Recipe: Cashew Curry

A new study in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal suggests that cashew seed extract may play an important role in preventing and treating diabetes.

Aside from being a popular and tasty snack, cashews are also excellent to cook with. For those who enjoy the spices of life, here is a recipe for Cashew Curry.


  • ½ pound whole cashews
  • 2 T organic olive oil
  • 5 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 2 inch piece of lemongrass or zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ t turmeric
  • 1 T coriander
  • 2 chile peppers, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 slices ginger
  • ½ t salt
  • 15 oz unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 T cilantro, chopped
1. Sauté the sliced shallots in olive oil in a wok or frying pan, stirring occasionally, until golden, for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the curry leaves, lemon, turmeric, coriander, chile peppers, garlic, ginger, and salt, and cook until fragrant for about 5-10 minutes.

3. Add coconut milk and chopped cilantro and simmer until thickened for another 5-10 minutes.

4. Remove curry leaves and serve with diabetic rice or brown rice. Makes four servings.

Source: NJN Network

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #14

Adjust your workspace. Avoid "computer neck" by adjusting your monitors so you are looking at them straight, and by realigning the keyboards so that your elbows are slightly bent and shoulders are relaxed.

Source: Canadian Living

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

Top 10 Reasons to Drink Tea

There have been many articles written in the past few years (including on this site 1 2) about the benefits of caffeine and in particular, green tea. This list is brought to you courtesy of

10. Less caffeine than coffee
9. Keeps you hydrated
8. Contains fluoride and tannins
7. Calorie-free
6. Protects your bones
5. Increases metabolism
4. Bolsters you immune system
3. Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
2. Protects against cancer
1. Antioxidants

Source: iVillage

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5 Steps to Protect Against Extreme Heat

By Kathy N. Johnson, PhD, CMC

Extreme heat is a leading cause of preventable death among seniors and with recent record-breaking temperatures, it is important seniors and caregivers know how to stay safe in hot weather. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more people in the United States die from extreme heat than earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning, floods and tornadoes combined. Of these preventable heat-related deaths, seniors account for 40 percent, according to Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, founder of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging. As people age, their bodies cannot cool down as well as when they were younger. Elderly people may not feel as hot when temperatures are very high and are less likely to feel thirsty when their bodies are near dehydration, according to experts at the American Geriatric Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging.

Here are five tips to help seniors stay safe in hot weather:

1. Seek an air-conditioned environment.
If you do not have air-conditioning at home, visit an air-conditioned shopping mall, restaurant or library. During extreme heat warnings, cities often set up cooling centers for the public to escape the heat. If you cannot leave your home, take a cool shower or place cool towels around pulse points such as the neck and armpits.

2. Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated, low-sugar beverages.
When the body sweats, it loses vital salts and minerals, so grab a sports drink or a Pedialyte. If your liquid intake is limited, eat cold fruits that contain high amounts of water like apples, watermelon and cantaloupe.

3. Stay out of the sun during the warmest parts of the day.
This is usually between 10 or 11 am and 3 or 4 pm when one should wear weather appropriate clothing that is loose fitting with light fabrics.

4. Use a buddy system.
Ask a friend or relative to call and check on you twice a day. If you know someone 60 or older, call to check on them twice a day.

5. Hire a caregiver from a reputable agency.
Find a caregiver agency that specializes in in-home senior care and who is trained in senior safety. They can provide care on an hourly or live-in basis, depending on the senior’s needs.


Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

Study: Having Close Friends Leads to Longer Life

By Kevin Lee

Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, an associate psychology professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah has co-written a study showing that people with strong close relationships are 50% more likely to live longer than those without. These relationships have been linked to lower blood pressure, better immune functioning and decreasing hospitalization length. In other words, the risks associated with being isolated and alone are as severe as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, being an alcoholic or being inactive and obese. The report analyzed 148 studies of over 300,000 people with an average age of 64 evenly divided between males and females. The participants were followed for an average of 7.5 years and showed that those over 18 with strong relationships lived an average of 3.7 years longer.
"Our relationships can have direct health benefits. They can help us cope with stress. We know we can count on people and have those resources available." - Holt-Lunstad
Having close friends or a support network of caring people can be crucial to getting through the tougher moments in life and has been linked to the stress-regulating hormone, oxytocin. Sharing problems with one another is an excellent stress reliever and gives people the sense that their pain is not exclusive to themselves. The study states that being part of a social network makes people feel needed and boosts self-esteem leading to taking better care of oneself.
"Social contact is to humans what water is to fish: you don't notice it until it's missing and then you realize it's really important" - John Cacioppo, University of Chicago
Holt-Lunstad suggests that the decline of inter-generational living arrangements and increasing affluence are intensifying the trend of isolation among middle- and higher-aged people. A 2006 study in the American Sociological Review found that "over the last two decades, there has been a three-fold increase in the number of Americans who report having no confidante" With the emerging role of technology in people's social lives, Holt-Lunstad wonders if the trade-off in face time for online time can have the same benefits. As Facebook recently reached its 500 millionth user, we should take time a reflect on the nature of our social interactions. Holt-Lunstad's study, co-authored with Timothy Smith and J. Bradley Layton appears in the current issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.

Source: Globe and Mail, Wednesday July 28 Edition (A2),

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Obesity Harms Women's Memory and Brain Function

According to a new study conducted by Northwestern Medicine, older, heavier women may have more memory issues and poorer brain function than those who are a healthy weight.

The study was conducted on 8,745 women, ages 65 to 79, and it was found that a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) had a “detrimental effect” on memory and brain function. Even further, the study discovered that women whose excess weight is carried around their hips rather than around their waists experienced even more memory loss and decreased brain function. While there are still more tests to be conducted, researchers believe that this phenomenon may have something to do with the type of fat that accumulates around the hips. Obese women have more cytokines, which are a type of hormone released from the most common kind of fat in the body.

