5 Teas That Are Beneficial to Your Health

Often used in ancient herbal remedies, the tea plant — Camellia sinensis — is a proven tool in promoting health and well-being. Study after study supports the claim that various teas support physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, the variety of available teas makes it difficult for the average consumer to choose the most beneficial tea options. From green tea to black tea and everything in between, not all teas are equal. Despite the growing supply and variety of available teas, most registered dietitians agree that five teas stand out over the rest.

1. Green Tea

Medical professionals and dietitians agree that green tea is the most beneficial option. Green tea contains loads of antioxidants that help:

  • Improve brain function
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Protect against cancer
  • Aid in fat loss

One antioxidant, in particular, catechin, helps protect your body against free radicals and other harmful molecules. The substance prevents cell damage, protecting against premature aging and disease.

2. Peppermint Tea

Experts recommend drinking peppermint tea when you are not feeling 100%. The tea contains menthol, which can help when fighting a cold. Menthol essentially helps to rile up your immune system.

Peppermint tea has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Dietitians and medical professionals claim the tea can help reduce fever, relieve nasal congestion, and relax sore throats. If peppermint tea is not your drink of choice when feeling under the weather, you can also try:

  • Echinacea tea
  • Elderberry tea
  • Hibiscus tea

3. Ginger Tea

Ginger tea has proven digestive benefits. Several studies show ginger combats nausea, including morning sickness. Also, the herb helps the stomach move food to the digestive tract, easing indigestion and gastric distress.

Despite the benefits of ginger tea, many people cannot handle the strong taste. If you do not like ginger tea, consider peppermint tea. Several studies suggest peppermint can help with indigestion, but be careful because it can aggravate acid reflux symptoms.

4. Herbal Tea

Herbal teas represent a mixture of dried flowers, herbs, fruits and spices. They are not derived from the tea plant like other teas. Drinking herbal tea can improve lung health.

According to some reports, herbal teas possess anti-inflammatory properties that help relax airways, allowing for easier breathing. Herbal teas are often recommended to people with asthma and similar conditions because of their effect on the lungs. Experts recommend selecting a tea with cinnamon, turmeric, or ginger for optimum lung benefit.

5. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is an excellent option for easing a troubled mind and drifting to sleep. The chamomile plant contains the antioxidant apigenin, which attaches to brain receptors to alleviate anxiety symptoms and increase relaxation. According to some experts, chamomile acts as a mild tranquilizer.

If you don't like chamomile tea or want to try something different, choose valerian root tea. Valerian root works similarly to chamomile and promotes relaxation.

Tea is a proven health aid. While producers continue to create clever mixes, five straightforward teas are all you need to experience the many health benefits of the beverage.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Honey

If you’re anything like me, you love the sticky sweetness of honey. It’s such a versatile ingredient and tastes great on sandwich bread, drizzled over cooked carrots, and even squeezed into a cup of hot tea.

Even though I’ve enjoyed honey in many different ways throughout my life, I didn’t realize until recently that it’s more than just a tasty and versatile ingredient. It is also a therapeutic ingredient that is very good for your body! Here are some of the surprising health benefits raw honey can provide.

Antibacterial Properties

Raw honey (the kind that has not gone through the typical pasteurization process) is a natural antibacterial agent. It has a low pH level and contains both glucose oxidase and hydrogen peroxide, which make it very effective at killing bacteria that can harm your body.

Manuka honey, in particular, has powerful antimicrobial capabilities and has been shown to kill a wide variety of pathogens, including:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (which causes skin infections)
  • Escherichia coli (which causes wound infections and is a common cause of food poisoning)
  • Helicobacter pylori (which causes chronic gastritis, ulcers and other digestive issues)

If you’ve dealt with any of these types of infections or similar infections, you know firsthand how painful they can be. They can also be dangerous if not treated promptly. While I’m not saying you shouldn’t see a doctor if you know you have an infection, I am saying that honey may be able to help you recover more quickly when combined with any treatment protocol your doctor may recommend.

