Eat walnuts, live longer
When Tony Soprano’s loyal enforcer Paulie “Walnuts” did a job for his boss, you could bet someone’s health was going to take a turn for the worse. In real life, there’s nothing about walnuts that threatens your wellbeing. In fact, according to a new Harvard study, eating walnuts a few times a week can help you live longer and healthier.
The study, published in Nutrients, looked at data on 100,000 people, average age 63, and found that, compared with folks who never eat walnuts, enjoying 5 or more ounces weekly appears to lower your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 25 percent and extend your life by one and a half years. Eating 2 to 4 ounces weekly may reduce the risk by 14 percent, and you’ll add around one year to your life. And for folks with the poorest level of nutrition, eating a half an ounce of walnuts a day slashes their risk of cardiovascular disease by 26 percent.
What’s in walnuts that makes you live longer and healthier? It’s probably the blend of healthy fats and nutrients: One ounce contains 4 grams of protein; 2 grams fiber; 45 milligrams magnesium; 2.5 milligrams of the omega-3 called ALA, which promotes absorption of nutrients, fights inflammation, lowers LDL cholesterol, and stabilizes glucose levels; and other poly/monounsaturated fats.
So enjoy walnuts — but don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ll make up for a saturated-fat dense, ultraprocessed diet! Their real power shines through when they’re part of a plant-based diet, free from red meats, added sugars and refined carbs.
Time-restricted eating gets another round of applause
Time travel that lets you zip ahead 1,000 years to see what’s going to happen in the future is a concept that’s fascinated everyone from H.G. Wells, who wrote “The Time Machine” in 1895, to Stephen Hawking, in his 2018, posthumously published “Brief Answers to the Big Questions.” But it’s only recently that people have been talking about the far-reaching possibilities of time restriction — as in time-restricted eating (TRE).
Dr. Mike set out the guidelines for TRE in his book “What to Eat When”: Eat when the sun is up, have most calories before 3 p.m. and confine eating to nine to 12 hours a day. Now, a new study on mice delves into differences in TRE’s benefits for males and females (prior lab studies were only of male mice).
In a study in Cell Reports, researchers found that TRE has significant benefits for young and old, male and female. The benefits include protection from fatty liver disease, pre- and full-blown diabetes, and infectious diseases and sepsis, a life-threatening response to infection. For males, TRE also helps with managing weight, preserving and adding muscle mass and muscle performance — at any age. For women, to gain the weight-managing benefits of TRE, try adding another 30 minutes of exercise or strength training five days a week.
If you’re interested in trying TRE, remember time-restricted doesn’t mean that what you eat is unrestricted. It’s still essential to stick with a plant-based diet; animal protein as a side, not an entree; and healthy fats from olive oil, avocados, walnuts and salmon.
Eating your way to better health for you and Mother Earth
There’s no way to describe the plot of Laurel and Hardy’s 1935 movie “Tit for Tat” — suffice it to say, it involves misplaced revenge, a lemon meringue pie and shoplifting. Nonetheless, the takeaway is worth paying attention to: Bad choices lead to even worse results.
That’s the same point that’s made in a study published in Nature Food: The unhealthy food choices you make have a measurable negative impact on your health and on the health of the planet. Tit for tat!
Researchers did a detailed evaluation of 5,800 foods, ranking them according to their positive or negative impact on human health and the environment. They discovered you can lose up to 71 minutes of healthy living for every serving of corned beef with tomato sauce you chow down (the beef is so negative that the benefits of the tomatoes are canceled out). However, you gain up to 82 minutes for every serving of sardines with tomato sauce.
Mother Earth also wins if you make smart food choices: Substituting 10 percent of your daily calories from beef and processed meats for a mix of field-grown fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes and select seafood (not shrimp!) could reduce the carbon footprint of your diet by 33 percent, while you gain 48 minutes of healthy living a day.
So, are you stepping into a future with a healthier planet — and a healthier you? You can do both, says the study, by choosing every day to eat nuts, legumes, nonstarchy vegetables, fruit, whole grains and sustainable seafood.
Have you been fructosed?
The Hollywood Reporter says that when movies laced with strong language end up on TV, the offensive words are often taken out and others that sort of fit the speech patterns are dropped in — whether they make any sense or not. When “The Usual Suspects” was broadcast, one irate thug ended up shouting, “Hand me the keys, you fairy godmother.”
Despite the ridiculous dialogue, we’re all for getting F-bombs out of everyday life — especially F-bombs like excess fructose and high fructose syrup (HFCS). A lab study published in Nature shows that eating too much of this sugar, which is found in fruit (that’s OK when it’s whole fruit packed with fiber) and added to prepared and packaged foods and drinks (not OK), changes the way cells in the digestive tract interact with food.
Seems the fructose revs up your villi — tiny hairlike structures that line your intestine’s walls and help shuttle nutrients, fat and sugars from your gut into your body. When they get bombarded with fructose, they grow up to 40 percent larger, and they move a lot more calories, fat and glucose into your bloodstream. The result is excess weight and an increased risk of cancer.
So give F-bombs the boot. Read ingredient and nutrition labels on packaged foods and drinks, and don’t buy any with added fructose or HFCS. Soda, candies, sweetened yogurts, salad dressings, some canned fruits and juices, as well as cereals, boxed dinners, and all kinds of snack bars, coffee creamers and ice creams are the usual suspects.
Brief, intense, effective: How IRT can lower your blood pressure
The Interborough Rapid Transit underground subway line opened in New York City in 1904, running for around 10 miles between City Hall and 145th Street in Manhattan. But it got longer and stronger over the decades as it became a major part of the city’s 248-mile-long subway system.
Another form of IRT — isometric resistance training — can help you run longer and stronger, too. It does that by placing tension on muscles without any motion in your surrounding joints or any lengthening and contracting of the muscles.
According to a new study published in Nature, IRT is a safe and effective way to lower your blood pressure. Looking at data from 24 trials, the researchers found that regularly doing IRT using a simple handgrip lowered systolic blood pressure by almost 7 mmHg and diastolic by almost 4 mmHg. Bonus: You can easily sneak IRT into your day! It takes only 12 minutes two to three days a week to see positive results using a handgrip device (or just making a fist very intently).
Other forms of IRT include planks, ab/core contractions and the wall sit — a workout for quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. 1. Stand about 2 feet from a wall and lean your back against it. 2. Sink down so your thighs are parallel with the floor, if possible. 3. Hold for 15 seconds. 4. Aim for five rounds of 15 seconds each. For other IRT exercises, Google “isometric exercises”; go to videos. Start slowly. You want to contract your muscles, not contract an injury.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.