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Fri, Sept. 20

From the Dietitian’s Notebook: Leftovers, habits and longevity

Q. Why is getting rid of a bad health habit so hard to do?

A. Currently, this is an interesting subject of scientific study. Recent findings from Duke University scientists point out that when you form any habit, it leaves a lasting impression on specific “go” behavior circuits in the brain, which can then prompt you to give in to certain cravings. More research is clearly needed on this complex subject.

Q. I find the commercial “brain games” tiresome and would like to know what you’d recommend to help me stay mentally sharp?

A. Well, according to researchers at the University of Texas in Dallas, it takes a sustained mental effort along with a new unfamiliar activity, such as trying digital photography, learning a new language, or perhaps diving into the complexities of social media in order to help support cognitive (brain) vitality. Another way of looking at this is to consider your brain a muscle and find opportunities to flex it, which could also involve starting a new hobby or perhaps doing something nice for yourself. Happiness is good for the brain because it helps increase the brain’s memory portion known as the hippocampus, which processes new memories for long-term storage.

Q. I want to live to be 90 years old and still feel like I’m 20. How do I do this?

A. Great question. To begin with, many health experts believe that “youthfulness” is more about how old you feel inside, rather than your chronological age. Furthermore, the health of your body’s cellular mitochondria (energy producers) is also very important because they are vital to your health and well-being. Healthy longevity is neither an accident nor an isolated phenomenon. It’s a product of specific healthy life choices. In addition to physical activity, which helps every organ in the body from the brain to the heart, and having a positive attitude towards life, there are foods that many health experts refer to as “longevity foods.” For example, eating an ounce of nuts daily was shown to reduce the rate of dying from any health cause by a full 20 percent because nuts are chock full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Other longevity foods include sprouts and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and fermented radishes, carrots and soybeans, which give your digestive system a boost through supporting naturally occurring beneficial bacteria. I will be talking

about longevity foods on my March television nutrition segment on “The Morning Scramble.”

Q. Does a day-old beet greens, lettuce and kale salad have less nutritional value than kale, beet greens and lettuce that are fresher?

A. While kale is quite hardy compared to both beet greens and lettuce, there’s still a gradual loss in nutrient content in leftover kale, lettuce and beet greens. What’s more, at the point in which fresh fruit or vegetables are harvested, there begins to develop a gradual loss of nutrients. It’s also important to remember to keep all leftover salads refrigerated because vitamins such as vitamin C and folate (B-vitamin) are temperature sensitive. This is not true of minerals, which retain their nutritional values at any temperature.

Learn more about Registered Dietitian Nutritionist/author Deralee Scanlon on her website: and watch her monthly segments on “The Morning Scramble.”

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