Woman applying hand cream

What Your Hands Say About Your Health

You use them every day for everything, but when was the last time that you actually took the time to care for your hands? If it’s been a while, you may be surprised at what you find, and even more surprised at what those findings can indicate. Below, find out some common occurrences regarding the appearance of your hands and your health.

Flaky, Peeling Skin
Fingertips that suddenly begin to peel or become flaky are often an indication of a vitamin B deficiency. Two B vitamins that are important for the health of your skin are biotin, B7, and niacin B3. You can up the amount of niacin and biotin by eating foods like fish, peanuts, avocados and mushrooms, and you can also add a supplement to your diet. “Taking a biotin supplement helps to promote healthy skin and nail growth; niacin helps protect and repair skin by preventing the formation of melanin, boosting collagen growth, and improving your skin’s natural moisture barrier,” says David Bank, M.D, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York City’s New York-Presbyterian/Columbia.

Discoloration Under Your Nail
If you notice a black or brown streak under your nail, seek medical attention immediately. According to David J. Leffell, M.D., Chief Section of Dermatologic Surgery and Cutaneous Oncology at Yale University School of Medicine a black or brown streak under the nail can be a sign of acral melanoma, a rare skin cancer that often occurs in people with darker skin tones. Although this nail discoloration may be an early sign of melanoma, this type of cancer only accounts for about one to three percent of all cases of melanoma.

Pale, White or Blue Fingertips
Fingertips that change in color from blue to white to red could be an indication of Raynaud’s syndrome. According to Bank, “this condition causes coldness of the fingers and toes and can be accompanied by pain, numbness and tingling.” Experts believe that Raynaud’s syndrome is caused by spasms of the blood vessels that narrow them and lead to decreased circulation. You may also notice that your ears or nose go numb when temperatures drop or when you are put under a significant amount of stress.

Woman scratching her arms.

Dry, Itchy Skin
Your hands are frequently dried out because they are in constant use. “Repeated hand washing, which can dry your hands, and then touching paper and other harsh material all day long, will doubly dry them out,” warns Bank. However, if your skin seems to remain dry and itchy or if you have rashes, you may have eczema. Check with your doctor to determine whether or not your skin is just dry or if you have eczema. Bank says to apply products containing vitamins A and E to your hands and cuticles at night. “Because we don’t wash our hands while we sleep, these products will have a good amount of time to penetrate into your skin,” says Bank.

Pale, White Nail Beds
Not to be confused with pale or white fingertips that may be a symptom of Raynaud’s syndrome, pale or white nail beds can be a sign that you are anemic. Anemia means that your body is not making enough healthy red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying adequate oxygen to your tissues. Generally, the treatment for anemia is quite simple and involves iron supplementation, but you should confirm this diagnosis with a doctor before taking additional iron.

It is useful to check your own body, if you find any of these signs or symptoms on your hands or nails, contact a medical professional. Paying attention to your body helps you to remain healthy and informed, and don’t forget to give your hands a little extra TLC every so often.

Aromatherapy oil

Boost Mood with Lavendar, Jasmine, Rosemary

Aromatherapy is a natural, holistic treatment that has been used for over 6,000 years and it involves the use of essential oils that have been extracted from various plants. Typically, aromatherapy is associated with inhalation exercises, but you can also use essential oils for a stress-relieving bath, a therapeutic massage or under doctor supervision, you can orally administer essential oils. There is a multitude of different essential oils, all of which target specific health problems or concerns. When it comes to needing a mood boost, three of the best essential oils you can use are lavender, jasmine and rosemary. Below, find out why each of these essential oils is beneficial and what you can expect from each one.

Lavender oil

Lavender
Lavender is perhaps the most widely thought of essential oil when it comes to relaxation. Many sleep products are infused with lavender essential oil because it promotes relaxation and is thought to aid insomnia. How does lavender oil do these things? It seems that when lavender oil is inhaled, molecules enter your brain and interact with two centers associated with emotion: the amygdala and the hippocampus. When this happens, lavender acts as a sort of sedative to these two areas, thereby reducing feelings of stress and anxiety while promoting relaxation and calm feelings. In fact, a 2007 study found that men who inhaled lavender essential oil had significantly lower levels of cortisol, the hormone primarily associated with stress. To benefit from the relaxing and calming scent of lavender, you could use an essential oil warmer, diffuser or simply open a vial of the essential oil and inhale. Keep a bottle near your bed for help with insomnia, or stash some in your purse for days where it seems that your stresses are unending.