Cough Relief

Surprisingly, honey may be just as effective (or more effective) as over-the-counter cough medicines! Honey helps soothe coughs by coating the throat so you are less likely to feel that persistent tickle that triggers coughing. Honey also targets the microbes that are causing the cough in the first place. It’s a powerful ingredient to have around during cold and flu season.

Wound Healing

Now that you know honey is an antibacterial agent, you’re probably not surprised to learn that it can help with wound healing. Try applying raw honey directly to your minor burns and cuts, then cover the affected area with gauze or a bandage and wait for it to heal.

Diarrhea Remedy

People with mild diarrhea may experience some relief by taking a teaspoon of raw honey mixed in warm water. Research shows that a small amount of money can help those with gastroenteritis. It’s important not to take too much, though, since honey contains sugar and excess sugar can make diarrhea worse.

Antioxidant Impact

Antioxidants are beneficial compounds that reduce oxidative stress in the body and slow down the aging process. It’s important to eat raw honey to enjoy its natural antioxidant content, since heating honey through pasteurization may reduce its antioxidant content.

Nutrient Content

As if all of the above benefits weren’t enough to make you go out and buy a bunch of honey, this impressive food is also full of very important nutrients, including:

  • Niacin
  • Calcium
  • Riboflavin
  • Magnesium
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous

These ingredients can help boost your immune function so you’re less likely to get sick when exposed to various germs. They can also help improve your overall health and energy levels.

Discover the Benefits of Raw Honey for Yourself

Who knew that the unassuming, teddy bear-shaped container of raw honey in your cupboard was so powerful? If you ask me, I think it would make more sense if it were packaged in a superhero container. If you want to experience the many benefits of raw honey for yourself, try to include it in your diet each week. Since it contains sugar, it’s important not to go overboard. Just a teaspoonful here and there can go a long way toward improving your health and healing processes.

The Importance and Role of the Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland — a small butterfly-shaped gland found below the larynx — is part of the endocrine system. As a member of this system, the thyroid gland produces and regulates some aspects of hormone production in the body, specifically the production of triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

The hormones the thyroid gland produces handle metabolic function and the development of the human body. Also, the thyroid helps to regulate mood, so if it is not operating correctly, a person may experience anxiety or depression.

For such a small gland, unnoticeable by touch, the thyroid is invaluable. The body depends on the gland's proper function to regulate its metabolic rate, contributing to muscle, heart, and digestive function, bone maintenance, and brain development.

Your Brain Runs the Show, Usually

The thyroid does not act alone; it takes orders from the pituitary gland, which responds to signals from the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus, sitting above the pituitary gland, has only one job: maintaining homeostasis. Part of maintaining stability in the body is managing hormones.

While a part of the brain, the hypothalamus is also a member of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid (HPT) axis, a network critical to metabolic function. However, the hypothalamus is not the only controlling member in the network. The pituitary gland sometimes supersedes directions from the brain to help regulate hormones — a biological balance of power.

Typically, the hypothalamus signals the pituitary gland by producing and sending thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), which encourages the pituitary gland to create and send thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland. Finally, the thyroid produces the necessary hormones. However, the pituitary gland can also send TSH to the thyroid without the hypothalamus if it senses an imbalance in the blood.

Despite the apparent checks and balances of the HPT, problems can occur. Over- or underproduction of T3 and T4 can happen, and the issue can lead to lifelong health conditions.

Understanding Hyper- and Hypothyroidism

A thyroid gland is usually a well-oiled machine, producing the exact amount of hormones necessary to maintain and balance the body's metabolism. Unfortunately, several disorders can affect the production of thyroid hormones, resulting in too much or too little in the blood.

A condition known as hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland consistently produces too much hormone. Someone with hyperthyroidism might experience several symptoms, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Eye irritations
  • Sleep problems

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland produces too little hormone, resulting in slower or faster energy usage. Someone with hypothyroidism might experience several symptoms, including:

  • Slower heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hoarse voice
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Goiter

Nearly 20 million people in the U.S. have a thyroid condition, making it relatively common. However, women are five to eight times more likely to receive a diagnosis than men.

