Skip to content

Eating fruits and vegetables=lower stroke risk

The humble tomato has some hidden benefits in its juicy interior.

A new study has revealed that people with the highest amounts of Lycopene in their blood, which is an antioxidant found in tomatoes, were 55% less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.

“This study adds to the evidence that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stroke,” study author Dr. Jouni Karppi, a researcher in the department of medicine and public health at the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, said in a press release.

What is stroke?

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is suddenly blocked or bleeds. As a result, brain function may be lost and activities such as movement, thinking and communication may be impaired.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics stroke was the second leading underlying cause of death in 2009.

To kick off the study, researchers gave blood tests to more than 1,000 Finnish men between the ages of 46 and 65 and re-tested them an average of 12 years later.

Throughout the study, 67 men suffered a stroke. A closer look at the blood tests showed that among the 258 men with the lowest levels of lycopene, 25 had a stroke. However, among the 259 men with the highest levels of lycopene, only 11 suffered a stroke. Specifically, men with the highest levels of lycopene were 59 percent less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke (a blood clot blocking blood flow to the brain) and 55 percent less likely to have any stroke.

The research supports the recommendations of a diet high in fruits and vegetables.  The current recommendation in Australia is 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables everyday.  Go to for more information.

Previous research has shown that flavonoid compounds in fruits and vegetables improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation.


Sneaky Ways to Keep Yourself Motivated

As you get going with your health and fitness program, one thing you are going to have to keep on top of are your levels of motivation.  It’s imperative that you keep yourself motivated every step of the way because as soon as you start to falter then you’ll start to fall back into bad habits and your hard work can be easily undone.

Fortunately there are a few sneaky tricks that you can use to keep you on track for the long haul.  Try these and you’ll have a better chance of staying on track with exercise and your diet plan.

Do Just One More

When you’re in the gym next and you just don’t think you can make it through the next set or exercise try promising yourself that you’ll just have to do one rep.  If you do that one rep,  chances are you’ll feel more energized and get through more of your workout.

For most people just getting going is the most challenging part.

Likewise, if getting to the gym in the first place is what you struggle with, then tell yourself you only have to go for 10 minutes.  Then if you want to leave, you can.  Most people, once there will stay for the full session length.

Wait It Out

When it comes to food cravings, this is where things can get tricky.  Food cravings can derail even the most determined and motivated individual.  So if you have a plan of attack then you can combat the craving much more easily.

One of the best ways to stave off the craving is to wait it out.  Tell yourself that you have to wait 10 minutes before you can have what you crave.  If after 10 minutes you still want it then have it but not until the 10 minutes is up.

By the time that waiting period is up then you’ll find that you no longer want the food any more.

Make It Competitive

Finally, the third way to keep your motivational levels high and keep hitting your set goals is to make a little competition out of it.  Get together with a friend or workout partner and set a goal for you to race towards, the winner buys the other dinner.

Sometimes a little friendly competition is all you need to get you back on the straight and narrow.

Motivation is something that can fluctuate as you head towards your health and fitness goals.  But by implementing a plan to combat the challenges that will crop up along the way you’ll stay on track and it shouldn’t become an issue for you.

On The Go Snacks

As you go about your weight loss plan you’ll want to keep track of your snacking.  If you want to make the best possible progress then snacks are a way to keep your blood sugar stable but also provide you with the energy to get through.  With a little planning and structure your snacks will not blow out your daily calorie intake.

So let’s take a look at some simply prepared and easy to take with you snacks.

Canned Tuna and Whole Wheat Crackers

A great option to increase your protein intake is canned tuna and whole wheat crackers.  The rip top cans make it easy to take with you and the whole wheat crackers add some fibre as well as some carbs for energy.

Whole Wheat Wrap with Natural Peanut Butter and Banana

With this combination you’ll get some healthy fats a small amount of protein and some healthy carbs.



Home Made Trail Mix

Another option to add a balance of nutrients is a home made trail mix.  Combine together some pretzels, nuts, dried fruit and some pieces of dark chocolate.  Put some of it in an airtight container and off you go.

An Apple with Almond Butter

This snack will stave of the hunger and keep your diet on track.  The Almond butter has less sugar than peanut butter but provides a hit of protein and healthy fats as well as the benefits of the apple itself.


So next time you’re looking for a snack give these a go as they’ll be much better for you than anything from a vending machine or a convenience store.