Jasmine oil

Jasmine
Often referred to as the “woman’s oil,” jasmine has been used for centuries to help with health problems such as skin care, hormonal disorders and childbirth. However, jasmine is not limited to these functions, it can also have profound psychological effects. Jasmine has an excellent reputation as an antidepressant and can be used if you suffer from anxiety, depression, fear and tension. Additionally, jasmine is a well-known and powerful aphrodisiac, which can be very helpful to someone suffering depression. Often, a serious lack of sex drive accompanies depression or is a side effect of antidepressants. Jasmine essential oil can help put your sex life back on track, which is another way to boost your mood. Experts do caution those wanting to use jasmine essential oil. Because it has such a strong floral fragrance, it can be overpowering for some and may induce headaches. Using jasmine oil in an essential oil diffuser is a great way to use a tiny amount, but to get big results.

Rosemary oil

Rosemary
Rosemary is well-known for its fragrance and taste in the kitchen, but rosemary essential oil can help with a number of psychological and physical issues. One of the historical uses for rosemary was at weddings and funerals, because rosemary improves memory. In addition to improving your memory, rosemary essential oil can help with physical symptoms of depression and anxiety like headaches, sore muscles and digestive concerns. Another way that rosemary can help boost your mood is by improving your circulation and providing you with a feeling of rejuvenation and renewed energy. Rosemary can also help to clear and calm your mind, making it easier to relax. You can use rosemary in a diffuser, a warmer or place a few drops in a spray bottle filled with water and mist the air when you need a little lift.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years because they work. A well-formulated, high-quality essential oil can have dramatic impacts on both your physical and mental well-being. When you need a boost in mood, using lavender, jasmine and/or rosemary can be quite helpful. Keep small vials of essential oils in your purse, so that you are ready to tackle any problem or difficulty that comes your way during the day.

Woman suffering from pain

Zap PMS With Eggs

Cravings for junk food like pizza, chips, chocolate and ice cream are completely common during PMS, but gorging on these foods only feels good in the immediate short-term. These foods actually contribute to bloating, irritation and mood swings because of all of the sugar, salts and fats contained in them. There are foods that you can eat that will help relieve symptoms of PMS and keep your body healthy, and eggs are one of these foods. Eggs are a great source of protein, are highly versatile and can reduce PMS problems. Keep reading to find out what causes PMS and how eggs can help.

What Causes PMS?
Currently, the exact cause of premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but there are several contributing factors.

  • Changes in Hormones – The fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone that occurs with your menstrual cycle is a major influence on the severity of your premenstrual symptoms.
  • Changes in Brain Chemicals – According to the Mayo Clinic, “fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.”
  • Depression – As stated by the Mayo Clinic, low levels of serotonin are a contributing factor to depression. Women with undiagnosed depression may notice more severe PMS symptoms, and treating the underlying cause can help lessen PMS symptoms.

Common symptoms of PMS include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite Changes
  • Tension
  • Fatigue

Woman having eggs and bacon.

How do Eggs Help PMS?
Heading to the refrigerator and pulling out a carton of eggs probably isn’t the first thing you would think to do when suffering from PMS symptoms, but doing so can help to reduce and relieve PMS symptoms. Eggs are nutritional powerhouses for PMS symptoms because they contain vitamins B6, D and E. A study involving more than 116,000 nurses indicated that diets that are rich in these vitamins help to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms. Scientists believe that these vitamins help control the chemicals in your brain that cause PMS, and may actually help regulate the effects of your fluctuating hormones. Experts believe that vitamin D has some influence over the levels of estrogen in your body, while B vitamins (including B6) are good for PMS because they help create neurotransmitters, like serotonin.

The next time PMS has you feeling uncomfortable and irritable, head to your kitchen and reach for a carton of eggs. Scrambled eggs are a perfect breakfast for PMS and if you pair your eggs with chamomile tea, you also will lessen the severity of cramps because the properties in chamomile tea can reduce muscle spasms. If eggs aren’t your favorite breakfast, or you run out of time in the morning to make them, make some hard-boiled eggs the night before and take those to work with you for a PMS-busting snack or toss them in a salad for some added flavor and protein. Even though eggs may not sound as appealing as the pint of Ben & Jerry’s you’re desperately craving, they will provide you with PMS zapping benefits while also avoiding the guilt that follows a junk food splurge. Get creative with your eggs and keep them on hand so that you can fight PMS with proper nutrition.