The thyroid gland is vital to the body's equilibrium. While it is a small piece of the endocrine system, its role is crucial to hormone regulation and management. If you are experiencing any symptoms related to hyper- or hypothyroidism, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.

The Role of Oral Hygiene in Your Overall Health

Oral hygiene is vital to your overall health and well-being. While you might not see the connection immediately, there is a direct link between oral health and health in general. Unfortunately, many Americans do not take adequate care of their teeth and gums. Nearly 30% of Americans have untreated tooth decay, and over 92% of the population between 20 and 64 have cavities.

Like other areas of the body, the mouth contains countless bacteria, most of which are harmless. However, as the mouth serves as the entry point to the digestive and respiratory tracts, harmful bacteria, despite being few, can cause disease or illness.

Adopting good oral habits, then, has health benefits beyond the teeth and gums. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments can reduce the number of harmful bacteria and resolve or treat dental issues before they evolve into decay and disease. While the relationship between oral hygiene and health seems strange, it is real and well-established.

How Inadequate Oral Hygiene Contributes to Health Concerns

When a person adopts good oral hygiene practices, the body's natural defenses are usually enough to combat any harmful bacteria that make it into the respiratory and digestive systems. Unfortunately, when a person does not use proper oral hygiene, harmful bacteria in the mouth can reach such levels as to lead to infection, tooth decay, or gum disease.

Also, some medicines can reduce the flow of saliva. Saliva plays a vital role in washing away food and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. When saliva production is normal, it protects against the multiplication of harmful microbes, reducing the risks of illness and disease. Medications that may lead to reduced saliva or dry mouth include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Painkillers

Finally, studies suggest inflammation caused by periodontitis and oral bacteria can contribute to some diseases. Also, certain conditions can lower the body's resistance to infection, such as diabetes.

How Certain Conditions Link To Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene can lead to minor and temporary illnesses and infections, but it can also contribute to diseases and long-term conditions. For example, studies link poor oral health to heart diseases like endocarditis.

Endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium — the inner lining of the heart valves and chambers. The condition usually occurs when bacteria from another location in the body spreads through the bloodstream, attaching to areas in the heart. Bacteria from the mouth can access the bloodstream and transfer to the heart.

Research also suggests a link between oral bacteria and other health crises. While the link is not clear, researchers note that stroke, clogged arteries, and heart disease seem connected to infections and inflammation caused by oral bacteria in some cases.

Also, poor oral health can cause pneumonia and pregnancy and birth complications, such as low birth weight. Oral hygiene can also play a role in the management of certain conditions, like diabetes.

Oral hygiene is a crucial aspect of your overall health. Maintaining good oral habits, such as brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist, can reduce the risks of bacterial infections and disease development. If you have any questions about proper oral care, contact your local dental practice.

Free Radicals: What Are They and How Do You Fight Them

Oxygen is vital to human survival, down to the body's smallest cell. However, not all oxygen is life-sustaining. Some oxygen is toxic, causing significant cellular injury. The injuries relate to the aging process.

There are tiny cellular structures inside the body called mitochondria. Researchers often refer to mitochondria as the body's power plants, burning oxygen, fat, and sugar to produce energy. The mitochondria also produce water by combining oxygen and hydrogen, but things can go wrong during the process. During the water-producing process, the mitochondria sometimes produce free radicals, a toxic oxygen pollutant.

What Is a Free Radical?

A free radical is an oxygen atom with only one electron. While the lack of an electron might not seem like a big deal on the surface, it causes the affected atom to act in a parasitic manner, stealing an electron from the nearest source. Removing an electron from another molecule creates a volatile chemical chain reaction called oxidation.

