The Best Foods for Your Mind

ucdhealthyaggies:

Finals week is next week and we’re reblogging our past posts to help you ace your finals!

Originally posted on Healthy Aggies:

bestfoods-for-mind-PROOF

Did you know that some food can actually help you think better?

If you’re feeling forgetful, it could be due to a lack of sleep or a number of other reasons including genetics, level of physical activity, and lifestyle and environmental factors. However, there’s no doubt that diet plays a major role in brain health.

The best menu for boosting memory and brain function encourages good blood flow to the brain — much like what you’d eat to nourish and protect your heart. A recent study found that the Mediterranean Diet helps in keeping aging brains sharp: a growing body of evidence links foods like those in the Mediterranean Diet with better cognitive function, memory and alertness.

Here’s how to eat your way to success during this upcoming finals week.

Eat your veggies.

Getting adequate vegetables, especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens, may help improve memory…

View original 344 more words

Benefits of Tea

Ever since 2737 B.C. when Chinese legend says leaves from an overhanging Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shen Nung’s cup of boiling water, tea has been recognized by cultures around the world for its capacity to soothe, restore and refresh. According to the Tea Association of the USA, the number of Americans who will drink tea today is about 160 million, about half of the U.S. population.

The main health-promoting substances in tea are polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins. Studies say these molecules have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Harvard-led studies of large groups of people over time have found that tea or coffee drinkers are at lower risk for diabetes and possibly cardiovascular disease. It remains unclear whether the tea itself is the cause of these benefits and, if so, how it works its magic. The studies attempt to rule out the possibility that tea drinkers simply live healthier lifestyles, but it’s difficult to be sure. That said, tea itself appears to have no harmful effects except for a case of the jitters if you drink too much caffeinated brew. It fits in perfectly well with a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Here are some teas with health benefits to try:

ginger teaGinger:

Ginger, a light brown root with a distinctive taste, contains high levels of Vitamin C, magnesium and other minerals. Once made into tea, you can add peppermint, honey, lemon, or peppercorn to enhance the taste of the ginger. Watch this video for a hands-on demonstration of how to make ginger tea from fresh ginger.

peppermint

Peppermint:

The menthol that is naturally present in peppermint tea is a muscle relaxant, allowing for natural stress and anxiety relief. The consumption of any warm liquid, namely tea, helps to clear sinuses and soothe sore throats. Peppermint tea in particular is a known natural decongestant.

rooibos

Rooibos:

A favorite among South Africans for years, rooibos is said by some to have 50% more antioxidants than those found in green tea. Antioxidants are the organic substances believed to scavenge “free radicals,” the toxic by-product of natural biological processes that can damage cells and lead to cancer. Rooibos is also rich in vitamin C, caffeine-free, and low in tannins, the residue in teas that can sometimes cause digestive problems, according to WebMD.

green tea

Green Tea:

Green tea has a more delicate flavor than black tea. The leaves are dried and heat-treated soon after they’re picked, which stops the fermentation process. It contains about 25 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Green tea is full of antioxidants called catechins; a subgroup known as EGCG may ward off everything from cancer to heart disease. One study found that each daily cup of green tea consumed may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent. In 2010, Japanese researchers reported at least one cup of green tea per day was associated with significantly decreased odds for tooth loss. Other studies have suggested tea may lower the pH of the tooth surface, suppressing the growth of periodontal bacteria. A more likely reason for tea’s anti-cariogenic effect is its fluoride content. Tea is usually brewed with fluoridated water and the tea plant naturally accumulates fluoride from the soil.

black tea

Black Tea:

Black tea is the most common variety and accounts for about 75 percent of global tea consumption. Like many of the teas here, it’s made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which are typically rolled and fermented, then dried and crushed. Black tea has a slightly bitter flavor and contains the most caffeine—about 40 milligrams per cup. (A cup of coffee has 50 to 100.) Flavonoids in both black and green tea prevent oxidation of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, reduce blood clotting and improve widening of blood vessels in the heart. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ studies that looked at the relationship of black tea intake and heart health reported decreased incidence of heart attack, lower cholesterol levels and significantly lower blood pressure..

oolong

Oolong Tea:

Oolong is similar to black tea, but it’s fermented for a shorter time which gives it a richer taste. It contains about 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Oolong activates an enzyme responsible for dissolving triglycerides, the form of dietary fat that’s stored in fat cells, thus aiding in weight loss. One study showed that women who drank oolong tea burned slightly more calories over a two-hour period than those who drank only water.

yerba_mate

Yerba Mate:

Yerba mate tea is a South American beverage made by steeping the ground leaves and stems of the yerba mate plant. Yerba mate contains caffeine, as well as a number of other nutrients including antioxidants, amino acids, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals.

Great news: Yerba Mate is available at the Dining Commons! Various types of Numi Tea, a USDA Certified Organic and certified Fair Trade brand, are also available.  

