Lipids profile

BLOOD PRESSURE Regular blood pressure (BP) monitoring is a ‘must’ for everyone. The normal reading is 120/80 or lower, and any number higher than 140/90 is a big ‘no-no’. The closer the More »

The Two Faces of Cholesterol

 We often hear people say that if a particular food is high in cholesterol, it should be avoided. In some cases, this generalization is true- but not always. Cholesterol can be either More »


Ganoderma lucidum and its cholesterol lowering effects

Hypercholesterol refers to level of cholesterol in the bloodstream that is higher than normal. From the previous posts, we know that high level of cholesterol in blood circulation is very dangerous as More »


Are you at the border of High Blood Pressure?

HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE AT RISK High Blood Pressure Symptoms High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms and high blood pressure often is labeled “the silent killer.” People who have More »

High blood pressure

Ganoderma lucidum and High Blood Pressure

Ganoderma lucidum and High blood pressure Physician usually advises patients with pre-hypertension or mild hypertension conditions to have lifestyle modifications as mentioned in previous post. If lifestyle changes are ineffective to bring More »

Top 10 exercise excuses





0501Fitness expert Tina Juan tells us to quit justifying our laziness and hit the gym. PART 2

6. I’m too tired.

Exercising gives you more energy to enjoy life to its fullest. The more sedentary you are, the more sluggish you will feel. The trick is not to overdo it in the beginning so you don’t get exhausted. Build your stamina gradually. You will feel your energy level increase by the day.

7. It’s too hot.
You can get around hot weather by exercising outdoors during early mornings and late afternoons, when temperatures are lowest. If you take the right safety precautions, walking in the evening can be very pleasant

8. Exercise bores me.

There are so many different forms of exercise. Find one that you enjoy and stick with it. Do you like working out alone? In groups? Walking, running, swimming and cycling can be done solo or with friends. Like music? Aerobics classes, ballroom dancing, jazz or modern dance will do the trick. Do you have an appetite for competition? Try tennis, badminton, squash and basketball. There are exercise programs for everyone.

9. I’ll just get liposuction.
No manner of cosmetic surgery will give you the vitality, stamina, strength, endurance and flexibility that exercise can give. Cosmetic surgery is helpful in improving your appearance but it will never replace the sense of physical well being that comes from being fit.

10. I have an injury.

Often, you can modify your exercise program so that you can work around your injury. Besides, you need to strengthen your injured area and the muscles around it. People with physical handicaps also need to work out.

Stop making excuses and start exercising! You owe it to yourself and your loved ones. Stop making excuses about why you can’t exercise. You only have one body. If you give it the exercise it needs and proper rest and nutrition, you will keep it in tip top condition- and you can enjoy life to the fullest.

Top 10 exercise excuses






05Fitness expert Tina Juan tells us to quit justifying our laziness and hit the gym. PART 1

Nearly everyone knows that exercise is good for our bodies. However, knowing and doing are two difference things. Many people rationalize and tell themselves they don’t need to exercise. Here are the top 10 excuses I have heard over the years and why they don’t hold water.

1. I’m too old.

A good way to grow old fast is to sit and do nothing all day long. Many of the signs of growing old- loss of strength and stamina – can actually be delayed or prevented to a large degree by exercise.

If you are older and have been sedentary for some time, get your doctor’s approval before starting an exercise program. Start slowly, be patient, and as the months go by, watch the strength and stamina of your youth return.

2. I need to lose weight first.

If you try to lose weight without exercise, you will have to make drastic cuts on your daily caloric intake. This means you will likely binge on food after depriving yourself.

Those who want to lose weight first are often embarrassed to show their bodies at the gym or while running or biking in public. If you are one of them, you have several options: Use exercise videos, follow exercise shows on TV, work out on home equipment or hire a personal trainer.

You could also start walking with an equally overweight friend.

3. I’m thin enough.
Being thin and sedentary carries more health risk than being a smoker who exercises or being overweight but doing regular exercise, according to some studies. Naturally, slim people need to exercise just as much as any other person.

4. I don’t have the time.

You can make time if you really want to. It’s a matter of getting your priorities right. With some determination, you can exercise even with the busiest of schedules. You can also incorporate exercise into your job. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Work out at a nearby gym during your lunch break. Exercise at home before or after work. There are many options for even the busiest person determined to get fit.