Oxidation is most visible when looking at the rust on a steel pipe or the browning of an apple when left in the air. In simple terms, oxidation speeds up the aging process, which seems bad on the surface.

Despite resulting in premature aging, oxidation is not always problematic. The body's white blood cells will release free radicals to kill bacteria. The actual issue with free radicals is when the body cannot contain or control them.

Risks of Free Radicals and Their Effect on Aging

If uncontrolled, free radicals will cause damage to cell membranes, proteins, and DNA. Mitochondria are the primary sites for free radical production and oxidative damage. The damage around the mitochondria causes the production of less energy and the generation of more free radicals, resulting in a continuous and brutal cycle.

As the damage continues, cells malfunction, leading to premature aging. According to research, free radicals and oxidative damage can contribute to malignancy, muscle diseases, cataracts, cardiovascular disease, deafness, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and aging.

While the body can produce free radicals, people also encounter them in their environment. Some ways you might experience the molecules include:

  • Manufacturing pollutants
  • Cigarette smoke
  • The sun

Reducing the Effects of Free Radicals

Over years of evolution, the body developed chemical processes to help fight and control free radicals. Primarily, the body uses nutrients, such as vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, and other cellular enzymes to combat the intrusive and abnormal oxygen atoms.

Also, you can help reduce the body's ability to produce free radicals by focusing on your caloric intake. However, the efficacy of caloric restriction depends on individual needs, so always consult a doctor before making significant changes.

Exercise and diet are the most effective tools you have to fight free radicals. However, if you are sedentary, do not rush into strenuous physical activity. Intense exercise can lead to an increase in free radical production. Build an exercise habit and program slowly. Give your body time to adapt to the change.

As for nutrition and diet, focus on lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, talk to a nutritionist or your primary care physician about your specific nutritional needs.

Free radicals can lead to premature aging. Exposure to free radicals is both biological and environmental. Exercise and diet are the best weapons you have to stave off aging and cell damage.

4 Reasons Fresh Foods Are Superior to Processed Foods

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, processed foods seem to reign supreme. Fast food and pre-packaged meals offer families more of what they often lack: time.

Unfortunately, while processed foods might give you a few extra minutes today, chronic use can result in less time later. Overly processed foods can lead to overeating, obesity, and chronic health conditions, which is why medical professionals encourage people to eat a diet of primarily fresh foods.

Fresh foods contribute to your overall health and well-being. They provide superior nutrition compared to processed foods and encourage healthy lifelong habits. According to nutritionists and other medical professionals, there are many reasons to eat fresh.

1. Fresh Foods Boost Immune Defenses

As the seasons change, winter gets closer, as does cold and flu season. While no foods can magically cure illnesses, consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can prevent infection or reduce the likelihood of sickness. Several studies suggest a healthy and balanced diet promotes good health and fortifies the immune system.

Obviously, your diet is not the only contributing factor to your level of infection risk. You will also want to maintain good hygiene and sleep practices.

2. Fresh Foods Teach Healthy Habits

Childhood obesity is a disturbing issue, and many studies suggest it is a dangerous trend that continues into adulthood. According to one study, two-year-old obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Obesity puts children at risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer as they age.

Most children can adopt healthy eating habits easily; parents only need to expose them to a healthier diet. By including plant-based foods with every meal, your child will learn its importance. Also, providing a balanced diet helps children develop a healthy relationship with food.

3. Fresh Foods Reduce Family Costs

A common argument for consuming a diet mainly comprising processed foods is cost. People assume fresh foods are more expensive, which is false in most instances. According to experts, fresh food is cheaper than processed foods with proper meal planning and effort.

The problem most people have is they attempt overly complex meals. Keep in mind that your dinners do not have to meet Michelin star restaurant standards. Using an affordable lean protein like chicken and a decent portion of fruits and vegetables is enough to make a satisfying and affordable meal at home.

