Diet Changes That Add Up To Better Health

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On January 3, 2013, Posted by , In Caregivers,Healthy Eating, By ,, , With Comments Off on Diet Changes That Add Up To Better Health

A recent round of studies looking at potential health benefits from four nutrients or food groups—chocolate, olive oil,  and vitamin D—show that making small yet significant changes to your diet can reduce the risks of certain chronic diseases while protecting you from others.

Dark Chocolate To Lower Blood Pressure

Dark chocolate is more than delicious, it’s been touted as a mood booster because of some naturally occurring chemicals. For people with hypertension, eating dark chocolate may also help to reduce blood pressure levels. Researchers combined the results of 15 studies on the effects of flavanols (compounds in chocolate that cause dilation of blood vessels) on blood pressure. Flavanols have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure.
The pressure reduction seen in the combined results for people with hypertension may be relevant. It’s right within the benefit range of getting 30 minutes of physical activity every day and could, in theory, reduce the risk of a cardiovascular event by about 20 percent over five years.
What you might consider: Eating one ounce of dark chocolate a day—remember that chocolate is still high in fat, so you don’t want to overdo it.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil To Decrease Inflammation

According to a report from a team of researchers, compounds called the phenols in olive oil actually modify genes that are involved in the inflammatory response. The researchers knew from other studies that consuming high-phenolic-content virgin olive oil reduces pro-inflammatory, pro-oxidant and pro-blood-clotting biomarkers when compared with consuming low-phenolic-content olive oil.

What you might consider: To get the highest phenol count, choose extra virgin olive oil, which is made from the first pressing of the olives.

Vitamin D For Mental Agility

Scientists have recently published studies about the limited but growing body of evidence of a link between vitamin D and cognitive function. Cognitive function is measured by the level at which the brain is able to manage and use available information for activities of daily life. Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of age-related dementia, affects about 47 percent of adults aged 85 years or older in the United States. Identifying nutritional factors that lower cognitive dysfunction and help preserve independent living provides economic and public health benefits, according to authors.
A recent study suggests that vitamin D may improve cognitive processes. The study involved more than 1,000 participants receiving home care. The researchers evaluated associations between measured vitamin D blood concentrations and neuropsychological tests. Elders requiring home care have a higher risk of not getting enough vitamin D because of limited sunlight exposure and other factors.

The participants, ages 65 to 99 years, were grouped by their vitamin D status, which was categorized as deficient, insufficient or sufficient. Only 35 percent had sufficient vitamin D blood levels, and they had better cognitive performance on the tests than those in the deficient and insufficient categories, particularly on measures of “executive performance,” such as cognitive flexibility, perceptual complexity and reasoning.
What you might consider: While 10 minutes a day of sun exposure may be enough to stimulated the body’s own production of Vitamin D, other ways to get vitamin are through foods, including certain fish like salmon and fortified dairy products like low-fat milk, and paired with calcium in supplements.

 

Source:  http://www.parentgiving.com/elder-care

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