list of favorites, The O Report is a fan of recommendations from Open Table, a restaurant reservation booking site. You can learn about top restaurants all over the U.S. and the world on its website.

If your eating out options tend to be a little closer to home, here are a few of Open Table's new Top 10 lists for the Charlotte area.

Best Atmosphere: McNinch House, Webb Custom Kitchen (Gastonia), The Cellar at Duckworth's, Luce Ristorante, Cafe Rule & Wine Bar (Hickory), The Fig Tree, The Capital Grille, Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge (Mooresville), Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House and Ruth's Chris Steak House. 

Foodies' Favorites: Aix en Provence, Heirloom, Namastay Kitchen and Hangout, The Cellar at Duckworth's, Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge (Mooresville), Luca Modern Italian Kitchen, Barrington's, Customshop, The Asbury and Webb Custom Kitchen (Gastonia).

Most Booked Restaurants: Maggiano's, 300 East, The Capital Grille, Fahrenheit, Paco's Tacos & Tequila, Cafe Monte, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, The Pump House (Rock Hill), Essex and Aria Tuscan Grill. 

Neighborhood Gems: Aix en Provence, Dolce Ristorante, Pisces Sushi Bar & Lounge (Mooresville), The 220 Cafe (Statesville), Primo Tuscan Grille, Mario's Italian Restaurant (Matthews), Namastay Kitchen and Hangout, Luca Modern Italian Kitchen, Webb Custom Kitchen (Gastonia) and Customshop. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIVE WAYS TO SNEAK FITNESS INTO YOUR DAY

On those busy days when there's no time to exercise, even waiting for your coffee to brew can be a chance to sneak in extra activity.

On those busy days when there's no time to exercise, even waiting for your coffee to brew can be a chance to sneak in extra activity.

We all have those days where there's just no time to exercise. But there's always time to sneak in a little extra activity in your daily routine. In a recent article in the AARP Bulletin, top trainers Chris Freytag, founder of www.gethealthyu.com, and Lindsay Hunt, founder of www.walkon thehealthyside.com, listed their advice for being more active all day long. Here is The O Report's Top 5 List of their best tips. 

1. While Waiting Around In The Kitchen. Waiting on your coffee to brew or water to boil while you're cooking dinner.? Try any combination of these moves: Squeeze your behind 10 times. Tighten your stomach muscles 10 times. Stretch your arms downward behind you and squeeze your triceps 10 times. Rise up on your toes and squeeze your calves 10 times. Raise your arms out to the sides and do 15 circles in a clockwise direction, then 15 circles counterclockwise. 

2. While Sitting Around. Improve your grip strength by keeping a tennis ball at your desk at work and another by your favorite chair at home. At least twice a day, grab a ball and squeeze tightly. Hold for five seconds, then release slowly. Repeat 10 to 15 times with each hand.

3. While Brushing Your Teeth. When you brush your teeth, stand on one foot for 60 seconds and the switch. When that becomes easy, try balancing while lifting your leg to the side.

4. When Getting Out Of A Chair. Every time you stand up from or sit down in a chair, use just your legs - or use one hand at first for assistance. Do this 10 times a day and you've done 10 squats without going to the gym. 

5. When At A Stoplight. Stregthen your pelvic floor muscles by tightening them (as if you have to urinate and are "holding it") when you're at a stoplight. Hold for 10 counts, then release for 10. Repeat until the light turns green. 

CUSTOMIZABLE VEGGIE BOWLS

Take your favorite veggies, leafy greens, protein, add in a starch and dressing, and you've just made the new trend in healthy eating: a customizable veggie bowl. 

Take your favorite veggies, leafy greens, protein, add in a starch and dressing, and you've just made the new trend in healthy eating: a customizable veggie bowl. 

March is National Nutrition Month - a great excuse to experiment with one of the biggest healthy eating trends around, customizable veggie bowls

The March issue of Spry Living magazine, published by Parade magazine, makes it easy by listing ingredients from each category needed for a perfect veggie bowl. Choose from this list, or make a list of your own favorites. The key is customization, so these are just ideas to get you started. But remember, it has to contain all five categories (a veggie, starch, leafy green, protein and a topping). 

Veggies: carrots, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes.

