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Did You Know Ylang Ylang Oil Not Only Soothes Your Skin, But Your Mind As Well?

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Ylang-ylang essential oil

What is Ylang Ylang Oil?

Ylang ylang oil is derived from the fresh flowers of the ylang ylang tree (Cananga Odorata), which is typically found in the rainforests of Asian and South Pacific islands like Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro and Polynesia.

There are numerous grades of ylang ylang essential oil sold within the market, however ylang ylang extra oil is considered to be the best amongst other types. Due to the fact it is made from the first extraction, ylang ylang extra oil has the best quantity of esters and the sweetest fragrance.

Usages of Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang ylang oil helps loosen up the body and soul and may be useful for people affected by insomnia, fatigue and frigidity.

This essential oil has been proven to assist regulate the production of sebum, an oily substance secreted through the sebaceous glands, to guard your hair and skin from drying out. It has many cosmetic uses, such as:

• Preserving skin moisture

• Clearing and healing pimples

• Promoting hair growth

• Acting as a herbal conditioning agent on your hair

Ylang ylang oil also has antimicrobial properties that could help reduce skin inflammation and redness.

Composition of Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang ylang oil is composed of chemical compounds like benzyl acetate (28 percent), linalool (nine percent), methyl benzoate (six percent), P-cresyl methyl ether (10 percent) and 3-methyl-2-butenyl acetate (5 percent).

Advantages of Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang ylang oil can help guard against infections within the stomach, intestines, colon and urinary tract. Apart from that, using ylang ylang oil can allow you to reap the following benefits:

• Antidepressant for nervous breakdowns, acute depression, tension, sadness and chronic stress

• Antiseptic to speed up the recovery of wounds and infections and to keep away from sepsis and tetanus

• Hypotensive to promote healthy blood pressure levels

• Nervine and sedative to soothe anxiety and convey a sense of calm

How to Make Ylang Ylang Oil

To be able to obtain ylang ylang oil, fresh flowers from the ylang ylang tree must to go through the method of steam distillation at various stages.

According to Easy Aromatherapy Recipes, the first extraction is known asextrawhile subsequent extractions are referred to as Grades 1, 2 and 3. Lower-grade essential oils are often blended with the extra to form a “complete” ylang ylang essential oil.

The completed product has an intensely sweet aroma and floral with watery undertones and might have a colorless to pale yellow hue.

How Does Ylang Ylang Oil work?

Ylang ylang oil may be used within the following methods:

• Aromatically — Inhale immediately or put 3 to 4 drops right into a diffuser.

• Topically — when mixed with milder carrier oils, ylang ylang oil can be used as a:

◦ Massage oil: combine 2 to 3 drops with olive, grape seed, or coconut oil.

◦ Anti-aging skin toner: add 5 drops into chamomile tea, allow it to cool and apply in your skin.

◦ Hair treatment: add to 3 drops in your regular shampoo or two to three drops into coconut oil. Massage it onto your hair and scalp. Leave for 20 mins. Rinse with water and mild shampoo.

Is Ylang Ylang Oil safe?

Ylang ylang oil is safe to apply when taken in recommended doses. But, I strongly discourage taking ylang ylang oil internally without professional supervision and advise you to ensure that it does not come into contact with your eyes.

I highly advise consulting your doctor before using this essential oil, especially if you‘re pregnant or a nursing female. Kids below the age of six are cautioned not to apply this oil as well.

Side Effects of Ylang Ylang Oil

There aren’t any severe instances that highlight the negative outcomes of ylang ylang oil, but, when taken in excessive quantities, it could probably cause sensitivity, nausea and headache.

The oil can cause skin inflammation in some people, so I recommend diluting it with milder carrier oils and doing a skin patch test before using it topically.

Developing An Alternative Medicine Chest

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Medicine Chest

Medicine Chest

1. The first step to building your alternative medicine chest is to write down exactly what you want on an everyday basis and what you want on an occasional basis.

A multivitamin, calcium supplement (in case you’re a female over 35), more folic acid (in case you are hoping to get pregnant), valerian root when you have occasional problem sleeping, white willow bark if you need some thing for headaches once in a while, arnica for those times when you want a natural pain reliever. That is the way you stock your alternative medication chest.

2. Write down your needs based totally on conditions or signs, what has worked for you, what you need to check out or ask your physician about, and something else you can think of. Remember you could include tinctures, capsules, pills both natural and homeopathic.

3. You can also base your choices on the seasonal calendar. Herbs for seasonal recovery are an essential element in determining just what is necessary at the time. Every season has it’s own specific beneficial herbs for healing particular conditions at some stage in that term. Keep in mind, that this is also geared closer to the region of the world you stay in.

4. If you’re seeking togo naturalwith your medicine chest, talk about any conditions you have along with your acupuncturist, naturopath or holistic practitioner. Be advised that your allopathic physician likely does not have the expertise about herbs that a holistic practitioner has.

A few physicians dislike the concept of natural treatments, basically because of patients who use them without the proper facts or precautions. A healer of any kind, be them holistic or allopathic must be looking for the power in the greater good. Many doctors now attempt to include those alternatives for their patients.

And if a physician who is open to natural treatments advises against it, consider that judgment. Work with the practitioner on contraindications for the herb when you are thinking about taking them with allopathic medication. There could be side effects. So when you’ve decided what your desires are, see your physician, then determine which treatments you’ll want to take on a daily basis for an extended period of time.

5. Doses are always a question and what natural remedies are right for which conditions, but another step in the herbal health process is to decide exactly how much of each item you want. Check our Western Materia Medica (below) for the safe and honest data you need.

Herbs for Seasonal Healing

Natural medication is the best alternative remedy with regards to finding a substitute for allopathic drugs. The advantages are exceptional. Side effects are minimal.

Warning should be used while taking natural medicinal drug with allopathic drugs.

Certain herbs may be very useful throughout specific seasons based totally on their mechanism of action and their healing properties. As the seasons change, it is an excellent concept to create a seasonal medicine chest with herbs that you may actually utilize during that duration.

You may discover that herbs in lots of forms may be both sensible and flexible. Below are considerations for each season.

