7 Reasons Raspberries Are So Good for You

Author Article

1704 Raspberries.jpg
UWE MESSNER / EYEEM, GETTYIMAGES.COM

Raspberries are enjoyable all year long, whether they’re fresh or frozen. These gorgeous gems aren’t just delicious and versatile; they have an impressive nutritional profile that makes them one of the healthiest choices in the produce aisle. Here are 7 health benefits of raspberries, plus simple ways to include both fresh and frozen options into meals and snacks.

Raspberries have lots of nutrients

One cup of raspberries provides over 50% of the minimum daily target for vitamin C, which supports immunity and skin health and helps produce collagen. Raspberries also contain manganese and vitamin K, which both play a role in bone health. And they supply smaller amounts of vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, copper, iron, and potassium.

7 Tasty Foods With More Fiber Than a Cup of Broccoli
While we love vegetables, there are plenty of other healthy and delicious foods out there to help you get your fiber fix.

YOU MIGHT LIKE
WE FOUND 15 HEALTHY NEW FOODS COMING TO ALDI IN APRIL
STUDY SAYS AVOCADOS COULD BE KEY TO FIGHTING INFLAMMATION

They’re low in sugar

Raspberries are also one of the lowest-sugar fruits, at just 5 grams per cup fresh, compared to about 20 grams in one medium apple. This makes them a great option for anyone with a sweet tooth who wants to minimize their overall sugar intake.

They’re rich in anti-aging antioxidants

Raspberries are antioxidant powerhouses. These health-protective compounds have been tied to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Raspberry antioxidants also help reduce inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging. The natural protective substances in raspberries are also linked to better DNA repair and blocking enzymes that trigger arthritis pain.

They can protect you from cancer

Raspberry antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds are associated with cancer protection by reducing the reproduction of cancer cells. However, research also shows that the phytonutrients in raspberries, such as ellagitannins, may actually help kill cancer cells by signaling apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Raspberries are high in fiber

A cup of raspberries packs an impressive 8 grams of dietary fiber, a third of the daily minimum goal. This high-fiber content also reduces raspberries’ net carb content to about 7 grams per cup (since our bodies aren’t capable of digesting and absorbing fiber). That fiber also contributes to fullness, blunts blood sugar by slowing digestion, and supports good digestive health. Raspberry fiber also helps beneficial gut bacteria flourish. The latter are linked to stronger immunity and a more positive mood.

They may help prevent diabetes

A new study from the Illinois Institute of Technology randomly assigned 32 adults between the ages of 20 and 60 to three breakfast meals. Each meal was similar in calories and macronutrients, but they had different portion sizes of frozen red raspberries: One meal contained no raspberries, the second included one cup, and the third provided two cups.

Researchers found that for those who were at risk of diabetes, eating more raspberries reduced the amount of insulin needed to manage blood sugar levels. In fact, blood sugar was lower in those who downed two cups of red raspberries compared to those who ate none.

Raspberries sharpen your brain and memory

Raspberries help counter oxidative stress, which is essentially an imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to fight off their harmful effects. Because oxidative stress is a causative factor in diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, raspberries are a top brain-supporting food. The flavonoids in berries have also been shown to help improve coordination, memory, and mood. And berries help with general brain “housekeeping” by clearing out toxic proteins tied to brain dysfunction.

How to add more raspberries to your meals

Raspberries make a beautiful and tasty addition to numerous dishes, and they work well in both sweet and savory meals. Add them to oatmeal or overnight oats, garden salads, whole grain side dishes, and desserts. Slightly mash them to make a colorful sauce for anything from two ingredient banana egg pancakes to broiled fish or oven roasted veggies. Whip frozen raspberries into smoothies, or thaw and use just like fresh.

I also love to warm frozen raspberries over low heat on the stovetop with fresh grated ginger root and cinnamon (and maybe a touch of pure maple syrup) as the base for a mock cobbler, topped with almond butter/rolled oat crumble, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or shaved dark chocolate. Frozen, thawed, or fresh raspberries also make a great snack, paired with nuts, pumpkin seeds, or a few dark chocolate squares, or drizzled with nut butter or spiced tahini.

Cynthia Sass, RD, MPH, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.

Can You Eat Your Way To Better Mental Health?

CNN Article

It is well known that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is good for your physical health, but our latest research suggests that it might be good for your mental health too.

