Tag Archives: Food

Health Benefits of Drinking Red Wine

Ending the evening with a little vino is more guilt-free than you know. The health benefits of drinking red wine have been studied for decades, and research shows that it pays off to indulge.

Just one glass of high-quality wine a day can provide numerous health benefits, including:

Red wine#1. Boosting Heart Health

The polyphenols in wine make it beneficial for keeping blood vessels from forming blood clots. Likewise, research shows that drinking red wine can slow down the development of atherosclerosis, which causes a fatty buildup of cholesterol in your artery walls. In the same way, resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, can protect heart tissue from damage after a stroke or heart attack by keeping your arteries relaxed so more blood can flow through.

In fact, moderate amounts of wine are almost as effective as aspirin for your heart health, though overindulging can quickly lead to the opposite effect.


#2. Lessening the Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia is a high priority for anyone. Especially one that’s seen the impact of the disease on their family or friends. Adding red wine to your routine might lower your risk.


Research shows that people who eat a Mediterranean diet (which prominently features red wine) are 28 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, and 48 percent less likely to progress from mild impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. These benefits are attributed to resveratrol. Resveratrol is considered a crucial antioxidant for reducing antioxidant stress and inflammation. This can lead to reduction of the cognitive decline over time. 

#3. Providing a Natural Antioxidant Boost

Free radicals cause endless problems for your health and contribute to the development of chronic diseases. These diseases include cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular issues and more. However, the potent antioxidant properties of red wine give your body what it needs to stay healthy and fight off this damage.

 

Resveratrol is essential for fighting inflammation, and quercetin can reduce the effects of aging. Beyond fighting chronic disease, red wine might keep you healthier on a daily basis, too. A study from the American Journal of Epidemiology found that people who drank 14 weekly servings of wine were 40 percent less likely to come down with a cold, making a single glass a smart choice for staying healthy.

 

#4. Helping Manage Diabetes

Drinking red wine may change how your body processes glucose, research shows. Researchers have found that red wine slows how quickly glucose passes through your bloodstream. It does this by inhibiting the enzymes that handle glucose. This helps prevent spikes in blood sugar that can contribute to type 2 diabetes, meaning that wine may have a role in a diabetic diet plan. White wine seems to be only 10 percent as effective, making red the clear winner.

 

While the health benefits of red wine are profound, it’s important to remember that more wine doesn’t lead to more health benefits.  It can cause more problems than it helps if you are not careful. So take a drink for your health, but remember to enjoy in moderation.

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“Organic,” “All Natural,” “Certified Organic ” and More: Is There Really a Difference?

Feel a little confused as you browse food labels on grocery store shelves? You aren’t alone. Why does organic matter? Manufacturers know healthy food is trendier than ever, and many will do whatever they can to showcase their product in the best possible light — sometimes regardless of what it really contains. 

To help you comb through the what’s-what of the grocery aisle, here’s a quick rundown of common labels and designations with clear-cut info and intel to help you make smart purchase decisions.

Organic, Fresh, No- Antibiotics...

Label me…

USDA Certified Organic:

This label always comes with the green USDA logo — and, more importantly, it’s the one standard of organic certification you can trust to mean what it implies. Only products that have been vetted by a third party to ensure compliance with organic standards can carry the seal — and that means all products with this designation must be grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, AND are free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It’s expensive for farms to gain USDA organic certification, so the sign of certification shows the manufacturer made the commitment.   

 

“Organic” or “Made with Organic Ingredients:”

Without certification from the USDA, the term “organic” has a looser meaning. To be legally branded organic in the U.S., a food product needs to be made with a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. Food products made with at least 70% organic ingredients are instead labeled “made with organic ingredients.” However, there aren’t set standards for beauty and other personal care products, meaning that the organic label is often used as a relatively meaningless marketing strategy for them.

 

All Natural:

Despite what the term seems to imply, “all natural” only means that a food product (usually meat) wasn’t overly processed and is free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. This term is defined loosely by the USDA, meaning that many customers assume it means more than it does. For example, “all natural” products can legally contain antibiotics and GMO ingredients.

 

“No Antibiotics Administered” or “Raised without Antibiotics:”

In the meat industry, it’s common to administer antibiotics to animals to keep them healthy while in close quarters. In contrast to this standard, these labels mean that the meat in question was raised without antibiotics — a plus for many consumers.

To ensure you’re getting what you think you are, look for the “USDA Process Verified” shield — this ensures the company’s claims were legally verified.


One side note — some products are marketed as “antibiotic free.” The USDA has never authorized this term and it has no legal meaning when used for food. Don’t assume this statement means the same as “no antibiotics administered” or “raised without antibiotics.” It doesn’t. I have heard one manufacturer tell me that “we don’t add antibiotics to our meat”. As if I would ever think that they would add antibiotics to the end product (which is dead). When I asked if the animals were given antibiotics the answer was, “we don’t add antibiotics to our meat”. I hope you see why the term “antibiotic free” holds little value in my opinion.

 

Fresh:

Often used on chicken, this term means that meat wasn’t cooled below 26 degrees F before being sold. I would say that this is up for a lot of interpretation and does not sound like I would define fresh. How long has this been in the refrigerator? Your guess is as good as mine.

 

Certified Humane:

Certified by the nonprofit Humane Farm Animal Care, this strict standard requires animals live in conditions where they have fresh water, high quality feed, lots of roaming space and are never administered antibiotics.

