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Make the Most of Your Meals by Eating a Variety of Foods

Make the Most of Your Meals by Eating a Variety of Foods

Proper nutrition is critical for your health. It is important to get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as a well-chosen selection of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. And no single food has the ability to give you everything you need.

So, what is the easiest way to make sure your dietary needs are met? Try eating a wide variety of healthy foods!

And you want to do more than simply cover the major food groups. The higher amount of variety within each of those categories means there is a greater chance that you are covering your bases. To help you make wise choices regarding your nutrition, use these tips to help increase the variety in your average meal.

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Focus on Color with Fruits and Vegetables

One of the easiest ways to ensure you are getting a wide range of nutrients is to choose fruits and vegetables with a variety of colors. Different compounds cause the color variances and also indicate that they contain varying selections of antioxidants.

Differing types of antioxidants in foods help keep your body functioning optimally. They fight free radicals, which can damage cell membranes and even affect your DNA. You are exposed to free radicals every day, so keeping a regular influx of antioxidants is important for your health.

Change Up Your Meats

When people think of protein, they normally think of meat first. But the other health benefits you can get from meat varies depending on the type.

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For example, certain kinds of fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered one of the good kinds of fat.

Lean poultry, such as chicken or turkey, is lower in saturated fat than similarly sized portions of red meats, like beef. Often, this makes poultry a healthier choice, though any lean portion of meat is better than their less lean counterparts.

This is another area where eating a variety can help ensure you get everything you need without becoming bored.

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Plant-Based Proteins

You can also get protein from plant foods. This includes nuts and legumes, as well as tofu products. Often, these sources of protein are easy to work into a healthy diet and can cut down costs.

For example, beans can be much less expensive per serving than servings of most meats. That means you can get the nutrients you need without having to spend a fortune.

Plant-based proteins can help you add variety to your diet, giving you new tastes to enjoy on a regular basis. You can use sunflower seeds to dress up a salad, or snack on almonds to give you an afternoon energy boost.

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Skip the Juice

Many people believe that juice is a healthy alternative to many other beverages, but actually they can contain a lot of sugar. Also, high-sugar juices don’t have some of the benefits associated with fruits and vegetables, as juices rarely contain any of the fiber. (Fiber is something that helps you feel fuller longer, which can make it easier to avoid overeating.)

In most cases, it is better to avoid drinking your calories, period. There are numerous, no-calorie beverage options, including most black coffees and various teas, that can give you flavor without adding a significant number of calories. In fact, drinking green tea can be seen as a healthy choice and may help lower cholesterol, improve circulation, and may help prevent certain heart-related issues.

With all of the benefits associated with a healthy diet, and how easy it is to get a variety of nutrients with every meal, anyone can improve their nutrition with a few simple changes. So, why not start today? So you can work to a healthier tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-fruits-vegetables-cooking-41123/ via pexels.com

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

12 Best Brain Foods That Improve Memory and Boost Brain Power

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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