Woman drinking green tea

Find Calm With Green Tea

When asking people about their preferred ways to calm down, unwind and relax, a good cup of tea is bound to be an answer you will hear. But if you haven’t tried using tea as a way to calm down, you may wonder why making a cup of tea reduces feelings of stress and anxiety. Keep reading to find out why tea is calming and how green tea can actually alleviate stress and lower feelings of sadness and depression.

Why Tea is Calming
Making a proper cup of tea – boiling your water rather than using the microwave – is a slow and methodic process, which in and of itself helps your body wind down. Pulling your favorite mug from the cupboard, adding water to a tea kettle and waiting for water to boil are the steps required to make tea, and the routine of this process begins to become calming on its own. During times of high stress, your body craves a routine and to feel a sense of control, and all of the work that goes into making a cup of tea is a routine that will help slow your body and calm you down. In addition, you generally sit to enjoy a cup of tea rather than running around with your tea in hand and taking a quiet moment to yourself is naturally calming. You may also take your tea with your favorite book, while listening to your favorite album or watching a movie that makes you feel good – any of these things with your tea can become a routine that signals your body that it’s time to calm down.

How Green Tea Calms You
Green tea has a plethora of medical benefits from helping slow your rate of mental decline to fighting cancer-causing free radicals, but there is also an ingredient in green tea that specifically addresses depression and anxiety. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that drinking four or more cups of green tea daily was linked with significantly lowered rates of depression, anxiety and stress. The study used 1,058 elderly people who exhibited symptoms of depression. The group of participants who consumed four or more cups of green tea daily showed a 44 percent reduction in depression, anxiety and stress symptoms compared to those who drank one or less cups of green tea daily.

Researchers attribute this reduction of depression, anxiety and stress to the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid stimulates the production of alpha waves, a type of brainwave that is seen when a person is relaxed. L-theanine also alters the levels of neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine, in the brain which increases feelings of calm and happiness.

To make the perfect cup of green tea, add your tea bag or loose-leaf tea into a mug then boil your water. When the water has reached a boil, pour over the green tea bag or leaves and allow to steep for two to three minutes before drinking. If you experience bouts of depression or anxiety, try having a few cups of green tea per day to increase happiness, reduce stress and alleviate anxiety.

Woman eating healthy food

Eat Well: Berries, Spinach and Almonds

Diet is one of the most influential and important factors in your health, and you can improve your health by eating, or avoiding, certain foods. Three incredible superfoods that are easy to incorporate into a diet and that taste great are berries, spinach and almonds. These foods all have the ability to seriously boost your health with benefits ranging from lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s to preventing cardiovascular disease. Below, find out some specific information on why these superfoods should be put on your grocery list right now.

Bowl full of berries.

Berries
Although berries are small, the health benefits they provide for your body are huge. According to a study published in the Annals of Neurology, women who ate two servings of strawberries or one serving of blueberries per week showed delayed and decreased mental decline. “We think that the effect might be related to a class of compounds called anthocyanidins, which is a type of flavonoid. These compounds, found almost exclusively in berries, are known to cross the blood-brain barrier and locate in learning and memory centers in the brain,” explains study author, Elizabeth DeVore, ScD, a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston. The flavonoids and antioxidants found within berries are also associated with a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, the flavonoids in berries are believed to help prevent Parkinson’s disease.

It isn’t just your brain that berries help. Even though berries are sweet, they also have plenty of fiber and liquid, which make these the perfect snack for those looking to manage weight. The liquid and fiber content in berries will help you feel satiated and full in ways that a snack with refined sugar can’t. Although no clinical studies have been done yet, many health experts believe that berries are also a heart-healthy food that can lower your blood pressure. The antioxidants in berries are known to reduce overall inflammation in your body, which contributes to problems like high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Bowl of spinach

Spinach
Popeye made spinach famous when he used it as fuel to fight off foes, and sometimes there is some truth on TV. While you won’t immediately sprout Popeye-sized muscles from eating spinach, you will be getting some amazing health benefits. “Eating spinach is beneficial for maintaining healthy skin, hair and strong bones, as well as helping with digestion, lowering the risk for heart disease and improving blood glucose control in diabetics,” says registered dietician nutritionist, Megan Ware. Just one cup of spinach provides 987 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin K, which is important in keeping strong bones. A 2003 study found that low levels of vitamin K in women were associated with low bone density (the same is not true for men), and subsequent studies mention how necessary vitamin K is to healthy bone growth. Spinach also is a great source of iron, vitamin A and chlorophyll – which is thought to fight cancer.