Conquer Your Biggest Fitness Barriers

The excuses to avoid working out come flowing naturally. Added up over time, excuse-making is the #1 culprit for the number of gym memberships that drop off dramatically a couple of months into the New Year. We start with the best of intentions, but find it’s hard to keep at it long enough to see results. Here are a few ways to overcome these natural urges to resist what’s best for you.

Are You Self-Conscious About How You Look At The Gym?

• Remind yourself that you’re here for a good cardiovascular workout and to feel stronger.

• Consider going to the gym at low-traffic times — late at night, on weekends, or early morning.

• Join a boot camp where the class is composed of beginners like yourself.

Do You Frequently Feel Too Tired After Work To Hit The Gym?

• Try working out in the morning by getting up 30-60 minutes earlier than usual.

• Take a brisk walk during your lunch break to keep your mind active and focused.

• Go to bed earlier so you will get enough rest to tackle an afternoon workout.

• Eat foods that are high in protein combined with a complex carb.

• On your days off from work, roll out of bed and right into your workout clothes.

Do You Feel Too Lazy To Work Out?

• Start off slow, walking around the block each day until your energy picks up.

• Plan your exercise around times of the day when you feel more energized.

• Schedule your fitness activities into your day planner as you would any activity.

Are You Bogged Down By Past Failures?

• Set realistic goals for yourself, such as exercising 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week.

• Make short-term goals and reward yourself when you meet those goals.

• Work with a personal trainer who can psyche you up, mentally, and hold you accountable.

Do You Feel You Can’t Afford A Health Club Membership?

• Consider one of the more affordable group classes.

• Break it down and think about how much it will cost you per workout.

• Go with a friend on their “bring a free friend” workout days.

• Use cans and milk jugs at home to provide resistance.

• Try a fun exercise video that includes dance aerobics or cardio-kickboxing.

Are You Afraid You’ll Hurt Yourself?

• Work with a personal trainer who will make sure you are progressing at a good pace.

• Be sure to stretch and warm-up for at least five minutes before each workout.

• Take a group class where you will start from scratch and learn all the basics.

5 Secrets To Firing Up Your Metabolism

Do you know one of those people who pigs out on fast food and pizza all the time, but remains rail-thin? When asked for their secret, these people always tell us, “I just have a fast metabolism.” It’s enviable, isn’t it? Some people are naturally born with fast metabolisms, but there are also ways to trick the body into burning more calories all day long. Here’s how!

1. Eat more protein. Protein is the building block of muscle and the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn just doing everyday tasks. Aim for 46 grams of protein per day. You can get 23 grams in for breakfast by eating six ounces of low-fat yogurt, ½ cup of berries and a medium skim latte. For lunch, you can get another 30 grams by consuming spinach salad, 60g of chicken, 1/3 cup of black beans, pita bread and 2 tablespoons of hummus. For dinner, have an Asian stri-fry with 1/3 cup of: snow peas, red peppers, bok choy and bean sprouts, ¾ cup brown rice and 2 tablespoons of slivered almonds for 23 more grams of protein.

2. De-stress. The hormone Cortisol interferes with your metabolism and causes you to store more fat – notably belly fat. Participating in yoga and tai chi are great ways to relax and unwind. You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to keep your hormones (and appetite) in check.

3. Add Cardio. A 45-minute high-intensity cardio workout can increase your metabolic rate by 37 percent for up to 14 hours after you work out, so you’re not just burning calories as you exercise, but at rest too. If your workout is particular rigorous, you can burn up to 200 more calories hours after you’ve left the gym.

4. Add resistance training. Lifting weights helps you build more muscle, which will keep your metabolism high. Two or three times a week, you should add 15 to 30 minutes of strength training onto your workout. Aim to do 12-20 reps of squats, planks, lunges and push-ups that use multiple muscle groups.

5. Eat more fiber. Eating fiber helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism up to speed. The antioxidants in fruit and vegetables can also benefit your body. Ideally, you’ll have 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. The best foods include: walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, blackberries, cranberries, artichokes, dried apricots, kale and red cabbage.

Quick Tips To Find The Time To Fit In Exercise

If you have a busy schedule, one thing is for certain and that is that it can get very trying at times to figure out when you’re ever going to get your workouts in.

If you aren’t careful, the day passes you by and before you know it, it’s another skipped session in the gym. To avoid this from happening, it’s critical that you practice proper time management tips.

Let’s go over a few of the most important things to remember so that you can make sure that you don’t miss out on fitness by day’s end.