4. Fresh Foods Taste Great

Clean eating is a palate awakening. Society is so used to overly salted, sugar-covered snacks that it's forgotten the delicacy of natural foods. Fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can offer a whirlwind of flavors, and the combinations are vast. If you are only willing to open up your palate to clean foods, the overwhelming available flavors might surprise you.

Fresh foods are more nutritious than most processed foods and present reduced health risks in the short and long term. While you might turn to fast food or other overly processed meals to save time, consider the potential risks of consuming such foods routinely. Fresh is best, especially where your health is concerned.

6 Foods for a Longer Life

Who doesn't want to live longer? One thing that sucks about being human is the relatively short lifespan. Thankfully, with medical advances, people are living longer than ever. You can even boost your longevity by eating the right foods. Nutritionists recommend six foods for a longer life.

1. Dark Leafy Greens

Eating dark leafy greens can slow cognitive decline. Dark leafy greens include:

  • Chard
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collards

According to a study in the Neurology journal, researchers found that participants who ate about 1.5 servings of greens daily showed less cognitive decline than those who ate less. The findings suggested the difference between the participants was equivalent to 11 years in brain health.

2. Fruits

You cannot go wrong with fresh fruit. All varieties of fruit have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and immune-supportive properties. Despite the nutritional benefits of all fruit, nutritionists and dieticians say berries are particularly advantageous because they are low in sugar, nutrient-rich, and high in fiber.

Studies show the blue-purple family of berries is especially important to immunity and brain and heart health. One study concluded that people aged 66 to 70 who drank concentrated blueberry juice daily showed improvements in memory and brain activity.

However, the benefits of fruit come from consuming clean fruit. Do not eat fruit covered in syrup or sugar; it negates the health benefits.

3. Nuts

Nuts are amazing and deserve their place on the list of life-preserving superfoods. As a dense source of nutrients, nuts support the metabolism and immune system, help balance gut health and reduce inflammation, promote heart and brain health, and act as a cancer preventative.

One study of over 7,000 adults 55 to 80 years old and at high risk of heart disease showed that eating nuts can reduce mortality. According to researchers, the participants who ate three or more one-ounce servings of nuts per week showed a 39% lower mortality risk than non-nut eaters.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains can reduce the risk of early death. The best whole grain options include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Bran
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Popcorn
  • Quinoa

According to a review of published studies, four servings of whole grains daily led to a lower risk of death than one serving or less over the 40-year study period. The researchers suggested the health benefits of whole grains stem from the foods' high fiber content. A high-fiber diet can lower cholesterol production in the body.

5. Legumes

The legume family — peas, beans, and lentils — is low in fat and high in folate, protein, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Also, studies suggest beans can reduce the risks of chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

6. Green Tea

Researchers link green tea to reduced diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's, cancer, and heart disease risks. During one study of more than 40,000 participants, adults who drank five cups or more of green tea per day were 26% less likely to die during the study than those drinking one cup.

Green tea is likely beneficial because it is nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich, which can benefit telomeres. Telomeres protect DNA and naturally shorten with age, but green tea can prevent some shortening.

If you want to improve your odds of a longer life, focus on your health. Add the above six foods to your diet and possibly add years to your life.

These Chemicals in Your Hand Lotion Can Be Harmful

Hand lotion is one of the most benign products out there, right? That’s what I thought, too. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there are some pretty shady ingredients lurking in my favorite scented lotions. Those ingredients could be responsible for everything from my frequent headaches to my imbalanced hormones. There’s even such a thing as hand lotion poisoning! Who knew?

It’s pretty hard to believe your hand lotion could be causing you health issues, right? Since I don’t want you to just take my word for it, let’s dive into some of the harmful chemicals commonly found in different brands of hand lotion.

Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a silicone-based polymer. It’s one of the most common ingredients found in lotions because it helps to condition the skin. There is a lot of controversy over this ingredient because it is known to be a hazardous ingredient if it is consumed.

