1. Apples and pears can lower stroke risk

    Supposedly cutting-edge procedures like the brain stent I just mentioned won't lower your risk of stroke -- and they might even kill you.

    But you don't have to turn to risky surgery or unproven meds to keep a stroke at bay: A new study finds all you might really need is more of the foods you already enjoy.

    And no, it's not candy and cake (nice try, though).

    Dutch researchers tracked the eating habits of nearly 21,000 people with an average age of 41 and no signs of heart disease at the start of the 10-year study.

    During that time, 233 people suffered a stroke -- with the volunteers who ate the most white fruits and vegetables (think apples, pears, and bananas) 52 percent less likely to be among them.

    Even those who ate just a little got a benefit: The researchers wrote in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association that just a few slices of apple a day, for example, can lower the risk by 9 percent.

    Along with apples, pears and bananas, the researchers say white fruits and vegetables include cauliflower, chicory, and cucumbers -- but not potatoes. Those are actually a starch, and -- let's face it -- you shouldn't be eating them anyway (especially if they come from any place that has a big golden M on the sign).

    The catch here is that the study was based on the least reliable form of science: the food frequency questionnaire. In other words, let's file this one under "interesting" but not something you need to start planting an apple orchard for.

    The study also didn't show why these fruits and vegetables might be able to slash the risk of stroke -- but the smart money is on the terrific antioxidant flavonoids such as quercetin, the pigment that helps turn apples red (and gives even green pears those red patches you so often see).

    Along with other bioflavonoids -- including the lutein and zeaxanthin also found in apple and pear skins -- quercetin may help protect your heart and even lower your risk of cancer.

    If you're not eating an apple, pear or banana every day, you can get these and other great nutrients from a high-quality bioflavonoid supplement.

  2. The low-calorie anti-aging myth

    Would you starve yourself to live longer?

    It sounds a little extreme, because it is... Yet, like clockwork, every few months I come across another study or article extolling the virtues of ultra-low calorie diets for longevity.

    The latest can be found in the journal Science. Researchers studying monkeys found that depriving these poor things of nearly a third of their food over 20 years lowered their risk of dying from an age-related disease.

    Only 13 percent of monkeys on this borderline-starvation diet met their end through one of those conditions, like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease... compared to 37 percent of the simians who ate normal monkey meals.

    To put that in human terms, that would be like a healthy adult man who eats a relatively normal 2,000 calories per day cutting all the way down to 1,400.

    We're not monkeys... and we're not fed by lab technicians. I don't believe most people can eat that little every single day, year after year, even if they wanted to. And if you did, how could you be sure you're getting all the nutrients your body needs every day?

    Simple answer: You can't.

    But let's say this silly starvation plan really worked and that you could somehow force yourself to miss out on all that food, still get all your nutrients and somehow stay sane.

    Is that really the best answer?

    No way.

    Looking to live longer by eating dramatically less is like trying to save on living expenses by moving out of your house and into a tent.

    I don't know about you, but I like my lights and running water.

    Fortunately, it's not a one-or-the other proposition... because you can have your (occasional) cake and live longer, too.

    Like so many other things, it comes down to a common-sense lifestyle – diet and exercise – and getting the right nutrients in your body, like antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, one of the top causes of aging. You can get some of what you need from some great places – like the resveratrol found in red wine.

    But anyone could have told you that... let's talk instead about some critical nutrients that may help turn back the hands of time that aren't as widely discussed. If you're looking to stay young, consider coenzyme Q10, vitamin D, and all the B vitamins, including folate.

    Also make sure you get your bioflavonoids, such as quercetin, lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help lower your risk for cancer and heart disease.

    OK, I know that sounds like more than a mouthful of pills – but you can easily get most of these from a healthy combination of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you're not up to that, you can often find some combination of these great nutrients and more in a single high-quality anti- aging supplement.

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