Starch: brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, squash.

Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, romaine, cabbage.

Protein: chickpeas, black beans, lentils, tofu.

Extras: hummus, avocado, low-sodium soy sauce, sour cream. 

DON'T GIVE FROZEN FOOD THE COLD SHOULDER

No matter the season, don't give frozen food the cold shoulder. Buy high quality varieties with no added sugar or sodium.

No matter the season, don't give frozen food the cold shoulder. Buy high quality varieties with no added sugar or sodium.

In honor of National Frozen Foods Day, which was March 6 in case you didn't have it marked on your calendar, writer Sally Wadyka penned an interesting article for Consumer Reports about making healthy choices when stocking your freezer. (To read the full article, click here.) 

Even though we're approaching the time of year when fresh fruits and vegetables are more available, the doctors and nutritionists she interviewed say it's always a good idea to have frozen versions in your freezer for days when time is short, or to help cut down on waste since fresh produce spoils quickly.

Here are four things The O Report learned from reading her excellent article:

1. Look for high-quality frozen foods with zero added sugar or salt.

2. Keep bags of berries and other fruits in the freezer to use in smoothies, parfaits and muffins.

3. Having frozen vegetables handy is a great way to enjoy the produce you love no matter what's in season. And like frozen fruits, frozen vegetables have almost the same vitamin and mineral content as fresh because they're picked fresh and then flash frozen. Just stay away from vegetables packed in sauces.

4. Don't forget whole grains and beans. Frozen bags of brown rice, quinoa, black beans, chickpeas and more are major time-savers and you can find varieties with no sodium added, unlike canned versions of beans which can often have a whopping 400 milligrams or more of sodium per half-cup serving. 

THIS HEALTH TIP IS NO JOKE

It's time to get serious about having fun because laughing is good for your health.

According to researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center, as reported in an article in a recent issue of Spry Living, laughter releases feel-good beta-endorphins that trigger the release of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow throughout the body including to and from the heart.

According to the article, "Nitric oxide also protects the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing formation of cholesterol plaque. The researchers said the effects of laughter on blood vessels are similar to the benefits of aerobic exercise or the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins. The difference is that laughter is spontaneous and has an immediate effect."

Other benefits of laughter cited in the research are that it can reduce stress hormones, including cortisol and epinephrin, and it boosts the number of antibody-reducing cells which help fight disease.

A SUPER NUTRITIOUS SNACK

As reported in the February issue of Redbook magazine, cookbook author Katie Wells (The Wellness Mama Cookbook), has a healthy Super Bowl appetizer that's scoring a touchdown with health-conscious home cooks.

Instead of serving loaded potato skins at your Super Bowl party, try Katie's more nutritious version. Slice three sweet potatoes into one-quarter-inch slices, toss them with one-quarter-cup of coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the seasoned slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Scoop the flesh from two avocados into a bowl. Add three-quarters of a cup of jarred salsa and the zest and juice of one lime plus a half-teaspoon each of cumin, garlic powder and salt, then mash until combined. Chop eight slices of cooked, crispy bacon and stir into the guacamole.

Top each sweet potato chip with a scoop of the guacamole mixture and sprinkle with grated white cheddar cheese. 

THE BEST - AND THE WORST - FOODS

Photos courtesy of www.pexels.com. 

Photos courtesy of www.pexels.com

Every year the Nutrition Action Newsletter, which is published for consumers by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, releases its list of the Top 10 foods you should avoid and the Top 10 foods that are healthiest for you. 

Here are the two lists, and excerpts of the nonprofit's revue of each food item. For more details, go to www.nutritionaction.com

Worst

1. Stouffer's Satisfying Servings White Meat Chicken Pot Pies. "Eat the entire pie, as many people do, and you're talking 1,100 calls, 23 grams of saturated fat (more than a day's worth) and 1,560 mg of sodium (a day's worth)." 

2. Five Guys Burgers and Fries. "The hamburger (with no toppings) has 700 calories and a day's worth of saturated fat (20 grams) and makes a McDonald's Big Mac (540 calories) look wimpy. Add 950 calories for the regular fries. A large MdDonald's fries has "only" 500 calories."