Well, people don’t eat lotion, so what’s the big deal? Even though we don’t ingest the dimethicone in hand lotions, this ingredient can still enter our body through our skin. Our skin is highly porous and although it is designed to keep unwanted bacteria and other harmful foreign objects out of our bodies, much of the products we put onto our skin ends up being absorbed by our bodies.

Dimethicone can also disrupt the healthy turnover of skin cells and lead to trapped debris in the pores. These issues can cause dead skin buildup and ingrown hairs. That doesn’t sound very fun to me!

Mineral Oil

Minerals are good for our bodies, but mineral oil is another story. Research shows that mineral oil may be damaging to hormone balance. It can also cause a film on the skin that interferes with the body’s ability to produce vitamin D during sun exposure. Mineral oil can also clog your pores and cause acne and skin irritation.

Paraffins

Paraffin oil is often seen in the ingredients list of various skincare products. Paraffin oil is tasteless, colorless and insoluble in water. It can be more toxic than gasoline, especially if ingested. Accidental inhalation of paraffin oil can cause shortness of breath and coughing. Prolonged exposure to the oil on the skin can lead to contact dermatitis and skin irritation. Not to mention the fact that paraffin oil is highly flammable! All of these drawbacks make paraffin oil an unsuitable ingredient for hand lotion.

Parabens

Parabens are man-made preservatives often used in cosmetic products to help the formulas have a more stable shelf life. The problem with parabens is that they have been shown to negatively impact hormone function. When your hormones are out of balance, you’re more likely to experience changes in your immune and thyroid function. You may also notice weight and mood changes due to hormone imbalances.

The risk of infertility, obesity and allergies may be higher in people who are regularly exposed to parabens. For these reasons and more, it’s best to avoid hand lotions that include parabens in the ingredients list.

Perfumes

Perfumes are what make hand lotions fun, right? The problem is that perfumes are usually synthetic and lab-derived (which makes them more likely to cause skin irritation). Additionally, the regulations regarding what companies can put into their fragrances are very loose. Companies don’t have to list the individual ingredients in their fragrances, which means you could potentially be exposed to endocrine disruptions, carcinogens, respiratory irritants and more harmful ingredients without even knowing it.

To avoid exposing your body to any of the potentially harmful ingredients listed above, you need to be vigilant. Carefully check product labels on hand lotions and other cosmetic products to make sure they’re as free from harmful chemicals as possible.

4 Natural Sweeteners That Are Healthier Than Sugar

A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean cutting all sugar. Even medical experts recognize that there’s room for some sweetness in your daily routine. That said, too much sugar is bad for your heart, increases your risk of diabetes and adds quickly to your waistline. One tablespoon of refined sugar has 50 calories!

The Secret to Healthy Living With a Sweet Twist

One option to avoid empty calories is simply to lower the amount of added sugar you eat. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, because many manufacturers add sugar to things you wouldn’t believe: spaghetti sauce, bread, bacon, ketchup, etc. Homemade meals are easier to keep low in sugar, though.

Another trick is replacing refined sugar with healthier alternatives that are naturally low in calories. You can’t go crazy with them, but you can have a sweeter life and lose weight at the same time.

The Healthiest Sugar Alternatives

If you think outside the box, it’s not as hard as you may think to reduce added sugars. These days, there are many natural sugar alternatives. Here are the best.

1. Fruit (Fresh or Frozen)

Ditch the sugar and choose these fruits instead the next time you want to sweeten smoothies or oatmeal. Opt for unsweetened cereal or natural yogurt and add fruit for sweetness. Try these delicious superstars:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Pineapple
  • Pears
  • Figs
  • Mangos
  • Cherries
  • Cantaloupe

Health professionals agree that natural sugars in fruit aren’t a problem for your health. You can enjoy them as much as you want. They provide a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, too. Frozen fruit is almost as rich in nutrients as fresh, so feel free to choose it if it’s less expensive or more convenient.

