By David Zinczenko
Sep 27, 2010
1. BE MORE POSITIVE
Research shows that dark chocolate can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and increase the flow of blood to the brain. It also boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with improved mood and greater concentration. Look for chocolate that is 60 percent cocoa or higher.
2. REDUCE ANXIETY
Tuck a few extra cloves into your next stir-fry or pasta sauce: Research has found that enzymes in garlic can help increase the release of serotonin, a neurochemical that makes you feel relaxed.
3. FIRE UP YOUR MORNING METABOLISM
A study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found that the average metabolic rate of people who drank caffeinated coffee increased 16 percent over those who drank decaf. Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system by increasing your heart rate and breathing.
4. STAVE OFF DEPRESSION
Omega-3s may calm your neurotic side, according to a study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Researchers found that adults with the lowest blood levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were more likely to have neuroses, which are symptoms for depression. Salmon is loaded with EPA and DHA, as are walnuts, flaxseeds, and even cauliflower.
5. SPEED WEIGHT LOSS
The probiotics in yogurt may help you drop pounds. British scientists found that these active organisms boost the breakdown of fat molecules in mice, preventing the rodents from gaining weight. Try the Horizon brand of yogurt—it contains the probiotic L. casei, the same organism used in the study.
6. BE MORE EFFICIENT
These legumes are an excellent source of thiamin and riboflavin. Both vitamins help your body use energy efficiently, so you won’t be nodding off mid-Powerpoint.
7. STABILIZE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
Swedish researchers found that if you eat barley—a key ingredient in whole-grain cereals—for breakfast, the fibrous grain cuts blood sugar response by 44 percent at lunch and 14 percent at dinner.
8. BOOST YOUR IMMUNITY
Animal research suggests that this South African tea, also known as bush or redbush tea, may provide potent immunity-boosting benefits. In addition, Japanese researchers found that it may help prevent allergies and even cancer. Adagio offers a wide range of great-tasting rooibos teas.
9. STOP COUGHING
Penn State scientists have discovered that honey is a powerful cough suppressant—so next time you¹re hacking up a lung, head for the kitchen. When parents of 105 sick children doled out honey or dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicines like Robitussin), the honey was better at lessening cough frequency and severity. Try a drizzle in a cup of rooibos tea.
10.TAME A COLD
The vitamin C in kiwi won¹t prevent the onslaught of a cold, but it might decrease the duration of your symptoms. One kiwifruit provides 117 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
11. SOOTHE A MIGRAINE
Foods rich in healthy monounsaturated fats help reduce inflammation, a catalyst for migraines. One study found that the anti-inflammatory compounds in olive oil suppress the enzymes involved in inflammation in the same manner as ibuprofen. Avocados and almonds are also high in monounsaturated fats.
12. REPAIR MUSCLE
Popeye was onto something, it seems. Rutgers researchers discovered that treating human muscle cells with a compound found in spinach increased protein synthesis by 13 percent. The compound allows muscle tissue to repair itself faster, the researchers say. One thing to keep in mind, however: Spinach doesn’t automatically make any salad a healthy option. Check out 20 Salads Worse Than a Whopper to see what I mean. You’ll be absolutely shocked!
14. RECOVER FROM A WORKOUT
Brazilian scientists found that participants who consumed three cups of the beverage every day for a week had fewer markers of the cell damage caused by resistance to exercise. That means that green tea can help you recover faster after an intense workout.
15. IMPROVE FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
According to research published in Nutrition Journal, fish oil can help increase your ability to concentrate. Credit EPA and DHA, fatty acids that bolster communication among brain cells and help regulate neurotransmitters responsible for mental focus. Salmon, trout, halibut, and tuna are also great sources of EPA and DHA.
16. AVOID ALZHEIMER¹S DISEASE
The antioxidants in bananas, apples, and oranges may help protect you from Alzheimer’s, report Korean scientists. The researchers discovered that plant chemicals known as polyphenols helped shield brain cells from oxidative stress, a key cause of the disease.
17. BUILD LONG-LASTING BRAINPOWER
Researchers from Harvard found that men who consumed more beta-carotene over 18 years had significantly delayed cognitive aging. Carrots are a tremendous source of the antioxidant, as are other orange foods like butternut squash, pumpkin, and bell peppers.
18. SHARPEN YOUR SENSES
Flax is the best source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—a healthy fat that improves the workings of the cerebral cortex, the area of the brain that processes sensory information, including that of pleasure. To meet your quota, sprinkle 1 tablespoon flaxseed on salads or oatmeal once a day, or mix it into a smoothie or shake.