3. Campbell's regular Condensed Soup. "An average cup has 800 mg of sodium. But most people eat the whole can of soup, which contains 2,000 mg of sodium - more than most adults should consume in an entire day."

4. Chipotle Chicken Burrito. "It has 1,050 calories, 17 grams of saturated fat and 2,400 mg of sodium - as much as six Taco Bell Chicken Soft Tacos." 

5. Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake at The Cheesecake Factory. "If it weren't served on its side, it would stand over six inches tall. It weighs in at three-quarters of a pound, has 1,810 calories and three days' worth of saturated fat (62 grams).

6. Uno Pizzeria & Grill's Deep Dish Mac & Cheese. "It has more calories and saturated fat than a Famiy Size box of Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese that serves five."

7. Olive Garden's Tour of Italy. "It comes with 1,520 calories, 48 grams of saturated fat and 3,250 mg of sodium. Add a breadstick and a house salad with dressing and you'll consume 1,800 calories (nearly a day's worth)."

8. Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha. "It's as bad as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese."

9. Haagen-Dazs ice cream. "A petite half-cup has a half a day's saturated fat, 300 calories and 4 teaspoons of added sugar."

10. Cold Stone Creamery's Oh Fudge! shake. "The 20 fl. oz. size has the saturated fat content of two 14-oz. ribeye steaks plus a buttered baked potato."

Best

1. Sweet Potatoes. "A nutritional superstar - one of the best vegetables you can eat."

2. Mangoes. "A cup supplies 100 percent of a day's vitamin C."

3. Plain Greek yogurt. "It has twice the protein of ordinary yogurt."

4. Broccoli. "It has tons of vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin K and folate."

5. Wild Salmon. "It's rich in omega-3 fats, which may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And wild-caught salmon is more sustainable than farmed salmon."

6. Crispbreads. "Whole-grain rye crackers (Wasa for example) have simple ingredients (whole-grain flour, water, salt and sometimes yeast)." 

7. Garbanzo Beans. "All beans are healthy, but garbanzos stand out because they're so versatile."

8. Watermelon. "A heavyweight in the nutrient department. And when they're n season, they're often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint that some other fruits."

9. Butternut Squash. "It's an easy way to get lots of vitamins A and C." 

10. Leafy Greens. "Don't miss out on powerhouse greens such as Kale, collards, spinach, mustard greens and Swiss chard."

 

A HEALTHY HOLIDAY TIP

Liz Hilliard, left, and Clary Hilliard Gray of Hilliard Studio Method. 

Liz Hilliard, left, and Clary Hilliard Gray of Hilliard Studio Method. 

In the December issue of Myers Park Life magazine, the team at fitness powerhouse Hilliard Studio Method - including owners Liz Hilliard and Clary Hilliard Gray - have a page of tips to help you look and feel your best during this busy season. 

We especially love this easy idea to keep holiday treat consumption under control: Eat a bowl of plain yogurt before heading out to your next party. According to the article, "the yogurt will coat your stomach with billions of gut-nourishing probiotics to help absorb the alcohol and help control your appetite so that you don't binge on unhealthy party food."

For more great information on how to be strong and fit throughout your life, be sure to read Liz Hilliard's new book, "Be Powerful: Find Your Strength At Any Age," which was just released December 5 and is already reaching bestseller status. Details: www.hilliardstudiomethod.com

MUST-READ BOOKS

There's nothing better than a great book to keep your mind sharp and your holiday cocktail party conversation interesting. Here are the best of this season's must-reads according to Park Road Books owners Sally Brewster and Frazer Dobson.

Sally and Frazer revealed this list of their favorite new books during a Holiday Books event presented by Friends of the Library at Queens University of Charlotte. Have fun picking out a few that either you, or someone on your gift list, would enjoy. All are available at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road at Park Road Shopping Center. Details: 704-525-9239; www.parkroadbooks.com

Atlas Obscura by Joshua Foer, $35: A lavishly illustrated book of weird places you can travel to including two in North Carolina. "This is a fantastic gift for a travel buff," Frazer says. 

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer, $26: "A group of librarians try to save precious Arabic texts while staying one step ahead of Al Qaeda," Sally says. 