2. Applesauce (No Added Sugar)

Technically, applesauce is fruit, too, but you use it for sweetening different things. Fruit puree makes an excellent alternative to sugar for baked goods, adding both moisture and natural sweetness. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Cupcakes with strawberry puree
  • Banana bread with guava
  • Cheesecake with passion fruit puree
  • Pumpkin-apple coffee cake
  • Dark chocolate cake with raspberries
  • Carrot cake with pineapple puree
  • Real cherry pie
  • Strawberry-kiwi dessert pizza

3. Stevia

This natural sweetener comes from the leaves of a plant native to South America. Stevia doesn’t have any calories, and it doesn’t have the negative side effects of artificial sweeteners. If you’re worried about your wallet, you should know that a little goes a long way: Stevia is 450 times sweeter than sugar.

4. Monk Fruit Extract

Like stevia, monk fruit extract comes from leaves — in this case, from a Chinese plant. Monk fruit extract packs tons of sweetness into a zero-calorie package. It also doesn’t affect blood sugar, making it a good alternative for people who need to be careful with glucose levels.

A Balanced View of Sweet Treats

The key to good physical, emotional and mental health is balance. Sometimes, enjoying a slice of apple pie with family and friends is just what the doctor ordered for reducing stress. With the help of natural sugar alternatives, you can indulge your sweet tooth without feeling guilty.

6 Benefits of Avocado for Your Skin

As a superfood, people know avocado has several health benefits. However, the fruit is capable of much more than tasting delicious and contributing to overall health and nutrition. With its impressive list of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, avocado can bolster skin health, making it an effective addition to your skincare regimen.

The beauty industry is aware of the many benefits of avocado, which is why avocado oil is a primary ingredient in many skincare lines. The unique makeup of the fruit, including the incredible stores of vitamin A, C, and E, helps the oil penetrate the skin more efficiently than other oils. Also, avocados are high in healthy fats. The nutritional punch and concentration of avocados combine to create a powerful skincare ingredient that promotes several benefits.

1. Avocado Can Soothe Skin Irritation

According to researchers, avocados' fats, vitamins, and compounds help ease surface inflammation and skin irritation. The ingredients can also help repair the skin from chronic conditions like acne and eczema. Some studies also suggest that avocados can even out skin tones and improve chapped skin.

2. Avocados Reduce Acne and Breakouts

Avocado oil also has antimicrobial properties, meaning you can use it as a cleanser. Using products that contain avocado oil can reduce the number of breakouts you experience and their severity. Also, the ingredient can help moisturize the skin, providing a more supple texture.

3. Avocados Prevent Skin Damage

Most people know the sun's UV rays can harm their skin. The damage from too much sun exposure can include premature aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer. According to reports, the combination of vitamin C and E, along with other compounds in avocados, can protect your skin against oxidative stress, which is often a result of sun exposure and other environmental factors.

4. Avocados Can Improve Elasticity

A high intake of healthy fats, primarily monounsaturated fats, can help improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. A 2010 study looked at the relationship between diet and skin condition. The study of over 700 women examined the intake of micronutrients, including fats and antioxidants, to determine the effect on the skin, and the results were positive, suggesting improved elasticity.

5. Avocados Prevent Dry Skin and Brittle Hair and Nails

Avocado oil is a wonderful moisturizer and can benefit dry skin. The primary reason for this benefit is biotin. Biotin is part of the vitamin B complex and, when applied topically, prevents dry skin. The compound also contributes to the strength of hair and nails, meaning it can help treat or correct brittleness.

6. Avocados Improve Overall Skin Health

When looking for an avocado-based product to help with overall skin health, look for a topical product with cold-pressed avocado oil as a primary ingredient. Cold-pressed oil maintains an abundance of plant sterols, antioxidants, minerals, omega-9, and vitamins, including C and E. The combination of compounds, nutrients, and minerals increases collagen production and cell turnover and reduces inflammation.

Avocados are more than a superfood. The fruit is also a premier skin treatment and ingredient. If you have not yet used avocado-based skincare products, you should. Talk to your doctor before trying new products or supplements to learn how they might interact with your current health.