5. It is too expensive.

Fitness doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to join a luxurious fitness center or buy costly fitness equipment to get a good workout. You have two legs. Use them. Walking is the least expensive form of exercise and you can do it almost anywhere at any time.

Everyday nutrients


eat well plate

quik guide

Many people know vitamins may help reduce the risk of some diseases. But not many know which vitamins they need or how to determine if they’re consuming sufficient quantities of needed nutrients.

“Although research has shown the benefits of vitamins and minerals in a healthful diet, the way to get these nutrients may not necessarily be in a vitamin or mineral supplement,” says Bobby Montgomery, an exercise physiologist.

Often, you can consume the small amounts of vitamins and minerals you need by choosing a wide variety of foods.

“Your body also needs other substances found in food, such as protein, minerals, carbohydrates and fat,” say Montgomery. “Vitamins themselves often can’t work without the presence of other foods.”

According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), a balanced diet included:

Bread and grains: 6 to 11 servings per day

One serving equals one slice of bread, 1 ounce of ready to eat cereal or ½ cup of cooked cereal, rice or pasta.

Vegetables: 3 to 5 servings per day

One serving equals 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables; ½ cup of vegetables, cooked or chopped raw; or ¾ cup of vegetable juice.

Fruits: 2 to 4 servings per day

One serving equals one medium apple, banana or orange; ½ cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit; or ¾ cup of fruit juice.

Milk: yogurt and cheese: 2 to 3 servings per day

One serving equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1½ ounces of natural cheese or 2 ounces of processed cheese.

Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs and nuts: 2 to 3 servings per day

One serving equals 2 or 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish; 1 cup of cooked dry beans; 2 eggs; and 2/3 cup nuts.

Fats and sugars: Consume sparingly


Some people can benefit from taking a supplement in addition to eating a healthful diet.

According to the ADA, a vitamin supplement may be helpful if you fit any of the following profiles:

• You frequently skip meals or don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, grain and dairy products.
• You’re on a low calorie diet.
• You’re a strict vegetarian
• You can’t drink milk or eat yogurt.
• You‘re a woman of childbearing age and don’t eat fruits and vegetables.
• You are pregnant.

If you believe you should take vitamin supplements, “It’s important you first talk with your doctor or dietitian to make sure you are not taking more or less than you need and that none of the supplements could cause an interaction with medication you take or conditions you have,” says Montgomery.


To help you take supplements safely, remember:

• Self-prescribing mega doses of individual vitamin or mineral supplements can be more harmful than helpful.
• Supplements can never take the place of a healthful diet.

“It’s also crucial to remember that ‘natural’ doesn’t always mean safe,” says Montgomery.

“Good health is more than popping pills. It’s about living a healthful lifestyle with a nutritious diet and plenty of exercise.”

HealthToday August 2004

Less is best. Part 2




diet soda

ice cream

6. Cereals and breakfast bars
Surprised? Often advertised as healthy, some have a high sugar and fat content. Choose cereals and granola bars that are low in fat instead.

7. Toppings, dips and condiments
Mayonnaise and salad dressings may add flavour to your salad and sandwiches but they can be bad for health. Try to substitute with olive oil and vinegar as salad dressing.

8. Honey roasted salted nuts
The combined of sugar, fat and salt make these nuts addictive. The sugar and salt content outweigh any potential benefits you can get from the nuts.
9. Diet soda
Contrary to its name, diet soda has a high sugar content which may boost energy and increase appetite.

10. Ice cream
Irresistible but loaded with sugary fat. We know too well that too much sugar is never good for you.


Less is best. Part 1

Snacks you should eat sparingly if you want to avoid weight gain and excessive salt intake. Write Shuhada Elis.

1. Fast food
They need no introduction as kids and adults love them but they contain high trans fat which elevates the risk of coronary heart disease and obesity. So if you crave fast food, skip the fries and choose a grilled burger.

2. Baked goods
Cakes with frosting and doughnuts taste especially good during stressful times. You can have them but try making your own at home, or eat smaller quantities.

3. Packaged food
They are convenient but are laden with additives such as sweeteners, salts, artificial flavours and colouring. You may want to think twice before picking up that microwave popcorn bag or sausages on your grocery shopping trip.

4. Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies are high in fat and are usually a children’s favourite because they are sweet and tasty. If you have a sweet tooth, pick cookies with less fat.

5. Potato crisps
If you like to munch during your leisure time, substitute with baked chips or snacks with no or little fat, such as pretzels.