Bark the Herald Angels Sing by Peter Thorpe, $16.95: "A book of photos by an English photographer who has taken pictures of his dogs for his Christmas cards for the past 20 years," Sally says. "It makes you want to grab your camera and dress up your dog or cat," Sally says. 

The Christmas Boot by Lisa Wheeler, $17.99: "A beautifully illustrated book for children about a poor woman who finds a magical boot," Sally says.

Dancers After Dark by Jordan Matter, $19.95: "A series of artistic photos of naked dancers taken in locales around the world including New York City, Paris and Stockholm," Frazer says. "It's human anatomy at its finest."

Deep Run Roots by Vivian Howard, $40: "A lot of storytelling and the recipes are organized by the main ingredient (Ground Corn, Blueberries, Oysters)," Frazer says. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, $24.99: "An original screenplay of the movie," Frazer says. "It's set in New York in 1926." 

Frozen by Matthew Reinhart, $40: "A spectacular pop-up version of the movie from the finest paper engineers in the world," Frazer says. 

General Vs. The President by J.W. Brands, $30: "A thrilling book that explores the relationship between Truman and MacArthur," Sally says. 

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard, $30: "Candice Millard writes the best narrative nonfiction," Sally says. 

Indestructible by John R. Bruning, $28. "This is a page turner," Sally says. "It's a true story and the war book of the season. It shows how one person can make a big difference." 

In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney, $35: "Profiles of 100 exceptional women from all walks of life and all over the country," Sally says. "This is a great inspirational Christmas gift."

Jungle by Kan Kainen, $25.95: "A book for all ages, it has photos and text that describe all the creatures found in the jungles of South America and Africa," Frazer says. 

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore, $28: "A novel based on actual events about the battle between Edison, Westinghouse and others to electrify America," Sally says. "It's told through the eyes of a young lawyer. It's a great thriller but you learn a lot."

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on Writing by Pat Conroy, $25: "A collection of essays articles and interviews that's Conroy's last book," Sally says. "Don't miss the absolutely hilarious essay he wrote about getting fit."

Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James, $24: "A collection of four of her short stories that haven't been published before," Sally says. 

Refuge by Anne Booth, $15.99: "A children's book that's a different telling of the Nativity story from the point of view of the donkey," Sally says. "And $1 from the purchase of each book goes to the United Nations Refugee Agency fund."

Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart, $18.99: "A young adult story about a boy who finds a pocket watch that can make him invisible and how he and his friends try to make the world a better place," Sally says. 

Speaking American by Josh Katz, $25: "Do you say bucket, or pail? Soda, or pop? This is a fascinating look at regional dialects," Frazer says. 

Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader, $17.99: "A children's book about a kitty cat that ends up in Santa's sleigh," Sally says. 

Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest by Beth Macy, $28: "Macy is such a chronicler of the South," Sally says. "This is a true story that takes place in 1899 in Truevine, Virginia, about two albino twin brothers born into a sharecropper's family and what happens to them," Sally says. 

The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chung, $26: "An entertaining story about an immigrant who wants to take his family back to China but his wife and children have become used to living in America," Sally says. "It's well written and laugh-out-loud funny." 

 

 

PASS THE PULSES, PLEASE

Photo credit: www.pexels.com. 

Photo credit: www.pexels.com. 

The year is almost over and we had no idea that the United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. In fact, we didn't even know what pulses were. But an article in a recent issue of Dr. Oz: The Good Life magazine explained it all: Pulses are beans. The word is common in Europe and Canada but is just catching on in America.

Beans, uh, we mean pulses, deserve all the attention. Just a half-cup serving has as much protein as three eggs and almost a day's worth of fiber plus zinc, iron and B vitamins. The article suggests several ways to pack some pulses into your diet. You can puree them and spread them on sandwiches, turn them into hummus or toss them in salads or soups.

The most unusual suggestion is to mix them into your next batch of brownies. We haven't tried this yet but it does sound intriguing. Use a 15-ounce can of black beans in place of a cup of the recipe's flour and it's supposed to make the brownies extra moist (and extra nutritious) without sacrificing the taste. 

IN A PICKLE

Kruegermann Naturally Fermented Pickles, $6.95 at Walmart. 

Kruegermann Naturally Fermented Pickles, $6.95 at Walmart. 