Almonds

Almonds
Almonds are a very nutrient-dense food that contain vitamin E, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, iron, phosphorous, calcium, monounsaturated fat and potassium. While almonds are a source of fats, the monounsaturated fats can actually help you lose and maintain weight. One study found that people who consumed nuts twice weekly were 31 percent less likely to put on weight than those who didn’t eat nuts. Additionally, almonds may be beneficial to those who are pre-diabetic or struggle with blood glucose levels because it reduces the spike in blood sugar levels following a meal or snack. Almonds are also considered an excellent food for your heart, because they are able to lower your blood pressure and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, both of which are major factors in cardiovascular disease.

Berries, spinach and almonds provide health benefits that are absolutely astounding. Just a few servings of these foods each week can go a long way in fighting some very serious diseases, while also improving your skin, hair, bones and tasting great all the while. Whip up a healthy spinach salad that includes berries and sliced raw almonds for an incredible dose of flavor and health.

Woman getting a spa treatment

Destress for Healthy Skin

There are so many factors that contribute, whether positively or negatively, to the health of your skin and stress is one of them. Stress levels continue to rise with a seemingly endless to-do list, commitments and responsibilities. In fact, stress and its impact on your skin has given rise to a new field of skincare known as “psychodermatology.” Karen Mallin, PsyD and an instructor in the departments of psychiatry, behavioral science and dermatology and cutaneous surgery at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, predicts that psychodermatology is going to become increasingly popular over the next few years.

“Psychodermatology is a field that addresses the impact of an individual’s emotion as it relates to the skin. The mind and skin are connected on many levels. A lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin, which wraps around the organs, so as emotions are played out neurologically, they can be expressed through the skin just as stress can be expressed through gastrointestinal symptoms, increased anxiety or hypertension,” explains Mallin. Below, find a few ways to destress so both your brain and your skin can remain calm.

Woman exercising

Exercise
A quick way to relieve stress and boost your mood is to take a quick exercise break. Even a 10 minute walk around the block or spending a few minutes going up and down stairs will help you clear your head and minimize stress. Exercise also boosts your circulation, which increases blood flow to the skin. Try to take a walk each day during your lunch hour to fight stress and improve your skin.

Green tea

Drink Some Tea
Some people find tea to be not only a relaxing drink, but also an entirely relaxing experience. Green tea is an excellent drink for fighting stress and for keeping your skin healthy. The antioxidants in green tea provide protection from free radicals, which can cause additional harm to your skin.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy
Essential oils are another way that you can reduce stress levels while also providing benefits to your skin. Lavender essential oil promotes relaxation, but it can also stimulate the regeneration of skin cells and can fade the appearance of signs of aging like sun spots or scarring. Lemon essential oil is a stimulating scent that brings feelings of peace and positivity. Additionally, it is a natural astringent and antibacterial, meaning that it can be especially helpful if you struggle with breakouts or acne.

There are other ways that you can reduce stress such as meditation or engaging in a hobby or activity that you find particularly enjoyable. Taking some time out of every day to focus on eliminating stress not only has a positive impact on your mood, but it also significantly impacts the health of your skin.

Woman washing face

2 for 2: Wash & Exfoliate

If you have a chronically oily T-zone while other areas of your skin are dry, you probably have combination skin. Caring for combination skin requires a delicate balance between products that are strong enough to stop and control oil, while still being gentle enough to not cause irritation and further dryness to other areas of your face. Two of the most important steps in any skin care routine, but especially combination skin, are washing and exfoliating. Keep reading to learn what types of products you should be using and how to use these products on your combination skin.

