52 of the Healthiest Superfoods

Fill up on these nutrient packed foods. They can help you fight disease, feel more energetic and even lose weight!

Step into any supermarket and you’ll see thousands of labels shouting good-health claims: Whole grains! No trans fats! Essential vitamins and minerals! But figuring out what really is part of a healthy diet is getting harder and harder in these days of information overload. And it shows in the sobering statistics: 68% of Americans are overweight or obese—which is a big reason more of us are developing diseases such as diabetes, and at younger ages.

 To fight off disease, fill up on these nutrient-packed foods instead. Feel more energetic and even lose weight.

52 Superfoods

  1. Eggs Each egg has 6 grams of protein but just 72 calories. No wonder researchers at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, found that eating eggs for breakfast (as part of a low-cal diet) helps you slim down.
  2. Tomato sauce It’s loaded with lycopene, which makes your skin look younger and keeps your heart healthy. In fact, a Harvard study found that women with the most lycopene in their blood reduced their risk of a heart attack by 34%.
  3. Dried plums (prunes) They’re packed with polyphenols, plant chemicals that have been shown to boost bone density by stimulating your bone-building cells.
  4.  Walnuts Just 14 walnut halves provide more than twice your daily dose of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that’s been shown to improve memory and coordination.
  5.  Brussels sprouts They have more glucosinolates (compounds that combat cancer and detoxify our bodies) than any other vegetable. For a side dish that will make you wonder why you’ve been avoiding them, slice each one into quarters, then sauté in olive oil with chopped sweet Vidalia onions.
  6. Acai juice A glass or two of this anthocyanin-rich berry juice can dramatically boost the amount of antioxidants in your blood, say Texas A&M University researchers.
  7. Apples They contain quercetin, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of lung cancer.
  8. Bok choy This calcium-rich veggie can protect your bones and may even ward off PMS symptoms.
  9. Steel-cut oats Because they’re less processed than traditional oats, they’re digested more slowly—keeping you full all morning long.
  10. Salmon You’ll get all the heart-smart omega-3s you need in a day from just 3 oz.
  11. Avocados Their healthy fat keeps you satisfied and helps you absorb other nutrients. For a new twist, brush a halved avocado (pit removed) with olive oil and grill 1 minute. Serve with red onion, sliced grapefruit and balsamic vinegar.
  12. Spinach A half-cup provides more than five times your daily dose of vitamin K, which helps blood clot and builds strong bones.
  13. Canned pumpkin It’s filled with natural cancer fighters alpha- and beta-carotene.
  14. Cauliflower White foods can be good for you! This one is packed with cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
  15. Scallops A 3-oz serving has 14 grams of protein but just 75 calories.
  16. Collard greens They’re exploding with nutrients like vitamin A, zeaxanthin and lutein, which keep your eyes healthy.
  17. Olives They deliver the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat you get in olive oil, but for just 7 calories per jumbo olive!
  18. Brown rice It’s a top source of magnesium, a mineral your body uses for more than 300 chemical reactions (such as building bones and converting food to energy).
  19. Oysters These keep your immune system strong. A 3-oz serving (about 6 oysters) dishes up a quarter of your daily iron, plus nearly twice the zinc and all the selenium you need in a day.
  20. Edamame One cup has a whopping 22 grams of plant protein, as well as lots of fiber, folate and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols.
  21. Strawberries They’re loaded with ellagitannins, phytochemicals that may halt the growth of cervical and colon cancers.
  22. Lentils A great source of meat-free protein, a half-cup of cooked lentils also gives you nearly half your daily folate, a B vitamin that protects a woman’s unborn baby from neural tube defects.