“The fat may contribute to…Alzheimer’s disease or a restricted blood flow to the brain.” - Diana Kerwin, M.D., Northwestern Medicine
While researchers are still trying to gather more information on this subject, the current findings can help doctors know with whom they need to be the most aggressive about weight.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

Educated People Cope Better With Dementia

British and Finnish researchers have recently discovered that the more education one has, the more one’s risk of developing Dementia decreases.

According to Hanna Keage from Cambridge University, “More education is not associated with any differences in the damage to the brain, but people with higher education can cope with that damage better.”
Keage believes that this may be due to psychological strength gained through better education, which might help people think of ways around their problems raised by dementia. These findings are incredibly important for North American, due to the increasing number of Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients and the growing cost of taking care of those patients. According to Keage, if Dementia could be delayed by two years for Americans over age 50, “there would be nearly two million fewer cases of Dementia over the next 40 years,” which would greatly cut the cost of care for these people.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #13

Sleep with a towel at night. For lower-back pain, roll a small bath towel around a bathrobe sash and tie it around your waist.

Source: Canadian Living

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

Seniors Enter the Digital Age

This article goes into the lives of several seniors citizens to explain how and why they decided to go digital — and are loving it! One woman, Judy Bennett, chose to conquer her fear of computers and take classes at a local senior center in order to feel more connected with her young grandchildren. She signed up on Facebook and now feels much closer with her grandchildren, whom she can view pictures of and send messages to with a few simple clicks.

Bennett is definitely not alone, according to a Pew Internet & American Life survey that reported a 26 percent increase in the amount of 70-75 year-olds using the Internet from 2005 to 2008. Jerry Schulz, who teaches the senior center computer classes that Bennett utilized, says that most people take these classes to connect with their grandchildren, or reconnect with old friends and classmates. She also says that it helps seniors feel connected to the world, and can eliminate some feelings of isolation.
According to Schultz, "most [seniors] have computers; they're just not using them". Many seniors come into his classes wanting to know how to upload and manage their old photographs on their computers and to learn about geneology and family history. A popular application is Skype, which allows seniors to have video and text chats with friends and family. It is important to focus on one area of interest for the senior rather than trying to showcase everything that the Internet has to offer at once. “To get interested in a computer, a person only needs one thing,” Just do one thing and then let it digest.

Schulz says many of his students don't give themselves any credit. “They all think they're dumb,” said Schulz. Often, he hears a family member has already tried to show them how to use the computer and it didn't go well. “They usually don't have the patience to deal with a 70-year-old mind.” Family members may see something as easy or intuitive but that isn't the case for older individuals.

Schultz believes that seniors benefit from the brain activity required to use a computer. “The benefits are just enormous,” said Marion Somers, a geriatric care manager in Los Angeles, “It brings them back to a time when they were younger, more vital.” For some people, their sense of purpose in life can increase.

Somers emphasizes the importance of the proper setting. Older individuals will need a lot of natural and ambient light. Relatives may want to increase the brightness of the screen and also increase the font size to make it easier to read. Some seniors who use bifocals may prefer to get a separate pair of glasses to make reading the computer screen easier. Somers also thinks people should invest in a decent chair, preferably one with arms to make it easier to get out of. She also thinks it is important to tell seniors that computers are not that fragile and they shouldn't worry so much about breaking them.

Schulz starts his classes by going over basic keyboard skills. There are numerous keys on a keyboard that don't appear on a typewriter: Backspace, Delete, Enter, Ctrl, Alt, and on and on. Another basic skill Schulz teaches is how the windows on the computer work, including how to move and re-size them. Security, viruses and spam are also important lessons. Schulz talks about how to recognize a valid link online, versus a risky link.

Many seniors just beginning to learn about computers will not know the proper terminology and may make up their own names for different things. Somers suggests the teacher embrace this terminology and then write it down so, over time, the senior may learn the proper name (for instance, one person called the keyboard the “alphabet block”). Right clicking the mouse is another important tool to learn. Schulz says about 80 percent of class attendees don't know this idea before coming to class. But often it's a very useful tool because some seniors struggle with double clicking. They either pause too long between clicks or move the mouse slightly between clicks. Learning to right click can eliminate the need to double click in many instances.

After their classes many seniors take pride in the knowledge they have acquired. For many, computer literacy feels like a revolution in the way of life.

"I was actually afraid of my computer. It indimidates us," said 70 year-old Mary Pitt before her computer class. However, once she completed the course and gained a greater familiarity with the intimidating machine, her view has completely changed, "I'm sold on computers".

Source: The Bend Bulletin

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #12

Take a tablespoon of ground flax daily. Buy it at the bulk-food store, grind it at home (since our bodies can't digest whole flax) and add it to your cereal. Flax is high in fibre and contains the kind of fat that may reduce certain cancer risks.

Source: Canadian Living

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #11

Talk on two feet. Rather than sitting while talking on the phone, stand. You will stretch your muscles and breathe more deeply, forcing oxygen-rich blood to your brain.

Source: Canadian Living

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Feel Stronger With a Plant-Based Diet

Professional Ironman and Ultra Marathon runner Brendan Brazier relies on a plant-based diet to sustain him through his rigorous training regimen and physically exhausting competitions. While very few of us need to push our bodies to ultra-marathon levels, there are many lessons we can learn from athletes who rely on their bodies to be in top condition. In his book Thrive Fitness, Brazier designs a plant-based training program to help people achieve maximum strength and health. Plants are arguably the healthiest foods to eat because they are rich in essential nutrients and minerals. Here are a few of the building blocks that are essential for peak performance.
Fibrous Vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Green Beans and Peas
  • Watercress
  • Zucchini
  • Onions

Dark Greeny Leafy Vegetables
These are a rich source of chlorophyll which cleanses and oxygenates for endurance and stamina.
  • Beet Greens
  • Mixed Greens
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Collards
  • Dinosaur Kale

Sea Vegetables
They have 10 times the amount of calcium than cow's milk and several times more than red meat.
  • Nori
  • Kelp
  • Hijiki
  • Kombu
  • Wakame
  • Arame
  • Dulse

