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Fruit and Vegetables: Vital for Health

Fruit and vegetables are vital to our health. Its no.1 on the list according to nutrional educators worldwide. Quite simply its a must!.The world health organisation recommends 5-10 portions daily. Fruit and vegetables are packed with all the nutrients essential for healthy living. Vitamin A,B,C and E, potassium, iron and dietry fibre are all found in these foods.

There is unswerving evidence recognising the part played by fruit and vegetables in reducing the risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease given they are a rich source of phytochemicals, disease fighting compounds. A varied diet is made easy by the range and choice of choice of these foods.

Brain Food: Eat Yourself Intelligent!

A recent study out of Gotenburg University (Sweden) has shown a clear link between eating fish and brain performance.

Researchers found that out of a group of 5000 15 year old boys,those who ate fish at least once a week scored better in tests that were carried out three years later.

Their findings indicate that omega-3 fats found in fish,especially oily fish such as mackrel and salmon are important in early brain development and to maintaining a healthy brain throughout life. It gives us further evidence that fish may indeed be brain food.

Past studies have found that children born to mothers who ate fish in pregnancy returned better scores in early learning intelligence than their peers and older fish eaters had a significant drop in the risk of cognitive impairment. This new study, however is the first to look at the effects on teenager’s intelligence. This is important given that the later adolescent years are critical in the development of brain plasticity that underlies intelligence and emotional and social behavior.

Plasticity being the brain’s ability to recognise connection between cells in everyday experience,anything from learning a new skill to injury. The robust range of the group took data from 5000 15 year old boys who completed detailed questionaires about lifestyle and diet andwho then took intelligence tests when they turned 18.

Taking into account outside factors such as socioeconomics and the education levels of parents,the study showed that those who ate fish more than once a week scored higher than those who ate fish less than weekly. The Swedish team, reluctant to make specific dietry recommendations for teenager did however concede that it appears fish in the diet can make a valuable contribution to cognitive performance in male teenagers.

Healthy Eating

Cereals and grain foods such as rice, oats, breads and pasta are recommended at 4 to 5 portions daily. Grain foods provide about 20% of the bodys daily nutritional intake.

Grains consist of three major parts: bran, endosperm and germ. Wholegrain options are the most nutritious as they contains all three parts of the grain.

The value of these foods to the body being a source of minerals, protein, fibre and compex B vitamins. Anti-oxident and cholesterol lowering effects are also attributed to cereals and grain foods. Refined cereals do not have the same benefits. These are generally grains that have been broken down, usually being left with only one part of the grain and consequently reduce nutritional value significantly.

Cereals are credited with delivering a multitude of health benefits to the body. A good rule is to chose brown over white!

Sugars and Fats

It goes without saying that fat should be taken in moderate levels. Taken in high levels, and without exercise can be very detrimental to health. We should avoid saturated fats and trans-fats as there is a clear connection between these fats and heart disease.

It can lead to dramatic weight gain. Too much fat makes us fat!

Sugar intake too should be in moderate levels. Excess sugar is excess energy and this energy, if unused, will cause weight gain. Sugar is used to enhance the taste of certain foods. Foods with high levels of refined sugars are energy dense and often contain little or no other nutrients. Sugars can directly harm or contribute to harm the body. A diet devoid of refined sugars is optimum.

There is a reason honey bears are the only animals found with tooth decay!