  23. Bran flakes Their whole grains keep your heart in tip-top shape by reducing inflammation and melting away belly fat.
  24. Kiwifruit (kiwi) Italian researchers found that it reduces asthma-related wheezing, thanks to its high vitamin C content (one kiwi has 110% of your daily requirement).
  25. Black beans They’re loaded with protein, fiber, and flavonoids—antioxidants that help your arteries stay relaxed and pliable.
  26. Sunflower seeds A quarter-cup delivers half your day’s vitamin E, which keeps your heart healthy and fights infection.
  27. Sardines 3 oz provide more than 100% of your daily vitamin D. Sardines are also a top source of omega-3 fats. Try adding mashed canned sardines to marinara sauce and serving over whole-wheat pasta.
  28. Asparagus A half-cup supplies 50% of your daily bone-building vitamin K and a third of your day’s folate, it’s a natural diuretic so it banishes bloating, too.
  29. Bananas They’re loaded with several kinds of good-for-you fiber, including resistant starch (which helps you slim down).
  30. Broccoli sprouts They have 10 times more of the cancer-preventing compound glucoraphanin than regular broccoli.
  31. Fat-free milk With a third of the calcium and half the vitamin D you need in a day, plus 8 grams u of muscle-building protein, it’s the ultimate energy drink.
  32. Baked potatoes Each one packs a megadose of blood-pressure–lowering potassium—even more than a banana.
  33. Sweet potatoes Half of a large baked sweet potato delivers more than 450% of your daily dose of vitamin A, which protects your vision and your immune system.
  34. Flaxseed Not only is flaxseed loaded with plant omega-3s, it also has more lignans (compounds that may prevent endometrial and ovarian cancer) than any other food. Store ground flaxseed in your refrigerator and sprinkle on yogurt, cold cereal or oatmeal.
  35. Greek yogurt It has twice the protein of regular yogurt.
  36. Dried tart cherries Researchers at Michigan State University found their potent anthocyanins help control blood sugar, reduce insulin and lower cholesterol.
  37. Wheat germ A quarter-cup gives you more than 40% of your daily vitamin E and immune-boosting selenium.
  38. Whole-wheat english muffins You get 4 ½ grams of fiber for only 134 calories.
  39. Tea, green and black tea prevent hardening of the arteries, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.
  40. Peanut butter This smart spread has arginine, an amino acid that helps keep blood vessels healthy.
  41. Blackberries The king of the berry family boasts more antioxidants than strawberries, cranberries or blueberries.
  42. Mustard greens These “greens” (actually a cruciferous veggie) are a top source of vitamin K. For a tasty pesto, chop them in a food processor with garlic, walnuts, Parmesan and olive oil.
  43. Grapes They’re a leading source of resveratrol, the plant chemical responsible for the heart-healthy benefits of red wine.
  44. Soy milk A good source of vegetable protein, calcium-enriched soy milk has as much calcium and vitamin D as cow’s milk.
  45. Brazil nuts They have more selenium than any other food. One nut delivers your entire day’s worth!
  46. Canola oil A Tbsp of this heart-healthy oil has all the alpha-linolenic acid you need in a day, plus two different forms of vitamin E.
  47. Blueberries They improve memory by protecting your brain from inflammation and boosting communication between brain cells.
  48. Oranges One orange supplies more than 100% of the vitamin C you need in a day. It’s also a good source of calcium and folate.
  49. Watercress With just 4 calories per cup, this cruciferous veggie delivers a hefty dose of vitamin K, zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotene and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
  50. Turkey breast It has 20 grams of satisfying protein but just 90 calories per 3-oz serving.
  51. Barley A top source of beta-glucan, a fiber that lowers cholesterol and helps control blood sugar.
  52. Shiitake mushrooms One serving (about ¼ lb) provides as much vitamin D as you’d get from a glass of milk.