Starchy Vegetables
  • Potato
  • Turnip
  • Yam
  • Parsnip
  • Squash

High in protein, fibre, and many minerals. Absorbs indigestible sugars that can cause gas.
  • Alfalfa
  • Beans and Peas
  • Lentil
  • Carob
  • Soy
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashews
  • Filberts
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peacan Pine Nuts
  • Pistachios

  • Flaxseed (Omega-3 Fatty Acid)
  • Sesame Seeds (Calcium)
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Gluten-free sources of nutrients
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Wild Rice

Healthy Grains
  • Brown Rice
  • Millet
  • Spelt
  • Teff

Fresh Fruits
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Dates
  • Dragon Fruit
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwis
  • Mangos
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papayas
  • Pears
  • Pineapples
  • Plums
  • Pomegranates

Other Nutritious Foods
  • Agave Nectar
  • Apple Cidar Vinegar
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Ginger
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Stevia Herb
  • Hemp Protein

Source:, Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #10

Eat fish. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna are high in omega-2 fatty acids which lowers blood fat and blood pressure and reduces risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Source: Montreal Gazette

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Older Women Who Drink Three Cups of Coffee Daily Protect Memory

A new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that women age 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee (or the equivalent in tea) per day had less decline over time on tests of memory than women who drank one cup or less of coffee or tea per day. There appears to be no significant between caffeine intake and cognitive performance in men. "Caffeine is a psychostimulant which appears to reduce cognitive decline in women," said lead study author Karen Ritchie, PhD, of INSERM, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, in Montpellier, France. This adds to a growing list of studies demonstrating caffeine`s beneficial effects such as one done by Hameleers et al published in Human Psychopharmacology that linked habitual caffeine consumption with improved long-term memory and faster locomotor speed.
Caffeine appears to reduce cognitive decline, but not significantly in men or persons below the age of 65.

Even better news is the finding that this power increases with age. The older the women, the less the memory loss. The protective effect was most profound among older women in preventing deficits in verbal retrieval and less so with visuospacial memory. However scientists and doctors are not so quick to being prescribing caffeine as treatment just yet. Ritchie adds, "While we have some ideas as to how this works biologically, we need to have a better understanding of how caffeine affects the brain before we can start promoting caffeine intake as a way to reduce cognitive decline, but the results are interesting — caffeine use is already widespread and it has fewer side effects than other treatments for cognitive decline, and it requires a relatively small amount for a beneficial effect." The study also found that caffeine appears to protect seniors from heart disease and death.

Source: Medscape

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #9

Visit your local farmer's market. Aside from the fresh air, good exercise, and access to fresh foods, a visit to the farmer's market can mentally engaging by coversing with the people there and absorbing the various sensual stimulants.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

The Best Beaches in Canada

Wasaga Beach writers and readers have provided their list on the best beaches in Canada. These beaches should definitely be on your list of beautiful places to visit in Canada. Here they are from west to east:

British Columbia
Barnet Marine Park, Burnaby, British Columbia

Long Beach, Tofino and Ucluelet, British Columbia

Wreck Beach, Vancouver, British Columbia

Penticton, British Columbia

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia

Devonshire Beach, Slave Lake, Alberta

Grand Beach, Manitoba

Sandbanks Provincial Park, Picton, Ontario

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, Wasaga Beach, Ontario

Ipperwash Beach, Ipperwash, Ontario

Sauble Beach, Ontario

Îles de la Madeleine, Quebec

New Brunswick
Parlee Beach Provincial Park, Pointe-du-Chêne, New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island
Brackley Beach, Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia
Kennington Cove Beach, Kennington Cove, Nova Scotia

Melmerby Beach, Northhumberland Shore, Nova Scotia

Sandbanks Provincial Park, Burgeo, Newfoundland

Source: Best Beaches in Canda - Reader's Choice, Best Beaches in Canada

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10 Signs a Senior Needs Assistance

By Kevin Lee

One of the hardest things for humans to do is omit hubris and admit vulnerability. However, as much as we would like to have faith in our own immortality and strength, no one can go through life without a little bit of help. This fact of life becomes increasingly true in the golden years of life - after retirement - as seniors who have spent their whole lives selflessly giving and helping others must realize that it is time for the favour to be returned. As caring family members and friends, we have a responsibility to become aware of the telling signs when assistance is needed all the while avoiding patronizing society's best citizens.

Barb Silver is just one of many to find themselves in this situation: Her mother had long dealt with a variety of medical maladies stemming from obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, incontinence, and a lung disorder. Silver talked every day with her mom, who lived in Florida, had a paid caregiver (whom she later discovered was both inept and dishonest), and her mother was always her chatty, loud, boisterous self. Silver had no inkling all wasn't well until a physician called to tell her paramedics had found her mother in dire straits.

For Janice Shapiro it began a decade ago when her Philadelphia-based mom, now 93, started sleeping until 11, stopped bathing, and dropped 20 pounds she didn't have to lose. Judi Kaplan figured out her 81-year-old Southern California-dwelling mother needed extra help when she was ill last year, and Kaplan noticed a growing confusion and disorientation that turned out to be due to a mild cognitive impairment.

While it is important to use one's own judgment when making a decision such as this, the old adage "better safe than sorry" cannot be more apt. When dealing with a loved one's health and vitality, it is always best to err on the precautious side and become concerned when a few warning signs appear.

10. Predators
Older seniors, especially those who live alone, are more vulnerable to con artists who befriend the elderly and try to scam them out of their money. Such situations could indicate that a senior's judgment is failing. Unfortunately, as Silver discovered, a predator could be a neighbor, relative, or caregiver. "My mother loaned a caregiver $3,500 that she never got back," she says.

9. Finances
Bills routinely left unopened or unpaid equal bad news could be a sign of cognitive decline although may just be a symptom of poor organization. However, the key is to notice a change in behaviour and attitude as Kaplan found, "Mom used to obsess about her financial situation, and then she seemed confused about everyday money matters."

