Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tomatoes


The healthiest foods on the planet are the ones we "know by heart", like ... the tomato.

In fact, the Mediterranean diet is rich in tomatoes, tomato products, and other carotenoids and has been associated with a lower incidence of a slew of nasty chronic diseases.

Here's a summary of some of the research.

AND, people who eat tomatoes regularly are less likely to suffer from heart attacks than those who don’t make tomatoes part of their diet.

Why? There are lots of reasons, but one big one is because of lycopene. Lycopene is responsible for the antioxidant effects of tomatoes, and that prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the “bad” guy. Oxidized cholesterol is considered the primary initial step leading to the formation of plaque in the arteries and consequently to heart attacks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good News: Sugar Makes A Comeback

We create the culture of health around us.

For example, food manufacturers have typically substituted modified food products and ingredients for their more natural counterparts: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and synthetic sweeteners for sugar, hydrogenated oils for vegetable oils, and artificial fats (Olestra) for the real thing.

This article, however, comes from the food industry itself, and describes how HFCS is being removed from some sodas, and replaced by good old fashioned, plain and simple, sugar. Hallelujah.

This is not good news
because it somehow redeems sodas, or magically makes them a health food. It's good news because it's a sign that we are improving the food selections through our food choices. In other words, our demand creates their supply.

We are now improving our own culture of health -- as we are seeing more organic products on the shelf, more locally grown foods brought into conventional grocery stores, and a greater use of farmers markets -- by making smart choices.

This is the food equivalent of the phrase, Think Globally, Act Locally. And the end result will be that more companies will produce more foods that also happen to be healthy for us. Definitely a good thing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Traffic Jam Heart Jam?

Does a traffic jam lead to a heart attack?

This research report indicates that getting stuck in traffic prompts a serious and immediate consequence -- a much higher risk of suffering a heart attack.

Here's what they found:
After a four-year analysis of nearly 1,500 heart attack cases, the authors found that making one's way through traffic -- whether as a driver, a rider of public transport, or even a bicyclist -- seems to more than triple the chances for experiencing a heart attack in the first hour immediately following exposure.

Here's the problem with what they found:
What we KNOW is that there is a correlation between traffic and heart attacks. What we don't know is what part of "being in traffic" causes the stress that contributes to the increased number of heart attacks.

Second, the traffic cannot itself cause a heart attack, although it can cause the intervening stress ... which can contribute to the event. However, it is the response to stressful situations that is the underlying cause. This article doesn't highlight the role of traffic in heart attack, it underscores the importance of our stress coping abilities to it.

Here's the solution to the problem:
Thus, as in all things, we need to remember that there are things in our lives we can control, and those we cannot. We cannot control the traffic, or the tendency of drivers to be rude, or just drive poorly.

But we can control how that hits us, how we respond to it, and how that affects our peace of mind. The best solution is to practice meditative exercises at home, when you have a few minutes at work, so that the normal jostles and jolts of daily life slide past us, rather than hitting us full on to cause a stress response.

Daily meditative practice is like a muscle; you get better at it, the more you do it. That way, when the common trials of everyday life pop up like they always do, they will more easily roll off of you.

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