Facebook Twitter

The You Docs: Boost body, brain by rediscovering benefits of eggs

SHARE The You Docs: Boost body, brain by rediscovering benefits of eggs

Sworn off eggs? If the thought of munching the incredible, edible "cackle berry" (as a farmer friend of ours calls 'em) is as scary as an envelope with the Internal Revenue Service return address on it, it's time to take a second look.

Fact is, there's more and more evidence for two things: First, for most people the cholesterol in eggs doesn't increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or impotence. Second, eggs really are almost as perfect as walnuts or avocados (not quite).

Each spring, eggs are inescapable, as candy Easter versions appear in every convenience store in North America, and then leftovers linger in the back of kitchen cabinets for months. Here are three great new reasons to choose the real thing over those chocolate imposters:

Better blood pressure. Your stomach converts some of the proteins in eggs into peptides that act like the active ingredient in blood-pressure controlling drugs called ACE inhibitors.

Easier weight loss. People on a low-calorie eating plan who had two scrambled eggs and toast with jelly for breakfast lost 65 percent more weight than those who had a bagel with cream cheese in the morning. Why? Eggs are uniquely satisfying, so you don't feel the urge to overeat at lunch or snacktime.

Sharper thinking. Eggs are a great source of vitamin B-12, a nutrient that seems to protect the brain from age-related shrinkage. In one study, people age 60 and up who were even a little low on B-12 were three to six times more likely to have signs of brain atrophy compared to those who got plenty.

The secret recipe for a sharp mind: When life has meaning, your mind works better. Researchers found that older people with a sense of purpose were 2.4 times less likely to develop dementia than people who hadn't found a rudder to steer by.

Having a reason to get up in the morning keeps you thinking sharp even if you have chronic health problems like heart disease or depression. It works for men and women, rich and poor, people with tons of friends and those with just a few. In other words, purpose is all-powerful.

More and more studies are revealing the benefits of purpose or a meaning-driven life. Why? No one is sure. It could be oxytocin. This stress-busting hormone not only bonds mothers with their newborns; it also seems elevated in people who say they have a purpose in life. Or, the benefits may be due to nitric oxide (we don't mean laughing gas — that's nitrous oxide). Also associated with hopefulness and optimism, nitric oxide is a potent blood-vessel dilator. A sense of purpose simply makes most of us feel happier.

If you're feeling a bit rudderless, try volunteering for an organization you believe in. Take more time for whatever's aligned with your deepest values — your kids or grandkids, a special project at work, beautifying your home or garden or expressing yourself. You've got the rudder — living with purpose just means using it.

Want to do it all? Eat this: Want to keep your weekly poker game going forever, flawlessly remember what everyone played, plus beat everyone in racquetball the next morning? Then serve this for dinner: Lemon caper chicken with sweet potato puree. Or have any foods (in reasonable quantities) that feature traditional Mediterranean fare.

More and more research is stacking up to secure the super-healthy status of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, nuts and fish or other lean protein (our YOU: Diet is a version of that, remade for American and Canadian tastes). Here's just some of what this wonder diet can do:

Keep your friends (and you) around longer. The Mediterranean diet is chock-full of fiber, healthy fats and flavonoids. That drops the risk of cardiovascular disease by 15 percent (versus a 9 percent drop in people who ate low-fat food).

Prevent memory loss. This diet keeps arteries healthy, which keeps blood flowing steadily to the brain. And its mix of nutrients fights oxidative stress and inflammation, two processes strongly linked to Alzheimer's disease. Eating this way may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by up to 40 percent. Add another Mediterranean treat — coffee — for more benefit.

Keep you moving. The mix of healthy unsaturated fats, like the DHA in fish, and vitamins helps reduce inflammation, which may improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Help you stay happy. While having fun playing poker and winning on the court may keep you plenty pleased, there's evidence that a Mediterranean diet may protect you from major depression.

Creamy snacks that boost your health: Next time you're yearning for something rich and creamy, your health is in luck. Three treats that satisfy creamy cravings actually help the rest of your body, too:

1. The smooth and tangy, always-ready snack: Yogurt.

A diet rich in low-fat dairy such as yogurt (no sugar added, please!) curbs the risk of high blood pressure by as much as 31 percent. That's likely due to its blood-pressure-friendly minerals — calcium, magnesium and potassium. Beyond snacking, aim for a little low-fat dairy at every meal: Maximum blood pressure protection is achieved with four and a half servings of low-fat dairy per day.

2. The creamy treat even kids love: Peanut butter

Women with type 2 diabetes who ate at least five servings of peanut butter and mixed nuts each week have a dramatically lower risk for cardiovascular disease than other women. In fact, a 45 percent lower risk. Those five weekly 1-ounce helpings (weekly; not daily!) seemed to knock down their total and lousy LDL cholesterol levels, too.

Nutrients in peanuts (technically legumes) and nuts may help hearts by reducing inflammation. They also may help your body use insulin better. It's likely that nuts could lower heart disease risk for guys, too, as well as for people who don't have diabetes.

3. Frozen but healthy treats: Mashed bananas

Bananas keep your blood pressure in the ideal zone, strengthen your bones, dim your risk of certain cancers and may help your mood. We YOU Docs would snack on these all the time (along with frozen grapes) if we could just remember to freeze them.

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of "YOU: On a Diet." Want more? See "The Dr. Oz Show" weekdays at 9 a.m. on Fox/Ch. 13. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. © Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.