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!

Spring clean detox methods that actually work

Now spring has officially sprung it’s time to give our bodies a cleansing overhaul.

Whether you want to shed those excess pounds gained indulging in comfort foods over the winter, or simply put a little spring in your step, there’s a detox method that can work for you.

What to eat for Spring

It’s often as simple as making the right choices about what to eat and key to this is choosing seasonal fresh produce packed with natural nutrient goodness.

A top tip is to look for the season’s best asparagus, cherries, and artichokes from your local market, all of which help boost the bodies liver function to help you detox naturally.

Similarly eliminating processed foods containing refined carbohydrates and sugars can let you feel energized and less bloated.

Why not try the popular Elimination Diet?

While it’s difficult to eliminate all foods, it’s proven that by cutting out allergy triggering foods such as sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy and soy milk, caffeine, and factory-farmed meat for a few weeks, then slowly reintroducing them into your diet, can help you uncover any negative hidden effects.

If you suffer from common illnesses it is helpful to note down if changing your diet has elevated your symptoms of conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fatigue, acid reflux or eczema which are all associated with excessive dairy, gluten and caffeine consumption.

What to drink

Staying properly hydrated is essential to aiding concentration and maintaining healthy organ function. It also plays an important role in eliminating free-radical waste essential for a good detox.

More than half your body weight is made up of water, but we often don’t get enough, leading to headaches, water retention, fatigue or lightheadedness.

By swapping calorie rich coffees and fizzy drinks for water you can also cut out empty calories and help eliminate bloating.

To ensure you get your recommended two liters a day why not:

– Keep a bottle of water by your desk at work.

– If you find water too boring, try adding slices of fresh lemon or lime.

– Or swap plain water for herbal teas or vegetable juices which have the added benefit of being rich in anti-oxidants.

– Make sure to drink water before you eat, as thirst is often confused with hunger.

Blueberries cut dementia risk

Blueberries for weight loss, blueberries to fight cancer and now blueberries have been found to stop dementias developing. Is there anything the tiny blue fruit can’t do?! If you’re not already tucking into the superfood, and no, blueberry muffins do not count, then surely now is the time to start – especially if you’re middle aged as scientists from the University of Cincinnati found consuming them at this life point could stop dementia developing decades later.

Lead researcher Robert Krikorian looked at 47 men and women aged 68-plus who had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (trouble remembering something). People with MCI are more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

The test group was each given a powder to take every day for four months, either made up of freeze-dried blueberries or a placebo alternative. The freeze-dried powder was made especially for the study, and was the equivalent to a small teacupful of berries.

Participants also had to complete a series of mental tests, focusing on the memory and thinking skills that are eroded by dementia.

Results clearly showed that the fruit boosted the brain’s ability and made it more active.

“There was a significant improvement in cognitive function in those who had the blueberry powder, compared with those who took the placebo,” Dr. Krikorian explained, adding he believes it’s to do with the anthocyanins found in blueberries.

The chemical is what gives blueberries their color, and has been linked to boosting blood flow, cutting inflammation, and enhancing the passage of information between cells.

Blueberries also helped people who hadn’t been diagnosed with memory problems, but just felt they were becoming more forgetful.

“Our findings corroborate those of previous animal studies and preliminary human studies, adding further support to the notion that blueberries can have a real benefit in improving memory and cognitive function in older adults,” Dr. Krikorian added

Peanut butter lovers rejoice – it lowers risk of obesity

The next time you feel like treating yourself to a spoonful of peanut butter straight out of the jar, you won’t have to worry about how it will affect your waistline as it’s been linked to lowering the risk of obesity.

It was also been found that kids who enjoyed peanuts or peanut butter three or four times a week after weren’t choosing unhealthy alternative snacks.

Researchers from the University of Houston monitored a group of 257 middle-school children, all of which were at risk of being overweight or obese. Half of them were given peanuts or peanut butter three to four times a week over 12 weeks, while the other half received the snacks around once a week. These were presented to them when they left school for the day.

At the end of the period the students spent another 12 weeks following the healthy snacking habit, after which it was found those who tucked into peanuts more had a decrease in their body mass index (BMI). The study was published in the Journal of Applied Research on Children.