Think Short Blocks Rather Than Extended Periods

The very first thing that you should be doing is making sure to get out of the mindset that you must do your whole entire gym workout in one consecutive session. Instead, know that it is perfectly okay to break it up into chunks if that’s what you prefer to do.

In fact, doing this can be even more beneficial because then you’ll get frequent boosts to your metabolic rate rather than just a single one once per day.

Focus On Intensity

The second point to remember to help make sure that you have time to get your workouts in is to think about intensity rather than duration.

If the truth is told, as long as you’re working out at a high enough intensity, you really can get everything you need to accomplished in 20 minutes or less.

There is no need to spend an hour or longer in the gym if you know what you’re doing.

Make the workouts as intense as possible – get in and get out, but make sure that you are working hard for the time that you are in the gym.

Always Have Workout Gear In The Car

Third, make sure that you always have workout gear in the car with you. This is one of the greatest tips to know to prepare yourself for getting those sessions in because this way, you can stop whenever its convenient for you.

If you happen to have 45 minutes to spare before you have to be somewhere for example and are just a few blocks from your gym, this is more than enough time to get a quick workout in if you’re prepared for it.

Workout First Thing In The Morning

Finally, the last quick tip to help you carve out time each day to get your workouts in is to start doing those sessions first thing in the morning. If you can get them over and out of the way before your day starts, you don’t have to worry about anything crowding them out of the picture.

This will definitely boost your adherence rate and make your results come that much more easily.

So there you have the primary points to keep in mind as you are going about your workout program. If you prioritize time management, you’ll soon find that it is perfectly possible to get those workouts in that you want to be doing.

Dieters Beware: 8 Myths That Make You Fat

Misinformation convolutes our weight loss journey. It seems like every month some new research is coming out to confuse us.Often the research is contradicting or misinterpreted, which leads to common dieting myths that create unhealthy habits. Do you believe any of these myths?

Myth #1: Eat a big breakfast to avoid overeating later.

It’s important to avoid skipping breakfast, but you don’t want to overdo it with too many calories either. In fact, a large breakfast can add an extra 400 calories. However, people don’t necessarily eat fewer calories throughout the day.

Myth #2: Grazing on small portions throughout the day boosts one’s metabolism.

Eating smaller, more frequent meals helps people control their appetites, but not if you are grazing on high-fat, high-calorie foods. If you are trying to lose weight, it’s best to plan out your meals with healthy vegetable sides and work in a couple of healthy snacks.

Myth #3: Low-fat or Fat-free food always has fewer calories too.

Fat is often replaced by protein, starch and sugar – which can really rack up the calories. For example, a small low-fat blueberry muffin has 131 calories, whereas a regular blueberry muffin has 138. Smaller portion sizing and moderation are more important practices than switching to low-fat foods.

Myth #4: Eating late at night will make a person fat.

It’s simply not true that food consumed at night will be unused and therefore be converted into fat. You will gain weight if your energy intake exceeds your expenditure, regardless of when the calories are consumed. Large meals may cause digestive disturbances, which is why eating late is not recommended. It’s better to eat a more modest-sized dinner and a snack before bed than a huge meal.

Myth #5: Sports drinks are healthier than soft drinks.

You may opt for Vitamin Water before a workout rather than Coca-Cola, but keep in mind that Vitamin Water has 13 grams of sugar and 50 calories per serving… and there are 2.5 servings per bottle, which adds up to 125 calories. That’s just 15 calories shy of a Coca-Cola. Yes, sports drinks have more vitamins and minerals, but you still need to watch out for sugar and calories. Water with lemon is a much better alternative.

Myth #6: You can lose weight by dieting alone.

Diets may help you reduce your blood pressure or risk of cardiovascular disease, but researchers have found that diets often stop working after a person loses 5-10 percent of their weight and doesn’t help people sustain weight loss. Additional lifestyle modifications and exercise are needed to lose weight and keep it off.

Myth #7: You can lose weight simply by cutting starches from your diet.

Low-carb diets have perpetuated this myth, but starch is not necessarily bad. It’s true that the body processes starch and carbohydrates into sugar that may be stored as fat – but it also may be used as energy. The real culprit is indulging in high-fat sauces and toppings like sour cream, butter and other creamy sauces.

Myth #8: Eat whatever you want as long as you’re exercising.

Your body is cutting more calories if you’re exercising, but you will not lose weight if you are replacing all the energy you burn off with sugary sports drinks or high-calorie foods. It’s best to find other “rewards” for a good workout that are not edible.

%d bloggers like this: