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Posts Tagged ‘Weight gain’

It’s strawberry season, my childhood favorite time of year. I grew up on a small farm where my dad grew strawberries. Fond memories linger of those days when fresh-from-the-field strawberries were often a part of every meal. I ate all the berries I wanted throughout the growing season plus unending amounts of frozen berries during the year.

It never occurred to me how healthy thImage result for free clipart strawberriesose bright red fruits were or the many nutritious benefits from eating them. Today, researchers assure us that strawberries are a part of a healthy diet and may contribute to well-being in many ways. They are high in vitamin C, folate, potassium, and phytochemicals. Flavonoids, a type of phytochemical, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antimutagenic properties. Strawberries have been associated with many health conditions and may help or prevent the following:

  • Reduce total cholesterol, LDL oxidation, and cell inflammation: These factors influence risks of heart attacks. A diet high in strawberries significantly lowers cholesterol levels. Researchers found that women who ate three servings per week of strawberries or blueberries reduced their chances of heart attacks by nearly one-third.
  • Prevent weight gain: According to studies in the British Medical Journal, flavonoid-rich foods like strawberries may help manage weight more easily.
  • Improve insulin resistance: Anthocyanins, responsible for berries’ bright red color, may improve insulin sensitivity. Researchers found that women who ate strawberries at least once a month were at a lower risk for diabetes.
  • Improve cognition: Strawberries and blueberries may help prevent age-related cognitive decline. They offset negative effects of cell oxidation and inflammation in the brain and protect women’s memory. Eating strawberries may delay mental aging in older women by as much as 2.5 years. In one study, women who ate more than two servings a week experienced less deterioration than those who ate one or fewer servings.

As a bonus, strawberries also seem to improve motor skills in women. What a delicious way to improve health and keep our brains intact. Make it a point to include ample servings in your diet. During this plentiful strawberry season, remember you are helping your overall health and brain function while enjoying a tasty treat.

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Many consider diet drinks as a way to reduce sugar and calories while still enjoying colas and beverages. Is that a good idea?

In recent years, children have more than doubled the amount of diet beverages they drink. Since 2008, adults increased their intake from 19 percent to 25 percent.

But controversy continues. Recent studies of more than 42,000 Americans found that those who drank diet drinks tended to weigh more than those who drank water. Other studies noted that consumers of diet drinks increased their risks for metabolic syndrome (a cluster of factors more likely to result in type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and strokes). But those same participants who drank artificially sweetened beverages and ate a healthful diet were less likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who consumed a poor diet (18 and 20 percent, respectively).

Compared to regular sugar-sweetened colas or moderate intake of diet colas, drinking diet beverages daily may increase risks for stroke, heart attacks, and other heart-related conditions. In animal studies, artificial sweeteners boosted appetite and food intake—as  yet unproven in humans.

So, are diet drinks good or bad? A study of 33,000 Americans published in September 2012 provided proof for the harmful effects of sugary drinks in certain people. Sugar interacted with genes that affected weight. All of us have a few of those genes, but some have more than others. Those with genes predisposed to weight gain that drank sugary drinks put on more weight, regardless of exercise or overeating. In this study, diet drinks did not increase risks for obesity.

In a 2012 position paper, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated that “consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS). . . [as] guided by current federal nutrition recommendations.” (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0014899/ and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0003096/ ).

How does all this information translate for you and me? One study suggested that children replace diet beverages with milk or water. That’s a good thought for all ages, but will we do it?

What we know scientifically at this point is that evidence remains inconclusive. Sugary drinks will cause weight gain, and diet drinks may cause greater risks for certain health conditions.

The wisest choice seems to be moderation. Try drinking fewer sugary and artificially sweetened beverages. With a conscious effort, you can improve your weight and health while researchers continue to seek what is good or bad.

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