“Obesity is the most pressing health issue facing us today,” Dr Craig Johnston, assistant professor at the university, noted. “We’d like to think it’s preventable, but from where I sit right now, there hasn’t been a lot shown to be very effective on a large scale.”

He also acknowledged that snacking is more common during adolescent years, therefore unhealthy foods will lead to an unhealthy body. This is even more noticeable for those who don’t eat any other meals during the school day.

“We have a lot of kids skipping meals for a whole bunch of reasons,” Dr Johnston added. “What we found is that kids get home from school around 4 pm. There’s less supervision by parents and less structure.

“Kids are sitting down at the TV and eating, eating, eating because they really didn’t eat at school.”

He concluded by stressing the importance of schools promoting healthy eating so the kids can lead a “long, happy life”.

Is salt making your child fat?

Children who eat a diet high in salt are at an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese, warn health experts.

A study found that almost three in four children are eating above the recommended amount of salt, typically found in everyday foods such as bread, cheese, ham and sausages.

Researchers at Australia’s Deakin University analysed the urine of 666 school children and found 70 per cent of the children ate over the maximum amount of salt recommended for good health.

Children who took part in the study were eating on average 6 grams or over a teaspoon of salt a day. The recommended daily amount is 4- 5 grams.

Each additional gram is associated with “a 23 per cent greater likelihood with being overweight or obese,” explained lead researcher Dr Carley Grimes.

“Foods that contain higher levels of salt may enhance the flavor of foods which are often also higher in fat and energy and a salty diet may also encourage greater consumption of high energy sugar-sweetened beverages when these are available.

“This study is ringing alarm bells as we now have good evidence to indicate the need to cut the amount of salt that our children are eating,” added Dr. Grimes.

The effects of child eating too much salt can impact on a child into adulthood if not addressed.

“Such high intakes of salt are setting children up for a lifetime risk of future chronic disease such as high blood pressure and heart disease,” she further explained.

The occurrence of abdominal obesity was also higher in children aged 4-7 years old and 8-12 years old, who registered the highest intake of salt out of the sample.

Carrying extra weight around the stomach increases the risk of a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

Professor Garry Jennings, Chief Executive of Australia’s National Heart Foundation which funded the study, said the results are cause for serious concern.

“It highlights the importance of salt reduction to reduce the risk of future chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease later in life,” he commented.

The findings are published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Ward off strokes with these foods

Citrus fruits aren’t just refreshing; it’s now been found the food source also reduces the risk of suffering a stroke. Research outlined by Dr. Michael Greger for The Daily Mail has found that a phytonutrient called hesperidin, found in foods like oranges, help increase blood flow through the body, including the brain.

A stroke is when blood flow to part of the brain is restricted, which deprives it of oxygen and ends up killing off the part which is fed by the blocked artery.

A machine called a doppler fluximeter, which uses a laser beam to measure the blood flow, discovered that a solution containing the same amount of hesperidin found in two glasses of orange juice boosted movement of blood in the body. Things flowed even better when participants drank actual orange juice over a solution, making the fruit a must-have for health.

It isn’t just citrus fruits which we should tuck into to ward off strokes though, as in another article Dr. Greger highlights the importance of antioxidants in the diet to also help tackle the problem.

“Why do we need antioxidants?” he quizzes readers. “Because of free radicals – molecules that can damage your genes and cause mutations in the chromosomes which lead to cancer.

“Free-radical damage accumulates in cells all through your lifetime – and, at a certain point, the cells can no longer survive. However, you can slow down this process by eating foods containing lots of antioxidants. These appear to protect against stroke by preventing the circulation of oxidized fats in the bloodstream.”

He detailed a study carried out by researchers in Sweden, which followed over 30,000 older women over 12 years and found the more antioxidant-rich foods they ate, the lower the stroke risk

So what foods should you be tucking into? It’s well known that blueberries pack a mighty antioxidant punch, and can be easily incorporated into your breakfast smoothie or lunchtime salad. Walnuts and pecans also make the cut, as do kidney beans, artichokes and dark chocolate (in small doses!). It’s been found that antioxidant supplements don’t help as much, therefore it’s important you keep your diet packed full of the goods rather than relying on tablets or sashays.