Creighton School District Selects New Employee Benefits Broker

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The Creighton School District selected Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) as it’s new employee benefits broker.  The change not only saved brokerage fees freeing up more money for the classroom, but is expected to result in substantial savings in the future on the cost of benefit renewals.

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Good news for coffee drinkers: the health benefits outweigh the risks for most people


By Morgan Wharton and Jessica Cote
Updated 2015

latte-249102_640Most Americans drink coffee every day.1 The caffeine in coffee helps us stay alert but also may cause jitteriness and interfere with sleeping. A few studies suggest that decaffeinated coffee also has health benefits, perhaps because of antioxidants or acids in the coffee bean.2

WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRINKING COFFEE?

For years medical experts advised people to drink less coffee, mostly because of research suggesting coffee might increase the risk of heart disease. However, numerous studies conducted recently have discovered coffee’s unexpected health benefits. Like all well-designed research, most of these studies considered the impact of age, sex, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, tobacco use, and whether family members had developed cancer. By controlling for those factors, researchers made sure they could separate coffee’s impact on health from the effects of people’s lifestyle, family history, and previous health problems.

Colorectal Cancer

Meta-analyses are a kind of statistics that combine data from several comparable studies to make one very large study. These results are usually more accurate than any one study can be. Taken together, three meta-analyses suggest that drinking about four or more cups of coffee per day may reduce the chances of getting colorectal cancer by 11-24%.345

Endometrial (uterine) Cancer

Using data from 67,470 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were 25% less likely to develop endometrial cancer than women who drank only one cup of coffee per day. Compared to women who did not drink any coffee, those who drank four cups or more per day were 30% less likely to develop endometrial cancer. Decaffeinated coffee was just as effective as caffeinated coffee, but caffeinated tea did not lower the risk of endometrial cancer.6

Liver Cancer And Cirrhosis (Scarring of the Liver/Chronic Liver Disease)

One study found people who drank one or two cups of coffee per day had a slightly lower risk of getting the most common type of liver cancer compared to non-drinkers, but people who drank three or four cups of coffee were about half as likely as non-drinkers to get this kind of liver cancer. Meanwhile, people who drank five or more cups per day had an even lower risk than that (about one-third the risk of non-drinkers).7

Similarly, a study in Japan found a 76% decrease in the risk of that type of liver cancer in people who drank at least five cups of coffee per day compared to those who did not drink coffee. The strongest benefit was seen in individuals with hepatitis C, a disease which increases a person’s risk of developing liver cancer, although the researchers were not sure why.8

A study of 120,000 Americans over an 8-year period found a 22% decrease in the chances of developing cirrhosis for each daily cup of coffee. In Norway, a 17-year study of 51,000 citizens found that those who drank two or more cups of coffee per day were 40% less likely to develop cirrhosis compared to those who did not consume coffee.9

Skin Cancer

Using data from two enormous studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, researchers found that men and women who drank more than three cups of caffeinated coffee per month were 17% less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma compared to people who drank less than one cup per month. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous type of skin cancer. Drinking decaffeinated coffee did not affect basal cell carcinoma.10

A 2014 study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that the more coffee participants drank, the less likely they were to develop malignant melanoma over a 10 year period. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Almost 450,000 whites, aged 50-71, participated in the study. Researchers found that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day was linked to a 20% lower risk of getting malignant melanoma. Once again, drinkers of decaffeinated coffee lost out. Their risk of getting melanoma was no different from that of non-coffee drinkers. Coffee drinking, however, did not affect the least dangerous form of melanoma, called melanoma in situ.

Remember that no matter how much coffee with caffeine you drink, the best way to prevent skin cancer is still to limit your time exposed to the sun and ultraviolet light! 11

Type 2 Diabetes

People in Finland consume more coffee than almost any other nation, and a study of 14,000 people over 12 years  found that men who drank 10 or more cups of coffee daily had a 55% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than men who drank 2 cups of coffee a day or fewer.  Even more dramatic, women who drank 10 or more cups per day had a 79% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who drank fewer than 2 cups daily.12

A different Finnish study of 5,000 sets of identical twins found that individuals who drank more than seven cups of coffee per day had a 35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than their twins who drank two cups or fewer per day.13 Because identical twins are so biologically similar, the difference in disease risk is very likely caused by coffee consumption levels. Studies of fewer people in other countries have found less dramatic but similarly positive results.

Parkinson’s Disease

A study of more than 8,000 Japanese-American men found that men who did not drink coffee at all were three to five times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease within 30 years than men who drank four and a half cups or more of coffee per day.14

Suicide

Because suicide may be related to alcohol intake, medications, and stress levels, suicide studies took those factors into account.  A 10-year study of 128,000 people in California found that the risk of suicide decreased by 13% for every additional cup of coffee consumed per day. Even one cup of coffee per day seemed to reduce the risk of suicide. A different 10-year study of 86,000 women found a 50% lower risk of suicide for those who drank two or more cups of coffee per day compared to women who did not drink coffee.15

Brain Power and Aging

A study of 676 healthy men born between 1900 and 1920 suggested that coffee helped with information processing and slowed the cognitive decline typical of aging. Cognitive functioning was measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination, a 30 point scale. Men who regularly consumed coffee experienced an average decline of 1.2 points over 10 years, while men who did not drink coffee saw a decline of 2.6 points over 10 years. Men who drank three cups of coffee per day declined only 0.6 points over 10 years.16

Even old mice are sharper with caffeine: a study using a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease showed that coffee actually reversed the cognitive decline and slow-down in processing that occurred with age. Mice given caffeine in their water showed signs of recovering their memory during testing.17

WHAT ABOUT THE RISKS?

