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Time for a Comeback: 6 Carbs You’ll Want in Your Diet

Time for a Comeback: 6 Carbs You’ll Want in Your Diet

As early as 1972, Robert J. Atkins’ food plan suggested limiting carbohydrates in favor of proteins and fats as a way to lose weight. More recently, the popular paleo trend has promoted the health benefits of returning to the diet of our hunter-gather ancestors. However, a new study from The Quarterly Review of Biology suggests that complex carbohydrates played a crucial role in the development of the human brain. The findings suggest that we have been too quick to slash carbs from our grocery lists.

In today’s gluten-free world, many nutrient-rich starches have disappeared from the carts of health-conscious shoppers. As a result, diets today are missing the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutritional values that cannot always be recuperated with artificial supplements.

Here is a list of six carbohydrates that deserve a spot in your weekly rotation:

1. Purple Potatoes: not your average spud

This more vibrant cousin to the white potato packs a serious punch of antioxidants. When steamed or boiled, they can protect against free radicals. Plus, studies have shown that the high levels of potassium found in purple potatoes can reduce blood pressure.

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Purple potatoes

    Dr. Joe Vinson from the University of Scranton hopes to bring them back into favor. “Mention ‘potato’ and people think ‘fattening, high carbs, empty calories.’ In reality, when prepared without frying and served without butter, margarine, or sour cream, one potato has only 110 calories and dozens of healthful phytochemicals and vitamins.”

    2. It’s a seed, not a grain, it’s buckwheat!

    This fruit seed is often mistaken for a grain since it is commonly used as a healthy, gluten-free substitute to flour. Popular uses of buckwheat include French galettes and soba noodles, both wholesome alternatives to wheat-based batters or pastas.

    Buckwheat

      “Buckwheat is loaded with health benefits… it is a great source of heart-healthy fiber, which helps keep you full longer. It also provides hunger-satisfying protein without any of the cholesterol or saturated fat that animal protein contains. Plus, it offers eight essential amino acids, making this complete protein a smart nutritional choice for vegetarians,” says Elaine Gordon, a master-certified health education specialist.

      3. The return of Quaker’s Oats

      While often paired with rich ingredients like honey, brown sugar and cream, oats are an important addition to your diet given their content of soluble fiber. Beneficial side effects of increased oats intake, according to The Whole Grain Council, include lowering bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and controlling blood pressure.

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      Oats

        Most recently, oats have made a big comeback as a healthy breakfast that is simple to prepare and a wonderful alternative to sugary cereals.

        4. Farro, it’s not just an ancient king in Egypt

        A wonderful alternative to pasta, Farro is an ancient Etruscan grain that is chock-full of nutrients like vitamins B and E as well as fiber. A study from Harvard Medical School notes that vitamin E “acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage. Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”

        Farro

          For a heartier meal, try adding farro to your regular soup or salad recipes. Or, create a healthy dessert by adding warmed fruit and honey to the cooked grain.

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          5. Change up your bean routine

          Despite being a carbohydrate, kidney beans can actually help you lose weight given their high levels of soluble fiber. Beans and legumes are harder to digest which can suppress appetite. The iron content in kidney beans is a bonus too. Daniel Pendick, executive editor of Harvard Men’s Health writes, “one-quarter of the world’s population is anemic, meaning they don’t get enough iron to produce the red blood cells and oxygen-carrying hemoglobin needed to nourish their myriad cells.” A diet of iron-rich foods, however, is the best way to combat deficiency.

          Kidney beans

            Get creative with kidney beans as you would with black beans. They can be used for more than chili and soups. Try adding an extra dose of iron and protein to salads or sauces.

            6. Fill up on fiber with butternut squash

            Butternut squash contains high levels of Vitamins A and C. Jessica Kovarick, a licensed and registered dietician says, “Beta carotene imparts the orange-yellow color of butternut squash. In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain eye health. Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin, also is important in maintaining healthy mucous membranes and other soft tissues, and it plays a role in promoting healthy skin.” Of course, if that is not enough, this healthy carb’s fiber content aids digestion and its high levels of potassium maintain heart health.

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            Butternut squash

              Butternut squash is delicious when simply roasted in olive oil and garnished with salt and pepper. If you are looking for a prepare-ahead meal, try making soup and stock your fridge or freezer for Fall and Winter meals.

              The Verdict: Eradication is extreme

              While it is not recommended to start reaching for white bread and plain pasta, there are benefits to adding nutrient-rich carbohydrates back into your shopping basket. Often, understanding the vitamins found in the groceries you buy can greatly improve your overall diet, health and happiness.

              Whether you are gluten-free, paleo or in search of the next big trend, the message is clear: some carbohydrates are just too good to pass up.

              Featured photo credit: Melissa’s Produce, mylifeisdelicious, vegancoconutzone, Jason Sani, helloantioxidants, Barley Swine via Instagram

              Featured photo credit: Cutting Bread by dinner series via flickr.com

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              Last Updated on November 11, 2019

              How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

              How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

              Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

              To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

              Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

              1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

              Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

              Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

              To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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              2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

              Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

              If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

              Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

              3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

              Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

              Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

              4. Feed Your Brain

              Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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              This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

              Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

              Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

              5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

              According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

              Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

              Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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              6. Write it Down

              If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

              It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

              You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

              7. Listen to Music

              Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

              8. Visual Concepts

              In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

              Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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              Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

              9. Teach Someone Else

              Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

              Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

              10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

              Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

              So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

              Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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