7 Reasons Raspberries Are So Good for You

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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.

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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.

5 Small Changes You Can Make That Have A Positive Impact On Your Health

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Humans are very good at picking out big goals with the best of intentions and then struggling when it comes to sticking with them. Instead of giving yourself a mountain to climb (maybe an actual mountain, if that’s your thing), start off with something manageable. These five small changes are the first steps to eventually making those long-term targets for your health. Just don’t try to do them all at once.

1. Exercise 20 minutes more a week

Forget what phys ed class taught you: Your version of working out doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Meghan Stevenson is a certified running coach with the Road Runners of America and founder of virtual training website Your Best Run, whose focus is helping individuals meet their personal goals. “I started my running journey almost 15 years ago with just walking,” Stevenson explains. “I built up from 20 minutes to 90 minutes. When I got bored, I started running. Now I’ve completed marathons, and I run an average of 30 miles each week!” Whether you want to eventually build up to marathons or just want to make running a habit, Stevenson recommends combining running and walking to start. “Twenty minutes is fine!” she encourages. “Schedule it into your calendar like you would lunch with a friend or a meeting at work.”

It doesn’t have to be running: Greg Pignataro, a certified strength and conditioning specialist at Grindset Fitness, says that you don’t even have to go to a gym to start your workout routine. “There are plenty of great exercises that don’t require any equipment and can be done in the comfort of your own home,” he tells us. “A five-minute routine of bodyweight-only exercises performed once a day can be a wonderful catalyst for positive change.” Skipping the hassle of going to the gym can help with the mental leap required to force yourself to work out, he explains. If you do want to go to a gym but are worried about other people judging you, Pignataro reassures us, “You’re not alone! However, between checking themselves out in the mirrors and fretting that someone is judging them, hardly anyone is judging you!”

2. Cut out one cigarette a day

Smokers already know that quitting cigarettes is one of the best ways to improve their health. Licensed clinical social worker Heather Senior Monroe, director of program development at Newport Academy, confirms that people who cut down their cigarette usage can look forward to “improved lung capacity; better blood circulation; stronger immune system; enhanced sense of smell and sense of taste; and reduced risk of gum disease, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic bronchitis.”

Of course, smokers also know that it’s one of the hardest habits to kick. Reducing your cigarette use by one a day (then two, then three, etc.) is one way to try. “Quitting slow and steady gives a person a much smaller goal to focus on, which is a lot easier for some people to do compared to cutting down quickly or even going cold turkey,” says Cedrina L. Calder, MD, a preventive medicine doctor in Nashville, TN. “Also, cutting back slowly may work better for someone who is not using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), as it may allow their body to get better adjusted to receiving less nicotine if they slowly reduce the amount over a period of time.”

However, there are some potential drawbacks to quitting cigarettes slowly. “Some people may not actually end up quitting,” Calder cautions. “They may cut down and start smoking less but still struggle to quit.” To refocus your goal, Natasha Bhuyan, MD, a family medicine doctor with One Medical, recommends, “Try setting a final quit date. Write it down and stick it up on your bathroom mirror — it helps to have a goal to work toward, and a recurring reminder will offer you that daily nudge to stay on track.” And give yourself help. “Speak with your doctor about smoking cessation programs, which will help with medication management as well as behavioral therapy and will increase your chance of successfully quitting,” Calder advises.

3. Eat one more fruit or vegetable a day

Instead of restricting what you eat, try introducing more fruits and vegetables. “Think in terms of adding nutrition to your diet rather than taking it out,” encourages Alyssa Lavy, registered dietitian, certified dietitian nutritionist, and owner of Alyssa Lavy Nutrition & Wellness. “Consider how to add vegetables to increase your nutrient intake, rather than using them as a way to decrease calories or replace a food that has a completely different nutrient value.” She recommends following your taste buds: “While someone may love bananas, someone else may not be able to stand them, so it’s best to think about which fruit or vegetable you would be open to incorporating into your diet.”

See it as a chance to get creative! “I always encourage clients to add a new food to one that they love, so that the new food is mixed with something familiar,” Lavy suggests. “For example, if you love mashed potatoes, perhaps add broccoli to them, or try including zucchini ‘zoodles’ in your pasta dish with sauce. Once that food becomes more familiar, preparing it in a variety of ways is helpful, because you may love a certain vegetable raw or roasted, but you may hate it steamed.” Healthy eating just got interesting!

4. Have one fewer drink a week

The line between a safe and fun amount of alcohol and heavy drinking that can lead to addiction is a lot narrower than many people realize. “For women, heavy drinking is more than three drinks a day or more than seven drinks a week, and for men it is more than four drinks a day or more than 14 drinks a week,” explains Indra Cidambi, MD, medical director at the Center for Network Therapy in New Jersey. If you can stick to those limits long-term, you’ll experience better sleep, clearer skin, a reduced risk of breast cancer, and more energy, and you’ll potentially reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

If going teetotal for a full month or longer is too much for you, try saying no to one or two drinks each week. “The benefits of this slow and steady method is that total abstinence is not the immediate goal, and it gives the person time to introduce other fun activities to substitute for alcohol,” says Cidambi. She recommends looking at why you’re drinking more than is good for you: “If it’s due to boredom or lack of alternate activities, try finding different hobbies. If it’s your choice of friends, try expanding your social circle.” That said, as with smoking, some people will find reducing alcohol in this slow way harder than others. “For some, perfect moderation may be harder to achieve than total abstinence,” Cidambi admits. If you regularly find yourself on the “all” side of all or nothing, it might be a good idea to see your doctor for extra advice.