8. Community
Neighbors or those who work for the person in your care may notice changes in her behavior. Maybe he or she goes out less than she used to -- or not at all. Perhaps papers and mail are stacking up outside. Check in with them. "My mom's gardener told me she kept calling him in to help her find her check book," says Kaplan. "He really noticed a marked change in her ability to cope."

7. Orientation
Confusion about time of day was an early clue for Silver that something was up. "My mom kept asking why the caregiver wasn't there, and I kept explaining it was nighttime and she came in the morning." Difficulty navigating surroundings away from home can also be a telltale sign that someone needs help. On an outing to the shops or a restaurant, observe if she can walk alone and how she adjusts to new situations. Often the elderly function fine at home but challenges are more apparent in less familiar settings as well as when driving.

6. Bruises
Signs of injury, such as bruises, could be evidence of falls. Seniors who've fallen in the past are at greater risk for repeat falls, which can lead to serious injuries. Some seniors try to keep falls secret because they feel embarassed or just might not remember the incident. "Mom used to say, 'I don't know how I got such a big bruise.' We quickly figured out she was falling," says Kaplan.

5. Medications
Lots of unused pills in the cupboard, or confusion about how, why, or when meds should be taken are danger signs. Managing meds can take some initial set up (such as a pill box) but the need for reminders on a daily basis could mean bigger issues.

4. Health
Maybe there's just a general sense that something isn't quite right, such as persistent fatigue or lack of energy. Follow your instincts and make a doctor's appointment for the person in your care -- and go along with her, if you can.

3. Housework
A home that's dirtier or more cluttered than it used to be -- with piles of dirty laundry or dishes -- can indicate something is awry. Hiring a house cleaner can take care of such concerns, but an untidy or poorly maintained house may also indicate physical decline or depression, as it did in Shapiro's mother's case.

2. Nutrition
Unexplained weight loss is a sign of poor nutrition, as Shapiro found out. Her mother simply stopped cooking. Look in the refrigerator: Little or spoiled food could indicate that a senior isn't cooking meals or eating well.

1. Hygiene
Poor grooming or unmet basic self-care needs, such as bathing, are often an early heads up that someone is in declining health. "My mom used to be very neat and clean, but she started to wear the same clothes over and over again, and she couldn't see the food stains," says Kaplan.

Source: AOL Health

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How to Live to 102 - Secret #8

Find companionship with a pet like a dog, cat or bird. There is solid evidence that owning a pet can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, lower heart attack rates, combat depression and stimulate exercise and improve fitness.

Home Care Assistance offers the highest quality 24/7 live-in home care in the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

Reduce Your Alzheimer's Risk with "TED"

"Tea, Exercise and vitamin D" may cut risk for Alzheimer's, according to new research.

If you want to reduce your risk for Alzheimer's disease, adopting these lifestyle habits just might help, according to several large studies presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Hawaii.

The findings were the result of three large, long-term studies, including the Framingham Study, where researchers analyzed data from more than 1,200 people in their 70s. The study, which has followed people in Framingham, Mass., since 1948, was originally designed to track cardiovascular health. It is now also tracking the participants' cognitive health.

When looking at physical activity levels, researchers found that people who engaged in moderate to heavy amounts of exercise had about a 40 per cent reduced risk of developing any type of dementia. Compared with heavy exercisers, those with the lowest levels of physical activity were 45 per cent more likely to develop dementia. The findings suggested this was a particularly strong trend among men.

"This is the first study to follow a large group of individuals for this long a period of time. It suggests that lowering the risk for dementia may be one additional benefit of maintaining at least moderate physical activity, even into the eighth decade of life," study author Dr. Zaldy Tan, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, VA Boston and Harvard Medical School, said in an Alzheimer's Association news release.

Vitamin D Deficiency and Cognitive Impairment

Vitamin D deficiency -- which has been linked to serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease -- may also lead to increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia later in life, a second study found.

British researchers looked at 3,325 people aged 65 and older to examine vitamin D deficiency and cognitive performance. Vitamin D levels were measured from blood samples and compared with performance on a measure of general cognitive function that included tests of memory, orientation in time and space, and ability to maintain attention. Participants who scored in the worst 10 per cent of the group were classified as being cognitively impaired. The study found the odds of cognitive impairment were about 42 per cent higher in people who were deficient in vitamin D, and 394 per cent higher in people who were severely deficient.

"It appears that the odds of cognitive impairment increase as vitamin D levels go down, which is consistent with the findings of previous European studies," said David Llewellyn, PhD, of the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School. "Given that both vitamin D deficiency and dementia are common throughout the world, this is a major public health concern."

According to Llewellyn, the majority of older adults in North America have insufficient vitamin D levels. This is because their skin becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D with age, and sunlight (UVB radiation) levels are limited for much of the year.

"Vitamin D supplements have proven to be a safe, inexpensive and effective way to treat deficiency. However, few foods contain vitamin D and levels of supplementation in the U.S. are currently inadequate. More research is urgently needed to establish whether vitamin D supplementation has therapeutic potential for dementia," Llewellyn said.

Tea for a cognitive boost

That delicious cup of tea may also provide a boost to your cognitive health, according to researchers from UCLA. These benefits have been outlined in a previous post "The Changing Paradigm of Caffeine".

For this study, researchers looked at 4,800 men and women aged 65 and older from the Cardiovascular Health Study over a 14-year period to examine the relationship between consumption of tea, coffee, and the change in cognitive function over time.

They found that people who drank tea at a variety of levels showed 17-37 per cent less cognitive decline than non-tea drinkers. Coffee consumption, however, did not show any effect except for the heaviest coffee drinkers, who had 20 per cent less decline.

"The suggestion of a positive effect of tea consumption in slowing cognitive decline requires further investigation," said Lenore Arab, PhD, of UCLA. "Interestingly, the observed associations are unlikely to be related to caffeine, which is present in coffee at levels 2-3 times higher than in tea."

Sources: Alzheimer's Association news release; HealthDay,

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27 Ways To Live A Relaxed Stress-Free Life

1. Hug someone.

2. Dance.

3. Mono-task, as opposed to multi-tasking.

4. Progressively tense each muscle, holding each for five seconds then releasing.

5. Stretch.

6. Go for a run or swim or any other sport.

7. Play a game. Sudoku, crosswords, hopscotch, whatever.

8. Soak in a bath.

9. Laugh.

10. Turn off your electronics. Enjoy the quiet.

11. Read.

12. Take a bike ride.

13. Take a five-minute break to clear your mind and breathe.

14. Cover your eyes with an eye pillow. Allow your anxious eyeballs to feel like they're floating rather than gripping.

15. Play with your pet.

16. Drink a cup of hot tea. Or iced if that makes you feel better!

17. Take a whiff of a favorite soothing scent, maybe citrus or lavender.

18. Clear off your desk or clean out the drawers of your dresser. De-cluttered can equal destressed.

19. Indulge in a massage.

20. Soak your feet in Epsom salts.

21. Listen to your favourite music (See 27b).

22. Light a candle and watch the flame flicker.

23. Write in a diary.

24. Talk to a friend.

25. Make everyday activities more meditative. Like walking, for instance: Rather than rush down the hallway, place one foot in front of the other and really feel your feet ground into the earth with each step.

26. Unplug (or turn off) your phone.

27. Strive to take deep breaths to reach the tight spaces of your body - try to feel your breathing in your lower back and your shoulders.

27b) Ok I added an extra one but who can say that this is not relaxing.

Source: Canoe Health

Home Care Assistance serves the Region of Halton (Oakville, Burlington, Halton Hills, and Milton), Region of Peel (Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon) and Hamilton.

Stay Safe, Rather Than Sorry, This Summer

By Dr. Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC

It is very important for everyone, especially seniors, to take care of themselves during these months of sunshine and heat waves. According to Doctor Alicia Arbaje of John Hopkins University, elderly people living at home need special attention from family members or caregivers. She says that the elderly often don’t realize when they are too hot, and the medications they take can often leave them very dehydrated. She suggests staying in the home and out of the sun during times of extreme heat, avoiding a lot of activity, and staying hydrated with not only water, but also “sweat-replacement” drinks such as sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade and drinks with low pH content in the short-term. If an individual notices problems while in the heat, do not hesitate to call a doctor. The summer is an exceptionally important time for seniors to have elder care, or to be watched closely by family and friends.

The summer of 2010 has brought record temperatures around the globe as everyone is feeling the heat. Medical centres across North America are reporting more cases of dizziness, nausea, weakness, asthma and cardio-obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Dr. N. Stuart Harris, an emergency physician at Boston's Massachusettes General Hospital, reports a "definite...increase in heat-related processes resulting from heat exhaustion," this summer, but also noted that "people are pretty clever" when it comes to staying cool in the summer. Fortunately, the increased number of incidents from the heat have not been seen with more severe conditions such as heat stroke. However, those at the ends of the age spectrum - seniors and children - are most susceptible to heat waves and should take extra pre-caution.

Source: Home Care Blog, ABC News

How to Live to 102 - Secret #7

Any exercise - no matter how strenuous or difficult - is good for you. The easiest way to get active is by going for a 30 minute walk every day. For extra benefits, try speed walking, adding weights or walking on rough terrain such as in parks.

Companionship Essential to Mental AND Physical Health

Everyone knows that friendship - or even just someone to talk to - has a powerfully mood-lifting effect, for anyone at any age. It’s nice to keep mom or grandpa company. However, it’s becoming more understood by scientists that companionship is more than just a nice thing for seniors to have.

Several recent studies have concluded that human interaction significantly improves seniors’ cognitive function, health and safety. It’s not just about keeping older people entertained. Companionship is critical to mental and physical health.

A March 2009 study at the University of Chicago shows that social isolation has serious effects on the physical health of seniors - and loneliness in addition to isolation causes a decline in mental health as well.

Researchers found that seniors who feel most isolated are five times as likely to report poor health than those who feel least isolated. Elderly who have no social contact with others suffer the worst health, regardless of whether they feel lonely or not. But seniors who also feel lonely suffer 65 percent more depression than seniors who are equally isolated but do not feel lonely.

Lack of social contact in itself may not cause seniors to experience depression. Rather, it leads from the loneliness of feeling there is no one who would help them in times of need.

“A shrinking circle of friends and family can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation,” says lead researcher Erin York Cornwell, PhD. “Our findings suggest that those who...don’t feel isolated do better with respect to both physical and mental health.”
By providing constant companionship and enabling transportation to visit friends or worship services and other social events, a Home Care Assistance caregiver helps prevent social isolation and loneliness. This is another way that live-in care can help improve the physical and mental heath of seniors who want to live independently at home. Even just ten minutes of conversation improves memory as much as playing games!

Abundant research suggests that seniors who are concerned about the loss of their mental abilities should exercise their brains as much as possible.

A University of Michigan study tested people as old as 96 and compared memory test scores between those who played daily games or puzzles to others who simply engaged in social interaction. Researchers found it only takes about 10 minutes of talking to someone else to improve your memory - an improvement equal to the gamers, whose memory scores far surpasses the non-social, non game playing seniors.

The more the seniors interacted socially, the better they scored on cognitive functioning.

Lead researcher Dr. Oscar Ybarra said, “We found that short-term social interaction lasting for just 10 minutes boosted participants’ intellectual [abilities]"
Ybarra says the results show that social isolation may negatively effect seniors’ intellectual abilities as well as their emotional well-being.

Seniors who bring companions to medical visits report higher satisfaction and quality of care

A recent survey reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine says that having a companion accompany a senior to medical visits contributes to greater satisfaction and quality of care, especially among those in poor health.

The study, sampling 12,018 senior citizens, found that 37 percent of these seniors were accompanied by a companion.

