The secret of true happiness: good fats
If you’re not fooled by TV commercials equating chips, burgers and sugar-sweet toaster treats with pure joy, you’re on the path to true happiness.
In fact, you can cut your risk of depression in half by avoiding saturated fat (butter, meat, full-fat cheese) and trans fat (the Frankenfood still lurking in many munchies) and instead going for the good fats (think olive and canola oils, walnuts, avocados).
Saturated and trans fats don’t just menace your blood vessels and heart. They go after your brain, too, boosting bodywide inflammation and gunking up the whisper-thin lining of your arteries. The depression connection? Turns out that this fragile lining produces a potent “get happy” brain chemical called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
When you chow down on bad fats, your arteries turn down their BDNF production, say the researchers behind this recent groundbreaking study.
For a real happy meal, keep sat fat low and trans fat close to zero. They just age your arteries, your sex organs and your brain.
Choose lean proteins such as skinless white-meat poultry and fish (which give you another good fat, omega-3s). Sip fat-free instead of whole milk. Top salads and veggies with a spritz of olive oil and a splash of vinegar, not butter and creamy dressings (a top source of sat fat and sugars, which also age your body and brain).
Skip foods that even mention trans fats or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. And just say no to doughnuts, French fries and commercial bakery items, including premade pie shells.
Then, don’t worry; be happy — for a lot longer.
Winter skin-repair kit: you’ll glow head to toe
After months of winter’s frigid dry air outside and heated dry air inside, your skin probably feels as crinkly and creased as a crashed-up stock car on the Talladega speedway.
But you don’t need fancy repair creams that cost an arm and a leg. Our easy, economical plan will give your skin such a youthful head-to-toe glow that you’ll want to show it off under the covers.
• Feed your skin wrinkle-fighters. Eat citrus often (oranges, tangelos, grapefruit). The bonanza of vitamin C in citrus discourages wrinkles, because C helps pump up collagen (supportive protein fibres that stop skin from sagging).
• Wash with the right stuff. Skip soaps with colours and fragrances; dyes can leave a dull residue, and scents can trigger allergies. Instead, choose gentle, pH-balanced cleansers that won’t upset the skin’s protective acid mantle, which keeps moisture in. Tip: If the soap you’re using doesn’t sting your eyes, it likely won’t bother your skin.
• Go for the greens. To keep skin from resembling a scaly alligator belt, up your intake of dark-green veggies. Spinach, broccoli and turnip greens are especially rich in skin-loving vitamin A, which encourages cell turnover, deters dryness and keeps the skin’s surface supple.
• Seal in moisture. If you’re over 50, or live in a really dry climate (read desert), slather lotion all over your entire body while you’re still damp from the shower. Repeat on your hands after each cold-and-flu-fighting scrub.
• Spring is here: You’ll be able to show that glow outdoors, too.
How good cholesterol
can keep Alzheimer’s away
Want to be able to blow the candles out on your 100th birthday cake and actually remember what you did during all of those years? Then keep your healthy HDL cholesterol high.
That’s a secret shared by long-lived people who’ve never developed memory-robbing Alzheimer’s disease: They have higher-than-average HDL levels. Participants in a recent study whose HDL was above 56 (if yours is more than 50, that’s great!) were 60 per cent less likely to have Alzheimer’s than those with lower HDL.
Healthy, active HDL works like a good cop, patrolling your arterial streets and carting off lousy LDL perps to your liver and O-U-T before they turn into heart-threatening plaque. That keeps blood flowing freely to your head (your heart, too). Good HDL also protects delicate brain cells from damaging inflammation and improves your memory.
So if you’re counting on that 100th birthday cake, do this to keep your HDL high and your brain young:
1. Eat good fats
Make a daily date with monounsaturated fats, like those in walnuts, avocados, salmon, trout and olive/canola oils. DHA (900 mg a day) is what you want. It’ll raise HDL by 12 per cent.
2. Keep walking
Doing 30 minutes a day can raise HDL by 9 per cent.
3. Quit smoking
In addition to all its other benefits, you’ll get a fast four-point HDL bonus.
4. Slim down
Losing 6.6 pounds raises your HDL one point. It sounds small, but it isn’t.
5. Talk to your doc
Ask if taking niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), two baby aspirin, estrogen (for women) or a low-dose statin drug like Crestor would boost your HDL.
Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen are authors of YOU: On a Diet. For more, visit www.realage.com
Men 60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above
Women 60 mg/dL (1.6 mmol/L) or above