Chocolate has gotten a lot of buzz in recent years as a heart-healthy treat. Cocoa is rich in flavonoids, plant nutrients that help repair cell damage. Flavanols—cocoa's main kind of flavonoid—help lower blood pressure, promote proper blood clotting and boost blood flow to the brain and heart. Add to that a hefty helping of minerals, fiber and other powerful antioxidants, and you have one sweet package. And the heart benefits are impressive: In one study of nearly 5,000 people, nibbling on chocolate five or more times a week was associated with a whopping 57 percent lower risk of heart disease, compared to non-chocolate eaters. (Keep in mind, though, that this was an observational study, so the research didn't prove a cause and effect.)
Repeated dieting can actually lower metabolism and thus make your body retain more of what you put into it. Increasing exercise while not giving your body more food to compensate can also increase body fat storage. Dieting also increases heart disease risk, when compared to simply gaining a little weight. If you really need to lose weight, the most effective way is to increase exercise and cutting only a little food, while concentrating on fruits, veggies, and high fiber foods.
Sunscreens have undergone changes, and the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published new requirements that sunscreens needed to meet starting in 2012. Currently, the FDA suggests an effective sunscreen is rated as SPF 30 or higher and has both UVA and UVB protection (protection against ultraviolet waves of types A and B). In most instances, sunscreen needs to be applied every two hours and each time after a person has gone swimming.
One way to get a healthy active lifestyle is to start with a healthy diet. Try eliminating some of the unhealthiest foods from the diet, or making some substitutions. For instance, if you have a soda or two every day, that could be replaced with water. A regular snack of chips or cookies might be replaced with whole-grain fruit or nuts. Many people also choose to take a daily multivitamin to make up for any deficiencies in their diet.
Cut down on processed food. Processed foods are not good because (1) most nutritional value is lost in the making of these foods and (2) the added preservatives are bad for our health. Many processed foods contain a high amount of salt content, which leads to higher blood pressure and heart disease. Processed foods are anything that is not in its raw form. In general, most food in supermarkets are processed — the more ingredients it has on the label (especially the ones ending with ‘ite’ or ‘ate’), the more processed they are. Watch out for those with salt/sugar in the first 5 ingredients and go for unprocessed food as much as possible.
Just for today, replace some of the carbohydrates (rice, pasta, cereal, breads) in your diet with protein (meat, beans, egg, fish, etc.) at each meal. Researchers at the University of Illinois put people on either a traditional high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet or a moderate-protein diet. At the end of four months, all study participants lost the same amount of weight, but those who ate more protein lost 22 percent more fat and gained more muscle, leaving them looking fit and trim. The high-carbohydrate group was left "skinny fat."
Skip smoothies sold at your local smoothie bar or fast-food joint, as they're usually packed with tons of sugar. Instead, toss these ingredients in the blender for a healthy meal on the go: 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder; 1 small handful of walnuts; 1 cup of spinach or kale; 1 to 1 1/2 cups of blueberries, strawberries, peaches, or bananas; a couple ice cubes; and 2 cups of water. Blend until the ice is completely crushed. (We also have way more healthy smoothie recipes that are perfect for breakfast.)
Eating beans regularly is good for your heart, and you don't need to eat a lot of them to benefit. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that having just 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans a day may help lower cholesterol, thanks largely to their soluble fiber, plus heart-protective flavonoids—the same kind found in chocolate, berries and red wine—which can help lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.