Do you eat enough fruit?

Don’t let a busy schedule stand between you and your daily servings of fruit. But there are so many to choose from. Which ones are best? That’s easy, they’re all good! If you eat many different types of fruits, you’re sure to get all the different types of nutrients you need. The American Heart Association recommends 3 to 4 serving of fruit per day, or 2 to 3 cups. And all fruit counts, even if it comes from a can.

When buying canned, dried or frozen fruit, be sure to compare food labels and choose the products with the lowest amount of sodium and added sugars.

Breakfast

  • Eat melon, grapefruit or other fruit.
  • Add bananas, raisins or berries to your cereal.
  • Drink a small (6-ounce) glass of real fruit juice and avoid sugary substitutes

Lunch

  • A fruit salad for lunch is always a healthy choice
  • Eat a bowl of vegetable soup. (Compare food labels and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium you can find in your store, or make soup from scratch.)
  • Have a piece of fruit instead of chips or cottage cheese

Snacks

  • Keep raw or dried fruit handy
  • Carry dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or dried apricots, in your purse or pocket.
  • Have any type of fresh fruit: grapes, apple, banana, orange, kiwi, etc.
  • On hot days, munch on a bowl of frozen fruits like grapes or bananas.

This One Change Made Me Feel 20 Years Younger

For most of my life, I've been a health nut, exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep and keeping stress to a minimum. But in 2005, that all changed. I developed a collagen problem in my shoulder that required multiple surgeries, and after the procedures, I was in pain all the time. The discomfort wore me down, and by 3 p.m. every day, my energy was depleted. To help myself, I started reaching for whatever offered instant relief and energy -- mainly carbs and sugar. As for those long draining workouts I used to love, they were now out of the question.

My pain wasn’t going away, and after a couple of years of suffering, I felt miserable. I doubted I’d ever return to my normal self. I had come to a standstill.

My Transformation

My daughter Nicole couldn't stand to see me in pain all the time. One day, she emailed me a link to a wellness site, where women improved their health by tweaking their diets. She confessed that she thought my eating habits were prolonging my pain. I doubted that the issue was as simple as that, but before I could completely discard her theory, more links arrived in my inbox from my daughter. As I read others' stories, what I suddenly started seeing left me stunned: A whole army of women were really transforming their lives with an approach as simple as setting better eating habits.

Although I still had my doubts -- and really didn’t want to give up my pizza! -- what finally convinced me to try it was watching my daughter set the example by eating and feeding her husband and two sons in this new, healthy way. So I followed suit, filling my fridge and pantry with proteins and high-fiber foods.

And the results were astounding. It turned out my body was starving for proper nutrition. I didn’t realize that my body needed extra protein while healing. And unlike all those sugar and carbs I’d been munching on, fiber helps maintain a healthy weight, an excess of which only adds more stress -- and therefore pain -- to my body. With my new balanced diet, I was actually helping my body heal and deal with pain. I felt energized and optimistic for the first time in a long time.

Strong and Happy Beyond 50

I consider myself a smart person, but I have no idea why it took me so long to figure this one out! Once I began feeling better, I had to call my daughter and say, “You had it right!” Her response: “Well, Mom, I’m made of the same genes you are, and it’s been working for me.” It was like we had reversed roles. She was the mother, and I was the daughter.

At 53, I feel happier, healthier and stronger than ever, and I'm proud I raised my daughter Nicole to be so wise. Today, as we continue to work together in changing our diets, we are continuing to transform our lives as well. And I thank my lucky stars for that, because I couldn't have asked for a better supporter than her.

Chocolate can be good for you

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chocolate (in moderation) is heart healthy. Before you run out to the store an load up on Haloween and Easter supplies, it is important to understand how and why, in moderation, chocolate can be beneficial to your health.

Chocolate has made its way onto the 'okat to eat' list recently because it is believed that it might help protect your cardiovascular system. The reasoning is flavonoids found in the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients and toxins that can help repair damage to the heart. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and when we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears the body experiences a boost in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are believed to help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals. For example, an increase in oxidation can cause low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, to form plaque on the artery walls. Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant benefits, research shows that flavanols can also improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less likely to clot.

What about all of the fat in chocolate?

