Meals + avocados = weight loss

The benefits of the humble avocado are wide ranging. From boasting cancer fighting carotenoids (organic pigments) to brimming with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids – the avocado really is a diet staple. And new research has further proved this, with scientists from the Hass Avocado Board in California discovering the green fruit can aid weight loss.

“This study supports the body of research showing the many benefits that fresh avocados have to offer when consumed in everyday healthy eating plans,” Emiliano Escobedo, the board’s executive director, said.

Emiliano’s work, published in Journal of Clinical Lipidology, concluded that swapping solid fats for avocados can “significantly change lipid profiles”.

His team got their results by analyzing 10 unique avocados studies featuring 229 participants. They looked at the impact avocado had on cholesterol levels, finding that one to one-and-half avocadoes per day “significantly reduced total cholesterol”.

“Fresh avocado, as part of a balanced diet, and as a cholesterol-free substitute for solid fats, can help be part of the solution for maintaining normal cholesterol levels,” Dr Nikki Ford, director of nutrition for Hass Avocado Board, noted.

As well as adding avocado to your diet, try making easy kitchen swaps to up your daily fruit and vegetable intake.

One of the simplest ways to sneak in some more goodness is to switch spaghetti for spiraled vegetables. Adding meaty sauces with courgetti spaghetti (spiralised courgettes), for example, will also see you reduce your carbohydrate intake.

Spiralisers were 2015’s must have kitchen gadget, and their popularity shows no sign of slowing down. JML’s newest launch is the Veggetti 2.0, which quickly and easily turns a range of vegetables into neat spiral ribbons. There are two settings, so you can make your carrots, courgettes or cucumber thick or thin, depending on whether you choose to add them to salads or hot dishes.

For those with a sweet tooth who can’t help but reach for a treat after meal times, try incorporating fruit into your snacks. Yes we all know reaching for an apple over a bar of chocolate is the smart decision, but realistically that’s not going to satisfy your sugar craving. Instead cut up said apple and dip into peanut butter (natural is, of course, the better choice here). Goodness, but with that added naughty edge.

Volume waves

It’s one of the hottest looks right now, but achieving the perfect volumised waves can be a somewhat lengthy process without the right tools and products, especially if you have fine hair that just wants to lie flat.

But with revolutionary products hitting shelves on a daily basis, there are now new and quick ways you can achieve the look showcased by stars including Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lawrence.

Here we run down the best ways to get the look at home.

Prep, prep and more prep

This look is all about making sure the hair is pliable to hold the waves in the best way possible. Due to this, it’s best to try it on hair that has not been freshly washed – the morning after a shampoo is the perfect time to give it a go. If you suffer from greasy hair that needs to be washed daily, then spray on a bit of dry shampoo. Batiste’s Heavenly Volume dry shampoo is excellent for this. Make sure you brush it out afterwards to ensure you don’t leave any telltale white signs in the hair.

Protect and perfect

One of the most important things to do before using any kind of heated hair tool is to make sure you protect your hair from sudden burst of heat. Our top picks are Moroccanoil Heat Styling Protection Spray, or the more purse friendly TRESemme Heat Defence Styling Spray. KMS California ADD VOLUME Volumizing Spray gives you two for the price of one, adding volume and also protection hair from heat damage. Whichever you choose, make sure you coat each section of hair before hitting it with the tool.

Tantalizing tools

Here’s where it gets really interesting, as there is an endless supply of new volumizing tools. If you’ve opted to wash your hair in the morning then don’t despair – you can still achieve the perfect waves. Instead of drying your locks with a traditional hairdryer, try the Revlon Perfectionist 2-in-One Dryer. This combines the power of a traditional dryer with the effect of a paddle brush, meaning you can brush the hair upwards as it dries to add some more volume. It also stops hair from being frizzy.

Once the hair is dry and ready for styling, break out the EGO Professional EGO Twist – the next generation of curling wand. With four ‘bobbles’ on the wand, it enables the heat to be distributed evenly, meaning the waves will stay in place for longer. Or if you want more of an actual wave rather than a curl, try the Diva Professional Styling 4x Vari-Waver, which has adjustable wave depths.

All about the finish

When you’ve worked hard on achieving the perfect look, you need to make sure it stays in place. The celebrity favorite hairspray remains L’Oréal Paris’ Elnett Satin range which has variations such as Extra Strength or Volume Excess, is perfect for your wavy look. KMS California’s HAIRPLAY playable texture spray is another good option, as it’s the perfect multi-tasker. It’s lightweight and not sticky so it feel natural on your hair rather than making your locks stiff and lifeless.

Money = exercise motivator

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the U.S. have been examining whether financial incentives may help increase the levels of physical activity among overweight and obese adults.

In a new study, 281 participants were each given the goal of reaching 7,000 steps per day for a 26-week study period. The average daily step count among American adults is 5000.

During the first 13 weeks, the participants were assigned to four groups. One had no financial incentive, while the “gain” group received $1.40 (£0.97) for every day the goal was achieved – or $42 (£29) per month.

There was also a “lottery” category – where people were entered into a daily draw with a prize that averaged $1.40 each day.

Lastly, there was a loss incentive group, where the participants started with $42 each month, and the researchers subtracted $1.40 for each day the aim wasn’t achieved.

For the final 13 weeks of the study, participants received feedback on their performance but were not offered any financial incentives.

Participants’ progress was tracked through a mobile app on their smartphones.

Results from the first half of the study showed that offering a daily reward or lottery was no more effective than offering no reward at all.

Participants in those groups only achieved the goal approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the time.

However, those who risked losing the reward they had already been given achieved the goal nearly 45 per cent of the time. This equated to an almost 50 per cent increase over the control group.

Senior study author Dr Kevin Volpp believes the findings demonstrate that the potential of losing a reward is a very powerful motivator.

“(The study) adds important knowledge to our understanding of how to use financial incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness programs,” he said.

The authors noted that 96 per cent of participants were still actively enrolled in the study even three months after stopping incentives, which may have important implications for the role that smartphones could play in deploying these programmes on a broader scale.

“Our findings reveal how wearable devices and apps can play a role in motivating people to increase physical activity, but what really makes the difference is how you design the incentive strategy around those apps,” said Dr David Asch.

The authors added that future studies might compare the effectiveness of incentives when combined with other motivators such as team-based designs that rely on peer support and accountability.

Results were first published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Want to avoid temptation? Place treats near less-dominant hand

Desperate for a way to stop yourself from chomping on biscuits while sat at your office desk? A simple solution could be to move them away from your dominant hand, as scientists have found things appear more attractive when in easy reach.

So those who are right-handed will be more tempted by goodies on their right hand side, but when the same goods are placed on the left side the desire for them drops.

On top of this experts believe that how we perceive people is also affected by where they are stood or sat.

Researcher Dr Daniel Casasanto, of Chicago University, points out things close to the side of the body of the hand you use could be favored because there’s less effort.

“If you ask people to judge which of these two job applicants do you think you would hire, righties would on average choose the person on the right, lefties on average, the person on the left,” he explained.

“This become applicable to behaviors like voting where we are all being asked to judge candidates whose names are written on the right and left of the ballot paper. We found in a large simulated election that compared to lefties, righties will choose the candidate they see on the right of the ballot paper about 15 per cent more than lefties. So these kinds of invisible influences could have real impact.”

In addition to these findings, revealed during the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual conference, it was discovered that the brain is wired differently in left-handed and right-handed people. Emotional hubs are on different sides, which could play a big part in treating conditions like depression with electric shock therapies that stimulate one side of the brain.

“This discovery has urgent public health implications such treatments for depression and other mental health disorder that affect millions of people were designed for right-handers, and may be detrimental to everyone else,” the expert said.

Dr. Casasanto also found that if a right-handed person wore a heavy glove to make them feel clumsy, they thought more like a left-handed person.

Nine in 10 toddlers aren’t active enough

New figures have revealed more than nine out of 10 toddlers are not doing enough exercise to stay healthy.

Just nine per cent of children aged between two and four are getting the advisable three hours of physical activity per day. The benefits of being active include improving bone health and supporting brain development, while also helping social and mental skills to develop.

Now experts are asking the Government to come up with new ways of supporting more exercise for children.

The British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health (BHFNC), based at Loughborough University, are asking politicians to include stipulations for more exercise in policies – encouraging young children at nursery and in their communities to be given more opportunities to stay active.

“This manifesto outlines how we can create an environment for our children that encourages them and stimulates them to be active,” Elaine McNish, director of the BHFNC, said. “This manifesto is a call to policy makers to ensure that early years settings are supported to create active environments.

“We know that active children are more likely to become active adults so it’s vitally important to get it right at the beginning to give children opportunities to play from a young age and develop a lifelong love of being active.”

With obesity proving an increasingly difficult problem to solve among adults, it is believed that encouraging activity from a very young age may help prevent weight problems as the children get older.

“We know that physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle for everyone and the under-fives are no different,” Lisa Young, project manager for prevention and behaviour change at the British Heart Foundation, added.

“Developing a love of being active from a young age is important as we know active children become active adults, and active adults are healthier adults.”