45. Inhibitory Effects of Components from Ganoderma lucidum

Research Institute for Wakan-Yaku
(Traditional Sino-Japanese Medicines)
Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University
Masao Hattori
1) Sahar El-Mekkawy, Meselhy and R. Meselhy

Abstract : A new highly oxygenated triterpene has been isolated from the methanol extract of the fruiting bodies of Ganoderma lucidum together with twelve known compounds. The structures of the isolated compounds were determined by spectroscopic means including 2D-NMR. Ganoderiol F and ganodermanontriol were found active as anti-HIV with an inhibitory concentration of 7.8  g/ml for both, and ganoderic acid B, ganoderiol B, ganoderic acid Cl, 3 -5 -dihydroxy-6 -methoxyergosta-7,22-diene, compound 1, ganoderic acid H and ganoderiol A were moderately active inhibitors against HIV-1 PR with a 50% inhibitory concentration of 0.17 mM.


Over the past decade, substantial progress has been made in defining strategies for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) , where natural products can serve as a source of structurally novel chemicals that are worth investigating as specific inhibitors of HIV as well as its essential enzymes, protease (PR) and reverse transcriptase (RT).
Ganoderma lucidum (Japanese name: Reishi) is one of the valuable crude drugs, which has long been used in China and Japan as a traditional Chinese medicine or a folk medicine for the treatment of various kinds of diseases1). Several biologically active triterpenes and sterols have been isolated from this mushroom and proved effective as cytotoxic2,3), antiviral4) and anti-inflammatory agents5,6). Besides, polysaccharides and glycoproteins possessing hypoglycemic7,8) and immunostimulant9-13) activities have also been isolated from its water extract. In the course of our continuing search for natural products as anti-HIV agents, the MEOH extract of the fruiting bodies was found to be moderately active against HIV-1 as well as its essential enzyme, protease (PR). Therefore this extract was selected for further fractionation. When subjected to bioassay-guided fractionation, the extract yielded several active compounds. This paper describes the isolation of thirteen compounds, and their inhibitory effects against HIV-1 and its enzyme PR.


Isolation and structure determination of compounds isolated from Ganoderma lucidum

Table 2. Inhibitory Activities of Compounds from Ganoderma lucidum against Protease and Proliferation of HIV-1
Item HIV-1 PR
IC50 (mM) IC ( g/ml) HIV-1
CC ( g/ml)
MeOHext 47.7 31.3# 125#
Compound (1) 0.19 NE  1000
Ganododeric acid A (2) NE (1000)  1000
Ganododeric acid B (3) 0.17 NE  1000
Ganoderic acid CI (4) 0.18 NE  1000
Ganoderic acid H (5) 0.20 NE  1000
Ganoderiol A (6) 0.23 NE  1000
Ganoderiol B (7) 0.17 (7.8) 500
Ganoderiol F (8) 0.32 7.8 15.6
Ganodermanontriol (9) NE 7.8 15.6
Ergosterol (10) NE 7NE 1000
Ergosterol peroxide (11) NT NE 15.6
Cerevisterol (12) NE NE 31.3
3 -5 -dihydroxy-6-B-methoxy
ergosta-7,22-dienne (13) 0.18 NE 15.6

IC, the minimum concentration for complete inhibition of HIV-1 induced CEP in MT-4 cells by microscopic observation. CC, the minimum concentration for appearance of MT-4 cell toxicity by microscopic observation. NE, not effective. ( ) , concentration at which weak anti-HIV-1 activity was observed. %Inhibition at 100 g/ml. #As  g/ml