  • Spring is the season of recent beginnings and rebirth. Using herbs to tonify and detox the liver and gallbladder are recommended. Consider creating a Spring alternative medicine drug chest with milk thistle, dandelion and nettle. You can benefit through having Spring essential oils such as jasmine, neroli and patchouli.
  • Summer is the high season of greatest Yang and activity is complemented via the hot funfilled days at the seaside and warm, pleasant nights enjoyed outside. We tend to overdue in summer..too much sun, physical activities and food. Using herbs to tonify the heart, intestines and stomach are encouraged. Consider creating a summer natural alternative medicine Chest with basil, elderflower and chamomile. You may gain through having Summer essential oils such as tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus.
  • Fall is the time of collecting and harvesting in preparation for the next season. Using herbs to tonify the lungs and huge intestines is recommended. With the changing of light and the dropping of temperatures, consider creating a Fall alternative medicine chest with astragalus, calendula and ginseng. You could gain through having Fall essential oils such as bergamont, cedarwood and clove.
  • Winter is the time for relaxation and replenishing. It is the season of greatest Yin and must be observed with peaceful tranquility. Using herbs to tonify the kidneys and urinary bladder is recommended. Consider creating a Winter alternative medicine chest with sage, mullein and garlic. You could gain by means of having Winter essential oils such as cinnamon, ginger and peppermint.

Top 10 Homeopathic Treatments on your Medicine Chest

Your Homeopathic First aid kit is very useful to have around the residence, within the automobile or on vacation. Make certain your kit is easily available when you want it! This kit consists of the top ten homeopathic treatments that would generally be sufficient to deal with most first aid conditions consisting of:

  • Arnica suave – all pain, bruises, sprains, strains, headaches, jet lag, sunburn
  • Arnica – all pain problems, bruising, sprains, strains, headaches (taken internally)
  • Apis Mel – bites, stings, fluid retention, swelling of legs and feet during tour
  • Argentum – gastroenteritis, sore throat, hurriedness, stress
  • Cocculus – sleep pattern disturbances, tetanus, seasickness
  • Gelsemium – sore throats, cough, colds, influenza with shivering
  • Ignatia Amara – irritability, hypersensitivity, hysteria, anxiety
  • Mezereum – burning pain, bone pain, sensitivity to cold, headaches
  • Nux Vomicafood poisoning, travel illness, upset stomach, jet lag, hangovers, indigestion
  • Rhus Tox – muscular aches, pain, stiffness, overexertion

This Microorganism Could Lower Your Blood Pressure

blood-pressure

blood-pressure

An overwhelming number of USA citizens have high blood pressure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults has been diagnosed with this condition. The CDC also states that only about half of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control. That’s horrifying, because it has been involved in the deaths of 410,000 Americans in 2014. It’s time to lower your blood pressure.

High blood pressure is connected to severe and life-threatening situations, together with coronary heart disorder and stroke. This has many people trying to find a natural ways to reduce their blood pressure. If this sounds like you or a person you know, you’ll be fascinated to hear about a brand new study posted within the journal Physiological Genomics.

Researchers involved in this study discovered that a type of bacteria may assist to decrease blood pressure… and that micro organism is good gut bacteria, nourished through nutritious probiotics.

The studies

As a background to their study, researchers proceeded on the idea of preceding research linking gut imbalances to cardiovascular illnesses. Researchers carried out the study on two groups of rats. One group had high blood pressure and the other group had ordinary blood pressure. Researchers took samples of gut micro organism from the intestines of each groups. Then researchers positioned both groups on antibiotics to cast off remaining gut bacteria.

Researchers then did a gut micro organism switch-up. They positioned the gut bacteria from the hypertensive rats into the control group of rats and placed the control group micro organism into the hypertensive rats. Outcomes confirmed that even though the control gut bacteria did no longer do much to decrease the blood pressure of the hypertensive rats, the hypertensive gut micro organism did certainly raise the blood pressure of the control group rats.

Can probiotics deal with hypertension?

lower your blood preasure

Studies show that probiotics can help with hypertension.

At the importance of this thrilling finding, the study authors explained that the outcomes serve as:

“… further proof for the continued study of the microbiota within the improvement of hypertension in humans and supports a potential role for probiotics as remedy for high blood pressure. Research displaying that supplementing your diet with probiotics (useful microorganisms discovered within the intestine) may have an effect on blood pressure, particularly in hypertensive models.”

In their conclusion, the authors added:

“We conclude that gut dysbiosis [microbial imbalance] can immediately have an effect on SBP [systolic blood pressure]. Manipulation of the intestine microbiota may also constitute a modern remedy for high blood pressure.”

Other advantages of probiotics

This studies adds to the overwhelming list of advantages that arise from taking proper care of your intestine. Only a few consist of:

  • A healthy immune system
  • Improved weight reduction
  • Extra strength
  • Improved muscle power
  • Longevity

… That’s a lot of benefits from tiny micro organism.

The way to get your gut in tip-top form

herbal foods

Probiotics can treat high blood pressure, enhance immune function and more.

  • As stated within the study, chow down on a few probiotics. Herbal food sources are excellent. Those include sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented veggies, natural yogurt, kombucha and kefir. Home made variations are best to storebought. There are also probiotic supplements available. Make extrasure to shop for only from a supply you trust, as there are numerous imposters in the marketplace.
  • Cut processed foods out of your life. Stick to a clean eating regimen of entire, nutritious meals, making sure there are lots of vegetables on your plates.
  • Reduce your consumption of sugar. Sugar can feed dangerous gut bacteria.
  • Don’t use antibiotics except you actually need them. If you have to take them, make sure to consume lots of probiotic meals (and prebiotic vegetables, such as asparagus) when you’re finished with the direction to repopulate your beneficial gut micro organism.
  • Keep away from antibacterial soaps, cleaners and wipes. Good old soap and water are often all you need.

Complete Guide to Coconut Oil

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coconut oil

coconut oilCoconut oil is often called a super food and with good reason. Coconut oil has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine to treat everything from skin problems and digestive issues to a natural energy boost and weight loss.

Coconut oil has also been studied in more than 1,500 clinical trials to investigate its benefits for eczema, Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, Candida infection, and weight loss. Over the last decade, researchers have uncovered dozens of benefits to this healthy oil.

You can use coconut oil yourself as a lip balm, in homemade skin treatments, as a massage oil, and as a supplement. You can also use coconut oil for hair treatments and styling. Here’s what you should know to use coconut oil for the greatest benefit.

