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Whole Grain Benefits

5 Blue Zones Herbs The Longest-Living People Eat Daily



HPeas have been shown to have an endless array of health benefits – including helping a healthy immune system, fighting free radicals and inflammation in the body, and even fighting off chronic diseases like cancer – which means they can naturally work with a increased correlate longevity. And if you look at the Blue Zones, it makes sense, because herbs and spices are an integral part of the dishes in each of these regions (drinks included).

It has been found that the people who live in the five regions of the Blue Zone are some of the longest-lived people in the world. In these areas, not only do people regularly live in the three-digit range, but their minds and bodies still function well. There are many lifestyle factors that Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner noted is shared by people in these regions – including low stress levels, exercise throughout the day, and a sense of purpose. However, a significant amount of research on longevity has been traced back to healthy eating habits. The most commonly consumed meals in the Blue Zones contain no processed ingredients or added sugars; rather, they consist of whole foods, especially plants. These include a range of healthy herbs, spices, and allium that have been shown to reduce the risk of disease and promote longevity.

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Herbs in particular offer a double punch. They contain antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that boost heart health, immunity, and healing, and they add flavor to food with no nutritional drawbacks (read: Using Herbs as a Flavoring Agent will reduce your temptation to revert to the salt shaker or smear on a sugary one Sauce). While there is a lot of overlap – and all of these herbs are common across these five regions across the board – some of them are particularly popular in the meals of the people who live in each individual zone.

Here are five herbs that are widely used in the diet of the Blue Zone regions. Including them in your kitchen gives you a heart-healthy, antioxidant boost linked to longevity. And in the short term, they also make everything you eat taste better.

5 Blue Zones Herbs To Add To Your Pantry For Long Life (And Flavor Enhancing) Benefits

1. Fennel

Fennel can be used in three different ways: the onion is used as a vegetable, the fronds as a herb, and the seeds as a spice. Talk about a high flyer. “Fennel is high in vitamins A, B and C, is high in fiber, and can also act as a diuretic and help control blood pressure,” said Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Association. Both the onion and the seeds of the fennel plant contain the mineral manganese, which is important for enzyme activation, cell protection, bone structure, blood sugar regulation and wound healing. Fennel also provides other minerals important for bone health (such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium) and contains dozens of botanicals that act as powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents.

When it comes to cooking, fennel is incredibly versatile – do you remember the three different and delicious edible parts mentioned above? You can serve fennel as a roasted vegetable garnish, cut it raw in salads or toast the fronts and / or kernels and puree them to make dips and spreads. It also tastes delicious in soups and pasta – just like in the Blue Zone of Sardinia. “Fennel is used in a Sardinian minestrone soup, which is a staple there. It’s made from seasonal vegetables, herbs and beans, ”adds Harris-Pincus. That gives you a nice dose of fiber and protein in addition to these immune boosting properties.

2. Oregano

“Oregano is high in antioxidants and compounds that have been shown to help fight bacteria,” says Harris-Pincus. The antioxidants can help prevent cell damage by neutralizing disease-causing free radicals in the body and reducing inflammation. And on the antibacterial front, there’s actually a study that found oregano was effective against 23 types of bacteria.

In addition to offering a range of health benefits, oregano enhances the flavor of other nutrient-dense dishes and makes plant-based foods like vegetables and beans even more inviting. “This herb improves the taste of any tomato-based, vegetarian chilli, fish or bean dish.” The rich herbal taste of oregano goes perfectly with seafood, Greek salads or in soups, moussaka or whole wheat pasta.

Sage is another option that is similar to oregano in properties. “Sage has properties that strengthen bones and can play a role in lowering Alzheimer’s and dementia rates,” says Harris-Pincus. Try sage with turkey, chicken, or roasted mushrooms to enhance the flavor. “Sage makes a nice accompaniment to poultry, all bread dishes such as fillings, sauces, marinades and even tea,” adds Harris-Pincus. Herbal tea is incredibly popular in the Blue Zone of Ikaria, Greece, where the locals drink it daily.

3. Rosemary

Not only does rosemary taste delicious in a variety of dishes, it’s also a great source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6. The herb has also been shown to promote cognitive health, increase memory retention, and help your immune system function optimally. This is because rosemary contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which can fight off free radical damage in the brain, but also because of its delicious (and strong) flavor. According to research in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, the scent of rosemary has the potential to improve your focus, performance, speed, and accuracy, and to a lesser extent, your mood.

“Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants that can also help fight aging and boost your immune system,” says Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN. “Try drinking rosemary tea or sprinkling rosemary over grilled vegetables,” says Schapiro. You can also use it in chicken, lamb, and salmon recipes with a dash of citrus.