Wash
Every good skin care routine begins with washing your face. When you have combination skin, it is important to use the correct cleansers to avoid aggravating dry spots or not properly removing oil. The key to washing combination skin is to use a gentle cleanser that removes dirt, oil and makeup in a mild way. Believe it or not, there is no single cleanser that works perfectly for each and every person that has combination skin, you will have to experiment a bit to find a formulation that works for your skin. If you have combination skin that leans towards the oilier side, check out gel-based or very mild foaming cleansers and if you have combination skin that is a bit drier, look for cleansing lotion.

Using the proper cleansing technique is also important in caring for combination skin. You want to begin with warm, not hot, water. Hot water will aggravate any dry areas of your skin because it strips moisture from your skin. Apply your chosen cleanser to your fingertips and wash your face using light pressure and circular motions. Aim to wash for about 30 seconds to one minute to allow the ingredients in your cleanser to fully penetrate your skin. Rinse your face completely using warm water, then pat dry with a clean washcloth. Although using a clean washcloth each and every time you wash your face can seem excessive, it keeps your washcloth from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.

Exfoliate
Exfoliation is critical for healthy skin because it removes dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface of your skin. Your skin is constantly undergoing a process known as desquamation, or cell turnover, and the final stage results in dead skin cells on your skin. In order to reveal the healthier and more radiant skin cells, you need to remove the dead skin cells. There are two types of exfoliation – chemical and physical – and for combination skin, you definitely want to use a chemical exfoliator.

Alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic and lactic acids, gently break up and dissolve the bonds that hold your dead skin cells together. When the acids break these bonds, the dead skin cells are sloughed away to reveal the newer and healthier skin cells your epidermis has been producing.

Caring for combination skin doesn’t have to be confusing and complicated. The main objective with combination skin is to keep it balanced. Consistent washing with a gentle cleanser and frequent exfoliation with mild exfoliants help keep your combination skin in balance and under control.

woman having coffee

Daily Caffeine Doesn't Cause a Racing Heart

If you absolutely can’t start your morning without coffee or get through the afternoon without a cup of tea, you’re in for good news. For years, the healthcare community has advised against regular caffeine consumption because caffeine is thought to disturb the natural cardiac rhythm of your heart, but a recent study challenges this advice. Coffee, tea and dark chocolate are full of antioxidants that may actually benefit your heart’s health, and according to this study, they are safe to be consumed daily.

The Study
Close to 1,400 individuals were chosen to participate in a year-long study that looked at the effects of daily caffeine consumption on the heart. “Clinical recommendations advising against the regular consumption of caffeinated products to prevent disturbances of the heart’s cardiac rhythm should be reconsidered, as we may unnecessarily be discouraging consumption of items like chocolate, coffee and tea that might actually have cardiovascular benefits,” says the study’s senior author, Dr. Gregory Marcus, director of clinical research in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “Given our recent work demonstrating that extra heartbeats can be dangerous, this finding is especially relevant,” Marcus adds. Marcus is referring to research that points to extra heartbeats being a cause of heart problems and stroke, but this is in rare cases.

The Results
Researchers monitored the chocolate, coffee and tea consumption of each of the 1,400 participants, and participants wore portable devices that monitored their heart rhythm continuously for 24 hours. During the course of the survey, 61 percent of participants consumed more than one of the caffeinated products daily and the results were that those who consumed more than one caffeinated item each day had no extra heartbeats. These findings are important because “this was the first community-based sample to look at the impact of caffeine on extra heartbeats, as previous studies looked at people with known (heart rhythm disorders),” says study lead author, Shalini Dixit, fourth-year medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.

The results of this study are exciting and encouraging because it was previously thought that regular caffeine consumption was related to extra heartbeats or a racing heart. This University of California, San Francisco study challenges those beliefs and asserts that caffeine can be consumed daily. It is important to note that the study looked at caffeinated products that are known to have additional health benefits (coffee, green tea and chocolate) and not drinks health experts warn people to stay away from like soft drinks. Additionally, the study authors say that before determining whether or not there are additional health risks to heavy caffeine consumption, more studies are necessary.

This study seems to confirm that like most things, caffeine in moderation is safe for your heart, and that some of the products containing caffeine may have additional health benefits. The antioxidants in coffee, green tea and chocolate provide health benefits for your body by fighting inflammation, protecting against free radicals and can even help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Enjoy these products in moderation, knowing that they won’t cause your heart to work overtime.