 

Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) in Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is rich in healthy fats known as medium-chain fatty acids or MCFAs. These fatty acids include:

  • Capric acid
  • Lauric acid
  • Caprylic acid

 

About 62% of the oils in coconut are comprised of MCFAs while 91% of the total fat in coconut oil is considered healthy saturated fat. While most fats take awhile for the body to digest, MCFAs go through a more simple three-step digestive process to become fuel compared with some long-chain fatty acids in plant-based oils that can take 26 steps to convert to fuel.

MCFAs are not readily stored as fat by the body and easier to digest. They also have antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.

 

Coconut Oil Weight Loss Benefits

There are numerous coconut oil weight loss benefits that are backed by science with evidence that coconut oil can help boost the metabolism and shed unwanted fat. The use of coconut oil to lose weight goes against the commonly held belief that all fat is bad and causes weight gain, but the truth is it’s hydrogenated fats that lead to excessive caloric intake and high cholesterol. Fats are part of a healthy diet and used by the body to produce hormones, but not all fats are equal.

The research on the use of coconut oil for weight loss goes back many years with one study published in a 1985 issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health that found a single injection of capric acid — found in coconut oil — resulted in quick initial then a gradual decline in food consumption and a loss of body weight in rats.

Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people lost more weight when medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, such as those found in coconut oil, were included in their diet. This study went so far as to find that people lost more weight by including MCTs were in their diet than with olive oil. The study concluded that changes in the quality of fat intake could be useful in boosting weight loss.

A more recent study conducted at the McGill School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition tested an oil made with medium-chain triglycerides on adults who were 25 pounds overweight. The oil included coconut oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil. The study concluded that MCT oil is broken down by the liver and burned as energy, not stored as fat, and boosts metabolism, which is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Over the course of the 1-year study, men lost an average of 1 pound per month while female study participants had heightened metabolic rates.

This study also found that the MCT oil significantly reduced cholesterol levels by more than 13% compared to olive oil, which reduces cholesterol by 4.5%. Peter Jones, the study’s lead author, called the results impressive as “olive oil was considered the best cholesterol fighter until now.”

A recent study published in Obesity Research Journal gave some insight into why medium-chain fatty acids improve metabolism and fat-burning. To test the effects of MFCAs on the breakdown of fat, researchers pre-treated fatty adipose cells in rats with caprylic acid. They found that the fat cells broke down at a significant level that mimicked fasting, which occurs when the body uses energy reserves as effectively as possible and speeds the breakdown of unnecessary fat reserves.

Coconuts and organic coconut oil

Losing Weight with Coconut Oil

A single tablespoon of coconut oil contains 130 calories of fat, which means the 2 suggested tablespoons per day will add 260 calories of fat to your caloric intake per day. While this is beneficial fat, it’s still important to watch other sources of fat intake to avoid exceeding your suggested caloric intake. Be sure you reduce your total calories from other sources to maintain a daily caloric intake that is lower than what you normally consume.

There are several ways to add coconut oil to your diet to boost your weight loss efforts. In addition to replacing vegetable oil and olive oil with coconut oil when cooking, try adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to a pre-workout drink or your morning coffee.

Teeth and Gums

Coconut oil pulling can be used to improve the strength and health of your teeth. It removes harmful Streptococcus Mutans bacteria that over time can damage your teeth and gums. You can use this safe and natural product daily to improve your oral health.

 

Coconut Oil and Skin Care

The are many benefits of coconut oil for skin. Coconut oil is a common base ingredient in skin care products like creams, lotions, and soaps because it can help soothe skin and prevent dryness. It can also help in the treatment of many skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and even acne.

 

Acne

Little research has been done into whether coconut oil can help treat acne, although the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil do have known antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil is naturally high in lauric acid, which has anti-bacterial properties that can help kill the bacteria responsible for acne. On its own, lauric acid has been demonstrated to kill P. acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.

One study found that lauric acid was even more effective at killing acne-causing bacteria than benzoyl peroxide, a common acne treatment, and it may help with the inflammation the bacteria causes.

 

Dermatitis

Dermatitis refers to inflammation of the skin and it can be a sign of a staph infection. Coconut oil has been found to reduce staphylococcal colonization on the skin. In a randomized controlled study, coconut oil was found to clear 95% of staphylococcal colonization in people with atopic dermatitis without the use of antibiotics.

 

Psoriasis and Eczema

Eczema and psoriasis are common skin problems that can result from many possible causes. Coconut oil is rich in antimicrobial and antibacterial fatty acids that can help soothe skin during a flare-up and reduce inflammation. The lauric acid and capyrlic acid in coconut oil also help to reduce flaking and itching while nourishing the skin.

coconut oil on skin

Heart Health and Coconut Oil

Coconut oil’s heart health benefits are somewhat controversial as it does contain saturated fats. Still, research has shown that the lauric acid in coconut oil helps prevent issues that can cause heart disease, particularly high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Coconut oil is believed to be better than vegetable oils at lowering blood pressure because it contains medium-chain fatty acids. The polyunsaturated fats like Omega-6 fatty acids in vegetable oils cause blood vessels to constrict, but the Omega-3 fatty acids in coconut oil appear to widen blood vessels while relieving inflammation.

Several studies have also demonstrated coconut oil can help lower cholesterol levels. One study conducted at the University of Kerala found that virgin coconut oil can reduce total cholesterol levels, phospholipids, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Researchers also found that it can boost good HDL cholesterol levels. Another study in women found that coconut oil reduced total and LDL cholesterol while boosting HDL cholesterol when compared to soybean oil.

 

Alzheimer’s Disease and Coconut Oil

Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia that affects an estimated 5.5 million Americans. About 1/3 of seniors today die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia and it kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Researchers have observed that Alzheimer’s patients often have a reduced ability to utilize glucose or sugar for energy in certain areas of the brain. This is similar to the problem diabetics face when their bodies fail to produce the insulin necessary to move sugar into cells.

The link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s has even become strong enough for some medical researchers to call Alzheimer’s “type 3 diabetes.” While Japanese researchers have found that diabetics are at a higher risk of dementia, even when the disease is managed well, researchers have also found that people with mild Alzheimer’s experience a boost in memory function after receiving insulin.