Most companions to medical visits are more than just passive observers. 64 percent of these companions assisted with communication. 44 percent recorded physician comments and instructions for the patient and 30 percent explained physician instructions to the senior. 52 percent assisted with transportation and 8 percent provided physical assistance.

The report concludes that seniors’ medical visit companions are a valuable resource for ensuring quality of care.

Live-in caregivers can be especially helpful to seniors on medical visits—and not just for supplying transportation. On medical visits where a spouse or relative is unable to accompany the senior, caregivers can aid communication and even take notes or record visits to keep the senior’s family informed, even remotely. After medical visits, by providing medication reminders and ensuring that doctors’ instructions are followed.

Seniors Should Bring Out Their Inner Child

Every time seniors play a game of cards or Scrabble® or even play certain computer games, they’re stimulating their brains and staving off the onset of dementia or even Alzheimer’s disease. This conclusion comes from long-time and recent studies that found that seniors who engage in mentally demanding leisure activities lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia by as much as 75 percent.

Sometimes A Game Isn’t Only A Game.
Researchers found that playing chess, checkers, backgammon or cards was associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Playing a musical instrument and reading had similar effects. Solving frequent crossword puzzles helped too, but to a lesser degree. Curiously, most physical activities, like group exercise or team games, did not show much of a positive effect on reducing dementia in this study. The only exception was ballroom dancing. Researchers think this benefit comes from the mental demands of remembering dance steps, moving to music and coordinating with a partner.

Your Brain. Use It or Lose It.
Seniors need to exercise their brains on a regular basis as they grow older. They should set aside one hour each day for this area of exercise. Activities that keep a person actively searching for words (such as Scramble®, Scrabble®, and crossword puzzles) are especially helpful for improving word recognition, retaining vocabulary and reducing memory loss.

Seniors who engaged in cognitive exercises by playing board games or doing Sudoku puzzles were much less likely to develop dementia thanthose who did not.

Taking the High Tech Approach
Electronic games and even computer-based, cognitive training programs can actually reverse cognitive impairment in many seniors. One such game is Simon®, the electronic game that became a pop culture icon in the 1980s and is still selling wildly today. To win, the player must repeat the pattern of lights and sounds made by the computer by pressing the buttons in the same sequence. The longer it’s played the faster the game goes. Another similar game is Bop It® where the player must repeat an ever-growing sequence of actions that are called out by the toy until they make a mistake. Like Simon®, Bop It® tests and trains the player's cognitive and memory skills however it also adds a physical aspect.

Computers are becoming more popular with the elderly as computers and video game consoles (particularly the Nintendo Wii) become more accessible and affordable. As of 2008, more than 23% of older adults in North America aged 65 and older play computer games. Seniors who do play computer games tend to play them more frequently than younger adults. Over one-third of gamers 65 and older say they play games everyday or almost everyday.

The best computer games for seniors are ones that require them to use their memory, calculation and decision making skills, instead of simply shootem-up games or simulators. Many computer games are now designed solely to keep the mind sharp and can be played by people of all ages (such as Ultimate Brain Games on the Nintendo DS and Brain Challenge on the XBOX 360). Playing games not only provides entertainment and quality companionship, it also helps prolong seniors’ sharpness of mind and quality of life.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #6

Wash your hands! This is the single most effective way to reduce infection. Wash your hands using soap and water as hot as you can stand for 20 seconds. Handwashing is especially important after touching another person's body, using the bathroom, handling raw foods and handling money. It's always good to err on the side of cleanliness.

Art As an Alternative Treatment for Alzheimer's

By Dr Kathy Johnson

With nearly 5.3 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s today, we all eagerly await a cure for the tragic disease. Many doctors and scientists have developed treatments and medicines that they feel may help slow the process, but the Museum of Modern Art, along with the Alzheimer’s Association, have come up with a slightly different idea: Art.
“One of the ways to get to people with Alzheimer’s is to engage them through art, because art is so creative,” says Tania Becker, one of the people involved in this project.
Becker and her volunteers believe that art can help those with Alzheimer’s, because art is an easy way to express one’s emotions, and inability to express emotions is often one of the most isolating factors of the Alzheimer’s. Therefore, Becker, along with some volunteers, has started an art class for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Participants in Becker’s class can come in and paint virtually whatever they like – sometimes they paint an image from their minds, other times they paint the highlighted centerpiece provided by Becker. Becker believes that art can help her students live in the “here and now,” which is something they don’t get to experience often. If anything, it is a great interactive activity to help patients clear their minds and participate in the creative process.

Check out Tania Becker's website:

How to Live to 102 - Secret #5

Keep your chin up. To ease or prevent soreness in the neck, sit up straight and lean the head back as far as is comfortable. Alternate leaning and holding the head to each side several times a day.

Taking A Bite Out of Food-Borne Illnesses

Seniors are especially vulnerable to foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning. The CDC estimates it to afflict at least 33 million every year. Many cases go unreported.

Older people’s immune systems do not respond as quickly or effectively as a younger person’s. Even the decline of acidity in seniors’ stomachs eliminates an important natural defense against foodborne bacteria. Severe food poisoning is most life-threatening to people over 70.

“When seniors have a food-borne illness, the consequences are more apt to persist or to lead to secondary types of illness,” -- Dr. Margy J. Woodburn at Oregon State University.

While some viruses and parasites can the culprit, most foodborne illness is caused by bacteria such as E. coli, (found in unpasteurized milk and undercooked ground beef) and salmonella (found in raw chicken, raw meat, and eggs). E. coli can cause kidney failure and brain damage. Other foods can also become contaminated if they come in contact with the bacteria indirectly, such as from knives, cutting boards or hands that have previously touched infected meat.

Diagnosing food poisoning can be tricky. Common symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, headache, vomiting and severe exhaustion. Sometimes blood or pus appears in the stools but symptoms vary according to the type and amount of contaminants eaten.

Symptoms may come on as early as half-hour after eating, but sometimes the onset doesn’t begin for days or weeks and it can be mistaken for a stomach flu. They usually last only a day or two, but in some cases can persist a week to 10 days.

