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August 2017

3 Foods for a Healthier You 

Science is stuffed with research on how what you eat affects your body. Some foods may play a role in certain diseases. One example is the link between obesity and drinking too many sugar-filled drinks like soda. Other fare, though, may help you live a longer, healthier life, specifically when that food is part of an overall nutritious diet. Here’s a roundup of 3 recent studies on the power of food. 

Cup of coffee

Chocolate and an irregular heartbeat

You may already know that an occasional piece of chocolate—especially the dark kind—may help keep your blood pressure low. In one recent study, researchers found this sweet treat may also fend off atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. They asked more than 55,000 older adults how much chocolate they typically ate They then followed the health of these adults for an average of 13 years. Those who said they ate a moderate amount of chocolate—2 to 6 servings a week—were less likely to develop the heart rhythm disorder. The researchers can’t completely rule out other possible reasons for the link. But chocolate is chock-full of flavonoids. These are compounds in plants that may help combat disease. Chocolate can also contain lots of fats and calories. So be mindful about how much you eat. 

Fiber-rich foods and knee pain

Whole-grain bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and many fruits and veggies are solid sources of fiber. This carbohydrate can help ease constipation and other digestive problems. Recent research has noted another potential benefit of eating fiber-rich foods: less pain from arthritis. Out of more than 6,200 adults with arthritis in the knee, those who reported eating more fiber had less pain years later. Why? Researchers suspect it could partly be because of fiber’s ability to fill you up. In turn, you may eat less food, helping you stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight can be a serious strain on your knees. Plus, fiber may reduce inflammation in the body—the cause of arthritic pain and stiffness to begin with. When adding more fiber to your diet, do it slowly. Too much, too fast could upset your stomach. 

Coffee and cognition

You may drink coffee for only its jolt of caffeine. But the beverage also serves up plant-based phytochemicals. These hidden ingredients—along with caffeine—may boost your brain power. A recent analysis looked at 9 past studies on coffee consumption and cognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer disease. The research included more than 34,000 adults. It found a significant link between drinking moderate amounts of coffee and a lower risk for cognitive problems. So how much coffee might be best to sip? One to 2 cups a day, say the researchers. But be careful about what you put in your mug. Whole milk, sugar, and other sweeteners can add unwanted calories.

 

Find out more about how choosing the right foods can keep you healthy.

Online Medical Reviewer: Turley, Ray, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2017
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