A study from Australia in 2016 found improvements in psychological well-being after increases in fruit and vegetable consumption. We wanted to know if this finding held true using a larger sample (more than 40,000 participants) from the UK Household Longitudinal Study.

Our analysis showed that increases in the consumption of fruit and vegetables are linked to increases in self-reported mental well-being and life satisfaction in data that spans a five-year period, even after accounting for other determinants of mental well-being such as physical health, income and consumption of other foods.

A New Year, new food resolution: More fruits and veggies

The benefits of physical activity for mental health are well established. The estimates from our work suggest that adding one portion to your diet per day could be as beneficial to mental well-being as going for a walk on an extra seven to eight days a month. One portion is equal to one cup of raw vegetables (the size of a fist), half a cup of cooked vegetables or chopped fruit, or one piece of whole fruit. This result is encouraging as it means that one possible way to improve your mental health could be something as simple as eating an extra piece of fruit every day or having a salad with a meal.

It is important to stress that our findings alone cannot reveal a causal link from fruit and vegetable consumption to increased psychological well-being. And we can’t rule out so-called “substitution effects”. People can only eat so much in a day, so someone who eats more fruits and vegetables might just have less room in their diet for unhealthy foods. Although we accounted for bread and dairy in our study, ideally, future research should track all other foods consumed to rule out alternative explanations.
But when taken in combination with other studies in this area, the evidence is encouraging. For example, a randomised trial conducted in New Zealand found that various measures of mental well-being, such as motivation and vitality, improved in a treatment group where young adults were asked to eat two extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day for two weeks, although no changes were found for depressive symptoms, anxiety or mood.
Though our own study cannot rule out that people with higher levels of mental well-being might be eating more fruits and vegetables as a result, a recent commentaryon our work by the authors of the 2016 Australian study sheds further light on this. The authors show that the number of fruit and vegetable portions eaten in a day can predict whether someone is diagnosed with depression or anxiety two years later. But the reverse does not seem to be true. Being diagnosed with depression does not appear to be a strong predictor of fruit and vegetable consumption two years later. This suggests that it is perhaps more likely that eating fruits and vegetables is influencing mood and not the other way around.

Looking for causes

Although several studies, including our own, have found a link between fruit and vegetable consumption and mental well-being, we need large trials to provide robust evidence that the link is causal. However, randomised controlled trials are expensive, so another way to identify causation is to focus on the biological mechanisms that link the chemicals commonly found in fruit and vegetables to physical changes in the body. For example, vitamins C and E have been shown to lower inflammatory markers linked to depressive mood.

 

Although more research is needed, our work adds weight to a growing body of evidence that eating fruits and vegetables and having higher levels of mental well-being are positively related, and the signs of a causal link from other recent studies are encouraging. We are not suggesting eating fruits and vegetables is a substitute for medical treatment, but a simple way to improve your mental health could be to add a little more fruit and veg to your daily diet.

The Best Foods to Eat for Better Sleep

Author Article

Nonfat Popcorn
1 of 10 Studio Omg/EyeEm/Getty Images

Nonfat Popcorn

The carbohydrates in nonfat popcorn help bring the amino acid tryptophan into your brain, where it’s used to make a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Since eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime can keep you awake, popcorn (just 93 calories in three cups popped) is a great late-night snack. Choose plain, fat-free popcorn and jazz it up with some curry powder or any of these other tricked out popcorn toppings.

Halibut
2 of 10 LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Halibut

Halibut is packed with two building blocks for better sleep: tryptophan and vitamin B6, and when it comes to seafood, halibut has a mild flavor and meaty texture that appeals to finicky fish eaters. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, beef, soybeans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and eggs.

Mango Lassi
3 of 10 sveta_zarzamora/Getty Images

Mango Lassi

Packed with antioxidants, protein, and vitamins, this treat satisfies your creamy, sweet craving as well as ice cream—without the sugar bomb.

BTW, a lassi is basically a smoothie, but it’s always made with yogurt. To make a mango lassi: cut up one fresh, peeled mango and put it in a blender. Add a handful of ice, a small scoop of plain Greek yogurt (go with full-fat dairy for all its health benefits) and a splash of water or milk. Add a dash of stevia for extra sweetness if desired.

Don’t like mangoes? Substitute frozen berries or watermelon.

Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
4 of 10 Claudia Totir/Getty Images

Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

High-fiber garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) are rich in vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce serenity-boosting serotonin. Try adding garbanzo beans to salads, soups, and stews when you need sleep.