Inhibitory effects of isolated compounds on HIV and its enzymes
Investigation of anti-HIV and PR-inhibitory activities of the isolated compounds (1-13) yielded some compounds with moderate activities (Table 2). In the primary screening test for anti-HIV activity, compounds 8 and 9 were found to inhibit HIV1 induced cytopathic effect (CPE) in MT-4 cells with a 100% inhibitory concentration (IC) value of 7.8  g/ml for both compounds, and the IC value for both was a half of the respective cytotoxic concentration (CC) value.
As for HIV-1 PR inhibitory effects, the PR activity was determined by analysing the hydrolysates of a synthetic substrate in the presence or absence of the isolated compounds using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method. Of the tested compounds, 3 and 7 were found to be the most active against HIV-1 PR enzyme with an IC50 of 0.17 mM for both compounds. Other compounds such as ganoderiol B, ganoderic acid Cl, 3 -5 -dihydroxy-6, -methoxyergosta-7,22-diene, compound 1, ganoderic acid H and ganoderiol A inhibited the enzyme activity in a similar extent.
In the present experiment, we found that 7(8), 9(11)-lanostadiene-type triterpenes had relatively strong anti-HIV activity. On the other hand, 8(9) -lanostene-type triterpenes and ergostane-type compounds 10-12 had no inhibition of HIV-induced cytopathic effects. As to HIV-protease, we could not obtain any conclusive findings on the structure-activity relationship. Lanostane-type triterpenes showed IC50 of 0.17-0.32 mM, while ergosterol derivatives had no inhibitory activity. However, it was reported that synthetic cosalane and its derivatives had an anti-HIV effect as well as inhibitory effects on RT and PR27) . Several triterpenes have been described as antiviral compounds. Glycyrrhizin displays some limited activity against a whole range of viruses including HIV-128). Salaspermic acid29) and suberol (a lanostane-type)30) inhibit HIV-1 in H9 cells in the upper micromolar range. Bile acid derivatives were found slightly active (at 10-4 M) against HIV-1 in MT-4 cells31). Betulinic acid derivatives (lupane-type) have been described as potent inhibitors of the cytopathogenicity of HIV-1 in CEM 4 and MT-4 cells without affecting HIV-1 RT or PR activity32).
When compared with other triterpenes reported, compounds 8 and 9 can be used as leads to develop other related compounds with potential anti-HIV activity. This subject will be of particular interest to be investigated in the future

