- According to the analysis of data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study involving 334,161 men and women across Europe and published in the American Journal of Clinical Exercise in January 2015, twice as many deaths may be attributable to lack of physical activity compared with the number of deaths attributable to obesity, and that just a modest increase in physical activity could have significant health benefits.
- Between 1992 and 2000, the researchers of the EPIC study measured participants’ height, weight and waist circumference, and used self-assessment to measure levels of physical activity. The researchers followed up with the participants over 12 years. The most relevant facts revealed in the data were:
- A brisk 20-minute walk each day could be enough to reduce an individual’s risk of early death.
- The authors estimated that doing exercise equivalent to just a 20-minute brisk walk each day—burning between 90 and 110 calories—would take an individual from the inactive to moderately inactive group and reduce their risk of premature death by 16 to 30 percent.
- The impact was greatest among normal-weight individuals, but even those with higher BMI saw a benefit.
- The EPIC study also made the point that although physical inactivity may also contribute to an increased body mass index (BMI) and obesity, the association of an increased risk of early death, as well as a greater risk of heart disease and cancer, is independent of an individual’s BMI.
RESOURCE: University of Cambridge: Lack of exercise responsible for twice as many deaths as obesity
- Mood-boosting foods and food combinations that can be satisfying and healthy when used with a mind towards small portions (size of a fist or deck of cards) and an eye toward caloric intake (300 to 500 calories) include:
- Beans and legumes (bean salad, hummus and whole-wheat pita)
- Raw veggies dipped in guacamole or hummus
- Freshly made guacamole (add fresh garlic, onions, cayenne and chili pepper) and healthy chips (made with chia seeds, quinoa and other healthy grains)
- Cheese (think low-fat protein) and a complex carb (think healthy mac n’ cheese)
- Eggs (yolks and all) paired with a healthy carb
- Low-fat dairy products like yogurt
- Nuts and seeds
- Trail mix with dried fruits and nuts
- Pineapple (pair it with a chicken salad)
- Salmon paired with a slow-digesting carb like brown rice
- Tuna melt with low-fat cheese on whole-grain bread
- Peanut butter and sliced strawberries on whole-grain toast
- Bananas in cereal with skim or almond milk
- Oatmeal with berries
- Grilled asparagus with shaved Parmesan
- Spinach salad with mandarin orange slides and toasted slivered almonds
- Bean burrito with salsa
- Bagel (whole wheat and “dug out”) with cream cheese, tomato and sliced onion
- Apple slices and peanut butter or hard cheese
- Apple and pears (white fruit “meat”) have been shown to neutralize free radicals with antioxidants, lower bad cholesterol (LDL), increase good cholesterol (HDL) and reduce the risk of stroke.
- Berries top all the charts as the powerful plant-based super foods that are an anti-aging strategy unto themselves. With their high levels of antioxidants and phytochemicals, they can contribute to a more youthful brain and radiant skin while lowering the risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
- You can read about the health benefits of spices in many articles here on LivingHealthy, as well as find great recipes and combinations. In general, the healthiest spices that are linked to a range of benefits like boosting immunity, aiding digestion, decreasing inflammation, enhancing heart health, controlling blood sugar and even reducing pain include:
- Chili or cayenne pepper (capsaicin: circulation, heart health, pain control)
- Turmeric (curcumin: anti-inflammatory, cancer prevention)
- Cinnamon (cinnamaldehyde: heart health, diabetes prevention)
- Garlic (immunity, inflammation, anti-bacterial, heart health, cancer prevention)
- Ginger (digestion)
- Cocoa (flavonoids: heart health, mood, anti-aging)
- According to the Mayo Clinic (see reference resource below), most nuts, besides being packed with protein, contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:
RESOURCE: Mayo Clinic: Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
- Unsaturated fats: It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s thought that the “good” fats in nuts—both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fiber: All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
- Plant sterols: Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
- L-arginine: Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.
- Here’s calorie and fat information from the Mayo Clinic on common types of nuts that have been shown to have excellent health benefits:
|Type of Nut||Calories||Total Fat (Saturated/Unsaturated)*|
|Almonds, dry-roasted||169||15g (1.1g/12.9g)|
|Almonds, raw||163||14g (1.1g/12.2g)|
|Brazil nuts, raw||186||19g (4.3g/12.8g)|
|Cashews, dry roasted||163||13.1g (2.6g/10g)|
|Chestnuts, roasted||69||0.6g (0.1g/0.5g)|
|Hazelnuts (filberts), dry roasted||183||17.7g (1.3g/15.6g)|
|Hazelnuts (filberts), raw||178||17g (1.3g/15.2g)|
|Macadamia nuts, dry roasted||204||21.6g (3.4g/17.2g)|
|Macadamia nuts, raw||204||21.5g (3.4g/17.1g)|
|Peanuts, dry roasted||166||14g (2g/11.4g)|
|Pecans, dry roasted||201||21g (1.8g/18.3g)|
|Pistachios, dry roasted||161||12.7g (1.6g/10.5g)|
|Walnuts, halved||185||18.5g (1.7g/15.9g)|
RESOURCE: The George Mateljan Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to “optimizing your health with health-promoting superfoods and Nutrient-Rich Cooking.” The website lists and provides information on what it calls The World's Healthiest Foods.
You're only 13 facts away from being a health nut know-it-all.