It has been speculated that ketones can offer an alternative source of energy to these malfunctioning brain cells to potentially reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms. Ketone bodies are a biological byproduct of the digestion process of coconut oil and these ketone bodies are one of the few alternative fuel sources available to brain cells when glucose can’t be used efficiently, as is the case with Alzheimer’s patients.

Ketones are not naturally produced by the body in high levels except through a diet that is extremely low-carb. Consuming coconut oil, however, can create a temporary state of hyperketonemia which boosts the number of ketone bodies in the blood.

One 2006 study found that consuming medium-chain triglycerides resulted in immediate improvement in brain function in people who had milder forms of the disease. Other studies have supported these findings.

 

Coconut Oil and UTIs

While the modern approach to treating urinary tract infections (UTIs) is the use of antibiotics, the medical field is also concerned about the overuse of antibiotics and an increasing number of drug-resistant forms of bacteria. Coconut oil may be a potential treatment for the urgency, frequency, and painful urination associated with a UTI.

Urinary tract infections occur when E. coli gets into the bladder or kidney and multiplies. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil function as a natural antibiotic to disrupt the coating on E. coli and kill the bacteria cells. One study even found that coconut oil works to directly protect the liver from damage.

 

Inflammation, Arthritis, and Coconut Oil

By 2040, it’s estimated that 78 million adults in the U.S. (or 26%) will have arthritis. The risk of arthritis increases with age and it’s the leading cause of disability among adults.

Coconut oil may be an effective remedy for inflammation and arthritis. According to a study conducted in India, the antioxidants in virgin coconut oil were found to be more effective than leading medications at treating arthritis and inflammation.

Another recent study found that coconut oil may be an effective remedy for relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) without the side effects of prescription medications that are not very effective. This study involving lab rats found that a formulation made from coconut oil was more effective at reducing chronic inflammation of the joints than a pharmaceutical NSAID.

Anti-Viral and Anti-Bacterial Benefits of Coconut Oil

The lauric acid in coconut oil has natural antiviral properties that were discovered by Dr. Kabara, a professor at the Universities of Detroit and Michigan. He was also responsible for discovering the immune system-boosting properties of the fatty acids in breast milk, which is also high in lauric acid.

Dr. Kabara’s work led to the discovery that lauric acid is converted into a monoglyceride known as Monolaurin, which fights germs and works against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Monolaurin can deactivate HIV, hepatitis C, the herpes simplex virus, and the measles virus in a lab setting. It’s also effective at fighting two particular forms of bacteria: Listeria Monocytogenes which causes Listeriosis and Staphylococcus Aureus, which causes Toxic Shock Syndrome, cellulitus, impetigo, and other infections. Monolaurin works by liquifying the fatty membrane of the virus cells. In bacteria, it disrupts their ability to form toxins.

According to Dr. Kabara’s research, the lauric acid in coconut oil only shows these effects when it is broken into monoglycerides before it’s digested. Breast milk naturally contains an enzyme that breaks lauric acid into Monolaurin.

 

Candida Yeast Infections and Coconut Oil

Candida is the most common type of yeast that’s found in the intestinal tract, mouth, and vagina and it’s a common cause of fungal infections of the skin and mouth. Yeast infections, including thrush, a yeast infection of the mouth that typically affects newborns, are usually treated with anti-fungal medication, but research indicates that the active ingredients in coconut oil may be just as effective.

 

Researchers at the Center of Oral Health at the University of Kentucky found that lauric acid and caprylic acid in coconut oil are effective at killing 3 strains of candida. A similar study published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy found that capyric acid was the fastest and most effective way to kill three strains of candida.

virgin coconut oil

Choosing a Coconut Oil Product

Coconut oil comes in many types and levels of quality, just like olive oil. Coconut oil can be categorized as virgin, organic, extra-organic, refined, and unrefined. In general, virgin and organic coconut oil are best. Regular or refined coconut oil is usually produced from pieces of coconut meat or copra that is dried in the sun before it is sent to factories where chemicals are added to leach out the oil. High temperature is used to liquefy and purify the oil. Refined coconut oil usually has no flavor or coconut scent and it’s primarily used for cooking.

Virgin or organic coconut oil is made from fresh coconuts. The coconut meat is typically hand-pressed and the milk is fermented to produce a rich coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is not exposed to high heat for a more pure product with higher levels of lauric and capyrlic acid that can be damaged in intense heat.

There is generally no difference between virgin and extra-virgin coconut oil, however. As you compare brands, consider the following:

  • Is it refined, deodorized, or bleached? Most coconut oils that are deodorized, bleached, or refined do not offer the same health benefits and there is no way to know how much of the healthy fatty acids remain after the intense manufacturing process and chemical exposure.
  • Is it certified organic? A product that has been certified organic by the USDA ensures it has not been processed with additives, artificial fertilizers, or pesticides.
  • Are there hydrogenated fats or trans-fatty acids? A coconut oil with hydrogenated or trans-fatty acids can increase the risk of heart disease.
  • How was it processed? Look for a coconut oil that was expeller-pressed, fermented, or cold-pressed. Expeller-pressed involves placing the raw coconut meat into a press to extract coconut milk that is fermented and passed through centrifuges to separate the milk from the oil. Cold-pressed involves using grated fresh coconut meat that is dehydrated at a low temperature that is pressed to produce oil. Fermentation is an older process that involves mixing the coconut meat with water and allowing it to ferment to produce curd and oil on the surface.

Cooking With Coconut Oil

It’s usually recommended to eat 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day for ideal results. There are many ways to add coconut oil to your diet, including using it as a cooking oil, replacing butter in recipes, or adding it to coffee or smoothies. Here’s a guide for using coconut oil in the kitchen.

Unrefined or organic coconut oil has a very strong coconut aroma and flavor which can add interest to your meals. This makes it easy to use coconut oil in recipes that already incorporate coconut milk or coconut flakes, including many baked goods and Thai recipes.

 

Storing Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is best kept in a cool area out of direct sunlight. It has a very low melting point of 78 degrees. When coconut oil is kept in an environment warmer than this, it becomes a liquid, but it can easily be converted back to solid form by chilling it. When using room temperature coconut oil, stir it before scooping it to mix in the floating solid material on top. When you are measuring chilled coconut oil, spoon it into a measuring cup and pack it down for an accurate measurement.