Childbearing

Two separate studies found that 300 mg of caffeine (two to three cups of coffee) decreased a woman’s chances of getting pregnant by more than a third. This same amount of coffee also increased the chances of women having low birth-weight babies by 50%. These studies took into account potentially influential  factors such as contraception used in the past and infertility history.18

Hip Fracture 

According to data from the Nurses’ Health Study, women aged 65 and over who drank more than four cups of coffee per day had almost 3 times as many hip fractures over the next six years as women who did not drink coffee. Researchers took important factors into consideration such as how much calcium the women consumed each day.19

Parkinson’s Disease among post-menopausal women taking estrogen-only hormone therapy

Other researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study to evaluate the risk of Parkinson’s disease among women who drank coffee while using estrogen medication after menopause. For women who were NOT using estrogen therapy, those who drank four or more cups of coffee per day were about half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease as women who did not drink coffee. For women who did use post-menopausal estrogen, however, those who drank four or more cups of coffee were about twice as likely as those who didn’t drink coffee to develop Parkinson’s.20

Heart Disease

Two different meta-analyses found that people who drank five or more cups of coffee per day were 40-60% more likely to develop heart disease compared to those who did not drink coffee at all. Other studies have also shown that high coffee use (five to ten cups per day) increases the risk of heart disease, while moderate consumption (three to four cups daily) was not associated with a higher risk. Only coffee drinkers who consumed more than nine cups a day had a greater risk of dying from heart disease.21 It is important to consider that people drinking close to 10 cups of coffee a day are likely to have other health problems, such as stress or sleep deprivation, and this could contribute to higher risk of heart disease and death regardless of coffee use.

BOTTOM LINE

For most people, drinking coffee seems to improve health more than harm it. Many of coffee’s health benefits increase with the number of cups per day, but even one cup a day lowers the risk of several diseases. However, women who want to get pregnant or already are pregnant and women over 65 should probably limit their coffee intake because, in their case, the risks may outweigh the health benefits.

Even though many studies show coffee has benefits, it’s still not clear why. How can one popular beverage help metabolism (for example, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes) and also protect against a range of cancers? Until further research can solve that puzzle, most adults should continue to enjoy their cup (or two, or three) of Joe. Finally, remember that nearly all studies on coffee and health have been done on adults. Coffee may affect children and teens differently.

