Reasons to eat more cauliflower

Many popular diets advise against eating anything white – rice, sugar, white bread and pasta.

However, cauliflower is one white food you should feel good about incorporating into your diet.

Cauliflower – a cruciferous vegetable which is in the same plant family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards – contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients, that may help neutralize damaging toxins. But there is a new reason this vegetable shouldn’t be underestimated.

A study published in the European Journal of Cancer has given further reasons to serve up some of this fibrous gem. Conducted in 2015, researchers found a link between the consumption of fruit and white vegetables, namely cauliflower, and a lower risk of stomach cancer. Following analysis of over 32,000 gastric cancer cases and assessing their respective diets, the researchers discovered sodium and alcohol, specifically beer and liqor, to be particularly high-risk dietary factors. They then realized foods rich in vitamin C tend to have a “protective effect” against gastric cancer. Such foods tend to be fruit and white vegetables that include potatoes, endives, onions, and our number one vegetable, cauliflower.

What are some of the health benefits of cauliflower?

Around 100 grams of raw white cauliflower provides 25 calories, is low in fat and carbohydrates. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, and a very good source of manganese. To receive health benefits, include cauliflower as one of the cruciferous vegetables you eat on a regular basis. At a minimum, include cruciferous vegetables as part of your diet 2-3 times per week, and make the serving size at least 1-1/2 cups.

What to look for when buying cauliflower

When purchasing cauliflower, look for a clean, creamy white, compact curd in which the clusters are not separated. Spotted or dull-coloured cauliflower should be avoided, as well as those in which small flowers appear. Heads that are surrounded by many thick green leaves are better protected and will be fresher. Store uncooked cauliflower in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to a week.

Cauliflower at mealtimes

As with all vegetables be sure not to overcook cauliflower. Rather than the more traditional methods of boiling or steaming – which tends to make the vegetable flavorless – cut cauliflower florets into quarters before cooking with a pinch of turmeric for added punch. Or simply blitz cauliflower florets in a food processor for a couple of seconds for a low-carb side dish. A great replacement for rice in curry or couscous!

Invest in your relationships

All of us need to seek comfort and support from others from time to time, whether we have a huge circle of friends or a few close confidants. As with many aspects of modern life, however, it is easy to dismiss what we all know will aid our general wellbeing.

New research released by the Mental Health Foundation to mark Mental Health Awareness Week (16-22May16) shows that people regard maintaining healthy relationships as the most important factor to their wellbeing than eating healthily, exercising or avoiding negative habits including smoking combined. However, 46 per cent of the 2,000 adults in the U.K. who participated in the survey also admitted they regret not investing more time in their relationships – a figure which alarmingly hits 50 per cent among men.

As part of their guide to investing in relationships, the Mental Health Foundation sets out several key ways people can stave off loneliness and create more supportive relationships which protect both the mind and body.

Give time

Make active attempts to schedule in time to connect with friends and family when possible.

Be present

It can be tempting to check your phone, social media messages or work emails when spending time with family and friends. But try to be present in the moment and be there for your loved ones by switching out of work mode wherever possible.

Listen

Actively listen to what others are saying in a non-judgmental way and concentrate on their needs in that moment.

Be listened to

Share how you are feeling, honestly, and allow yourself to be listened and supported.

Recognize unhealthy relationships

Being around positive people can make us happier. However, our wellbeing can be negatively affected by harmful relationships leaving us despondent. Recognizing this can help us move forward and find solutions to issues.

Make your relationships resolution

The Mental Health Foundation is encouraging people to make a relationship resolution this week (ends22May16). Those who sign up on their website will receive a text on New Year’s Eve to check their progress and prompt them to continue their efforts into 2017.

Cut potatoes, cut high blood pressure risk

Potatoes are one of life’s greatest comfort foods, and whether you have them mashed, baked or fried, a helping of spuds really rounds a meal off nicely. However in recent years we’ve cut back on the humble potato because of waistline worries, culling carbs wherever possible. But new research suggests that as well as being a diet disaster, eating too many potatoes can also result in high blood pressure. In fact scientists from Boston’s Harvard Medical School said eating potatoes four times a week could be putting people in harm’s way.

The team, who published their results in the British Medical Journal, looked at data from three large American studies that had taken place over 20 years, involving 187,000 men and women. Women were found to have a slightly higher risk than men, but both sexes had an 11 per cent increased risk of high blood pressure if they consumed potatoes four or more times a week, compared to those who ate the food source less than once a month.

The risk got even greater in those who specifically ate fries four or more times a week, jumping up to 17 per cent.

