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Don’t Know How to Pick Fruits and Vegetables? Follow the Italian Lady

Don’t Know How to Pick Fruits and Vegetables? Follow the Italian Lady

Supermarkets haven’t destroyed farmers, although they have made their lives a lot harder. It’s not rare to see a weekend outdoor farmer’s market in the US, but in Italia, where I come from, they work every day.  Italy’s outdoor market, the popular mercati is what makes it great. That’s Italy.

Imagine stalls and booths with Italian men and women behind them, selling basically everything—from five different varieties of tomatoes to prosciutto and other various types of deli meat, fresh baked bread with olives, butchered lamb meat, fish and wine: wines from the local region, homemade, tasty, rich in flavor.

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Italians don’t go to the local outdoor food market just to fill out their fridge; they go to fill out their senses with sound and smell. You pass by a stall that sells fresh smoked cheese with basil, you can hear the wine being poured, you can smell the fresh bread and it will stimulate your appetite. Passing by the flowers you remember the games you used to play when you were a kid in your garden, just before your mother called out for you to come inside because it’s dinner time.  “Come”, the old vendor says with its strong baritone voice, “try this prosciutto, you’ll love it”. And you do.

You can find everything there, from healthy food to clothing, shoes, souvenirs, flowers and cookware.  They are opened every day of the week, except for some Sundays.

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But, even if you live in Italy, not every product is of best quality, and that can be applied to the market places everywhere. There’s a great tip: follow the old lady. In Italia we call them nonne which basically means grandmother, but it can be applied to any old skillful lady. Italians are traditional and the roles in family are pretty much known in advance. Nonne have been cooking for their families for decades and they know which tomato is best for spaghetti, what meat goes in it and where to find it. They are, how should we say it, the best source of information as they have probably been patrons of the local mercati for those same decades.  That wisdom has been transferred through generations and when you spot one, and it’s easy to so because they carry a canvas bag designed to pile in as much excellent products as possible to carry home and cook for their loved ones, follow them and take notes. They will take you to the right guy.

If there isn’t one in sight, you can spot a quality vendor just by pure observation.  He is the guy behind a stall where people are waiting to be served.  This is how you spot a true fair one.  If there are up to five people waiting to be served, the product offered is a good one, and if there are more than five people in front of the booth, get in the line. Nonne know why.

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If you are wondering why I wrote this article, it is because I am an advocate of healthy, homemade food, and I want to create a desire in you for the food that exudes the perfect smell of flavor and taste. I have learned a lot from my nonna. Just add raw vegetables and fruit to your meal and you will achieve that. Italians cook pasta as basics and they just add in sauce, cheese, meat: the things they have in the fridge, and a lot of salad.

This is not a big diet change. It is just a way to healthier and tastier food.

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

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!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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