Chamomile Tea
5 of 10 simarik/Getty Images

Chamomile Tea

This herbal drink lacks the caffeine found in traditional teas, and it has a calming effect on the body. Also, a warm liquid before bed can make you feel cozy and ready to hit the sheets.

Related: How to Practice Mindfulness with Tea

Honey
6 of 10 Henri Tia/EyeEm/Getty Images

Honey

A rise in blood sugar can reduce the production of orexin in the brain. Orexin is a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s been linked to wakefulness. Try drizzling a small amount of honey in your chamomile tea for a touch of sweet without a full-down sugar rush.

Dried Tart Cherries
7 of 10 bhofack2/Getty Images

Dried Tart Cherries

A handful of dried cherries not only provides the requisite serotonin-boosting carbs, but it’s also one of the few food sources of melatonin, which has been found to promote better sleep and lessen the effects of jet lag. Plus, tart cherries are packed with antioxidants.

Turkey
8 of 10 BRETT STEVENS/Getty Images

Turkey

The reason behind your epic post-Thanksgiving feast nap is also the secret to helping you sleep better. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is known to help calm you down and naturally get you to sleep.

Not feeling a deli turkey sandwich? Try roasted pumpkin seeds, which also contain tryptophan.

Banana  Soft Serve
9 of 10 Jasmina81/Getty Images

Banana “Soft Serve”

Frozen bananas make the perfect base for healthy, vegan “nice cream”. and the potassium in them will not only help you fall asleep faster but can prevent those awful cramps (AKA Charlie horses) that wake you up. All you need is the proper blending technique. The trick is to keep blending for several minutes. At first, they’ll just look slimy, but then air works its magic and before you know it frozen bananas morph into a creamy, light treat. Add a handful of chopped nuts for a sweet and salty treat.

Kale Chips
10 of 10 InaTs/Getty Images

Kale Chips

Don’t knock these roasted green “chips” until you’ve tried them. The hefty dose of vitamin K helps repair and build muscles while you sleep. Simply chop up a bunch of kale, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and spread out and bake at 350 degrees until crispy.

Insomnia Series: The Science Behind What You Should Eat for a Good Night’s Sleep

See Author Article Here
By Sophie Medlin

Recently, researchers have been learning more about how poor sleep influences our dietary choices, as well as how diet influences sleep quality. Not sleeping for long enough or poor quality sleep are associated with increased food intake, a less healthy diet, and weight gainLack of sleep also leads to increased snacking and overeating. And it causes us to want to eat foods high in fat and carbohydrates — with increased chemical rewards to the brain when we do eat these foods.

Essentially, poor sleep drives your body to find high energy foods to keep you awake which makes fighting the cravings for unhealthy foods very difficult to resist. But, on the other hand, when we have slept well our appetite hormones are at a normal level. We don’t crave unhealthy food so much — and we can make better choices about what to eat.

See also: Learning Language in Deep Sleep Isn’t Just Science Fiction Anymore

The Science of Sleep

All cultures around the world have traditions about which foods promote sleep. Foods such as milk, chamomile, kiwi fruit, and tart cherries, have all been said to work wonders for a good night’s sleep. Given how much the food we eat affects us on a day-to-day basis, it is not surprising that our diet plays such a big role in our quality of sleep. What we eat also has a big impact on our organ function, immune system, hormone production, and brain function.

A really important hormone that controls our sleep patterns is melatonin. Melatonin is produced in the brain and the amount of melatonin you produce, and how efficiently our brain uses it is affected by our diet. One of the biggest influence on our melatonin levels appears to be our intake of a type of proteincalled tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid — the building blocks of proteins. Essential amino acids are a group which our bodies cannot make; it can only be sourced through diet.

sleeping cat
Eating and drinking for better sleep is about more than just avoiding caffeine.

Other nutrients that appear to be helpful for sleep include B vitamins and magnesium. This is because they help tryptophan to be more available in the body. If your diet is lacking tryptophan, B vitamins, or magnesium, it is very likely that your melatonin production and secretion will be affected and your sleep quality will be poorer.

Eat to Sleep

It stands to reason then that following overly restrictive diets or diets that put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies can really affect your sleep. But by increasing your intakes of foods rich in specific nutrients, it may well help to promote better sleep quality and duration.

