Monday, July 19, 2010

6 Great Foods for Men

Nutrition tips to improve mood, memory, muscles and more

Listen up, guys. If you'd like to improve your mood, memory, muscles and more, forget expensive and potentially risky supplements. Just head to your local supermarket. You'll find foods that help prevent age-related health conditions. As an added bonus, they all taste great and are easy to incorporate into your diet.

Sardines for heart health

Ounce for ounce, sardines are one of the best sources for heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and are extremely low in contaminants such as mercury and PCBs. They're also eco-friendly, packed with protein and low in saturated fat. Canned versions are inexpensive, portable and don't require refrigeration. Choose no-salt-added brands, and keep the bones in for a third of your recommended daily calcium. Sardines are great on salads or layered on top of whole-grain crackers.

Brazil nuts for prostate health

Brazil nuts are one of the richest food sources of selenium, a mineral that may reduce a man's risk of developing prostate cancer. Selenium may be toxic if taken in daily doses of more than 400 micrograms (mcg). But one Brazil nut has about 100 mcg. One or two mixed with other nuts each day will give you just the right amount.

Edamame for mood

Mood is affected by a combination of factors, including brain chemistry, life events and the foods you eat. Of these, only diet is under your control. Fiber-rich carbohydrates such as oats and edamame (green soybeans in the pod) help prevent mood fluctuations by keeping your blood-sugar levels steady. Edamame also contain protein, which further helps stabilize blood sugar, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help combat depression. You can find them in just about any Japanese restaurant. They often come heavily salted, so request them "nude" or lightly coated. You also can buy frozen edamame pods at health-food stores and many supermarkets. Take 'em home, boil, drain and enjoy!

Sesame seeds for sex drive

They're inexpensive, safe, and don't require a prescription. They're also very rich in the amino acid arginine, which is involved in synthesizing nitric oxide, a compound that enhances blood flow through the arteries and—ahem—to various other male body parts. Toasted sesame seeds add a nice nutty taste to salads, cooked grains or cereal. You also can enjoy them in hummus, which is made with ground chickpeas and sesame seed paste (called tahini).

Blueberries for memory

These days, it seems you can't say enough about the health benefits of blueberries. But did you know that much of their power lies in their color? That deep blue hue is caused by flavonoids—natural compounds that protect the brain's memory-carrying cells (neurons) from the negative effects of oxidation and inflammation. Buy firm-fleshed berries or, off-season, try frozen, unsweetened varieties. Eat with plain yogurt, as a topping for cereal or right out of the bowl.

Lentils for energy

Rich in fiber and protein—both of which are digested slowly—lentils provide a steady source of energy. They're also a good source of several B vitamins essential to energy production, as well as iron, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen. Try whipping up a big batch of lentil soup and you'll have a hearty lunch for days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Big hips 'impair' women's memory, a study finds


A woman's body shape may influence how good her memory is, according to US researchers.

Although carrying excess weight anywhere appears to impair older women's brains, carrying it on the hips may make matters worse, they say.

The Northwestern Medicine team found "apple-shaped" women fared better than "pears" on cognitive tests.

But depositing fat around the waist increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease, experts warn.

They said the findings, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, highlighted the importance of maintaining a healthy weight for both body and mind.

Some of the health risks associated with obesity, such as vascular disease and inflammation, may explain why people who are overweight appear to be at higher risk of dementia.

However, the latest study suggests a bit of extra fat around the waist may actually protect brain functioning.

Spare tyre

The researchers believe belly fat makes more of the female hormone oestrogen that naturally dips after the menopause.

Oestrogen is thought to help protect the brain from cognitive decline.

The study involved 8,745 post-menopausal women aged 65 to 79.

These women were asked to complete a memory test that doctors use to judge brain function. They were also weighed and measured, then scored on an obesity scale known as Body Mass Index or BMI. Over two-thirds of the women were overweight or obese.

The researchers found that for every one point increase in a woman's BMI, her memory score dropped by one point.

And pear-shaped women - those with smaller waists but bigger hips - scored particularly poorly.

The researchers say this is likely to be related to the type of fat deposited around the hips versus the waist.

Scientists already know different kinds of fat release different hormones and have varying effects on insulin resistance, lipids and blood pressure.

Lead researcher Dr Diana Kerwin said: "We need to find out if one kind of fat is more detrimental than the other, and how it affects brain function.

"The fat may contribute to the formation of plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease or a restricted blood flow to the brain."

Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: "The pear-shape is incredibly common, and while this study doesn't explain fully the link between body shape and brain function, it surely makes the case for watching the scales.

"There is little we can do about our natural body shape, but a lot we can do about our weight.

"With so much evidence of the dangers of obesity, we could all do well to consider sensible lifestyle changes to keep our weight in check."

BBC News Health