1. Hanssen, H. P. (1988) Dtsch Apoth Ztg 128, 789-792.
2. Toth, J. 0., Luu, B. and Ourisson, G. (1983) Tetrahedron Letters 24, 1081-1084.
3. Kohda, H., Tokumoto, W., Sakamoto, K., Fujii, M., Hirai, Y., Yamasaki, K., Komoda, Y., Nakamura, H. Ishihara, S. and Uchida, M (1985) Chem. Pharm. Bull. 33, 1367-1373.
4. Lindequist, U., Lesnau, A., Teuscher, E. and Pilgrim, H. (1989) Pharmazie 44, 579-580.
5. Tasaka, K., Akagi, M., Miyoshi, K., Mio, M. and Makino, T. (1988) Agents Actions 23, 153-156.
6. Tasaka, K., Mio, M., lzushi, K., Akagi, M. and Makino, T. (1988) Agents Actions 23, 157-160.
7. Hikino, H. and Mizuno, T. (1989) Planta Medica 55, 358.
8. Hikino, H., Ishiyama, M., Suzuki, Y. and Konno, C. (1989) Planta Medica 55, 423-428.
9. Lei, L., S. and Lin, Z.,B. (1993) Yao-Hsueh-Hseuh-Pao 28, 577-582.
10. Lei, L., Lin, Z., Chen, Q., Li, R. and lie, Y. (1993) Zhongguo Yaolixue Yu Dulixue Zashi 7, 183.
11. Kino, K., Yamashita, A., Yamaoka, K., Watanabe, J., Tanaka, S., Ko, K., Shimizu, K. and Tsuno, H. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 264, 472-478.
12. Kino, K., Sone, T., Watanabe, J., Yamashita, A., Tsuboi, H., Miyama, H and Tsuno, H. (1985) Int. J. Immunopharmacol. 13, 109-1115.
13. He, Y., Li, R., Chen, Q., Lin, Z., Xia, D. and Ma, L. (1992) d. Chin. Pharm. Sci. 1, 79-81.
14. Kubota, T., Asaka, Y., Miura, 1. and Mori, H. (1982) Helv. Chim. Acta 65, 611-619.
15. Kikuchi, T., Matsuda, S., Murai, Y. and Ogita, Z. (1985) Chem. Pharm. Bull. 33, 2628-
16. Kikuchi, T., Kanmi, S., Kadota, S., Murai, Y., Tsubuno, K. and Ogita, Z. (1986) Chem. Pharm. Bull. 34, 3695-3712.
17. Nishitoba, T., Sato, H., Kasai, T., Kawagishi, H. and Sakamura, S. (1985) Agric. Biol. Chem. 49, 1793-1798.
18. Kikuchi, T., Kanmi, S., Kadota, S., Murai, Y., Tsubuno, K. and Ogita, Z. (1986) Chem. Pharm. Bull. 34, 4018-4029.
19. Kikuchi, T., Matsuda, S., Murai, Y. and Ogita, Z. (1985) Chem. Pharm. Bull. 33, 26242627.
20. Sato, H., Nishitoba, T., Shirasu, S., Oda, K. and Sakamura, S. (1986) Agric. Biol. Chem. 50, 2887-2890.
21. Nishitoba, T., Oda, K., Sato, H., and Sakamura, S. (1988) Agric. Biol. Chem. 52, 367-372.
22. Gunatilaka, A. A. L., Gopichand, Y., Schmitz, F. J. and Djerassi, C. (1981) J. Org. Chem. 46, 3860-3866.
23. Iorizzi, M., Minale, L. and Riecio, R. (1988) J. Nat. Prod. 51, 1098-1103.
24. Kawagishi, H., Katsumi, R., Sazawa, T., Mizuno, T., Hagiwara, T. and Nakamura, T. (1988) Phytochemistry 27, 2777-2779.
25. Morigawa, A., Kitabataki, K., Fujimoto, Y. and Ikekawa, N. (1986) Chem. Pharm. Bull. 34, 3025-3028.
26. Hirotani, M., Furuya, T. and Shiro, M. (1985) Phytochemistry 24, 2055-2061.
27. Cushman, M., Golebiewski, W. M., MeMahon, J. B., Buckheit, R. W. J., Clanton, D. J., Weislow, 0., Haugwitz, R. D., Bader, J., Graham, L. and Rice, W. G. (1994) J. Med. Chem. 37, 4030-3050.
28. Pompei, R., Flore, 0., Marccialis, M. A., Pani, A. and Loddo, B. (1979) Nature 218, 689-690.
29. Chen, K., Shi, Q., Kashiwada, Y., Zhang, D.-C., Hu, C.-Q., Jin, J.-Q., Nozaki, H., Kilkuskie, R. E., Tramontano, E., Cheng, Y. C., MaPhail, D. R. and Lee, K.-H. (1992). Nat. Prod. 55, 340-346.
30. Li, H.-Y., Sun, N.-J., Kashiwada, Y., Sun, L., Snider, J. V., Cosentino, L. M. and Lee, K.-H. (1993) J. Nat. Prod. 56, 1130-1133
31. Baba, M., Schols, D., Nakashirna, ll., Pauwels, R. Parmentier, G. Meijer, D. K. F. and DeClercq, E. (1989) J. Acquired Immune Defic. Syndr. 2, 264-271.
32. Evers, M., Poujade, C., Soler, F., Ribeill, Y., James, C., Lelievre, Y., Gueguen, J.-C., Reisdorf, D., Morize, I., Pauwels, R., DeClercq, E., Henin, Y., Bousseau, A., Mayaux, J.-F., LePecq, J.-B. and Dereu, N. (1996) J. Med. Chem. 39, 1059-1068.

Eat well to get well

Part 2
6. Dried fruit
It provides energy, vitamins and fiber. You can also add dried fruit to cereal.
7. Honey
Another calorie-dense option, honey is a good antidote for that bitter taste in the mouth. Add to drinks, water, cereal, bread or waffle.

8. Canned fruit
An easy way to get calories is from canned fruit in syrup since the sugar will deliver the much needed extra energy. Canned fruit is also softer and easier to chew.

9. Beans
A good source of protein which is important for muscle building, beans (like black, kidney, pinto) can be added to soups and stews to warm the tummy.

10. Water
It is important to stay hydrated during treatment as water flushes out toxins, keeps the body cool and helps metabolise food better. So drink up to get well faster.

New Straits Times page 2 LIFE & TIMES HEALTH. 31 Jan 2012

Eat well to get well

Part 1
Cancer patients undergoing treatment need to eat well to replenish lost energy. Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan offers nutritious suggestions.

For someone undergoing cancer treatment, eating is the last thing he or she wants to do. With mouth ulcers, soreness and body ache, meals are no longer a delightful routine. But a patient must eat good food to replenish the energy lost during treatment.

Mayo Clinic website suggests that food must be packed with nutrition and calories to nourish the body. Schedule mealtimes and eat small portions if the patient cannot eat a regular sized meal. Select foods that don’t have strong smells in case he or she is put off by the aroma.

Always consult your doctor on what‘s best to consume. But here are some tips and food suggestions for those undergoing treatments.

