Winning the grocery game and other healthy suggestions

Playing to win at the everyday grocery game

˜Guy’s Grocery Games” (Food Network) is a high-intensity, search-the-grocery-store-aisles-and-create-an-instant-dish-or-meal contest. And while chef Guy Fieri may be determined make contestants’ supermarket experiences a little more manic than usual, just an ordinary shopping trip can be very challenging if you’re trying to figure out what to buy that’s super-tasty and super-healthy.

Well, there are intriguing new studies that could revolutionize your grocery shopping, putting you on the road to a healthier diet and helping you shed extra pounds.

Tasty trick No. 1: Eat a healthy snack BEFORE you hit the aisles.

The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently found that folks who ate an apple before shopping bought 28 percent more fruits and vegetables than those who ate a cookie; apple eaters also opted for a healthy food choice (when presented with one healthy and one unhealthy option) 66 percent of the time, and made similar healthy selections after drinking a “healthy” beverage.

Having an apple first to get you to opt for other healthy food choices is called “priming.” You can prime yourself by snacking on an apple, some fresh berries or 12 walnut halves before you head to the grocery store.

Tasty Trick No. 2: Make a shopping list before you go.

A recent study from RAND Health found that folks who shopped from a grocery list weighed less than “free range” shoppers, who are more likely to go for unhealthy impulse purchases like desserts or fatty snacks. So get primed, write your list and shop ‘til you drop — those extra pounds!

Keep cholesterol in check

When hockey superstar Steven Stamkos and his team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, shut out the Rangers in game seven of the Eastern Conference play-offs to advance to the Stanley Cup finals, they showed how to keep an opponent in check.

Keeping your cholesterol in check as effectively as the Bolts checked the Rangers will give you an important athletic victory, too.

A new study from the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina (it’s not just us!) demonstrates how getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise weekly keeps you young.

The researchers looked at data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study at the Cooper Institute that tracked more than 11,400 men, ages 20 to 90, from 1970 to 2006. Turns out those doing 150 minutes of exercise weekly were able to postpone the expected age-related rise in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels by more than 15 years! Guys that didn’t stay fit started to see LDL cholesterol (and the risk for heart disease) rise in their 20s and 30s. We’re sure the same is true for women.

So for at least 30 minutes five days a week, take a walk (use interval training techniques described at, ride a bike, swim (unless it’s frozen over and you want to skate) or jog. It’s a fun and easy way to make sure your lousy cholesterol stays in check and your RealAge keeps getting younger all the time.

How the zombies eat your brain

If you’re familiar with “Assassin’s Creed” and “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” or “Splatoon” and “Star Wars, ” chances are you or your kids are big-time video-game enthusiasts! More than $15 billion a year is spent on such digital distractions. Worldwide, gamers spend an astounding 3 billion hours a week in front of their screens. The average young person will spend around 10,000 hours gaming by the time he’s 21. (Imagine if half that much time was devoted to volunteer work!)

But back in the real world we want to caution you that too much time spent defending hapless villagers from marauding werewolves can shrink your brain and threaten your ability to think clearly!

We know that video games provide excellent training for combat pilots and that they seem to improve visual attention abilities. But a new study finds that instead of using the brain’s spatial memory system (the hippocampus) to navigate through the twists and turns of a game, players rely on the brain’s reward system. “Ah, that sweet pleasure when you blow some fiend away!” And using the reward center (the caudate nucleus) hour after hour is associated with developing cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Video games are highly habituating, so help your kids limit gaming time. We say no more than an hour a day. And Mom and Dad, you’re going to have to regulate your behavior, too. Set a good example: Put down that controller and walk away quietly. The zombies won’t notice!

Why developed countries are developing more cancer

The average North American eats over 130 pounds of sugar every year and consumes more than 60 pounds of sat-fat-laden beef, while the average American household has more television sets than people! No wonder 70 percent of North Americans are overweight or obese and cancer is the second leading cause of death. A massive new study published in JAMA Oncology online really brings that last point home!

It reveals that 62 percent of tracheal, bronchus and lung cancer cases worldwide happen in developed countries, as do 63 percent of breast cancer cases, 77 percent of stomach cancer, 86 percent of liver cancer, 85 percent of cervical cancer, 84 percent of esophageal cancer and 78 percent of leukemia.

Do you get the feeling a lifestyle driven by the convenience of fast foods and sitting behind the wheel of a car or at a computer screen isn’t doing you any favors?

Well, it’s not! At least half of all cancers can be avoided if you maintain a healthy weight, get regular physical activity and (of course) don’t smoke. One study followed 500,000 Americans for over a decade and found that adopting such cancer-fighting strategies reduced the odds for colon cancer by up to 48 percent.

And if you’ve been making smart lifestyle choices and you are diagnosed with cancer (it can happen to even the most conscientious person), your chances for a good outcome skyrocket.

So don’t let the phrase “developed countries” mean that’s where folks develop cancer! Instead, develop a plan and follow it, to make your lifestyle a cancer-fighter.