  1. Cadden ISH, Partovi N, Yoshida EM. Review article: possible beneficial effects of coffee on liver disease and function. Alim Pharmacol Therap 2007; 26(1): 1-8.  
  2. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  3. Giovannucci E. Meta-analysis of Coffee Consumption and Risk of Colorectal Cancer. Am J Epidem 1998; 147(11): 1043-1052.  
  4. Yu X, Bao Z, Zou J, Dong J. Coffee consumption and risk of cancers: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. BMC Cancer 2011; 11(96):1-11.  
  5. Je Y, Liu W, Giovannucci. Coffee consumption and risk of colorectal cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Int J Cancer 2009; 124:1662-1668.  
  6. Je Y, Hankinson SE, Tworoger SS et al. A Prospective Cohort Study of Coffee Consumption and Risk of Endometrial Cancer over a 26-Year Follow-Up. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 2011; 20(12): 2487-2495.  
  7. Cadden ISH, Partovi N, Yoshida EM. Review article: possible beneficial effects of coffee on liver disease and function. Alim Pharmacol Therap 2007; 26(1): 1-8.  
  8. Inoue M, Yoshimi I, Sobue T, Tsugane S. Influence of Coffee Drinking on Subsequent Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Prospective Study in Japan. Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2005; 97(4):293-300.  
  9. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  10. Song F, Qureshi AA, Han J. Increased Caffeine Intake is Associated with Reduced Risk of Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin. Cancer Research 2012; 72: 3282-3289.  
  11. Loftfield E, Freedman N D, Graubard B I, Hollenbeck A R, Shebl F M, Mayne S T, Sinha R. Coffee Drinking and Cutaneous Melanoma Risk in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2015; 107(2). dju421doi: 10.1093/jnci/dju421  
  12. Tuomilehto J, Hu G, Bidel S et al. Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Middle-aged Finnish Men and Women. The Journal of the American Medical Association 2004; 291(10):1213-1219.  
  13. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  14. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  15. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  16. Van Gelder BM, Buijsse B, Tijhuis M, et al. Coffee consumption is inversely associated with cognitive decline in elderly European men: the FINE Study. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007; 61(2):226-32.  
  17. Arendash W, Cao C. Caffeine and Coffee as Theraputics Against Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2010; 20: S117-S126.  
  18. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  19. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  
  20. Ascherio A, Weisskopf MG, O’Reilly EJ, McCullough ML, Calle EE, Rodriguez C, Thun MJ. Coffee Consumption, Gender, and Parkinson’s Disease Mortality in the Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort: The Modifying Effects of Estrogen. American Journal of Epidemiology 2004; 160(10):977-984.  
  21. Higdon JV, Frei B. Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46(2): 101-123.  

Vitamin C Could Be Just As Good As Exercise For Your Heart

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Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV Medical ReporterDr. Mallika Marshall

Dr. Mallika Marshall is WBZ-TV News’ Medical Reporter and contributes…
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BOSTON (CBS) – Could vitamin C be just as good as moderate exercise for your heart?

Researchers in Colorado looked at 35 sedentary obese or overweight adults and compared the effects of vitamin C and exercise on a protein that causes small blood vessels to narrow. That narrowing can lead to heart disease and stroke.

They found that taking 500 mg of vitamin C a day had the same positive effect on blood vessel tone as brisk walking five to seven times a week.

However, this was as small study and vitamin C should not be considered a substitute for regular exercise, which has many other health benefits.

100 Ways to Kickstart Your Brain On a Lazy Day

Brainwaves

Brainwaves

By Olivia Coleman

Everyone has those days at school or work when your brain is moving just a little slower than usual. If you find yourself up against a lazy day, give one of these tricks a try to get your brain going. With suggestions on brain-boosting foods and drinks, games, trivia, exercise and fun strategies, you are sure to find a way to wake up your brain from the list below.

Brain-Boosting Drinks

Sometimes all your brain needs is a drink to get it going. The following drinks will all give your brain that extra boost it needs to start pumping.

  1. Chai. This tea infused with a variety of spices and blended with milk or a non-dairy milk substitute will awaken your senses and your brain.
  2. Kombucha. In addition to the multiple health benefits of this unusual drink, it is primarily a detoxifier for the body. It also gets your brain pumping pretty quickly.
  3. Water. Staying hydrated benefits your body and brain by keeping you detoxified and oxygenated, so drink plenty of water for a brain boost.
  4. Matcha. This stone-ground, powdered form of green tea is a super-concentrated version of the green tea that comes in tea bags and provides a super blast for your brain.
  5. Caffeine. As this study indicates, a little caffeine may be beneficial to your brain, so have that cup of coffee when you brain feels a little sluggish.
  6. Kava kava. Long used in the South Pacific, kava kava is reported to induce both brain stimulation and anxiety reduction.
  7. Smoothies. A simple brain-boosting smoothie with fresh fruits and yogurt or a bit of protein powder will have your brain working again in no time.
  8. Ginkgo biloba tea. Ginkgo biloba tea helps promote blood flow, memory, and mental alertness.
  9. Ginseng tea. Tea made from the ginseng root provides better mental acuity as well as boosts blood circulation, reduces fatigue, and a host of other benefits.

Brain-Boosting Foods

From the instant benefit of cinnamon and peppermint to the longer-lasting benefits of blueberries, these foods are great ways to get the blood flowing in your brain on a lazy day.