4. Coriander

Coriander is a living herb that is commonly used in the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, one of the five regions of the Blue Zone. It is high in antioxidants and has been shown to fight inflammation and lower the risk of certain chronic diseases, particularly heart disease. A study in mice also found that cilantro produced improved memories, suggesting the plant might have uses in Alzheimer’s disease, but more research is needed.

“Coriander can also aid digestion, lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Harris-Pincus. “It’s also great in salsa, bean salad, and even in a pesto instead of basil. “It also tastes delicious on tacos, salads, enchiladas, grain bowls, in egg dishes and much more.

5. Garlic

Garlic has been known for its medicinal properties for centuries, which makes sense as it is a staple food in all regions of the Blue Zone, particularly Okinawa, Japan. While technically not an herb – garlic is a plant in the allium (onion) family – it is used as a similar health-promoting flavor in cooking. “It has been shown time and again that garlic strengthens the immune system and fights colds. It can also help lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, ”says Schapiro. In one study, 600 mg to 1,500 mg of aged garlic extract was shown to be as effective as the drug atenolol in lowering blood pressure over a six-month period.

This ingredient is clearly linked to longevity. Try adding garlic to some sauteed spinach and brown rice. Pour it in olive oil and marinades or use it in stir-fries, as a condiment for dips or with fried fish.

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Whole Grain Benefits

For the 55-and-over crowd, March 27-April 3, 2022 | Local News



For information about services available to older adults, contact Pam Jacobsen, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Helen Mary Stevick Senior Citizens Center, 2102 Windsor Place, C, at 217-359-6500.

RSVP and the Stevick Center are administered by Family Service of Champaign County.


  • Active Senior Republicans in Champaign County’s monthly meeting will be held at 9:30 am on April 4 in the Robeson Pavilion Room A & B at the Champaign Public Library. This month’s speakers will be Jesse Reising, Regan Deering and Matt Hausman, Republican primary candidates for the newly redrawn 13th Congressional District.
  • Parkland Theater House needs four ushers each night for “The SpongeBob Musical,” opening April 14. There will be nine shows in total — April 14-16, April 22-24 and April 29-May 1. For details, call or email Michael Atherton, Parkland Theater House Manager, or 217-373-3874.
  • Parkland College also needs four volunteers for commencement. The commencement ceremony will be in person at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at 8 pm May 12. Volunteers needed from 6:30 to 8 pm For details, contact Tracy Kleparski, Director of Student Life, at or 217- 351-2206.
  • The Milford High School National Honor Society and Student Council is hosting a Senior Citizens Banquet at 6 pm April 22. The event will be held in the MAPS #124 Gymnasium (park at south doors at Milford High School. To RSVP, call Sandy Potter at 815-471-4213.


Knit or crochet for those in need:

Meditative Movement with Yoga:

  • 9 to 10:15 am Tuesdays and Thursdays.


  • 11 am to noon, second and fourth Tuesdays. Call 217-359-6500.


  • Noon to 3 pm Thursdays.


Card game 13:

  • To sign up to play, call 217-359-6500 and ask for Debbie.

Men’s group:

  • 9 am Monday-Friday. Join us for a cup of coffee and great conversation.


The Peace Meal Nutrition Program provides daily hot lunches at 11:30 am for a small donation and a one-day advance reservation at sites in Champaign, Urbana, Rantoul, Sidney (home delivery only), Mahomet (home delivery only) and Homer.

For reservations, call 800-543-1770. Reservations for Monday need to be made by noon Friday.

NOTE: There is no change for home deliveries, but at congregate sites, you can get a carry-out meal.


  • BBQ pork sandwich, mini potato bakers, corn, creamy cole slaw, bun.


  • Turkey pot roast with carrots and celery, Italian green beans, pineapple, whole grain roll.


  • Savory sausage stew, broccoli, chunky apple sauce, biscuit, surprise dessert.


  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, tomatoes and zucchini, apricots, whole-grain roll.


  • Chef’s choice — regional favorites will be served.


If you are 55 and older and want to volunteer in your community, RSVP (funded by AmeriCorps Seniors and the Illinois Department on Aging) provides a unique link to local nonprofits needing help. We offer support, benefits and a safe connection to partner sites.

Contact Pam Jacobsen at or 217-359-6500.


Senior Volunteers.

  • RSVP of Champaign, Douglas and Piatt counties/AmeriCorps Senior Volunteers is your link to over 100 nonprofit organizations. Please contact Pam Jacobsen at or call 217-359-6500 for volunteer information.

