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8 Fall Tips for Healthy Living

There's no need to pack on pounds or fall ill this autumn.

6. Sweet Potatoes: Winter Superfood

It's one of the sweetest ways to make a healthful change -- get hot about sweet potatoes. These luscious orange tubers boast a wealth of antioxidants; phytochemicals including beta-carotene; vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; copper; iron; and potassium. The fiber in sweet potatoes promotes a healthy digestive tract, and the antioxidants may play a role in preventing heart disease and cancer.

The natural sweetness of a roasted sweet potato is delicious without any additional fats or flavor enhancers.

7. Exercise Your Brain: Go Dancing

You know your heart benefits from exercise. Your brain does, too. Studies show that regular, moderate exercise -- 30 minutes of walking or a light one-mile run -- helps fight the effects of aging on the brain. No grueling workouts required!

All types of exercise count, including walking, bicycling, hiking, swimming, aerobics, and weight training. Ballroom dancing is another good one, especially fun on chilly evenings.

How does exercise work to prevent mental decline? Researchers believe exercise may stimulate the body to fight stress that's normally occurring in the brain -- stress that causes oxidative damage. All that good stuff from a little exercise!

8. Curl Up With Hot Coffee

That wonderfully warming cup of morning coffee may have health benefits. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the brain and nervous system, and may lower your risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, mood problems, headaches, and even cavities.

Scientists have discovered coffee's many beneficial substances, including chlorogenic acid, a compound in the antioxidant family that may improve glucose (sugar) metabolism. Another perk is that coffee contains magnesium, a mineral that can also improve insulin sensitivity and enhance glucose tolerance -- thumbs up for preventing diabetes.

Another plus is that coffee is naturally calorie-free. Just don't load it up with extra calories from cream, sugar, whipped cream, and/or flavored syrup.

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Reviewed on September 29, 2009

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