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Health tips: Health giving holiday foods



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Dec 24, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- HEALTH GIVING HOLIDAY FOODS

Alan Crozier, plant biochemistry and human nutrition professor, at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, says many holiday foods can be healthy. "Christmas is a great opportunity to treat ourselves to chocolate, especially dark chocolate, which can boost the level of heart-protecting antioxidants in the blood," he says. Research shows full bodied red wines produced in countries with lots of sunshine are the best when it comes to antioxidants that can help fend off heart disease and cancer by lowering the levels of free radicals in the body. Cherry tomatoes contain 10 times the level of antioxidants as normal sized tomatoes, while Lollo Rosso lettuce will provide much higher amounts of antioxidants than Iceberg lettuce.

TRADING CARD GAMES HELP CHILDREN

Parents should be glad if Santa gives their children trading card games under the Christmas tree, according to a U.S. psychologist. "Trading card games can help children develop important organizational and reasoning strategies," says Dr. Helen Boehm, psychologist and author of "Fearless Parenting for the New Millennium" and "The Official Guide to the Right Toys." "In addition to providing a fundamental approach to divergent thinking and socialization, these interactive trading card games encourage creative planning and problem-solving skills." Although youth are constantly stimulated by movies, video games and music, they may be missing out on a key component of cognitive and social development -- constructive, interactive play, according to Boehm.

DIFFERING PUZZLE STRATEGIES CAN CONFLICT

Jigsaw puzzles and other traditional Christmas activities could be at the bottom of a number of family arguments over the holidays, say British researchers. University of Bath researchers find that people use a number of different strategies to complete a jigsaw; a person can be either a "border obsessive" who focuses on completing the border or an "opportunistic" puzzler, who completes the puzzle using a range of different methods. The differing jigsaw strategies increased the level of competition among puzzlers, leading to one-up-man-ship or hiding the last jigsaw piece, according to the study published in the journal ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction.

HEALTHIER FAT FOR BAKING

Meal makeover expert and U.S. nutrition consultant Janice Bissex says modifying the fat source of holiday foods can make them healthier. "Fat is not a bad thing but if you've got butter and shortening, a solid fat then you're getting saturated fats (butter) and trans-fat (shortening) in your diet," says Bissex, author of "The Moms' Guide to Meal Makeovers: Improving the Way Your Family Eats, One Meal at a Time!" "What you want to do is replace those with a healthy fat like Canola oil, which the lowest cooking oil in saturated fat. It's a good source of heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats and also has some omega-three fats."

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(EDITORS: For more information on FOODS, contact Jenny Murray at 0141 330 8593 or jennifer.murray@admin.gla.ac.uk. For TRADING GAMES, Mark Newman at (212) 679-6600 mnewman@hunterpr.com. For PUZZLES, Andrew McLaughlin at 44 (0)1225 386 883 or +44 (0)7966 341 357. For FAT, Zane Robbins at (312) 222-9850)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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