Food for seniors. Handlers needed to unload boxes of food for repackaging at 7 am on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. We are looking for backup delivery drivers to deliver food to seniors. Contact Robbie Edwards at 217-359-6500 for info.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The future of nutrition advice



By Lisa Drayer, CNN

(CNN) — Most of us know we should eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

So why would the National Institutes of Health spend $150 million to answer questions such as “What and when should we eat?” and “How can we improve the use of food as medicine?”

The answer may be precision nutrition, which aims to understand the health effects of the complex interplay among genetics, our microbiome (the bacteria living in our gut), our diet and level of physical activity, and other social and behavioral characteristics.

That means that everyone could have their own unique set of nutritional requirements.

How is that possible? I asked three experts who conduct precision nutrition research: Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Martha Field and Angela Poole, both assistant professors in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology.

Below is an edited version of our conversation.

CNN: How is precision nutrition different from current nutrition advice?

dr Frank Hu: The idea of ​​precision nutrition is to have the right food, at the right amount, for the right person. Instead of providing general dietary recommendations for everyone, this precision approach tailors nutrition recommendations to individual characteristics, including one’s genetic background, microbiome, social and environmental factors, and more. This can help achieve better health outcomes.

CNN: Why is there no one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to what we should be eating?

Huh: Not everyone responds to the same diet in the same way. For example, given the same weight-loss diet, some people can lose a lot of weight; other people may gain weight. A recent study in JAMA randomized a few hundred overweight individuals to a healthy low-carb or low-fat diet. After a year, there was almost an identical amount of weight loss for the two groups, but there was a huge variation between individuals within each group — some lost 20 pounds. Others gained 10 pounds.

Martha Field: Individuals have unique responses to diet, and the “fine adjust” of precision nutrition is understanding those responses. This means understanding interactions among genetics, individual differences in metabolism, and responses to exercise.

CNN: How do we eat based on precision nutrition principles now?

Huh: There are some examples of personalized diets for disease management, like a gluten-free diet for the management of celiac disease, or a lactose-free diet if you are lactose intolerant. For individuals with a condition known as PKU (phenylketonuria), they should consume (a) phenylalanine-free diet. It’s a rare condition but a classic example of how your genes can influence what type of diets you should consume.

Angela Poole: If I had a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes or colon cancer, I would increase my dietary fiber intake, eating a lot of different sources, including a variety of vegetables.

fields: If you have high blood pressure, you should be more conscious of sodium intake. Anyone with a malabsorption issue might have a need for higher levels of micronutrients such as B vitamins and some minerals.

CNN: There is research showing that people metabolize coffee differently. What are the implications here?

Huh: Some people carry fast caffeine-metabolizing genes; others carry slow genes. If you carry fast (metabolizing) genotypes, you can drink a lot of caffeinated coffee because caffeine is broken down quickly. If you are a slow metabolizer, you get jittery and may not be able to sleep if you drink coffee in the afternoon. If that’s the case, you can drink decaf coffee and still get the benefits of coffee’s polyphenols, which are associated with decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes without the effects of caffeine.

CNN: How much of a role do our individual genes play in our risk of disease? And can our behavior mitigate our disease risk?

Huh: Our health is affected by both genes and diets, which constantly interact with each other because certain dietary factors can turn on or off some disease-related genes. We published research showing that reducing consumption of sugary beverages can offset the negative effects of obesity genes. That’s really good news. Our genes are not our destiny.

Another area of ​​precision nutrition is to measure blood or urine metabolites, small molecules produced during the breakdown and ingestion of food. For example, having a higher concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) strongly predicts one’s future risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The blood levels of BCAAs depend on individuals’ diet, genes and gut microbiome. We found that eating a healthy (Mediterranean-style) diet can mitigate harmful effects of BCAAs on cardiovascular disease. So measuring BCAAs in your blood may help to evaluate your risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage dietary changes that can lower the risk of chronic diseases down the road.

fields: The environmental effects can sometimes be on the same magnitude as the genetic effects with respect to risk for disease.

CNN: Our individual microbiomes may be able to dictate what type of diet we should be consuming. Can you tell us about this emerging research? And what do you think of microbiome tests?

Poole: Research has shown that in some people, their blood sugar will spike higher from eating bananas than from eating cookies, and this has been associated with microbiome composition. Scientists have used microbiome data to build algorithms that can predict an individual’s glucose response, and this is a major advance. But that’s not an excuse for me to shovel down cookies instead of bananas. Likewise, if the algorithm suggests eating white bread instead of whole-wheat bread due to blood glucose responses, I wouldn’t just eat white bread all the time.