In Case of Illness
If you suspect that you or a family member has foodborne illness, follow these general guidelines:
1. Preserve the evidence. This will help doctors diagnose the cause. If a portion of the suspect food is available, wrap it securely, mark “DANGER” and refrigerate it. Save all the packaging materials, such as cans or cartons.Write down the food type, the date, and time consumed, and when the symptoms started.
2. Seek treatment immediately, especially in case of frequent or bloody diarrhea or if diarrhea or vomiting lasts more than 24 hours.
3. Call the local health department if the suspect food was served at a large gathering, from a restaurant or other food service facility, or if it is a commercial product.
4. Contact the FDA Consumer Food Information Line at 1-800-FDA-4010 if you have questions.

Practice Prevention
Practice safe food preparation and sanitation to prevent cross-contamination.
• Use separate knives and cutting boards for meats and vegetables.
• Wash every kitchen surface and utensil with hot soapy water or a bleach solution after food has been prepared using it.
• Use disposable paper towels instead of dish cloth.
• Replace sponges regularly, throw them in the dishwasher or boil them.
• Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling raw meat and eggs.
• Don’t leave cooked or perishable foods out at room temperature longer than two hours.
• Keep foods out of the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F. Between those two temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly.
• Divide up leftover food and store it in shallow containers no more than two inches deep so it cools faster.
• Keep refrigerators at 40°F or lower and keep freezers at 0°F or lower.
• Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat is cooked thoroughly to 160°F or even better to 170°F. Poultry should be cooked to 180°F.
• Don’t wash poultry before cooking because that gives bacteria a chance to spread.
• Shellfish, especially oysters, are particularly dangerous when eaten raw.
• Wash fruits and vegetables under running water, preferably twice.
• If a food doesn’t look right or smell right or if it bulges, throw it out.

Dining Out Safely
Here are some tips for avoiding contaminated food when eating away from home.

• Avoid menu items that are made with raw or undercooked eggs, such as hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad, fresh mayonnaise, unless they were made using a pasteurized commercial egg product. Ask your server to ask the cook.
• If you’re in a city that requires restaurants to display their heath department ratings, eat only at “A-rated” or “90%+” establishments.
• Observe the cleanliness of your server’s hands. See if your food is being handled in a sanitary manner. Judge the tidiness of the whole restaurant, including the restroom. If the place is in poor shape, they may also have a problem following food safety standards.
• Monitor food temperature. If foods meant to be hot or cold are served to you lukewarm, send them back.
• Avoid eating salad mixtures such as pasta salad, potato salad or chicken salad, which are handled after they are prepared and may not have been stored at the correct temperatures. This is especially true at outdoor gatherings.

Observing safe food handling steps will go a long way to preventing unpleasant and even life-threatening foodborne illnesses.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #4

In the hot summer months, stay cool and hydrated (avoid caffeine and alcohol) while avoiding outdoor strenuous activity to protect against the sun and dehydration.

Think F.A.S.T When You Are Near A Stroke Victim

Face — Check for weakness on one side of the face. Ask the person to smile.

Arm — Check for weakness or numbness in one of the arms. Ask the person to try and raise both arms.

Speech — Does the person have slurred speech or trouble getting the words out? Ask the person to speak a simple sentence or ask them simple questions.

Time — Note the time signals first observed and CALL 9-1-1.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #3

Take time out to relax. Take a walk, talk with your friends, get plenty of sleep, go to the gym, see a movie or go out for a nice dinner.

The Changing Paradigm of Caffeine

A recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease added to the data about caffeine and other stimulants as memory aids. The study, in the July 2009 issue of the journal, found that "Alzheimer’s disease (AD) transgenic mice given a moderate level of caffeine intake (the human equivalent of five cups of coffee per day) are protected from development of otherwise certain cognitive impairment." Even mice that already showed cognitive impairment "exhibited vastly superior working memory compared to the continuing impairment of control transgenic mice." Because mice with both the pre-existing condition and those showing signs of cognitive decline "exhibited memory restoration and reversal of AD pathology" the study concludes that there may be "treatment potential of caffeine in cases of established AD."

These findings build on earlier scientific study results published in the January 2002 issue of Psychological Science by the American Psychological Society. In that caffeine-memory study, researches found that the stimulant effect of caffeine can improve memory. The study took as its base earlier findings that memory in seniors is often at its best early in the day. As the day ticks by, seniors' memory abilities decline, with the most confusing moments culminating at the end of the day. Subjects were given coffee and memory tests at eight in the morning and again at four in the afternoon. The control group was given decaffeinated coffee and "showed a significant decline in memory performance from morning to afternoon." The caffeinated group, by contrast, showed no decline in performance.

In 2005, researchers presented findings that caffeine affects short-term working memory at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Subjects were shown a sequence of simple images (the letters A, B, C or D) and then asked if an image was the same as the one shown two images earlier, responding as quickly as possible. The task was performed after 12 hours without caffeine and four hours without nicotine. Subjects received 100 milligrams of caffeine (approximately the amount in two cups of coffee) as well as a placebo which was randomized across subjects so that each of them underwent a caffeine and placebo scan. In the "caffeine condition," the subjects demonstrated a tendency towards improved short-term memory skills and reaction times during the task. They showed increased activity in brain regions located in the frontal lobe, where a part of the working memory network is located, and the anterior cingulum, the part of the brain that controls attention. In the "placebo condition," the subjects showed no change in activation patterns.

Caffeine is, of course, a stimulant. These studies have been promoted in the media as being about coffee, but can just as easily be read as being about tea or even some other type of stimulant delivered in pill form. In short, these studies shouldn't be read as a mandate to go out and start drinking coffee all day – especially for seniors with any kind of sleep disturbance or troubles.

The author of the 2002 study noted, in fact, that all the participants were regular coffee drinkers. People not used to regular caffeine consumption might have experienced a myriad of negative side effects – anxiety, decreased concentration or shakiness – that may have harmed their performance on the memory tests if they had been included in the study. Keep in mind that everything, even coffee, in best in moderation.