However those who regularly tucked into crisps weren’t affected, though salt intake wasn’t measured.

The team concludes it’s all to do with the high glycaemic index of starchy potatoes, which quickly turns into sugars in the body, making blood sugar levels spike. Over time this can lead to severe problems including stroke, dementia and heart disease. High blood pressure can cause blood vessels to become damaged and weakened, and can also cause blood clots in the arteries leading to the brain, blocking blood flow.

“These findings have potentially important public health ramifications, as they do not support a potential benefit from the inclusion of potatoes as vegetables in government food programmes, but instead support a harmful effect that is consistent with adverse effects of high carbohydrate intakes seen in controlled feeding studies,” study authors said.

Replacing potatoes as often as possible with non-starchy vegetables is advised.

Diabetic mothers more likely to have overweight babies

Diabetic mothers are more likely to have babies who will be fat, new research has found.

Experts at Imperial College London looked at 42 tots whose mums had gestational diabetes and 44 babies from healthy mothers, using MRI scans to compare levels of body fat. These readings were taken not long after birth, then again when the little ones were 10 weeks old.

While there was no difference between the groups during the first scans, after 10 weeks the babies whose mothers had diabetes held 16 per cent high body fat volume than those who didn’t.

Scientists believe this is may be because of the baby’s metabolism in the womb, or due to the differences in the composition of breast milk in those women with diabetes as most of the tots in the experiment were breastfed.

Up to 18 per cent of women giving birth in England and Wales are affected by gestational diabetes, the NHS estimates, with the condition usually developing after 28 weeks during the final trimester. While it disappears when the baby is born, the mothers are more likely to get Type 2 diabetes later in life if they had the condition.

Women with gestational diabetes who are overweight or obese can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature labor or stillbirth.

“Gestational diabetes is becoming more and more common, and babies born to these mothers are at increased risk of developing diabetes when they grow up,” Dr Karen Logan, lead author of the study, said.

“Therefore we need to understand what effects maternal diabetes has on the baby.

“This new study suggests diabetes in the mother can trigger changes in the baby at a very early stage.”

Professor Neena Modi, from the department of medicine at Imperial and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), also noted: “We found no differences in body fat at birth. However by 10 weeks of age, the babies born to mums with diabetes had accumulated about 16% more fat even though they were predominantly breastfed.

“The importance of this unexpected finding is that the beginnings of obesity are apparent in early infancy in babies born to mothers with diabetes indicating that research targeted at methods to reduce excessive fat deposition in these babies is urgently needed.”

Findings were published in journal Diabetes Care.

Drinking really does make you happy

The sun’s out, it’s Friday and what do we want to do? Head straight to a beer garden of course. Well good news lager lovers and prosecco pros – drinking alcohol does make you happier. Yipee! The rush of good feelings is only short term though, so don’t get too carried away just yet.

Researchers from Britain’s University of Kent and University of Sussex focused on how people’s happiness and drinking change over time, publishing findings in Social Science and Medicine.

The team used two experiments to get their results; the first involved a test group of 30 to 42-year-olds, and using traditional survey methods they looked at how often the participants drank and changes in mood. For this group, no relationship was found between drinking and long-term happiness, however it was discovered that when someone was suffering from an alcohol problem there was a negative impact.

The second study yielded completely different results, and relied on an iPhone app to collate findings. This test group attracted a younger age group, and it was concluded that there was a “strong and consistent” relationship between happiness levels and drinking. But these good feelings only happen in the moment, and are not long lasting.

Study authors Dr Ben Baumberg Geiger and Dr George MacKerron hope their work will influence how governments review the cost-benefit analyses of alcohol regulation.

The findings come hot on the heels of the latest prosecco news. It was widely reported that because of the increased popularity in the Italian sparkling wine and a rain-affected growing season in 2014, there may be a shortage of the fizz. However after a bumper harvest of grapes used to make the trendy tipple, it’s expected that production will be up 50 per cent.

Cherry juice may help to reduce high blood pressure

Drinking cherry juice reduces high blood pressure at a level comparable to that achieved by taking medication, a new study claims.

Researchers at the U.K.’s Northumbria University, found that men with early signs of hypertension – more commonly known as high blood pressure – saw a seven per cent reduction in blood pressure after drinking Montmorency cherry concentrate when compared to drinking a fruit-flavored cordial.

This reduction is comparable to the level achieved by high blood pressure medication.

For their study, researchers worked with 15 participants who were displaying early hypertension with blood pressure readings of at least 130/90 mmHg, meaning they were at higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular related problems.