Dairy foods, for example, can be great at helping you sleep. Not only is dairy an excellent source of tryptophan, but it also contains magnesium and B vitamins which help to promote the activity and availability of tryptophan. Nuts, like dairy, also contain all the nutrients known to promote increased melatonin production and support its release.

salmon

Fish is a great source of tryptophan and B vitamins. Fish with bones, such as sardines, will also provide magnesium. Including fish in your diet regularly may help to promote healthy melatonin production when you need it. Pulses, beans, and lentils also contain high amounts of tryptophan and B vitamins. Adding some tofu or paneer to a vegetable stew or curry can also help to increase your likelihood of having a great night’s sleep. You could also add in some soya — which is another good source of tryptophan — to optimize your sleep potential.

See also: Doctors Identified Risk Factors for a Potentially Violent Sleep Disorder

And if you’re still struggling to sleep, it might be that you’d benefit from some meat. Meat of all kinds contains all the essential ingredients for a good night’s sleep. So if you can’t nod off at night, maybe think about adding some lean meat to your diet.

If you find yourself hungry before bed, for the ideal bed time snack, try a glass of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, a small banana or a few nuts — all of which can really help to improve your sleep and your willpower the next day. It’s also worth pointing out that it takes around an hour for the tryptophan in foods to reach the brain, so don’t wait until just before bedtime to have your snack. And it’s also advisable to have a balanced diet that includes plenty of foods that are high in tryptophan throughout the day to optimize your chances of a good night’s sleep.

Scientists Link Specific Gut Bacteria to Depression

See Psych Central Article Here
By Traci Pederson

New Belgian research reveals a link between specific types of gut bacteria and depression. The findings, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, also provide evidence showing that a wide range of gut bacteria can produce neuroactive compounds.

Researchers called it the first population-level study on the link between gut bacteria and mental health, aggregating data from hundreds of people rather than studying animals or clinical trial subjects.

For the study, researchers from the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology (VIB-KU Leuven) in Belgium compared fecal microbiome data with general practitioner diagnoses of depression from 1,054 individuals enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project.

Through this analysis, they were able to pinpoint specific groups of microorganisms that positively or negatively correlated with mental health. They discovered that two bacterial genera, Coprococcus and Dialister, were consistently depleted in people with depression, regardless of antidepressant treatment.

The findings were confirmed in an independent group of 1,063 individuals from the Dutch LifeLinesDEEP study, as well as by looking a group of clinically depressed patients at the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.

“The relationship between gut microbial metabolism and mental health is a controversial topic in microbiome research,” said study leader Professor Jeroen Raes from VIB-KU Leuven.

“The notion that microbial metabolites can interact with our brain — and thus behavior and feelings — is intriguing, but gut microbiome-brain communication has mostly been explored in animal models, with human research lagging behind. In our population-level study we identified several groups of bacteria that co-varied with human depression and quality of life across populations.”

In previous research, the team had identified a microbial community constellation or enterotype, characterized by low microbial count and biodiversity, that was observed to be more prevalent among Crohn’s disease patients. In the new study, they surprisingly discovered a similar community type to be linked to depression and reduced quality of life.

“This finding adds more evidence pointing to the potentially dysbiotic nature of the Bacteroides2 enterotype we identified earlier. Apparently, microbial communities that can be linked to intestinal inflammation and reduced well-being share a set of common features,” said Raes.

The research team also developed a computational technique allowing the identification of gut bacteria that could potentially interact with the human nervous system.

They studied the genomes of more than 500 bacteria isolated from the human gastrointestinal tract and their ability to produce a set of neuroactive compounds, essentially creating the first catalog of neuroactivity of gut species. Some bacteria were found to carry a broad range of these functions.

“Many neuroactive compounds are produced in the human gut. We wanted to see which gut microbes could participate in producing, degrading, or modifying these molecules,” said researcher and first author Mireia Valles-Colomer, a doctoral student in Raes’ lab.

“Our toolbox not only allows to identify the different bacteria that could play a role in mental health conditions, but also the mechanisms potentially involved in this interaction with the host,” she said.

“For example, we found that the ability of microorganisms to produce DOPAC, a metabolite of the human neurotransmitter dopamine, was associated with better mental quality of life.”

The findings resulted from bioinformatics analyses and will need to be confirmed experimentally. However, the results will help direct and accelerate future human microbiome-brain research.

The hope is that by understanding how human’s stomach bacteria impact mood, future treatments can target or include changes in diet or adding supplements to help improve a person’s mood, or even clinical depression.

Source: VIB