For once, it's good to find yourself in a pickle. But only if it's a naturally fermented pickle - not a pickle that's been brined in vinegar. Naturally fermented pickles contain lactobacillus, a good bacteria that promotes healthy digestion.

 A Study in the British Journal of Nutrition also claim naturally fermented foods fight bloat - and just in time for holiday binge season - they can help prevent fat storage after eating too much.

If you're not a fan of pickles, sauerkraut or kimchi (a traditional Korean side dish of fermented vegetables) are other options for adding lactobacillus to your diet.

 

A HEALTHY DIP

Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip

Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip

Can a dip taste decadent but actually be good for you? Yes, thanks to a recipe for Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip from the food blog Cooking LSL We modified it slightly and served it at a recent gathering and it was a hit. 

It's so easy. Here are the details: 

In an 8-inch square dish, spread out a layer of hummus, followed by layers of chopped cucumbers, chopped Kalamata olives, chopped roasted red peppers, chopped tomatoes, diced onions and top it with crumbled feta cheese. Serve with pita chips. 

After we made it, we realized we left out the chopped tomatoes, so ours was actually a Mediterranean Six Layer Dip! But it was still delicious. This is a winning appetizer we'll be serving again and again. 

TWO TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT, AND A GOOD MORNING

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An article in the September issue of Redbook magazine has two timely tips: one will help you get enough sleep at night; the other will help you start your new day off right.

Getting enough sleep is key to maintaining excellent health. For those who lose track of time and stay up too late, set an alarm on your iPhone or clock just as you would in the morning to wake yourself up. When the alarm goes off, that's your signal to head to bed.  

Then in the morning, instead of jumping out of bed right away, take a moment to think about how you feel. Follow that up by indulging in a stretch while you're still in bed. The experts interviewed in the article say that taking a minute to focus on your body first thing in the morning helps you set a more mindful tone for the rest of your day.  

 

FIVE SUPERFOODS YOU SHOULD BE EATING

A recent article in the British publication the Daily Mail took research from scientists at Harvard Medical School and other expert sources to come up with a list of the five superfoods that are the healthiest for women to eat as they age. The researchers advised that you should have an overall healthy diet filled with a variety of fruits and vegetables, but these five foods seem to be especially beneficial:

Oranges. One of the most popular fruits in the world, they're an excellent source of Vitamin C (containing up to 93 percent of the daily requirement), fiber, folate and B1 along with other nutrients including copper, potassium and calcium.  

Apples. You don't have to eat one every day as long as you're incorporating other fruits into your diet, but 2-3 times a week is ideal. They have phytonutrients that help regulate blood sugar and they have a positive influence on bacteria in the digestive tract. 

Pears. To get the most benefits, consume both the skin and the flesh. The have around 22 percent of the daily fiber requirement and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

Walnuts. Packed with nutrients and more protective antioxidants than other nuts, they can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer and Alzheimer's along with lowering cholesterol and easing stress levels. Some studies suggest that eating just six walnuts a week can help aging bodies become less frail.

Romaine Lettuce. It maximizes the health benefits of any salad because it's the most nutrient-dense. It's packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. 

 

 

WAIT! DON'T THROW AWAY THAT TEA BAG!

After making hot tea or iced tea, don't throw away those those damp tea bags right away. Instead, keep a resealable plastic bag in the freezer and pop them inside to use later. Just be sure to cut off the string first. Our favorite brand is Tazo, especially the Tazo Zen green tea with lemongrass and spearrmint.

Here are three ways frozen tea bags come in handy:

1. Place one under (not over) each eye for a couple of minutes. According to an article in Good Housekeeping magazine, it's the coldness and the tea's tannins that rapidly reduce inflammation and swelling. A word of caution: Do not to let the tea bag touch your eye or it could cause irritation. 

2. Did a mosquito, or other bug, feast on you? Pull out a frozen tea bag and use it as a cold compress. According to Dr. Oz The Good Life magazine, it's the antioxidants in the tea that help soothe a bug bite.

3. Too much sun and fun can give you a summer headache. When that happens, lie down and place two bags on your forehead or a bag on each temple. Just taking the time to relax and cool down will have you back to your normally sunny self.