They were told that the study was to investigate the effect of a fruit juice on vascular function and were given either 60ml of a Montmorency cherry concentrate or the same amount of cordial.

Blood pressure and blood samples were taken before the cherry concentrate was consumed and blood pressure was measured on an hourly basis thereafter. Blood samples and a series of other cardiovascular screening tests were taken again on a regular basis over the following eight hours.

Accordingly, the researchers found that the participants who were given the cherry concentrate saw a peak reduction in their blood pressure of 7 mmHg in the three hours after consuming the antioxidant-rich drink.

Past studies have shown that a reduction of between 5-6 mmHg over a sustained period has been associated with a 38 per cent reduced risk of stroke and 23 per cent reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Lead study author Karen Keane said the discovery highlights the potential importance that Montmorency cherries could have in the effective management of high blood pressure.

“The magnitude of the blood pressure lowering effects we observed was comparable to those achieved by a single anti-hypertensive drug,” she explained, adding, “Raised blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths from cardiovascular disease, yet relatively small reductions in blood pressure can have a large impact on mortality rates.”

High blood pressure affects over five million people in England and, if left untreated, increases risk of heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, stroke or dementia. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg, researchers said.

In recent years, Northumbria University has undertaken a number of studies into the health benefits of tart Montmorency cherry concentrate. To date, they have found that the drinking the concentrate improves the quality and quantity of sleep, significantly reduces the symptoms associated with the painful condition of gout and enhances the recovery of muscle function after intense exercise, probably thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.

The findings were first published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Too many people taking unnecessary antibiotics

Nearly one-third of all antibiotics prescribed in the United States aren’t appropriate for the conditions being treated, results of a new study show.

Lead researcher Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and her colleagues analysed more than 184,000 outpatient visits reported in a 2010-2011 national medical care survey. Of those sampled visits, nearly 13 per cent resulted in antibiotic prescriptions.

Findings show that most of these antibiotics are prescribed for respiratory conditions caused by viruses, including common colds, viral sore throats, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections, which do not necessarily respond to antibiotics. Researchers said these 47 million excess prescriptions each year put patients at needless risk for allergic reactions or the sometimes deadly diarrhea, known as Clostridium difficile.

“About half of antibiotic prescriptions for acute respiratory conditions were unnecessary,” Dr Fleming-Dutra said. “Nobody should be giving antibiotics for the common cold.”

The researchers added that such misuse can fuel the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which infect two million Americans and kill 23,000 every year. They also estimated the rate of inappropriate antibiotic use in adults and children by age and diagnosis, with data helping to inform efforts to help improve antibiotic prescribing in the future.

“Antibiotics are lifesaving drugs, and if we continue down the road of inappropriate use we’ll lose the most powerful tool we have to fight life-threatening infections,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Losing these antibiotics would undermine our ability to treat patients with deadly infections, cancer, provide organ transplants, and save victims of burns and trauma.”

Even though the data is five years old, researchers didn’t think the results would vary much in 2016 as there hasn’t been a lot of work dedicated to improving antibiotic use. They added that they felt many of the misused antibiotics were likely prescribed due to misunderstanding between doctors and patients.

“Doctors think the patient wants antibiotics, and they want the patient to be satisfied with their care, so that often drives clinicians to prescribe when they shouldn’t,” said Dr Fleming-Dutra.

To restrict antibiotic use, the researchers suggested running campaigns in doctors’ waiting rooms to promote awareness about the issue and to create better understanding for patients before they enter the examination room. The findings were first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

How to ease a sore neck

A sore neck can be a symptom of a bad night’s sleep, using a computer for a prolonged period of time or pulling a muscle. Stress and anxiety can also lead to tension in your neck, and if you’re a migraine sufferer, stiffness of the neck can even predict your next one.

There are a number of ways to ease the ailment, ranging from reaching for the painkillers to holding a hot water bottle to the area. Simple exercises and stretches can also alleviate pain, and we talk you through five of the best.

Standing neck stretch

This stretch is easy to do anywhere, and can offer instant relief. Standing with feet shoulder width apart, place hands behind the back, clasping one hand over the other wrist and stretching the arms slightly away from the body. Slowly lower your ear to your shoulder, hold for 30 seconds and then swap sides.

Corner stretch

Stand opposite a corner in a room, approximately two feet back with feet together. Raise your forearms to the wall, with elbows just below shoulder height. Lean in as far as possible, feeling a stretch in the front of the shoulders and chest. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.