1. Butter and olive oil
To increase calorie intake, use butter on potato, bread and toast and olive oil on rice, pasta and vegetable. Don’t worry about the fat quotient. When you feel better, you can make better food choices.
2. Peanut butter

Peanut butter makes you feel full fast and the natural one are packed with protein and good fats, so spread it on banana, apple, toast or pretzel.

3. Sandwich
Sandwich is an all in meal that takes minimal effort to prepare. Fill up with tuna, lean chicken or turkey and vegetable. Add avocado as dressing.
4. Milkshake
Packed with calories, milkshakes can be made easily with fresh milk, ice cream and your favourite flavour (chocolate or fruit) for a delicious refreshing drink. Or make a float or drink- chocolate milk.

5. Fruit juice

It provides calories and vitamins and when taste buds are off,
a glass of fruit juice is refreshing and invigorating. Try mixing different types of fruit for a different taste.

New Food Pyramid

A two-decade old icon of healthy eating–the food pyramid—is now ancient history. In what the US Department of Agriculture calls a “monumental effort” to improve the nation’s diet amid the obesity epidemic, the government has dished up a new plate-shaped graphic with massive fanfare from the Obama administration.

The new symbol, which is accompanied by a new website, reportedly cost $2 million to develop. You’ll see the plate everywhere—restaurants, grocery stores, schools, workplaces and online— since the government hopes it will soon become as familiar as the pyramid, recognized by more than 80 percent of Americans. The White House is spearheading the launch of the icon, aimed at boosting awareness of new federal dietary guidelines issued in January. The easy-to-understand graphic augments Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move anti-obesity initiative.
What does the plate symbolize? The icon, which resembles a pie chart or pizza, is sliced into four colorful wedges to illustrate the amounts of each food group—fruits, vegetables, grains and protein–the USDA advises. Half of the plate is covered with fruits and vegetables, the cornerstones of a healthy diet. According to the NY Times, a smaller circle next to the plate represents dairy products, such as a glass of low-fat milk. The idea is to suggest that what we put on our plate makes a key difference to health.

What’s behind the symbol swap? Introduced in 1992, the food pyramid sparked controversy, with the meat and dairy industries contending that it stigmatized their products by placing them near the top (foods to eat in smaller portions). A 2005 update called MyPyramid, issued with the motto, “Steps to a Healthier You,” showed a stick figure climbing the pyramid, which was redesigned with a jumble of food images at the base. Nutritionists deemed the 2005 version confusing and all but useless since it didn’t provide visual guidance on how much of each food to eat.
What’s the government’s new dietary advice? The USDA has developed six steps to healthy eating to be released along with the food plate icon:
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Eating more of these foods can save your life. A study of more that 313,000 men and women reported earlier this year that for each extra serving of these fruits and vegetables people ate daily, risk of fatal cardiovascular disease shrank by four percent. People who ate at least eight 2.8-ounce servings a day had a 25 percent lower risk than those who consumed fewer than three portions. Eating more fruits and vegetables helps you slim down, since these nutrient-rich, low-cal foods are filling.
• Avoid super sized portions. One simple trick that helps with portion control is to use smaller plates. 12-inch plates are now commonplace—and a factor in the obesity epidemic. Switching to an 8-inch plate could help shrink your waistline and risk for chronic diseases.
• Enjoy tasty meals, but eat less. An ongoing study of Okinawans, who have one of the world’s highest rates of people living to age 100 and beyond, reveals a key factor in why they live so long: the cultural practice of “hara hachi bu,” only eating until they feel 80 percent full.
• Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products. You’ll get the calcium and vitamin D (in fortified products) that you need to maintain strong bones with fewer calories.
• Read labels and pick foods with less sodium. While the government urges shaking the salt habit, there’s now medical debate about how helpful this is for people without high blood pressure—a disorder that affects one in three American adults. In May, a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association reported that healthy people who consume the least sodium don’t have any heart-health advantage over those who eat the most. However, the findings are controversial and some nutritionists question the methodology.
• Quench thirst with water instead of sweet drinks. Not only are sugary beverages fattening, but a recent study linked them to 14,000 new cases of heart disease, 75,000 new cases of type 2 diabetes, and 7,000 premature deaths over the past decade. What’s more, swigging just two sugary drinks a day hikes diabetes risk by 26 percent—an excellent reason to shun soda and wash down your next meal with a cool, refreshing glass of water.