 

Stir-Fry and Saute with Coconut Oil

Cooking with coconut oil is easy; simply use it in place of the type of oil called for in your favorite recipe. You can use higher heat than you can with olive oil without the coconut oil burning, but you should still watch for the oil to begin smoking or turning gray or white, which means it’s been overheated. Virgin coconut oil has a smoke point around 350°F and refined coconut oil can withstand temperatures of up to 450°F.

 

Baking with Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is often used in vegan baking recipes because it can easily replicate the role of butter. The high saturated fat content of coconut oil is similar to the profile of butter which means it can even be used in pastry recipes. You can also use solid or refrigerated coconut oil pulsed into pie crust and dough batter as you would butter.

When you are replacing butter with coconut oil, use about 25% less butter than the called-for amount of butter because coconut oil is almost pure fat and a little goes a long way. You can add just a bit of extra liquid to accommodate for the moisture that butter would give off as it melts.

 

Other Ways to Use with Coconut Oil

Here are some final ideas for using coconut oil in the kitchen:

  • Drizzle on lobster or popcorn. Like golden butter, coconut oil has a very sweet and slightly buttery flavor when it’s heated.
  • Toss veggies with coconut oil and roast as usual. This will produce a crisp texture and delicious caramelized flavor.
  • Rub chicken with coconut oil and seasonings before roasting.
  • Add a spoonful of coconut oil to your favorite smoothie.
  • Replace the butter in your pancake recipe with coconut oil.
  • Pan-fry fish with coconut oil for a tropical flavor.
  • Melt chocolate with coconut oil to create chocolate shells over ice cream or bananas.

With the many benefits and uses for coconut oil. It’s time to add this amazing food to your diet and get rid of all the processed oils. So that you can start living a healthier lifestyle today.

Reasons You Should Skip Baby Carrots

baby carrots

 

skip baby carrots

We’ve all chomped on an adorable babycut carrot or two. In the end, they’re so convenient, aren’t they? Baby carrots are generally included in an uncooked vegetable platter and sold by the bagful, finding their way into many children’s lunches, day-in and day-out. It seems like they may be an excellent, healthful snack, right? Here are some reason why you should skip baby carrots.

Where do baby carrots come from?

carrots

Baby carrots come from imperfect whole carrots, which can be then processed and rinsed in chlorine.

For all of you moms out there that feed your children baby carrots, you understand that they have a tendency taste better than oldschool carrot sticks. They’re the ideal length and sweeter than your common cut-up carrot. All you want to do is cut open a bag, and voila — a nicelycherished, snack is prepared. Slather them in processed dip and away you go.

So how are they so different? How is it that these carrots have flawlessly rounded edges? They don’t appear to have a core, and they’re in fact, sweeter.

The reasons why these carrots are better left on the shelf will be explained soon.  Before we get into that, I just want to mention that those baby carrots weren’t always questionable. In fact, California farmer, Mike Yurosek, was very forwardthinking when he started the baby carrot revolution.

Originally, he become tired of throwing away so much produce, primarily based on aesthetic imperfections. Food waste gives me a pit in my belly — so, more power to him! After sending imperfect, fully grown carrots thru an industrial green bean cutter, then potato peeler, the babycut carrot was born. Farmers and carrot enthusiasts unite! Mike discovered an answer that benefited both him and his customers.

Baby carrots are heavily processed

Despite the fact that you can find baby carrots (basically very young carrots), they’re often slightly less nutritious than completely mature carrots. On the other hand, babycut carrots go through a huge processing routine. It is throughout this production system that those carrots pass from a healthful, alternative snack, to somewhat of a big-scale, money-making science experiment.

Why you have to avoid baby carrots

Before the final rinse, these pre-cut carrots are given a chlorine rinse with the intention to keep away from bacterial boom and in the long run, food poisoning. Sadly, that is true, even for natural types. Even though companies declare that the amount of chlorine is within the set limits, being akin to what we find in our faucet water, parents haven’t been too pleased.

At the end of the day, primarily based on how they’re pre-cut, agencies ought to take the necessary steps which will prevent troubles, specifically in terms of E.coli. So, while you should consider it, the chance surrounding food-borne micro organism is some thing we have created. Carrots don’t need to be prepared this mannerbut they’re, created totally on convenience.

What’s the solution?

carrots in hands

Keep away from ingesting baby carrots by buying fresh produce out of your local farmers.

Sure, the reality that baby carrots are rinsed in chlorine makes your skin crawl a bit. However, it’s not the only food that is dealt with in this manner. Any pre-cut vegetables undergo a similar method — even natural salad mixes. It’s a sad fact, as we keep to move towards choices that trump convenience over nutrition.

I’m not saying which you need to begin growing carrots in your garden. I am, however, suggesting an alternative to this quick-and-easy snack. Simply buy whole carrots from your local farmer(s) and cut them your self. In my opinion, as a society, we spend a long way too little time in the kitchen. It’s time that we begin mending the disconnect between us and our food.

What about nutrition?

The reality of the problem is, our meals are being manipulated more and more. Not only are we confronted with mountains of processed food at the local grocery store, but the manner wherein our meals are grown has also changed. New carrot breeds have been developed. When these are compared to wild carrots, it’s been found that key phytochemicals, such as thymol, are not existent.

As we control certain vegetables, their health benefits start to dip. Instead of retaining a high levels of nutrients, corporations are more concerned with maintaining food with longer shelf lives, and make extra cash. It’s a sad story, but we’re not powerless.

Vote with your dollar

Whenever you purchase an item, no matter what it is, you’re basically voting. Supply and demand are nothing new. If the demand decreases, so will the need to provide. I’m a sturdy advocate for environmental stewardship. I truly agree with that if we all start to do our part, we are able to make a much more significant effect.

Start inside your own network and get people speaking. Start buying local and get to recognize your farmers! Although we live in a busy world, our food supply does not need to be so complicated. We shouldn’t have to question everything we consume.

The takeaway here is, although you may not acquire key vitamins from baby carrots, why would you opt for a less healthy version? Skip baby carrots and get into the habit of cutting up your own carrot sticks. You can also include a number fresh uncooked vegetables to snack on. I mean, what’s better than red pepper and hummus?

Let’s move back to fundamentals. Sourcing components that awaken our our bodies, at the same time as lowering the environmental effect of our choices. In any case, as the gifted Julia child once stated, “You don’t have to cook fancy masterpieces — just right food, from fresh ingredients.”