Tips for Caffeine Drinking:
• Moderate the total number of caffeine beverages you drink during the day to keep your caffeine intake under 300 mg (at the most)
• Limit caffeine intake to before lunch to avoid having the caffeine adversely affect your sleep.
• Exercise after having caffeine to take advantage of the energy boost caffeine can provide as well as mitigate its stress-inducing properties.
• Know your caffeine levels: Strong drip coffee (145 mg), espresso (75 mg), instant coffee (60 mg), black tea (60 mg), green tea (25 mg), cola drinks (range from 40 to 60 mg).
• Avoid hyper-caffeinated beverages such as Jolt or Red Bull.
• Know that even "decaf" versions of naturally caffeinated beverages like coffee have some caffeine in them.
• Herbal teas come in a wide range of flavors – from robust and earthy to mild and floral – and are an excellent substitute for sipping in the afternoon and evening.
• Look up the caffeine content of specific drinks at Energy Fiend:

How to Live to 102 - Secret #2

Orthopedist prescribed orthotics, like knee braces, can do wonders for improving stability and balance.

How to Live to 102 - Secret #1

Think, act and live young. Be prepared to live a long and healthy life up to and beyond the age of 102.

10 Healthy "Superfoods" Snacks

When it comes to healthy snacks, the age of the baby carrot is over. Sure, raw carrots are great for you, but so are plenty of other delicious foods. These ten delicious snacks are also "superfoods" – not only are they good for you but they also have health-boosting properties to boot. Whether you crave something sweet, something salty, something crunchy, or something creamy, there is a superfoods snack for you. Note the serving sizes mentioned and enjoy all snacks in moderation for a healthy, varied diet.

1. Almonds
Almonds have been shown to lower cholesterol and help maintain a healthy weight. About a ¼ cup of almonds is a beneficial serving. Enjoy them plain or roasted, whole or slivered. Almond butter – just a tablespoon or two – is a healthy treat, too. Try some on a whole grain cracker and a cup of green tea for a late afternoon energy boost.

2. Blueberries
Blueberries are as full of cancer- and disease-fighting antioxidants as any food around, so much so that they have been even shown to restore antioxidant levels. Also, like cranberries, they can help prevent urinary tract infections. Note that wild blueberries tend to have even more antioxidants than cultivated ones. Fresh berries are delicious all on their own or with a bit of Greek yogurt (see #5). Frozen berries can be used in smoothies or put on top of low-fat frozen yogurt. Use about ½ cup fresh or frozen berries as a serving.

3. Broccoli
Broccoli eaten either raw or lightly steamed contains tons of soluble fiber and antioxidants, as well as folic acid, calcium, ion, and potassium. Broccoli has even been shown to have the power to reduce diabetic damage. Don't throw away the stalk/stem! Cut off the thick, fibrous darker green peel to reveal the tender, pale green vegetable underneath – it has the crunch of celery and a mild broccoli flavor. Try broccoli florets or peeled stems with a little drizzle of soy sauce or a simple dip made from fat-free Greek yogurt (again see #5) – stir in minced garlic and herbs, lemon zest and minced rosemary, or a sprinkle of cumin and cayenne to taste. About ½ cup of florets or peeled stem is a serving.

4. Cherries
Cherries, tart ones in particular, have similarly insanely high antioxidant levels as blueberries, putting them in the position to fight memory loss, heart disease, and diabetes. They've also been shown to help reduce inflammation, helping alleviate arthritic and gout pain. Fresh, frozen, or dried (unsweetened) tart cherries make a great snack on their own or combined with other nuts (almonds, walnuts, pumpkins seeds) and fruits (blueberries, raisins). Count ½ cup fresh cherries or ¼ cup dried cherries as a serving.

5. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is thick and creamy in a way regular yogurt can only dream of. It's high in calcium, of course, and contains good levels of probiotics, which aid healthy digestion. But did you know low-fat and fat-free versions contain twice as much protein as regular yogurt? The texture of Greek yogurt makes it a great snack – especially when topped with dried fruits like blueberries, tart cherries, or raisins – as well as a good substitute for fatty sour cream. Include in it your three servings (1/2 cup each) of low-fat dairy a day.

6. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds give you protein, zinc, magnesium, and selenium, a potent combination that can fight heart disease and depression. Selenium, a trace mineral, is essential for proper thyroid function. Look for roasted pumpkin seeds, often sold as "pepitas," that are unsalted and flavor-free. As with all nuts and seeds, a serving is about ¼ cup.

7. Raisins
Raisins, like all dried fruits, contain a lot of natural sugars, but the fiber and iron in raisins, along with high levels of vitamin C, put them squarely in the super snacks category. Plus, the phytochemicals in raisins have been shown to fight the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Keep servings to about ¼ cup and buy only unsweetened raisins.

8. Soy Beans
Soy beans (edamame) are a great source of protein as well as cancer-fighting flavonoids. Steamed or boiled fresh or frozen soy beans can be eaten like fresh sweet peas or in-shell peanuts – and, in fact, they taste a bit like a cross between the two – where part of the fun is getting the nugget out of the shell. Enjoy ½ cup shelled soybeans or 1 cup in-the-pod soy beans as a tasty, healthful snack.

9. Walnuts
Walnuts bring protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and precious omega-3s to the party. They've been shown to lower cholesterol, improve brain function, regulate sleep patterns, and fight cancer and heart disease. If you find walnuts a bit too bitter to enjoy them fully, use this trick: blanch walnut halves in boiling water for 30 seconds to remove some of the bitterness, drain them, and then toast them on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes to bring back their crunch. As with all nuts, limit your serving size to about ¼ cup.

10. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate – saving the best for last. Dark chocolate has tons of antioxidants, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, and phosphorous. Look for chocolate that contains over 70% cocoa to get the full benefit of chocolate's antioxidant powers and limit your intake to about an ounce a day.

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