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22 Live-Long Tricks

Turn the tube off during dinner.

You already know that watching television at mealtime can lead to mindless eating and subsequent weight gain. Now, a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that families glued to the TV at dinnertime eat fewer fruits and veggies during the meal. To protect your family's health— and their waistlines — move the TV out of the kitchen and put it near the treadmill instead.

Cook with herbs and spices.

Flavoring recipes with fresh herbs and spices rather than cooking with the old standbys — salt, butter, and sugar — can cut sodium, fat, and calories and improve a food's overall health benefits, says Suzanna Zick, N.D., a naturopathic physician at the University of Michigan. "Many herbs such as thyme and oregano are similar to green, leafy vegetables in that they're high in vitamins and minerals," says Zick. Seasonings such as saffron and basil are believed to contain cancer fighters, and "warming" or spicy herbs such as nutmeg and black pepper may also help lower blood pressure.

Treat yourself to dark chocolate.

For years, experts have touted chocolate's ability to help fight cancer and protect your heart. The latest good news: Enjoying about 30 calories of dark chocolate a day (one or two dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses) can help lower your blood pressure enough to reduce your risk of dying from heart disease by 5 percent and of stroke by 8 percent, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Switch to whole-wheat bread and brown rice.

Let go of your nostalgia for the refined white stuff you grew up on — it's basically an empty-calorie food that takes your blood sugar for a roller-coaster ride. Whole grains, on the other hand, contain slow-digesting complex carbs that help keep blood sugar levels steady, plus they're high in fiber, which has been shown to decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, says Sandquist. Swapping white for whole- wheat bread can also improve regularity and help you feel full faster, so you're less likely to overeat. Aim for three servings of whole grains a day.

Snack on blueberries.

Compared with more than 40 other fruits and vegetables, blueberries pack the greatest antioxidant punch per serving, according to USDA data. Other research also shows that the antioxidants in blueberries may protect vision and improve motor function and short-term memory. Since berries aren't in season right now, grab a bag from the freezer section — frozen berries are just as good for you as fresh ones — and toss a handful into your homemade pancake batter or blend them into smoothies.

Lift with your legs.

Women are more likely than men to suffer back pain because we tend to have weaker back muscles, says Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., author of Strong Women, Strong Backs. When you're heaving heavy items, kneel down to pick them up — don't bend over from the waist — and clench your abs as you stand up to take the strain off your lower back.

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