Fall Spices

Fall-Spices

Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The leaves are changing colorand there is pumpkin flavored everything at Trader Joes. But most of all, the wind is blowing and the air has a crisp chill to it that wasn’t there 4 weeks ago . . .So what better way to cozy up and stay warm than to have a delectable dish (or drink!) flavored with a Fall Spice.

Here’s a list of some fiery fall spices to keep your taste buds excited this season!

Cinnamon

fall spices 1

Cinnamon is an ancient spice that has been used since 2000 B.C to treat sore throats & arthritis. Today, it has also been discovered to treat vomiting, diarrhea, & the common cold. But what cinnamon is best known for is in aiding stomach aches/digestive problems.

This old spice contains unique oil that’s great at breaking down fats during digestion. Word of advice: eat some cinnamon before or with a big meal to prepare your stomach for easy digestion.

Cinnamon also has antifungal and antibacterial properties that help clean out your gut and relieve your stomach from excess gas.

I like to sprinkle cinnamon on my favorite autumn produce like pumpkin seeds or Butternut squash!

 

Cinnamon

Turmeric

If you’ve never eaten a curry dish, I highly suggest you head downtown to eat some right now! (Just kidding, but you should definitely go try some sometime.)

What’s in curry exactly? The main component of curry is turmeric. Known as the golden spice, due to its burnt orange hue, turmeric not only adds a delicious punch of heat to any dish but is rich in nutritional value as well.

fall spices 4

This warm, earthy spice is popular for its anti-inflammatory abilities. The main property of turmeric is called, curcumin. Studies have compared curcumin to be just as effective as the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug, Motrin.

fall spices 5Additionally, its anti-cancer abilities efficiently aids in apoptosis (cancer cell death) and prevention of cancer cells spreading in one’s body.

The only downside to this spice is our bodies do not easily absorb it. To enhance absorption, black pepper is commonly used alongside turmeric — Like in this savory grilled chicken recipe.

Another way to enjoy this spice is by drinking some warm turmeric milk!

Nutmeg

Grown on an exotic evergreen tree, nutmeg is packed with powerful flavor that will greatly enhance whatever drink or dish you sprinkle it onto. This spice works as a strong detoxifying agent, especially for the liver & kidney, which hold the most tonics in our body.

Desert anyone? This recipe makes a hot spice, sweet in a delicate apple cupcake topped with nutmeg frosting.

Nutmeg can also aid those who struggle with insomnia. Studies have shown that this spice increases serotonin levels. In addition nutmeg contains myristicin, a chemical that helps relieve stress. That way you can head to bed feeling more calm and relaxed.

nutmeg

Star Anise 

The final fall spice I have for you all this season is called Star Anise. This pretty little spice gets its name from it’s intricate shape – yep, you guessed it, a star!

star anise

This ancient Asian spice has a strong licorice-type flavor. And with great taste, comes even greater health benefits!

Star Anise is highly concentrated in shikimic acid, an antiviral property that boosts your immune system. This is especially beneficial during these colder months ahead of us. The acid is even used in the production of anti-flu medication, Tamiflu.

Another way it powers up our immunity is by being packed with essential vitamins & minerals. These include vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and B-Vitamins.

Star Anise is often used to flavor the broth of Asian soups. Try this easy Vietnamese pho dish to help stay warm in the chilly weather.

fall spices 10 I hope you’re just as excited, as I am to add some heat to the kitchen.

I challenge you all to even combine some of these spices together to enhance their flavors and their nutritional values.

Happy Autumn!

 

by Janelle Manzano, Clinical Nutrition Student

GMO’s

GMOs-Header

So what’s the deal? You seem to hear and see these three letters at every grocery store or farmers market out there. But what does “GMO” even stand for? Or better yet, what do these three letters even mean?

And, oh my goodness! Why is everyone, especially those in this video, so hyped up about it?

 Well, let me lay it out for you all. First, “GMO” stands for:

 Genetically Modified Organisms

 *Side note: GMOs are also known as Biotech or Genetically Engineered

gmo1

To some, this may sound pretty scary, huh?

But before we get into whatever pros and cons you may have heard from your friends, let’s also look at the definition of a GMO.

According to the FDA, GMO refers to the alteration of a plant’s “traits and characteristics… to enhance the growth and nutritional profile.”

That doesn’t sound too bad, right?

GMO 2

Here’s a quick list of why GMO foods are “good”:

  • Allows crops to be resistant to pests, herbicides, and disease
    • For example, Monsanto developed a type of soybean that is herbicide (weed killer) resistant. This way, farmers gain a larger crop yield.
  • Weather, such as drought, tolerance
    • Antifreeze genes from cold-water fish can now be implemented into crops to help them withstand colder temperatures that would normally kill them off.
  • Expanded food supply
    • As malnutrition continues to be an ongoing problem in third world countries, scientists behind GM crops have successfully added Vitamin A to rice, also known as “golden rice”.