  1. Cinnamon and peppermint. Research shows that cinnamon and peppermint stimulates the brain. Have some gum or tea and give it a shot.
  2. Fish oil. This nutrient, either obtained through eating fish or taking a good-quality supplement, not only increases overall physical health, it also helps boost your brain power.
  3. Apples. Long associated with healthy nutrition, an apple a day can provide brain health benefits.
  4. Salmon. Salmon is good for your body and your brain. This super food is high in omega-3 EFAs and protein, low in cholesterol and contains quite a few B vitamins, calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium.
  5. Avocado. Avocados have monosaturated fat (the good fat), which increases blood flow, which gives your brain a boost.
  6. Curry. Curry, and especially the turmeric in curry dishes, have been shown to boost cognition. The tantalizing taste will also help wake up your brain.
  7. Antioxidants. Eating foods that are antioxidants can help improve focus, problem-solving, and memory.
  8. Fruits and veggies. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great brain booster. Learn about the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables to your brain.
  9. Whole grains. Two and a half servings of whole grains a day can significantly reduce your chance for a stroke and keeps your brain in top shape.
  10. Olive oil. This healthy oil has been shown to break up clots in capillaries and generally help with blood flow.
  11. Blueberries. These little berries really pack a punch when it comes to brain health. Pop a few when your blood sugar and brain function feel low.
  12. Cocoa. Foods containing cocoa, like chocolate, may provide benefits for memory and learning, and the endorphins raised by eating chocolate will also provide a more immediate boost for your brain.

Cerveau fort

Simple Tricks

If your brain is stuck in a rut, try any of these fun and simple tricks to get it going again.

  1. Doodle. NPR reports how doodling can kickstart your brain when it is bored.
  2. Journal. Write down your thoughts, create a poem, or find some other way to express yourself in a personal journal.
  3. Music. Listening to music, whether it’s a small chamber music ensemble or a full-out rock show, will stimulate your brain.
  4. Listen to Mozart. Learn about “The Mozart Effect” and how it can help your brain get going and work better.
  5. Study a foreign language. Listen to a bit of a foreign language tape or go online to study a bit to get your brain in gear.
  6. Switch hands. Try using your less dominant hand for simple tasks like eating or writing to stimulate your brain.
  7. Think positively. A simple change of perspective can perk your brain and make you feel empowered as well.
  8. Smile. Smile and laugh often. A silly joke or sharing a smile with a co-worker or friend is a fun way to get your brain going again.
  9. Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy offers a boost to your brain through various scents which work to stimulate, calm, energize, and more.
  10. Use your brain. Doing tasks such as avoiding the calculator for simple arithmetic or thinking through perplexing problems is sure to get your mind working.
  11. Write down dreams. Do this as soon as you wake up in the morning. This is especially effective if you are trying to come up with creative ideas or solutions.
  12. Send a note to a friend. Whether you send a quick text message or hand-write a note, the social connection and shift of focus will help kickstart your brain.
  13. Use chopsticks. The mental challenge of using chopsticks with a snack or lunch will give your brain a boost and teach you a new skill.

Video Games

Video games can get your brain working–research shows some games can even help fight Alzheimer’s. Check out these games for a fun way to start your brain.

  1. MUO Games. MakeUseOf offers four games to help your brain start working.
  2. Truantduck.com Chinese Checkers. Play this classic game against the droid and practice your strategy skills.
  3. Simon Says. Practice your memory skills by playing Simon Says online. It’s amazingly similar to the real thing.
  4. Legends of Elveron. Try this fantasy game that is all about strategy to get your brain working.
  5. Diner Dash. Serve diners with this popular online game where you make sure everyone gets seated, orders, and gets their food without getting angry.
  6. Super Money Ball. Try one of these mini games from Sega to improve your eye-hand coordination and really get your brain working.
  7. Escapa. Click and hold the red square and avoid getting hit by the blue squares or hitting a wall with this challenging game.
  8. Oregon Trail. Get on the Oregon Trail and download this old favorite.
  9. Hit the Dot. This game challenges you to click on each of the dots as they appear to see how many you can get in 30 seconds.
  10. The Blue Button Game. Click on the fast-moving blue button to keep playing, but if you click on a red or orange one, the game ends.
  11. Game Gecko Racing Games. Play several racing games online at this site.
  12. Dogfight 2. Using your arrow and space bar keys, participate in airplane dogfights with this flying game.
  13. Tetris. This classic game will sharpen both eye-hand coordination and quick, logical thinking.
  14. Breakout. This game requires you to keep the ball in play until it breaks all the blocks at the top.