 

Non-GMO Project Verification Seal:

GMO products are increasingly common in food. Now, the only way to know for certain if your food is free of GMOs is to look for the Non-GMO Project seal. Developed in 2003, this verification process tests foods to ensure they are fully free of genetically modified materials.

I hope you all learned a few things about the labeling system and how you can make the best choices for your health and the health of your family.

Sugar: Why and How to Cut Back

Although it is a tasty additive to your diet, it is by no means necessary and contains few nutrients. In fact, USDA’s MyPlate guide, which creates dietary recommendations for Americans, considers added sugar to be an empty calorie ingredient. And while a tiny bit in your diet may not negatively impact your health, you should aim to keep the added variety as low as possible. The American Health Association recommends reducing your added-sugar intake to 100-150 calories per day, at most. As a result, it is essential to understand why it can be detrimental to your health and how to consume as little as possible.

sugar

The Downside of The Sweet Stuff

So why are we demonizing the tasty white stuff? It’s hard to imagine that something so sweet can so negatively influence your health. But unfortunately, increased sugar intake has been linked to a wide variety of diseases affecting various parts of your body, from your teeth to your HEART! Furthermore, eating it increases your caloric intake. A single teaspoon full of the simple carbohydrate contains four grams and sixteen calories, a number that adds up quickly. After all, a can of soda likely contains at least ten teaspoons per serving.

To begin, there is a direct relationship between consumption of sweets and dental caries (or cavities): as intake increases, dental cavities increase as well. Luckily, brushing one’s teeth twice a day may help to offshoot the negative impact it has on your teeth. But with so many other health implications, adding it is difficult to justify.

Second, by eating it, you increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. In fact, one study found that individuals who consume the most (over 500 calories a day!) are twice as likely to die compared to individuals who consume the least amount. While it may seem unlikely that you are consuming 500 calories worth of sugar daily, you may not be far off from that number. On average, men and women consume 335 and 230 calories each day, respectively. These numbers are even higher among children and teenagers.

Third, added sugars increase your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. When you consume lots and lots of it, you may become insulin resistant. In simple terms, your body loses the ability to scoop up sugar and use it for energy. Instead, it remains in your blood, leading to symptoms associated with type-2 diabetes. In fact, women who incorporated soda into their diet experienced the greatest weight gain over a four-year period of time. Likewise, regular consumption of at least one sugar-sweetened soft drink each day may increase a woman’s risk of type-2 diabetes by 83%. And men are not immune from the effects of sugar on type-2 diabetes, as similar results have been found across genders and age groups,.

Just as sugar is implicated in type-2 diabetes, it is also a culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research has determined that insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels are detrimental to the brain and may lead to neurocognitive disabilities, such as disorientation, memory loss, and personality changes. Furthermore, having type-2 diabetes or eating a high in sweets diet may influence your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, some even consider Alzheimer’s to be “type-3 diabetes.”

Finally, many news sources may incorrectly report that sugar directly causes cancer. The relationship is not quite that simple. Although cancer feeds off blood sugar, you will not destine yourself to die from cancer if you drink soda, just as you will not cancer-proof your future by abstaining from it. However, sugar consumption does increase your risk of obesity, as mentioned earlier. And weight gain is often a risk factor for developing certain types of cancers. So while sugar does not necessarily lead to cancer, maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle by eating lots sweets may negatively influence your overall health and make you more susceptible to cancer.

Common Sugar Aliases

Hopefully we have made the point that sweets can negatively impact your health in a multitude of ways. Despite your best efforts to cut down on sugar in your body, it is exceedingly common that the ingredient may still be lurking in your food. A quick search online yielded over twenty different phrases you may find on your food label that indicate sugar has been added to your food. Before buying your groceries, read the label carefully to search for these ingredients:

Agave syrup. Anhydrous dextrose. Brown sugar. Cane crystals. Confectioner’s/ powdered. Corn syrup. Corn syrup solids. Dextrose. Evaporated cane juice. Fructose. Fruit juice concentrates. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Honey. Invert sugar. Malt syrup. Maltose. Maple syrup. Molasses. Nectar. Raw sugar. Sucrose. White granulated sugar. Anything ending in -OSE.

The Search for Hidden Sugar

To an extent, cutting back on sugar is an easy process that you can easily implement in your home by making some simple changes. First and foremost, skip the soda purchases. One large study concluded that sweetened beverages were the biggest contributor to added sugar in the American diet. Instead, choose water or unsweetened iced tea. You can further cut back on sugars by avoiding cereals as they are typically high in them, and avoiding sweetened products. Also, opt to not add the sweet stuff to your coffee and make a habit of reading the nutritional labels.

Unfortunately, sugar is found in your everyday food purchases; you don’t have to walk down the candy aisle to find food items chock-full of it. Some surprisingly common sources include breads, tomato sauces, and salad dressings. In addition, low-fat and low-calorie products are especially likely to be brimming with the added variety. Manufacturers commonly add relatively large quantities to make up from the loss of taste due to fat removal. For example, peanut butter is especially subject to this phenomenon. Whereas natural peanut butter contains approximately one gram of sugar per serving, low-fat peanut butter contains over three times as much.

While you may think that you are eating healthy by choosing low-fat, low-calorie products, the full-fat version may actually be healthier.

The bottom line is to keep your added sweets intake as low as possible. While this may be a difficult task to accomplish, start by skipping the obvious sources it. From there, begin the search for secret sources and instead choose naturally sugar-free alternatives. Doing so can decrease your risk of diseases and drastically improve your quality of life.

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