PEANUT BUTTER PLUS
A self-professed peanut butter junkie, nutritionist/dietician Betsy Opyt decided there had to be a way to make peanut butter even better. And oh has she ever. Her line of non-GMO (genetically modified organism) peanut butter, almond butter and seed butter (delicious and safe for those with nut allergies) uses a dash of cinnamon, organic honey, chia seeds, Himalayan pink salt, demerara sugar and stevia to create an addictive spread that is not only good, but good for you. Not surprisingly, Opyt painstakingly researched all of the ingredients and their sources before choosing. The result is sublimely tasty. It’s nutty, cinnamon-y and sweet. The hint of stevia adds all-natural sweetness without any calories, Opyt says. In fact, the line is no higher in calories than other brands. Next up? Opyt plans to launch an entire functional food line of healthy snacks, including chia pudding, kale chips, buckwheat granola and more. betsysbest.com
SUNSHINE IN A PILL Do you have high LDL cholesterol? You might want to think about taking 400 IU of vitamin D daily. Researchers say that’s the amount used in a study that found users reduce their cholesterol by almost 5 percent.
REINVENTING THE BIKE HELMET
If you think bicycle helmets look crazy, raise your hand. Well, that was just about everyone. But if you love your noggin, a bicycle helmet is a must. Now a new product by a Swedish company is not only reinventing the bicycle helmet; it is doing so with a sense of style. Designed to look like a luxury scarf, the device is worn like a collar every time you cycle. It features a built-in gyroscope able to detect angular shifts and an accelerometer that senses sudden changes in speed. If an accident is detected, it inflates in a fraction of a second. And tests have shown it to be far more effective than traditional Styrofoam helmets. The downside? It costs $546 and hasn’t been approved for sale in the United States just yet. But it will be here soon. hovding.com/en
FEELING BLUE? TRY NUTS
If you’re feeling blue and not sure what to do, we have a suggestion—try a cashew. It turns out that the nut contains a very healthy dose of tryptophan. Recent research suggests foods high in tryptophan (like cashews) can boost the body’s level of serotonin, a lack of which can trigger depressive episodes. A handful of cashews provides between 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams of tryptophan, which researchers say works as well as prescription antidepressants. And, as a bonus, the nut has high levels of magnesium and vitamin B6, which stabilize mood.
REBUILDING YOUR MUSCLES?
As we age, our muscles tend to lose mass, strength and the ability to heal at the rate they did when we were younger. A recent study featured in Nature Medicine magazine found that burned-out stem cells are the culprit. The study, which examined mice, found that two particular proteins become overactive and function improperly. When researchers isolated and blocked the two proteins, the stem cells worked normally. When those rejuvenated stem cells were then transplanted back into the muscles, the elderly mice showed huge improvements compared to mice their age. While human studies are still in the future, researchers caution this appears to be more of a therapeutic approach rather than a magic elixir akin to the Fountain of Youth.
MARRIAGE IS GOOD FOR BLOOD PRESSURE
A new study in The Journal of Hypertension found that marriage may, in fact, be good for you. Researchers at Harvard Medical School followed 325 adults who were given strict diets and wore devices that track blood pressure over the course of two years. Half of the subjects were married. Under normal circumstances, blood pressure dips approximately 10 percent during the night. Failure to do so is associated with cardiovascular problems and higher mortality, says study author Finnian R. McCausland. The subjects who were married (especially the men) were much more likely to experience the nocturnal dipping than those who were unmarried. Researchers speculate marriage provides a level of social support that encourages better health.
HIGH-TECH CATARACT TREATMENT
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but as we age those windows tend to fog up. Cataracts are a very real possibility for a majority of people during their lifetime. But statistics show that cataract surgery has a 98 percent success rate. Part of the reason for that is the advanced technology that has been embraced by eye doctors. And in Southwest Florida, Dr. Jonathan Frantz has been on the cutting edge of cataract surgery since introducing bladeless cataract surgery to Southwest Florida. Frantz is once again bringing a new technology to the area as Frantz EyeCare is the first and only practice in Florida using the Verion Image Guided System. It’s designed to improve accuracy by creating a blueprint of a patient’s eye to ensure the best possible outcome. bettervision.net
PEPPERMINT POWER A 2013 study found that when participants drank water infused with peppermint for 10 days it reduced their perceived physical workload during stress tests and improved their pain threshold.