Brain Games

The following games are all especially for you brain and will help you get your brain moving on a lazy day and strengthen it, too.

  1. BrainCurls. Exercise your brain with the games at this site that include jigsaws, memory games, and games that sharpen your observation skills.
  2. Games for the Brain. With popular brain games like Mastermind, chess, and Sudoku, you will find plenty of games for your brain.
  3. Brain Bashers. With 5 new games added each week, you can always find lots of video game fun for your brain here.
  4. Puzzability Sampler. The puzzles here include both interactive and non-interactive versions of word games like Hangman, Acrostic, and Slider.
  5. Thinks.com Jigsaw Puzzles. Work these jigsaw puzzles for a great online workout for your mind.
  6. BrainTraining 101. These brain games include many different logic, puzzle, memory, classic, and action games.
  7. Braingle. Brain teasers, riddles, trivia, and brain exercises are some of the fun activities on this website.
  8. Fit Brains. Play the free brain games here that are developed by scientists with the goal of providing the best fitness for your brain.
  9. Sharp Brains Brain Teasers and Games. These 50 games are especially meant to help exercise and sharpen your mind.
  10. Freedom Years Games. These brain games include jigsaw puzzles, memory game, Sudoku, and more.
  11. HAPPYneuron. Brain fitness becomes a science with the fun games and activities here.
  12. Brain Age. Available on Nintendo DS, this game is excellent for sharpening the brain, according to a study done by a competing software company, and keeping it going.

Other Games

From classics like Scrabble and checkers to word puzzles to knowledge quizzes that benefit those less fortunate, the following games will get your brain working.

  1. Word puzzles. Solve brainteasers such as anagrams, logic problems, rebuses any time you have a few extra minutes to get your brain going.
  2. Scrabble. Connect with others for an online Scrabble game to get your brain pumping.
  3. Chess. Learn how to play chess, or play online, so you can take advantage of the well-known brain benefits of this game.
  4. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Working jigsaw puzzles exercises spatial recognition, analytical processes, eye-hand coordination and will wake up a sleepy brain.
  5. Crosswords. The benefits of working crossword puzzles are many and even help keep dementia at bay as you age. Work one online or in the morning paper to jumpstart your brain any time.
  6. Logic Puzzles. Solve these free logic puzzles that provide an easy-to-use solving grid.
  7. Mahjong. Play free Mahjong games here with a variety for the casual player to the master.
  8. Checkers. Try to beat the computer in this checkers game or challenge a friend in person.
  9. Bridge. While you may not have time for a full-blown game in the middle of the day, play online or watch others for a bit to help get your brain moving.
  10. Backgammon. Nabisco brings backgammon to you for free with this online version you can play to give your brain a boost.
  11. FreeRice. Test yourself in several categories including English, Chemistry, Geography, Art, Math, and foreign languages to get your brain buzzing and help feed the hungry at no cost to you.

Trivia

Learning a bit of trivia not only gets your brain working when it’s going slowly, but it also helps strengthen it. Give these fun trivia resources a try.

  1. 100 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew about the Human Brain. Learn some facts about the human brain to get yours working on a lazy day.
  2. Kickstart Your Brain With 21 TRUE Trivia Tidbits. Read these factoids for an easy brain spark.
  3. Fun Trivia Quizzes. Choose from several different trivia categories and take the quizzes to test your trivia knowledge and give your brain a boost.
  4. Trivial Trivia Collection. Get celebrity trivia, unusual trivia, or select from specific trivia categories to learn plenty here.
  5. Useful Trivia. Choose from Bible, history, holiday, TV trivia, and plenty of other categories.
  6. Trivia Cafe. Trivia Cafe provides daily and weekly questions, contests, and more to get your brain in gear.
  7. Triviaplaza. Find fun facts about music, movies, geography, science, literature, and more at this site.
  8. Random facts. Browse through this listing of random facts in order to add to your trivia knowledge.
  9. Fun Funny Facts. With information ranging from cockroaches to the memory of goldfish, you are sure to find fun facts to stimulate your brain when it’s moving slowly.