Woman showing a healthy heart

Heart Healthy Recipes

Following a heart-healthy diet doesn’t mean cutting flavor from your dishes, in fact increasing the amount of herbs you use while decreasing sodium can actually bring more flavor and excitement to the meals you prepare. We’ve rounded up three of our favorite heart-healthy recipes that are quick to prepare and that don’t require expert level culinary skills.

Salmon with vegetables.

Salmon with Grape Tomatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1 pt grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Black pepper (cracked or ground)
  • 1 skinless salmon filet

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, toss together the garlic, green beans, grape tomatoes and olives with one tablespoon of olive oil and add black pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables coated vegetables to a large baking sheet and roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. While the vegetables are roasting, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon filet with Himalayan pink salt and black pepper. Place salmon in skillet and cook until golden brown and opaque throughout, about four to five minutes per side. Move vegetables and salmon to a serving dish and enjoy.

Turkey soup

Turkey and Kale Soup with Quinoa and Garbanzo Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 (14 oz) cans vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot, then add turkey, garlic and onion. Cook over medium heat until onion is soft and turkey is browned. Add sage and rosemary and stir to combine, but do not allow herbs to brown. Pour vegetable broth, water, garbanzo beans and tomato paste into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add kale and quinoa. Simmer until kale is tender and quinoa is cooked. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti With Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz whole grain spaghetti
  • 6 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup fresh herbs of your choice, chopped (we recommend basil, rosemary and chives)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano to top

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook pasta according to directions on package. When done, drain and return to pot. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss cherry tomatoes with garlic, two tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Place tomatoes in oven and roast, tossing once, until they begin to burst, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add roasted tomatoes, fresh herbs and one tablespoon olive oil. Grate or shave Parmigiano Reggiano on top just before serving.

These three heart-healthy recipes are absolutely perfect for beginners and won’t have you standing in the kitchen all night to prepare a healthy, delicious meal. Experiment with different vegetables and herbs to add even more flavor to your heart-healthy foods.

Woman making a heart shape with her fingers

Your Skin and Heart Health

What if you could predict your risk for cardiovascular diseases and conditions by the simple act of looking at your skin? While it might not be that easy, recent research suggests that there are links between the health of your skin and the health of your heart. Two major studies supporting this claim include one published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and one published in the Journals of Gerontology. Keep reading to learn about the studies and what they mean for your health.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Study
The skin/heart health study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology involved more than 61,000 adults. Adults that had the inflammatory skin condition eczema were 48 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, 35 percent more likely to deal with adult-onset diabetes and 29 percent more likely to have high cholesterol than other adults. All of these ailments are risk factors that contribute to heart disease and the numbers remained the same, even after other factors that play into cardiovascular diseases such as alcohol consumption and activity levels, were controlled.

Why do those who have eczema find themselves at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease? While the exact answer is unknown, the most probable answer is that those with eczema have such intense chronic inflammation that it shows up throughout the body as opposed to just superficially on the skin. “It may be that chronic inflammation from eczema directly increases cardiovascular risk,” says Jonathan Silverberg, M.D., Ph. D, and assistant professor of dermatology and preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Silverberg notes that not all inflammation is a bad thing for your body, in face acute inflammation is the natural response your body has to harmful invaders, it is the constant deployment of natural killer cells and T cells that can interfere with vital functioning, including circulation. Additionally, Silverberg makes it clear that not everyone who suffers from eczema will have cardiovascular problems. You can help prevent both the health of your heart and skin by consuming antioxidant-rich produce, controlling stress levels and being sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

The Journals of Gerontology Study
Researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands in conjunction with scientists from Unilever observed 250 women who were separated into two groups by the researchers based on high and low cardiovascular disease risk. The scientist analyzed the skin of the faces and upper inner arms of the women and found that the women who appeared younger had lower blood pressure and heart disease risks. “We have found that the feature in the face that blood pressure was linked to was not skin wrinkles but likely what we term as ‘sag’ in the face. The exciting thing is further investigations will enable exact pinpointing of the feature in the face that signposts an individual’s blood pressure,” says Dr. David Gunn, senior scientist at Unilever.

You may not be able to determine your heart health and future cardiovascular disease risk by merely taking a peek in the mirror, but it seems that your skin may reflect more of your internal health than previously thought. You can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by engaging in a healthy, active lifestyle that includes low stress, adequate sleep and a nutritious diet. Not only will your heart thank you, but so will your skin.

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