Use These 8 Essential Oils In The Kitchen For Improved Health And Flavor

cooking oil

cooking oil

You’ve probably heard that it’s very important to be mindful of the oils you cook with. Many of us recognize the benefits of cooking with coconut oil or using olive oil in recipes. However, did you know that there are a number of essential oils that are extremely good for cooking as well? This is good news because essential oils have an extensive range of therapeutic effects. Here are a few which you may want to consider adding to your favorite recipes.

Lavender

Lavender oil is known for its ability to help you relax, feel calm and reduce anxiety. It is because of this that some people enjoy putting lavender sachets on their bedside tables. However, lavender oil is great for use in food, like desserts. Many boutique ice cream shops now provide flavors like vanilla lavender — and for good reason! It’s mildly floral flavor complements many dessert flavors nicely. It is well worth noting that, because of its relaxing effects, you may not want to eat lavender oil right before high-energy activities or tasks that require significant concentration.

Peppermint

peppermint oil
Cooking with peppermint essential oil can help to ease tension headaches.

It’s well known what makes peppermint so extraordinary. It can be added to all varieties of recipes — mainly desserts — to add a hint of cool refreshment. What’s more, research has proven that peppermint oil can be effective at treating irritable bowel syndrome, itching and irritated skin, congestion and tension headaches.

Bergamot

Bergamot oil is regularly added to Earl grey tea, so in case you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy this essential oil. it can be added to different teas as well or used in pastry recipes, in case you enjoy scones or coffee cakes with your tea. Bergamot oil has been shown to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Cinnamon

cinnamon

A classic favorite for lots of us. Cinnamon provides a warm, sweet, slightly spicy flavor to many recipes. I can be delivered to beverages like tea or hot chocolate for a bit extra kick. research suggests that cinnamon oil has a variety of health benefits, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic effects.

Cardamom

Cardamom often works well with cinnamon, in terms of flavor. It’s great in drinks like chai tea. It adds some spice and warmth both to desserts and savory dishes. As this study demonstrates, cardamom oil has been shown to have antispasmodic and analgesic benefits.

Ginger

ginger
Cooking with ginger essential oil can help to treat an upset stomach.

Almost everyone loves treats like ginger snaps. Ginger works great in many recipes, from gingerbread cookies to sushi, which is often accompanied by pickled ginger. Ginger is an excellent digestive aid, as well. It helps to promote proper digestion and can be used as a treatment for gas. Many people also use it as a treatment for motion sickness, as an alternative to medications like Dramamine.

Thyme

Thyme is very tasty in savory dishes, especially those that involve meat. It’s an amazing herb to use if you’re making bone broth. It’s excellent in soups, stews, and recipes with similar flavors. Research has shown that thyme oil is effective at killing breast cancer cells, fighting acne, improving menstrual regularity, balancing hormones, fighting candida and more.

Anise

anise
Cooking with anise essential oil adds a pleasant flavor to a lot of dishes.

Anise is great in lots of baked goods, as well as soups and other savory dishes. It is similar to fennel in terms of flavor, in that it has a slightly licorice-like flavor. Studies indicate that anise has antifungal, antiviral, antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. it is able to also have digestive benefits and hypoglycemic effects in diabetes sufferers.

Cooking with essential oils

Clearly, including essential oils in your favorite recipes could have a number of important health benefits. It may add extra flavor to your dishes, as well.

It is significant to note that consuming essential oils is a subject that isn’t without some controversy, but due to the fact that essential oils are so concentrated, it is thought by some that eating them can be unsafe. Even some of the most popular essential oils should not be consumed above certain dosages. And a few essential oils are definitely not safe to eat and should not be used in cooking. Before adding any essential oils to your food, it is a good idea to consult with a naturopath or other medical professional.

However, many believe that adding small amounts of safe essential oils to your recipes can be an easy way to enhance the flavor and positive health impact of many of your favorite meals.

5 Reasons for Women to Orgasm Every Day

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woman in bed

You exercise, brush your teeth and try get enough sleep. You try to eat right, you take your vitamins and you manage your stress. Your health is a priority to you and you are doing all you can to manage it. But have you considered having more sex?

Keep reading for five good reasons to schedule some time between the sheets today!

The Physiology of Sex 

There are four stages of sexual excitement for women. The first stage is the sexual excitement stage. During this stage the body responds to the anticipation of sexual activity by increasing heart rate, blood pressure and respiration.  This is the stage where you get that healthy glow, which is a result of the blood flow increasing beneath the skin. All of that pumping blood increases the oxygen to your skin, which can make it look and feel brighter and softer. Increased circulation also helps flush out toxins from the body and the skin is often were we see the visual evidence of internal toxins such as acne. Improved blood flow, hormone regulation and oxygenation can even help plump up your lips!

The second stage is called the sexual arousal stage. In this stage the heightened blood flow continues, increases even, and muscle tension begins. This kind of muscle tension is called ‘dynamic tension’ and repeated practice can contribute to better overall muscular health, tone and strength.

The third stage of sexual arousal in women is orgasm. This phase is the shortest, lasting only a few seconds to a minute or so. During this stage there is a strong release of sexual tension, allowing muscles to relax completely. Hormones flood the body as the uterus contracts and respirations reach their peak allowing for rapid oxygenation. Many experts agree that the benefits of this stage are even available to women who experience orgasm without a partner.

The last stage is called resolution. During this stage all of the increased body system activities (respirations, heart rate and muscle tension) begins to return to baseline. The flood of hormones and oxygen is still present contributing to a general feeling of well-being, increased intimacy and often drowsiness or mild fatigue. Some women will be ready very quickly to begin the whole endeavor from the beginning at this point!

More Sex = Better Health

Aside from the physical activity component of sex – and that is no small thing! –making time for weekly sex can add to an improved quality of life across the board!

     1. Improved mood – People who have sex weekly are happier. This is according to a study of 30,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Toronto-Mississauga.  The study’s lead researcher lead researcher Amy Muise says “Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you don’t need to have sex everyday as long as you’re maintaining that connection.” It is easy to believe that couples who have sex daily are better connected and happier than those who have sex less frequently – but the science doesn’t support that idea . Many busy women will be glad to know that it is the connection – and its consistency, more than its frequency – that most contributes to a sense of happiness with their partner.

