Why Do We Need Lycopene Anyway?

If you regularly read about eating healthy foods, then I’m sure you’ve read it too … “Tomato sauce provides us more lycopene than raw tomatoes.”

But rarely do we hear why we need lycopene. So here is the scoop on lycopene and the “why” for which we need to eat our spaghetti.

What is lycopene?

Lycopene is a disease fighting antioxidant. It is found in watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, guava, papaya, and, of course, red and orange tomatoes. It is the compound that gives these foods their color. And lycopene comes in different forms too. Some of which are easier for our body to absorb. While it is true that red tomatoes have more lycopene than do orange ones, the orange varieties (while harder to find) provide a form of lycopene that our bodies more readily use. And, for instance, heating up tomatoes as you would when making tomato sauce (vs. raw tomatoes) creates another form of lycopene which is easier to absorb. That is why tomato sauce is a better source for lycopene than raw tomatoes and why we should eat our spaghetti … preferably with sauce made from orange tomatoes.

Lycopene is believed to …

  1. Be good for heart health as it may lower the risk of heart disease.
  2. Have anti-cancer protective effects, especially for protection against prostate, lung, and stomach cancers.
  3. Be an excellent source for managing high blood pressure (recent studies say).

And another good-to-know tidbit …

Eat your lycopene with a healthy fat, such as olive oil. Lycopene needs fat to latch onto in order to be absorbed by the intestinal wall.

So add a little olive oil to that spaghetti.

The Reverse Lunge: The Best Lower Body Exercise For Women

In order to achieve the shapely proportions that most women desire, training should be focused on the hips, buttocks, and thighs as this is an area where 90% of all women gain the majority of their weight.

Therefore, it only makes sense that a woman’s exercise routine should have specific exercises aimed at working the larger muscles of the lower body.  Working the larger muscles will burn calories at a faster rate than will working the smaller muscles.  And there is no better exercise for working the lower body than the reverse lunge.

Why the reverse lunge vs. the forward lunge?

Lunge-300x240The forward lunge itself is a great exercise for women.  It works nearly every major muscle group in the lower part of the body. Plus, it improves flexibility in the hip flexors, which can become tight during aerobic exercise, which could pull your spine out of alignment thereby increasing your risk of back injury.  When done properly, the lunge is safe for joints, it is back friendly, it burns maximum calories for the energy expended, it promotes lean muscle tone, and it works!

But the safest and most effective variation of lunging is the reverse lunge.   When you reverse your lunge, the effects on the muscles are the same, but less stress is placed on the knees because they cannot extend beyond the toes.  And by taking a step backwards instead of forwards, it is easier to maintain balance because your weight is primarily centered upon your forward leg, which remains stationary.  The main purpose of the reverse lunge is to develop the quadriceps and hamstring muscles in the thighs and to shape the glutes.

How to do the reverse lunge.

First of all, remember these proper form rules.

  1. Always keep your head up, shoulders back, chest out, and back straight.
  2. Never allow the knee to touch the floor.
  3. Your striding knee and thigh should always line up with your foot as misalignment can cause injury.

Welcome To Health & Wellness Post

WomanFlex-243x300Through strength training and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle, I have achieved better health, a strong core, strength and definition in my arms and legs, and confidence … confidence in walking alone at night, and confidence in myself and my abilities. Now, I want to take what I have learned and share it with you through my health site so that you too can achieve your fitness goals while improving your life.

Three important things you should know about strength training:

1. Strength training (different from bodybuilding) is no longer just a man’s sport and it doesn’t make women big and bulky.

2. Strength training is a leading way to lose weight because muscle burns fat. The more muscle you have, the more fat you’ll burn.

3. Strength training slows down the aging process.

About The H&W Post:

This site is dedicated to teaching others how to gain better health by eating right, exercising regularly, and strength training. As the owner of this site, I am a big believer in avoiding “diets”, drugs, and weight loss supplements. And I believe good health and weight loss can be achieved naturally, with dedication, determination, and consistency … for the rest of your life.
I have a passion for strength training and I would like to share with you the knowledge I’ve gained and the experiences I’ve encountered. So please subscribe to The H&W Post and use the free information to assist you in changing your health habits. And live a longer healthier life!


Torani Taste Test, Just In Time For The Holidays

Recently, I received two free bottles of Torani flavored syrup to try in exchange for a product review post on my blog.

Being the coffee and tea lover that I am, I was looking forward to getting these products so as to liven up my drinks a bit and try some new recipes.  However, when my package arrived from Torani, to my disappointment it contained a large bottle of Classic Hazelnut syrup and a large bottle of Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie made with Splenda.

Torani … Are you kidding me!

First of all, hazelnut is a very common coffee flavor.  I already have great hazelnut flavored coffees in my home and was not the least bit impressed to receive another.  And as for the sugar-free pumpkin pie … while I love pumpkin pie, I could never write a positive review on my health blog about a product made with artificial sweeteners.  Sorry Torani, but I will definitely be looking for a new home for this sucralose laden liquid.

All that being said, Torani is a successful company that has been in existence for 80 plus years.  It produces flavored syrups (made with natural flavors and pure cane sugar) for coffees, teas, and sodas.  And Torani sells these products in over 40 countries.   I knew, despite my lack of excitement for the flavors I received from Torani, that I needed to follow through with my review.  So off to Cost Plus World Market I headed to find some Torani flavors of my choosing.  Luckily, Torani also provided me with generous coupons so I could do just that.  I ended up with a bottle of blue raspberry syrup, a bottle of peppermint syrup, and a bottle of bacon syrup … yes bacon!  Now, it was time for a little Torani sampling party at home.

Using my family as my taste testers, I proceeded to whip up a few different drinks using recipes I found on Torani’s website.  I made teas, coffees, lemonades, and shakes using hazelnut, blue raspberry, and peppermint flavors.  And to my delight, I enjoyed them all.  The flavors I used were made with pure cane sugar and had a very good flavor.  The recipes were simple and provided a nice alternative to my usual drinks.  And with the many flavors Torani offers (over 122 of them), there are numerous drinks and desserts that could be made for the holidays.  The recipes I used mostly called for a 1-oz. serving of Torani syrup, which equaled 80-90 calories per ounce.  While I wouldn’t suggest making these drinks on a daily basis, they certainly are good for an occasional treat.

Here are some oh-so-easy recipes for you:

If you would like to purchase Torani online, you can receive a 10% discount by ordering through the ad on the left.  (Note, this is not an affiliate link and I do not make any money from your purchase.  This review came to me through SheSpeaks.)  To receive a 10% discount when purchasing online at Torani.com, use the promo code “shespeaks”.

The sugar-free product did not get sampled during my taste test as artificial sugars always leave me with a migraine the following day.  Plus, I am just not a fan of artificial sweeteners as I believe long term use of them to be dangerous, and I believe pure cane sugar to be the best option.  However, I am also not blind to the fact that many people have a health issue, such as diabetes, which does not allow them to consume pure cane sugar, and their options are more limited than are mine.  Sugar-free recipes can be found at Torani.com.

I also did not yet sample the bacon flavored syrup.  The recipe I planned to use calls for bourbon.  After an afternoon of drinks containing different flavored syrups, coffee, tea, lemonade and ice cream, I did not feel it a good idea to top it all off with bourbon and bacon.  Perhaps on New Year’s Eve.  To be continued ….