At the moment, I’m not ready to spend a lot of money to see what’s in my gut microbiome… and the microbiome changes over time.

Huh: Microbiome tests are not cheap, and the promise that this test can help develop a personalized meal plan that can improve blood sugar and blood cholesterol … at this point, the data are not conclusive.

CNN: How will nutrition advice be different 10 years from now?

Poole: I think you will receive a custom-tailored grocery list on an app — foods that you want to buy and foods that you want to avoid, based on your blood sugar responses to foods, your level of physical activity and more.

Huh: We will have more and better biomarkers and more affordable and accurate nutrigenomics and microbiome tests as well as better computer algorithms that predict your response to food intakes.

But these technologies cannot substitute general nutrition principles such as limiting sodium and added sugar and eating more healthy plant foods. In a few years, you may be able to get a more useful response from Alexa if you ask her what you should eat — but like other answers from Alexa, you’ll have to take it with a grain of salt.

The CNN Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Are Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Healthy?



In order to assess its nutritional value, first we must discuss the breakdown of this sandwich.

Typically, there are three main ingredients — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — each with different nutritional values.

Nutritional value of bread

Bread can be a part of a balanced diet. The nutritional value of bread depends on the type chosen.

For starters, whole-grain bread is the best option because it provides a higher amount of nutrients. Whole grain kernels have three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ (1).

Because whole grain bread retains all three parts, it’s higher in protein and fiber compared with other breads. These nutrients slow the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and keep you full longer (2, 3).

Whole grain bread is also richer in key nutrients, like B vitamins, iron, folate, and magnesium. Look for the word “whole” as part of the first ingredient in bread’s nutritional label (2).

Choosing sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel bread, is also an excellent choice. The sprouting process increases digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients. Studies show sprouted bread has more fiber, vitamin E, and vitamin C, and beta-glucan (4).

Sourdough bread is fine, too. Although it’s not as high in fiber and protein, it has a lower glycemic index than white bread.

Glycemic index measures how quickly food increases blood sugars. In general, foods with a lower glycemic index better support your overall health.

But keep in mind that glycemic index doesn’t tell the whole story. We must look at the meal as a whole — for example, what we add to the bread. Nutrients, like protein and fats, can help lower the overall glycemic load of a meal, and serving sizes also play a role (5).

As a guideline, look for whole grain breads that offer at least 2 grams of fiber per slice. We also suggest using bread that contains 3 grams of protein or more per slice.

If that’s not available, sourdough bread may be your next best option.


Choose breads that are higher in fiber and protein, like whole grain bread or sprouted grain bread. These varieties help slow absorption of sugars and keep you full longer.

Nutritional value of peanut butter

Many people find peanut butter delicious.

Nutritionally, it also delivers. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and healthy fats, important for all stages of life, especially growing children. Plus, it’s a good source of fiber.

Two tablespoons (32 grams) of smooth peanut butter contain 7 grams of protein, 16 grams of fats, and 2 grams of fiber (6).

Importantly, the majority of fats in peanut butter are unsaturated fats. Research consistently indicates that replacing saturated fats found in animal products with more unsaturated fats (like those in peanut butter) may lower cholesterol and improve heart health (7, 8).

For growing kids, healthy fats are vital for healthy development. Plus, fats help absorb the vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play a synergistic role in supporting immune and brain health (9, 10).

Contrary to popular belief, conventional peanut butter doesn’t usually have more sugar than 100% natural peanut butter. However, it may have more salt (6).

When shopping, check the nutrition labels to ensure it doesn’t contain additional ingredients other than peanuts.

When enjoying natural peanut butter, the oil will separate from the peanut butter. Not to fret — just give it a good stir! This helps mix the oils with the solids.

Pro tip: You can store peanut butter upside down in the fridge to keep it from separating again!


When available, choose 100% natural peanut butter, as it’s lower in salt. Remember to stir the peanut butter before eating to mix the oils with the solids.

Nutritional value of jelly

The PB&J sandwich isn’t complete without jelly or jam. What’s the difference, anyway?

Well, while jellies and jams have similar nutritional value and taste, there’s a slight difference: Jellies are made with fruit juice, while jam is made with the fruit juice and pulp (7).

Both jellies and jams contain pectin (artificially added to jelly), which has prebiotic effects that may improve gut health (8).

However, both are naturally high in sugar, so enjoy them in moderation. To have more say in the ingredients used, you can try making your jelly at home.

If you’re buying from a store, look for jellies with no added sugar in the ingredients list. Alternative names for added sugars include glucose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose.


Jellies are high in natural sugars and contain pectins that may have a beneficial effect in promoting good health. Try to choose jellies with no added sugars.

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