But even if you can’t find time to be intimate every week – every bit counts! Sexual intercourse floods the brain with a happy hormonal cocktail – oxytocin (great for bonding), dopamine (bring on the good feelings) and serotonin (stress? What stress?). All of these combine to leave you feeling fine no matter how often you make it happen.

     2. Better cognition – A 2010 study found evidence that sexual activity stimulates cell growth in the hippocampus, a region of the brain that plays a big part in long term memory. This increase in neurons, or neurogenesis, can lead to clearer thinking and improved cognitive function.

Researchers at Rutgers University have been studying the female orgasm for more than 25 years. They used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the female brain during orgasm and found that more than 30 areas of the brain were activated! Those activated areas are receiving increased blood flow and that blood is carrying nutrients and oxygen.

     3. Pain relief – Researchers at the University of Munster, Germany have concluded that sex can provide relief to migraine and cluster headache sufferers. Next time you feel a headache coming on, skip the ibuprofen and reach for your sweetie instead.

     4. Better Skin – Another hormonal byproduct of sexual intercourse is dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA. DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands as part of the stress response, and sex falls under the good stress category! DHEA plays a part in many aspects of health including better skin, hair, weight control and adrenal health. DHEA supplement use rose after studies suggested that DHEA could contribute to a higher sex drive – but experts caution that it is easily possible – and potentially dangerous – to have too much DHEA. Thankfully, sex is a natural way to increase production of the hormone and experience its many health benefits!

Sex can also contribute to increased collagen – the basis of connective tissue that is the hallmark of younger-looking skin. Collagen production is amplified through physical exercise, specifically increased heart rate and blood pressure and improved respirations. All of these are benefits of sexual intercourse.

     5. Less stress & anxiety  – The benefits of sex on stress and anxiety may be more about getting ‘turned off’ than in getting ‘turned on’ – at least as far as the brain is concerned. This is according to researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who viewed PET scans of women during orgasm. They found that activity in the hippocampus and the amygdala both shut down during orgasmic experiences. These areas of the brain are instrumental in regulating alertness and anxiety. The study’s authors said their findings support the commonly held belief that stress and anxiety decrease with sexual activity, and they have the brain scans to prove it! 

Better As You Age

So there you have the research that shows there are many ways that a healthy sex life contributes to better health overall. Frequent sex contributes to greater cognition, less stress, improved skin and even pain relief. Physical and emotional health gains are to be found by scheduling more time for physical intercourse and intimacy. But perhaps one of the biggest benefits to sex in your 30s and beyond is the clear understanding that your most valuable sexual organ isn’t between your legs – it’s between your ears!

Adding Vegetables to Classic Dishes

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mixed vegatables

mixed vegatables

It’s true, all of us need to up our veggie consumption tremendously. It’s amazing at how many of our kids don’t even know what veggies are.
In today’s world we have made meat and starch our principal sources of meals for so long that we’re missing out on important, even vital, phytonutrients that best plants can deliver us.
Lots of our youngsters are obese and, let’s admit it, so are we. By some estimates more than 60 percentage of us could be labeled as overweight. It is definitely an epidemic.
Thankfully, this problem can easily be remedied via simply including in more vegetables to our diets. Unfortunately, many of us are reluctant.

 

But there are easy methods to get in more vegetables: 

 

Classic mac and cheese can get a makeover in an instant and most people won’t even notice, but they will notice that it tastes extra special. Now, it would be best if you made home made mac and cheese and not the boxed chemically enhanced variety, but it could work either way. Simply shred 1 Cup of yellow squash per serving and stir into the macaroni and cheese before baking. another sneaky way is to purchase noodles made from vegetables!
Any Italian noodle dish can be veganized through pureeing any range of vegetables but particularly zucchini, carrots, yellow squash, and bell peppers. Try using your food processor or a magic bullet personal blender to blend any of the veggies to mush, and then simply add them in a little at a time to your usual sauce to see how it tastes. With lasagna you may even add in sliced veggies of any kind and everyone will still adore it.
If you usually consume scrambled eggs for breakfast, there’s no need to make a difficult omelet to add in vegetables. Shred or chop onion, green pepper, tomato, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, herbs and spices, and pretty much any type of squash and sauté before putting into the eggs for a stunning and scrumptious change of pace for your morning. You can do it all in one pan, sauté the veggies first, then pour the eggs over the veggies.
We all devour “veggie fried rice” from time to time, however how many veggies does it really have? At the store you can purchase in the fresh section broccoli slaw mix. try adding that to your veggie stir fry next time to up the content of veggies, and the flavor. Simply stir fry all of the vegetables first, then toss in the rice. if you use brown rice and much less oil you’ll have an even healthier treat with out losing out on flavor.
If you want to make breads or muffins you can usually up the vegetable quota by including in some shredded veggies to the batter. Shredded or pureed carrots, or zucchini taste extra good in spiced desserts. Believe it or not you can put them in brownies too, if you puree them. It’s a great way to get in an extra serving of vegetables without even noticing.

 

You never have to go without your 5 servings of vegetables again if you’re sneaky.

Healthy Feet the Foundation for Total Body Wellness

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woman stretching

woman stretching

Having healthy feet has the potential to improve how your entire body moves, but most of us hide our feet in shoes where they’re out of sight and out of mind.

You’re probably familiar with the way your car works: Tires contact the ground, translating the force up through the wheels and transmission to propel the car forward. You know that the condition of your tires determines how your car feels on the road and worn out tires can’t absorb the impact of a bumpy or grip on icy roads. Our feet work similarly for us, and the condition of our feet determines how well they serve our body.

Foot pain, unsteady ankles and conditions like plantar fasciitis or neuromas are signs of a problem, but there are more subtle signs that your feet need attention. Some indicators that your feet may be starting to weaken are loss of balance, tripping easily or often or losing your ground.

Hard-to-ignore symptoms may vary from swelling and bunions to hammertoes, calluses and corns. Pain in your knees, ankles, hips and low back may also relate to declining function way down in the foot. Maybe you are comfortable in heels, but going barefoot is killing you. Maybe you often get cold feet, literally.

Many factors cause our feet to lose their nature-given ninja status. For one, our shoes constrict the foot and its movable parts; shoes also reduce sensation and deprive us of direct contact with the ground. We also lack natural, untamed by man, walking spaces — in a natural environment your foot would be molding to pebbles, rocks, grass, boulders and inclines. Most of us live with feet only touching flat and solid ground, so it’s no wonder we lack mobility and strength — those attributes simply aren’t required anymore.