Chocolate can be beneficial during pregnancy

Pregnant women often worry about gaining too much weight when they are expecting, but a new study has shown that eating chocolate could provide essential health benefits. Anyone who has been through pregnancy will have experienced cravings at any time of the day or night – with chocolate being top of many women’s list. Now you no longer need to stress about tucking into your favorite sweet treat, as scientists have found high–flavanol chocolate can boost fetal growth and help the placenta perform more efficiently.

The study conducted by experts at Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada, also determined the sweet stuff can decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition which can occur in the latter stages of pregnancy.

“This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” explained study co-author Dr Emmanuel Bujold.

Previous studies have produced conflicting findings when it comes to the impact of eating chocolate during pregnancy, so this latest trial focused on the effect of high-flavanol chocolate, such as dark chocolate, which is high in cocoa solids.

For the study, 129 women were chosen, all between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant with one baby. They were given 30 grams of either high-flavanol or low-flavanol chocolate to eat every day for 12 weeks, and their progress was followed until they gave birth. Each participant’s uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index (PI) was measured, which shows blood velocity in placental, fetal and uterine circulations. The PI showed noticeable improvement for both groups.

Gestational hypertension, placenta weight, pre-eclampsia and birth weight was also noted for each woman – and no differences were found between the two groups.

Feel-good foods for winter

Getting up during the week to dark, frosty mornings isn’t the best way to ease yourself into the day. If your mood still doesn’t pick up as it gets lighter and the hours pass, you may want to incorporate these foods into your diet.

We begin with humble oatmeal, which is guaranteed to lift your spirits with its warm and creamy texture. Carbohydrates are known to boost the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, but you need to do it the right way, so choose porridge over a pastry or toast first thing. It will boost your energy levels too and if you fancy jazzing it up a bit add banana for potassium which helps control your blood pressure, or maple syrup which has previously linked to cleansing the body – only in small doses though!

Or, why not push the boat out and add a sprinkling of dark chocolate. This may sound too naughty for an average Tuesday morning, but chocolate really does make you feel better thanks to, again, boosting serotonin levels. A previous study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that people who drank a chocolate drink once a day, equalling 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate, were calmer than those who didn’t. Calm = relaxed, which hopefully leads to happiness!

And what better to go with chocolate than nuts – Brazil nuts in particular in this case. They’re packed full of selenium, a mineral that can lead to depression, anxiety and irritability if the body lacks it. Snack on them throughout the day, or add them to your porridge, salad or yogurt – they’re so diverse there’s no excuse to avoid them (unless you’re allergenic of course).

If the last case applies to you, try out chickpeas. You can get them dried, have them in a curry or scoop up some hummus – any of these choices will see you reap the benefits of its vitamin B and magnesium content. These two components keep the nervous system at bay and ward off stress, leaving you feeling easy and breezy even during hectic times.

Daydreaming = obesity, according to new research

If you find yourself easily distracted you need be careful – scientists have found that daydreaming could increase a person’s risk of obesity.

Apparently, those who get lost in their thoughts fail to recognize how much they’ve eaten, potentially resulting in them tucking into more food than they should.

Data on 38 children aged eight to 13, collected by the ‘Enhanced Nathan Kline Institute – Rockland Sample’, was analysed, with five of the children obese and six overweight. They were weighed and information about their eating habits was gathered, as well as brain scans being performed.

Three areas of the brain were identified, associated to eating habits and weight. The inferior parietal lobe is linked to inhibition and is capable of overriding an automatic response, like eating. The frontal pole is linked to impulsive behaviour, while the nucleus accumbens is focuses on the reward.

Looking at children who ate the most, the experiment found that the part of the brain which is linked to being impulsive was more important than the sector associated with inhibition. In contrast, kids who behaved in a way that kept them from food saw their area of the brain associated with inhibition play a stronger role than the impulsive side.

Researchers think the way to tackle this is to encourage children to practice mindfulness from a young age, with study co-author Dr Ronald Cowan, of Vanderbilt University, adding: “We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity.”

Study co-author, Dr Dr Kevin Niswender, added: “Adults, and especially children, are primed towards eating more. This is great from an evolutionary perspective – they need food to grow and survive.

“But in today’s world, full of readily available, highly advertised, energy dense foods, it is putting children at risk of obesity.”

The study was published in the journal Heliyon.