You may be surprised to learn that chocolate isn’t as bad for you as once thought. The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. But Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, which are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, so moderation is key. So sadly, you can't go out and eat all the chocolate you want. If you like dark chocolate, choose plain and avoid all of the other ingredients candy bar makers like to mix in, like caramel and marshmallows. A small piece of dark chocolate is okay once in a while, like 1 or 2 ounces

Here is our complete list of all six ways you can help get heart healthy.

3 Nutrients You Need Right Now

As we age, our bodies require different amounts of certain nutrients to stay healthy. What’s the best way to obtain the vitamins and minerals you need? Maintaining a balanced, well-rounded diet, say the experts. If you can’t eat certain things because of absorption issues, you may need to take physician-recommended dietary supplements. Here are three essential nutrients you need now to help stay strong and healthy into your 40s, 50s and beyond:

  1. Vitamin D and Calcium
    Essential for … Bone Health
    You’ve probably heard of osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disease that’s becoming an epidemic in the U.S. Although the ailment most often affects women (10 percent of women over 50, in fact), it turns out that 2 percent of men over the age of 50 suffer from it too. The good news: Adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium can help you maintain strong and healthy bones, according to a study in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management journal. Just be sure you’re getting enough of both calcium and vitamin D -- calcium won’t be absorbed without the power vitamin.
    Do this now: If you are between 51 and 70, aim to get 600 IU of vitamin D per day and 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium per day from your diet. Good sources of calcium and vitamin D include dark greens (kale, collard greens, spinach), soy beans, some fish and calcium-fortified orange juice, milk and cereals.
  2. Fiber
    Essential for … Regular Digestion
    Fiber not only helps keeps you regular -- it also may help support normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and can assist in weight maintenance. Men and women between 51 and 70 should consume at least 30 g and 21 g fiber per day, respectively, says the Institute of Medicine. Just remember: If you’re ramping up fiber intake, also up your water intake.
    Do this now: Begin starting your days with a fiber-packed bowl of cereal (one to try: Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Bran Buds®), and munch on fiber-rich grains and veggies for the rest of the day.
  3. Vitamin B6 and B12
    Essential for … Healthy Blood
    Your blood supplies oxygen and nutrients throughout your entire body, so you want to make sure your blood is getting what it needs to do its job. Two key players in blood health are vitamin B6 (which helps make the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in red blood cells) and B12 (which helps form red blood cells). In fact, a lack of either B6 or B12 in your diet can result in anemia, which includes symptoms such as tiredness, headaches and trouble thinking.
    Do this now: Up your intake of vitamin B12-rich noshes (salmon, trout, red meat and low-fat dairy), as well as food high in vitamin B6 (legumes, whole grains, nuts, meat and poultry). Both vitamins may also be found in fortified breakfast cereals. So, make a big salad with all of the fixin’s, or consider a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk for breakfast or at snack time!

The many benefits of drinking coffee

Your morning cup of joe has heart-healthy benefits. Apart from that morning boost of mental and physical energy we all feel from out morning fix, there a a bunch of ancillary benefits worth noting.

Coffee drinkers have stronger DNA.

A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that coffee drinkers have DNA with stronger integrity since the white blood cells of coffee drinkers had far less instance of spontaneous DNA strand breakage.

Protection against Parkinson’s

Even newer research out of Sweden revealed that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s even when genetic factors come into play. Yet another study found that caffeine combined with EHT (a compound found in coffee beans) provided protective benefits to rats that were genetically predisposed to developing Parkinson’s.

Prevents Retinal Damage.

A Cornell University Study showed that coffee may prevent retinal damage due to oxidative stress. Caffeine isn’t the culprit here, but chlorogenic acid (CLA), which is one of the strong antioxidants found in the coffee bean.

Coffee may protect against periodontal disease.

As part of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Longitudinal Study coffee consumption and dental health among 1,152 men was tracked from 1968-1998. The researchers found that coffee didn’t promote gum disease and actually showed a protective benefit.

Helps people get along with co-workers better. 

Studies show that workers/ workplaces who consume coffee have a more positive view of self and others than do workers/ workspaces that do not consume coffee. Coffee consumption also enhanced participation in workplace group activities.

Coffee reduces colorectal cancer risk.

Even moderate consumption of coffee can reduce the odds of developing colorectal cancer by 26%. This protective benefit increases with more consumption.

A more complete list of the benefits of caffeine can be found here. Read about it along with other heart-helping morning rituals here