5. Sleep 30 minutes longer every night

Make this the year you finally get that early bedtime your sleepy body has been calling for. “Everyone out there should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep each night,” asserts Bill Fish, a certified sleep science coach and founder of sleep website Tuck.com. “Sleep is now considered the third pillar of wellness to go along with diet and exercise.” And slow and steady works best. “Gradually change your bedtime by even as little at 10 minutes per night,” recommends Fish. “Set a reminder that will alert you at least 45 minutes before you want to be asleep. Give your body and mind time to decompress to ensure you are ready to get to sleep, whether that is with a warm shower, 15 minutes of a good book, some meditation, or any other ritual.”

An extra 30 minutes of sleep might not seem like a lot, but it can really help. Therapist, licensed social worker, and owner of Bright Spot Counseling Ginger Houghton says, “An increase of around 30 minutes of sleep for several nights in a row can help reduce daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and tension. If you can inch closer to an hour of additional sleep for a few consistent nights, studies show an increase in attention span and improved performance and response times. Additionally, people who are getting the right amount of sleep are also less prone to moodiness, binge-eating, and accidents.” When it comes to self-improvement, you can’t rush perfection.

This article originally appeared on Brit + Co.

5 Top Self Care Tips For Travelers

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The World’s Healthiest Countries, Ranked

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Spain just surpassed Italy as the world’s healthiest nation. That’s according to this year’s edition of the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index, which ranks 169 countries based on factors that contribute to overall health.

Six of the top 10 countries were in Europe, with Italy ranking second. In contrast, the United States didn’t even break into the top 30, ranking at number 35, one notch worse than last year.

The top 10 healthiest nations, according to the report, were:

  1. Spain
  2. Italy
  3. Iceland
  4. Japan
  5. Switzerland
  6. Sweden
  7. Australia
  8. Singapore
  9. Norway
  10. Israel

To come up with the rankings, Bloomberg researchers graded nations based on several factors including life expectancy, while giving penalties for health risks such as obesity and tobacco use. Environmental factors like access to clean water and sanitation were also taken into account.

The results mirror other research that came out last fall looking at future life expectancies in 195 countries and territories around the world. In that study, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, Spain also ranked first, with a projected life expectancy of 85.8 years by 2040. The United States ranked 64th.

Experts say the eating habits of the Mediterranean diet may provide clues for why Spain and Italy enjoy such good health. This heart-healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, along with healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados.

A number of studies have shown the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of heart disease and may have numerous other health benefits, including reduction of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, as well as a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s diseaseParkinson’s disease and cancer. One study published in British Journal of Nutrition found that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 25 percent lower chance of death from any cause.

People in Spain also benefit from a national health system focused on preventative care, according to a review by The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, which praised its “principles of universality, free access, equity and financial fairness.”

One of the main reasons the U.S. ranks so poorly compared to other developed nations is the obesity epidemic, which shows little sign of letting up. The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate nearly 40 percent of American adults — equivalent to 93.3 million people — are obese.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has also been driven down in recent years due to so-called deaths of despair, including suicide and drug overdoses. For the first time, Americans were even more likely to die from opioid overdoses than car accidents.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 27 of the 30 unhealthiest nations in the Bloomberg rankings. Haiti, Afghanistan and Yemen were also in the bottom 30.

4 Science-Backed Ways to Add More Happy to Your Life

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Clear the Clutter

You know that junk drawer you dread opening? It’s no bueno. Not only can chaotic environments stress us out by competing for space in our brains, but clutter in a room like the kitchen can also make us more likely to eat unhealthy stuff. Clean the deep recesses of your cupboards and fridge, then organize and maintain them (try adding hooks, racks, or dividers) so you don’t have to panic every time you open ’em.

Cook With Friends

Maybe there’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen. An 80-year-long study at Harvard University found that close relationships—more than lavish lifestyles or money—are what keep us happy and healthy. Invite your loved ones to help you chop, stir, and savor meals together. Another way to keep the good vibes going? Find kitchen soaps or candles with scents that remind you of happy times—research says it can up your mood.

Just Add Greenery

Even though your garden isn’t growing outside, you can still bring plant life inside and reap the positive effects it can have on your well-being and mood. Research shows that greens can improve our attitude, reduce stress, and make us more productive. Decorate your kitchen counter with a hearty potted herb like sage; add a bamboo plant to a side table; or fill a vase with fresh-cut flowers and place it on your dining room table.

Get Creative

Coloring books for adults are more than just a quirky pastime: A 2016 study at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that people who spent time on creative goals during the day felt more positive the next day. Take a break to knit a scarf, bake a cake, write a poem, play a song, or craft with your kids. Short on time? Add creativity to workday tasks by using colored pens to take notes, or make domestic duties more fun by listening to an audio book.

The Best Foods to Eat for Better Sleep

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Nonfat Popcorn
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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
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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
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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)
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.