Exercises

Physical activity stimulates blood flow, which can help perk up your brain. Do these exercises to help get your brain going when it falls into a slump.

  1. Take a walk. When your brain begins to flag, stand up and take a walk to get the blood flowing and your brain working again.
  2. Tai Chi. This ancient form of exercise uses a graceful form of stretching to keep your brain physically fit.
  3. Sex. Enjoy sex with your partner. Not only will it stimulate your senses, it has also been shown to sharpen your mind through its cardiovascular benefits.
  4. Take the stairs. Skip the elevator and use the stairs to get your blood flowing and your brain pumping.
  5. Yoga. Not only is yoga an excellent low-impact form of exercise, its benefits also extend to mental well-being. Use simple yoga stretches any time of the day for an instant brain boost.
  6. Yard work. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or just picking up the twigs that have fallen on the yard are all great ways to get moving and wake up your mind.
  7. Walk the dog. Getting Fido and yourself outside for a walk to perk up your brain.
  8. Swim. Jump in the lake or take a swim at your neighborhood pool for a great way to wake your brain.
  9. Bike. A leisurely bike ride through a park or down a dedicated bike trail is not only a good way to stimulate your brain, but you will enjoy the scenery and physical exercise too.
  10. Dance. Stand up and dance to put your body in motion and wake your brain. Dancing also offers anti-aging benefits.
  11. Golf. Enjoy a round of golf or hitting at the range during lunch for exercise as well as a brain stimulant.
  12. Hike. Put on some sturdy shoes and head out. Hiking can be as easy as exploring a city park during lunch.
  13. Tennis. The mental and physical stimulation of this popular game will have your brain buzzing in no time.

Quiet Activities

You might think that quiet activities wouldn’t help get your brain going when it’s dragging, but give these a shot to find out how much they can help.

  1. Read. Whether you are keeping up the news online, sitting down with a good book, or checking out the latest gossip magazine, do some reading each day.
  2. Hobbies. Work on a hobby to get your creative juices flowing and keep your brain working.
  3. Knitting. Putting your hands to work and letting your mind wander a bit will get your brain back on track in no time. If you don’t know how to knit, learn here.
  4. Breathing. The deep, relaxing form of breathing used during yoga practice oxygenates the body, which stimulates the brain.
  5. Relaxation exercises. Try some of these relaxation exercises and you will teach your body how to feel more calm and your brain more focused.
  6. Meditation. For improving focus and stress relief, mediation can’t be beat.
  7. Surf the Internet. Not only does surfing the Internet provide plenty of new information to stimulate your brain, the combined requirements of decision-making and specific strategies necessary when surfing also provide benefits for the brain.

Cholesterol Education Month

cholerestor-awareness-month

September is National Cholesterol Education Month.  All Americans are encouraged to find time this month to get blood cholesterol checked and takes steps to learn more about how food and lifestyle choices can effect cholesterol levels.

Statistics. Over 102 million Americans (20 or older) have total cholesterol levels higher than 200mg/dL, which is above healthy levels and puts them at risk for heart disease (CDC).

Facts. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all cells of the body. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamins, and other substances to help digest food. If there is too much cholesterol in the body, it can build up in your arteries putting you at risk for coronary heart disease.

Symptoms. Most people don’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people are unaware that their cholesterol levels are too high. Cholesterol levels can be easily detected through a blood draw and can be controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medications.

Getting Checked. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. However, preventative guidelines for cholesterol screenings differ among adults especially if you have other risk factors such as obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of coronary heart disease.

Know Your Numbers. The following are considered desirable cholesterol levels according to the CDC.

 Total Cholesterol: Less than 180mg/dL

LDL (bad) Cholesterol: Less than 110mg/dL

HDL (good) Cholesterol: 35mg/dL or higher

Triglycerides: Less than 150mg/dL

Center for Disease Control 

Good Fat vs. Bad Fat

“Good” fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol.

“Bad” fats—saturated and Trans fats increase your risk for heart disease and increase your LDL and total cholesterol.

GoodFatvsBadFat (1)

Provided by Kendall Taylor of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in their September 2015 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.

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