Seated stretch

Sitting cross legged on the floor or on a chair with feet planted firmly on the ground, place palms on the back of your head. Make sure your spine is stretched and your hips ground into the floor. Gently press hands down towards thighs, keeping them behind your head and tucking chin in. Hold for 40 seconds and then slowly bring head back up.

Upper back stretch

Sitting on a chair, stretch arms out in front of your with your palms touching each other. Bend over at the upper back, to form an almost diving position. Flex your chin to your chest and hold for 30 seconds.

Shoulder shrug

Shrug shoulders to your ears and hold tightly for a few seconds. Staying in the position, roll shoulders back before relaxing them down. Repeat 10 times.

Do you know your smoothie powders?

If you have a cupboard packed with various powders for your morning smoothie, you may be feeling smug in the knowledge that you’re a powder pro. But do you know why you’re using them, and are you really getting the most out of the various concoctions you’re adding to your blended drink?

We’re here to break down a few of the powders, with help from Women’s Health.

Moringa

This North Indian leaf contains 17 times more calcium than milk and a whopping 25 times more iron than spinach – Popeye, eat your heart out! On top of this there are claims it helps control heart disease thanks to its cholesterol-absorbing plant sterols. The European Food Standards Authority found just 3g of the sterols is enough to lower cholesterol, so little is needed.

However, in the form of moringa, you’re getting around 450mh per teaspoon of plant compounds – that’s quite the difference. While there’s been no harm documented from taking too much, it may perhaps restrict your moringa intake to a couple of times a week rather than every day to allow your body to reap the benefits. It can also be added to a soup, and vegans will get the calcium they miss out from not eating diary with it.

Spirulina

A rich green powder that’s also a single-cell green algae doesn’t have the best taste, but it is super high in protein, making it perfect for your post-gym smoothies or shakes. It boasts around 60 per cent protein and is packed full of amino acids too, to help appetite control. So much so that a previous study documented by the Journal of Food Science Technology found those who took it lost a significant amount of weight.

Just 20g of protein is enough to help your muscles recover after a workout session, meaning a single scoop will provide only half of this. Get your protein from other sources too, like a handful of almonds alongside your drink.

Maca

No, we’re not talking about Paul McCartney here; maca is a powdered root that’s famous for boosting energy levels thanks to its vitamin B and minerals such as iodine and copper.

A further bonus is that it’s been found to boost libido, perfect from those suffering a sexual slump. A mere 3g, like with moringa, of maca is enough for women’s sex drive to be revved as found in previous research. It was also noted that these ‘aphrodisiac’ effects are triggered by a compound similar to testosterone, though more work needs to be done to determine this.

Having this in your smoothie is much better than reaching for a cup of black coffee or can of cola, as you’ll also be getting plenty of vitamin B. However, it doesn’t provide similar amounts to that found in, say oats, so be aware that you need more in your diet to feel the perks, like healthy metabolism and reduced risk of stroke.

The best duvet for a good night’s sleep

Using a wool duvet may be the secret to helping couples sleep easier, experts claim.

Many couples who share a bed will know what a struggle it can be when one person can drift off to sleep while the other starts tossing and turning because they are feeling too hot or cold.

Now, researchers say they have found a way to keep the peace at night and believe the secret to a deep sleep can be put down to the type of duvet used.

According to a report in Britain’s Daily Mail, University of Leeds researchers have found that wool-filled duvets can help regulate people’s bedtime temperature as they draw heat and moisture away from the body.

Even though people produce heat and perspire at different rates, it is claimed that wool can control the microclimate around each body allowing couples to remain comfortable under the same duvet.

This indicates that even when a couple shares a bed, heat will be drawn away from a person who tends to overheat at night but not from their partner who stays cool, leaving both to drift into a sound sleep.

The study compared wadding from different types of duvet on sale in the United Kingdom to examine the thermal insulation properties and moisture management.

They also analyzed how duvets cooled down from an extreme temperature of 70 degrees Celsius and what happened in the ideal sleep environment of 17 degrees Celsius and 45 per cent relative humidity.

Accordingly, analysts found wool allowed 67 per cent more moisture to escape over an eight-hour period than a feather/down wadding, and 43 per cent more than polyester.

Further, wool was able to cope with nearly double the amount of perspiration per hour than feather/down and around 50 per cent more than polyester.

In terms of heat management, wool was able to maintain the optimum body temperature for sleep of 35.1 degrees Celsius for the longest, with feather/down and polyester unable to maintain the level and instead exceeded 36.1 degrees Celsius.