Five healthy living tips which may come as a surprise to you:
Red wine contains compounds that can protect against diabetes. The flavonoids found in red wine are linked to lower insulin resistance and improved control of blood sugar thus reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Dark chocolate is good for you as the gut bacteria it nurtures protect the heart. Research at Louisiana State University show that by breaking down indigestible cocoa fibre the bacteria has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.
Sunbathing in moderation can lower blood pressure thus reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Scientists at the universities of Southampton and Edinburgh have investigated the role of the molecule nitric oxide found in the skin and the blood which helps to regulate blood pressure. When the skin is exposed to sunlight the molecule moves into the blood stream dilating the blood vessels and thereby lowering the blood pressure.
Professor Martin Feelisch of the University of Southampton believes that while excess exposure to the UVA rays in sunlight increase the risk of cancer, avoiding the sun can lead to increased blood pressure.
Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish are not actually produced by the fish themselves but made by marine algae that are eaten or absorbed by the fish. Farmed fish need omega 3 to be added to their diet. Scientists are attempting to create a genetically modified crop that will produce omega 3 fatty acids and then use the product in feeds for the farmed fish.
The benefits of omega 3 in protecting the heart are well documented but what people are less aware of are the other natural sources of these oils. Flaxseeds are a good natural source and can be readily sprinkled over breakfast cereals or used in baking.
Coconuts are known to contain saturated fats which are considered bad for the heart; however the longevity enjoyed by the inhabitants of a number of states in India, where a high consumption of coconuts and their products is the norm, demonstrates the health giving benefits of the nut.
The coconut is rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals and the Coconut Development Board claims that the average Indian family consume 30 a month. Women in Kerala, the coconut capital, enjoy the longest life expectancy of anyone in India; an average of 77.2 years.