SYMPTOMS OF FEET IN NEED OF REPAIR

BUNIONS

Also known as hallux valgus, this deformity appears as we lose the strength in our core, hips and feet, and the whole body weighs onto the inside of the ball of the foot with every step you take.

HAMMER TOES

The four smaller toes of the foot sometimes get stuck curled up and under. That often starts as the toes are being crammed into too small or narrow a shoe or sock or by the muscular action of grabbing onto a flip-flop.

CALLUSES AND CORNS

These show up when your shoes rub against your skin, creating pressure and friction. The body responds by laying down extra skin, but then the raised surface itself becomes another place to press and rub against.

TOES TOO CRAMPED TOGETHER

Remember how spread out the Flintstones’ feet were? Your toes are naturally supposed to have space between them. That allows the metatarsals to meet the phalanges in good alignment, ensuring pain-free and smooth transition over joints of the foot.

FLAT FEET OR PANCAKE FEET

You don’t need high arches to have functional feet, but if the whole foot contacts the ground and you have some aches and pains, you may need to look deeper.

ARCH TOO HIGH AND RIGID

People with rigid and high arches usually tend to hang out on the outside of the foot and have a hard time creating stability through the front of the foot.

3 Steps To More Healthy Feet

There are many simple exercises you can do anytime throughout your day to improve your foot shape and strength, but let’s get started with these three for healthy feet.

1. STRETCH YOUR CALVES IN THE MORNING

Grab a towel, roll it up to the thickness of a wine bottle and put it in front of you. Space your feet hip-width apart. Step forward, and place one foot at the edge of the towel, keeping the foot straight. Walk forward with the other foot until you feel a stretch in the calf of the front foot. Keep the pelvis from rotating, and do not bend at the waist. Keep weight in the heel of the stretching leg and both legs straight. You can step forward or back to adjust the amount of stretch. Hold for 1 minute on each side, and repeat several times.

2. STRETCH YOUR TOES

You can give your toes a great stretch by interlacing your fingers and toes for a “foot shake.” Simply thread your fingers between your toes and hold for a while. TV time is a great time to stretch those toes.

3. MASSAGE YOUR FEET

Use a tennis ball to massage your feet daily. Place it directly under your foot, and roll back and forth, focusing on releasing tighter, stickier spots. Don’t use too much weight. It should feel good.

Keep in mind that it takes time to recover your foot health after years of stuffing them in shoes and walking on manufactured and manicured ground. Ultimately, your shoes need to change as much as your feet, but giving your feet some tender loving care is a great start.

5 Habits For a Healthy Heart

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Picnic With Healthy Food

Picnic With Healthy Food

Unless heart disease runs in your family, you may not think much about the health of your ticker. However, heart disease is the Number 1 cause of death in the U.S., and one in three deaths is due to heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. That being said having a healthy heart is important if you want to live a long life.

The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can help prevent these diseases. First and foremost: If you smoke, find the support you need to stop. Smoking increases the risk of both heart disease and stroke by 2-4 times, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Beyond that, these five simple and inexpensive strategies have been shown to help keep your heart healthy. The more you do, the better, but even one can give your ticker a boost.

1. BE SOCIAL

“It’s important to maintain a sense of connection,” says Johanna Paola Contreras, MD, an assistant professor at Mount Sinai Hospital. Loneliness and a lack of relationships were associated with an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke in a recent study in the journal Heart.

“Keep in touch with family, friends and people who you are close to and who make you feel well,” Contreras recommends. Getting together in person is best, but video chatting or calling are also good alternatives.

Also, do things that make you feel good, such as walking in a park, eating foods that energize you, volunteering at an animal shelter or dancing around your home like nobody’s watching.

“If you feel good about yourself, you will make better health choices,” Contreras says.

2. DO CARDIO AND RESISTANCE TRAINING

“Healthy people should do as much physical activity as they can and want to,” says Jeremy M. Parker, MD, a cardiologist with AnMed Health Carolina Cardiology. “There are data to suggest that [activities such as] running, walking, weight lifting and rowing all have cardiovascular benefits.” Research has also found that more active people have lower rates of heart disease.

The American Heart Association recommends a mix of aerobic exercise and strength training every week. Their guidelines advise at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days a week, plus at least 2 days of strength training.

You don’t need to fixate on the numbers, though. Parker recommends simply moving at least a little bit on more days than not. Contreras also suggests working movement into your day, like taking the stairs as often as possible, going on a bike ride with your kids or catching up with friends on a hike rather than over drinks.

3. EAT THE RIGHT FOODS

“Nutrition is hugely important in heart disease prevention,” Parker says. Several studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease. The diet’s emphasis on fresh, unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish and healthy fats (like nuts and olive oil) for providing the cardiovascular benefits.

Other good options are lean meats, beans and a little red wine in moderation (one glass a day for women; two per day for men). Of course, you should also be mindful of portion sizes, Contreras says.

4. FIND WAYS TO MANAGE STRESS

Stress is a proven risk factor for heart disease and stroke. And based on findings in a January 2017 study, scientists just discovered a possible reason why.

Researchers recorded the brain activity of almost 300 adults and found that higher activity in the amygdala — which is involved in emotional response — was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. More amygdala activity was also linked to more bone marrow activity and inflammation in the arteries, which may cause the heart risk, the study authors say.

“This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological well-being,” lead author Ahmed Tawakol, MD, said in a news release.

There are many ways to relieve stress; the key is to find what works best for you. Whether you do yoga, meditate, get massages, take a bath, journal or something else entirely, it’s important to dedicate regular time to this, says Parker. Put it in your calendar, if that helps you make it a habit.

5. GET YOUR ZZZ’S

One thing most of us dream about is more sleep. Unfortunately, several studies suggest that inadequate sleep can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. “Shorter sleep duration may increase inflammation and may also be associated with hypertension,” Parker says.

Contreras recommends aiming for six to eight hours of sleep each night. “Everyone is different and some people can work and function on less hours of sleep, however that does not mean they are not at risk,” she adds.

Establish a healthy bedtime routine that avoids these bad presleep habits and make sleep a priority.

All of these things will help keep your heart strong and healthy.

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