Now here’s a list of why GMO foods are “bad”:

  • Present new allergens
    • Since the 1990s, when GMO crops were first introduced, the rate of Americans who developed chronic diseases and food allergies greatly increased.
  • Development of “super” weeds
    • GMO crops were developed to protect plants from herbicides. Over time, weeds become resistant to these herbicides, pushing farmers to spray more potent and more toxic herbicides on their crops.
  • Decrease in Antibiotic Effectiveness
    • Some GMO crops are engineered to have antibiotic characteristics. When consumed, this characteristic carries on in our bodies and can cause antibiotic medicine to become less effective.

With these pros & cons at hand (in addition to the many others out there), it is ultimately up to you as a consumer to choose what type of produce you want to buy.

If you are concerned about GMOs keep an eye out for Non-GMO Project’s special label (shown below) on products in your grocery market.

In addition, as non-GMO/ “organic” products tend to be a bit pricier, here are some helpful tips to buying such products.

GMO3

GMO5

GMO 6

Image: Documentary about the GMO Industry

by Janelle Manzano, Clinical Nutrition Student

Breakfast in Under 10 Minutes

Breakfast-Header

Even if you’re short on time, it is possible to eat a tasty and healthy breakfast every morning. It takes just 10 minutes to prepare one of these breakfasts. There are plenty of options for wholesome breakfast foods in healthy food stores such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but sometimes it’s so much more fun to create your own combinations of food and come up with something that you will not find anywhere else but your own kitchen.  A healthy breakfast will help boost your metabolism and help avoid weight gain; people who eat a nutritious breakfast regularly are more likely to incorporate the recommended intake of vitamins and minerals to their diet and tend not to overeat later on during the day. When you’re planning to spend your day at school or work, there’s nothing better than filling your body with wonderful nutrients that will give you energy, better concentration and an overall good mood.

It takes just 10 minutes to prepare one of these tasty breakfasts:

Overnight oatmeal

Overnight Oatmeal: Overnight oats is a great option if you have limited time in the mornings. Simply combine oats, milk, and your choice of other ingredients to a bowl or a jar and cover and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, give it a stir and enjoy it cold, or heat it up in the microwave if you prefer it warm. Try this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats, perfect for fall mornings.

smoothies

Super-Fast Smoothies: The best part about smoothies is that they require zero cook time! Make smoothie packs for quick breakfasts: Split two 1-lb. bags of frozen fruit among six quart-size resealable plastic bags. Add half a peeled banana to each, seal, date, and freeze. On a busy morning you can just dump one into a blender with milk or juice. Add whey protein powder for an extra boost post workout.

Breakfast Polenta

Breakfast Polenta: A great alternative to oatmeal, this breakfast is also great for before and after a workout. This breakfast polenta is gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly, and the perfect balance of protein and carbohydrates. Top with slivered almonds and dried fruit.

Avocado

Avocado Tartine: This is an easy way to dress up simple avocado and toast to make it more delicious. Slice a fresh avocado, place it on a piece of toast, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and enjoy! Other ingredients that could be added include hot sauce, an egg, or smoked salmon.

protein pancakes

Protein Pancakes: What better breakfast than delicious fluffy pancakes? This pancake recipe is a satisfying 350-calorie breakfast that contains 33 grams of protein to give you a jumpstart on the day. You can even make a large batch and store them in the freezer to heat up quickly in the morning.

breakfast boat

Tropical Breakfast Boat: Cut 1 ripe papaya half and discard the seeds. Fill the papaya half with a large scoop of plain Greek yogurt, raw oats, coconut flakes, goji berries, cacao nibs, mulberries, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Optional: squeeze some lime on top.

quinoa scramble

Quinoa Scramble: This satisfying, vitamin-packed quinoa spinach scramble is simple and quick to prepare. If you have cooked quinoa on hand, it takes less 10 minutes to cook, making it a great before-school breakfast.

Eating on campus? Check out the omelet bar at the UC Davis Dining Commons, which features an SPE Certified omelet option every day at breakfast.

Superfoods: Going Green 101

Going-Green-Banner

What’s so important about eating your leafy greens? First, they provide us with the most phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are natural chemicals that are found in plants. These chemicals guard plants from harm, such as pests and UV rays. But they do not just benefit the plant itself; they benefit those who eat the plant as well!

Greens whose leaves grow separately off a stalk, rather within a bunch, are much more phytonutrient-dense. This is because the leaves are more exposed to the environment and must develop an abundant amount of phytonutrients for survival.

Here are some of the most nutrient-dense leafy greens you should include to your diet!

Kale

kale

Crazy for kale? Don’t worry. The rest of the world seems to be too. It is no surprise how popular this leafy green has gotten these past few years. What makes kale so super you may ask? Well, kale is very high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that keeps your skin and eyes healthy. It also contains Vitamin K, which helps transport calcium throughout your body to enhance the strength of your bones.

You can toss them in your stir-fry meal/salad or add to your post-workout smoothie. As a study break snack, you can even munch on some delicious kale chips.

Dandelion Leaves

Dandelion Leaves

 We’ve all seen them before, the common weed with the yellow flowers and the fluffy seed balls. As the dandelion may be a large nuisance in the garden, it is an underrated, nutrient-rich leafy green in the kitchen.

Dandelion leaves are full of essential minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorous. Additionally, one cup of cooked dandelion provides you with 15% of your daily calcium value. (That’s more than spinach!).

I enjoy tossing dandelion leaves in my salads. But they are just as tasty in sandwiches and pastas. Note: The leaves have a strong flavor, use cautiously. Start with small amounts.

Chard

Chard Mm, chard. It’s probably my favorite leafy green out there. One reason? They come in a variety of beautiful colors that add vibrant life to any meal you add them to.

Another reason would be chard’s richness of Vitamin C; about 1 cup provides you with 33% of your daily value. In addition, chard contains syringic acid, a phytonutrient that helps regulate blood sugar. Other nutritional properties of chard include high amounts of Vitamin K (<500%) and A (<50%).

(*Note: another leaf that’s just as tasty and nutrient dense is Collard)

Here is a super simple, yet tasty chard recipe that only uses 4 ingredients!

For a more daring soul, this curry recipe is golden.

Spirulina

Spirulina

 

The last on our list of green superfoods does not take a leafy form. Instead, it is derived from a type of algae and is bought as a powder. The wonders of spirulina are endless.

First, it is about 65% complete protein, which makes it one of Earth’s most protein packed plant (Vegetarians, take note!). Second, it is rich in chlorophyll, a strong detoxifying agent. Lastly, spirulina is rich in beta-carotene, antioxidants, and many other important minerals.

The best way to benefit from this superfood is by adding a teaspoon to your smoothies. This smoothie includes kale, creating a delicious superfood duo!

by Janelle Manzano, Clinical Nutrition Student

Finals Week Survival Guide

Finals-Week-Banner

 

No sleep, caffeine overload, sweats and flip-flops. It’s that time of the quarter again.

Even though in a week we’ll be enjoying the sweet taste of summer vacation and, for some of us, graduation, there’s one last hurdle we all have to get over. You probably guessed it, the daunting week of finals! Many of us associate Finals Week with eating fast food and down energy drinks. Let’s take a step back, though, to see how food choices can affect how well we study.

Caffeine

During Finals Week we all need that boost of energy while we study, but it’s important to realize not all caffeinated drinks are created equal. Instead of grabbing an energy drink, which contains sugar and empty calories, try drinking Matcha green tea or brewed coffee instead. These beverages don’t have a lot of sugar and empty calories plus they may offer natural health benefits.  Keep in mind that 200-300 mg of caffeine is considered a healthy, moderate level.

Monster

  • 92mg caffeine per 8 fl oz
  • 100 calories per serving
  • 27g sugar per serving

Matcha Green Tea

  • 70mg caffeine in 8 fl oz
  • 12 calories in 1 tsp
    • Caffeine released into the body continuously over 6-8 hours
    • Slow release of caffeine prevents jitters and caffeine crash
    • Contains antioxidants and calming properties

Coffee

  • 108 mg caffeine in 8 fl oz
  • 2 calories per cup
  • Shown to decrease risk of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes
  • Contains antioxidants

Broccoli

Our bodies convert food into fuel for energy by using folic acid, which is found in broccoli. Folic acid also prevents that feeling of sluggishness. As a quick side to your meal, drizzle olive oil over broccoli florets, season with salt and pepper, and roast at 425 degrees F for 15-18 minutes. By roasting broccoli on non-stick foil, you can study while it’s in the oven and the foil makes for easy clean up. It’s delicious!

Other sources of folic acid:

  • Black beans
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Beets

Trail Mix

Try trail mix instead of chips. You can easily make it by combining your favorite dried fruits, nuts, and even chocolate chips! Nuts, such as almonds and cashews, can help you feel energized while you are studying. They are high in magnesium, which produces and transports energy in the body.

Dark Chocolate

Sometimes when you’re stressed, all you need is a piece of chocolate. The good news? Dark chocolate has been shown to lower stress hormones in highly stressed individuals. Also chocolate has a number of antioxidants that are beneficial to our bodies.

Tuna

Canned tuna is a great option because it’s inexpensive and can be used for a quick sandwich. Tuna contains 20g of protein in a 3 oz serving, which help you feel full longer. Also, it has high levels of vitamin E and K, potassium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain memory and performance.