We clear up all your misconceptions about fats, break down which ones are the most nutritious, and reveal how they impact your weight and heart health.
Fats have been making a nutritional comeback in recent years. Gone are the days of low-fat diets, and even saturated fats like butter and bacon are seeing a revival among the health conscious. We know that fats are important to our brain health, they help us absorb nutrients and they keep our skin looking supple. But with new and conflicting information about fats popping up in headlines all the time, how do we know which ones to choose?
Here are seven things you need to know to make healthy decisions when it comes to eating fats and oils.
1. You shouldn't get more than two to three tablespoons of fats a day.
In recent years, we've heard so much good news about embracing fats in our diets that this Canada's Food Guide recommendation seems to have been lost amidst our enthusiasm for butter. But Health Canada is clear that two to three tablespoons should be the limit and that unsaturated fats are strongly preferred. Nutritionist Rose Reisman points out that there's good reason for this limit: Each tablespoon is 120 calories, so eating too much can quickly lead to weight gain. And although Health Canada is referring to things like cooking oil, salad dressings and margarine in that recommendation, Reisman suggests that other sources of fat you eat—say, that greasy bacon or heavy gravy—should also be taken into account when calculating your daily intake.
2. Fats can be important to weight loss.
Though fats have long been accused of causing weight gain, largely because they offer nine calories per gram (compared to the four calories found in one gram of carbohydrate or protein), cutting them out entirely can actually backfire on your weight-loss goals. "Sometimes I notice if I cut down fat too much, I'm hungry during the day," says Reisman. That's because fat actually slows down digestion and decreases appetite, so it can help you feel full for longer. Just keep the above recommendation in mind so you don't overdo it.
3. Some fats can actually improve your cholesterol levels.
You've likely heard that certain fats can raise bad cholesterol levels, possibly leading to heart problems down the road. But did you know that eating other fats can improve cholesterol levels? Monounsaturated fats (which include canola oil, olive oil and peanut oil) can actually boost your HDL (healthy) cholesterol levels and reduce your LDL (lousy) cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats (such as soybean oil, corn oil and sunflower oil) can also lower LDL levels. To give your heart an extra boost, omega-3 fats (found in flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp and walnuts) help fight inflammation, potentially reducing your risk for heart disease.
4. Saturated fats might not be bad, but that doesn't mean they're good.
By now, you've likely heard some headlines announcing the return of bacon, as new research suggests that saturated fat might not increase heart disease in the way we once thought. But before you start slathering butter on everything you eat, here are some things to keep in mind: While saturated fats may not kill you, they aren't doing you any favours either. Research shows that, even if they don't cause heart disease, replacing them with unsaturated fats can still reduce your risk of heart disease. Just be sure that you aren't cutting out saturated fats for sugar and other simple carbs. Those carry their own risks for your heart health.
5. Margarine can be healthy—just read the label.
There are some misconceptions that all margarines contain unhealthy trans-fats, but this simply isn't true, says Reisman. For example, Becel is mostly made of heart-healthy canola and sunflower oils, with a small amount of palm oil to stabilize it and some buttermilk powder and salt. You could actually mix up your own margarine with these ingredients at home in your own blender or ice cream maker if you wanted. If you're choosing a margarine, read the label to ensure there are no hydrogenated oils and be wary of hard margarines (or stick margarines), which are typically the ones that contain trans-fats.
6. Some oils that sound healthy really aren't.
Have you ever bought light olive oil thinking it was lower in calories or fat? Unfortunately, that's not what "light" means in this case. "You have to be careful of what I like to call 'health washing,'" says Reisman. Light olive oil actually refers to an oil that is more refined or processed, so it's lighter in taste. If you're looking for oils with the most health benefits, you should be looking for "virgin" or "extra-virgin" on the label. These terms mean the oils haven't been processed so they still contain their natural polyphenols (beneficial compounds that have antioxidant properties).
7. Oils are only as healthy as your cooking method.
Unfortunately, you could be buying the healthiest extra-virgin oils, but if you're cooking them at temperatures that exceed their smoke points, you're doing yourself more harm than good. When an oil is heated past its smoke point, the fat begins to break down and produce free-radicals—molecules that can damage cells. Oils from different sources have different smoke points and, in general, more refined oils have higher smoke points than virgin oils (so that extra-virgin oil might be health, but not in a stir-fry). Reisman recommends using canola, grapeseed and peanut oil for their high smoke points, but she says, if you always cook on a medium heat, you should be safe to use your olive oil.
Buying a bra when you're a C cup or larger doesn't have to be a nightmare if you know what brands cater to your ample curves. Check out our list of the best bra brands for larger sizes in every price range.
Not only is Addition Elle the fashion go-to for fuller-figured women but it also offers a selection of sleek and seductive bras. The bra sizes start at 38C and go up to 44H in some styles. What better place to get a bra than a company that knows all about how to hug curves?
Addition Elle Flawless T-ser bra, $55, additionelle.com.
PrimaDonna has been designing bras for bigger busts since 1865—that’s more than 150 years of experience. The brand offers sizes ranging from B-cup to J-cup, with a collection that includes padded bras, underwire, pushups and minimizers. Not only do these bras provide amazing support but PrimaDonna also uses stunning designs and materials to make you feel sexy all the time.
Prima Donna "Madison" full cup bra, $145, melmira.com.
Wacoal boasts superior quality, easy wear and elegant aesthetics. Most bras are available up to a G-cup, and there’s a fantastic selection of styles. Wacoal has a diffusion line, too, for its younger clientele, called B.tempt’d, offering fun and colourful varieties. Wacoal is the parent company of Elomi and Fantasie, which are considered exceptional labels for women with a larger bust.
Wacoal "Awareness" soft cup bra, $82, nordstrom.com.
There’s no surprise that French designer Chantelle has some of the most beautiful patterns and shapes for bras. The brand creates an elegant collection of lingerie that lifts, separates and minimizes, depending on your needs. In any given season, Chantelle offers 165 styles exclusively for women with DD-cup breasts and above.
Chantelle "Hedona" bra, $95, lineaintima.com.
This company prides itself on being “experts in comfort,” and when it comes to wearing a bra all day, comfort is of utmost importance. With more than 100 years of experience, Glamorise has perfected the fit of bras for larger breasts. The brand is also credited for inventing the first-ever sports bra, back in 1975.
Glamorise Elegance satin and lace Wonderwire bra, $75, thebay.com.
In 1948, Simone Pérèle set out to liberate the female body from girdles and corsets by fusing comfort with chic designs. Most bras in the collection are available up to a G-cup and offer extra lift, thanks to vertical seams.
Simone Pérèle "Wish" full cup bra, $139, lineaintima.com.
Based out of Germany, Rosa Faia has a designated section for larger breasts. The brand has a collection of well-loved basics and fancier fashion bras, complete with smooth lace, that reach up to an H-cup. Rosa Faia guarantees comfort with an ergonomically shaped underwire that also aids in support.
Rosa Faia "Aurelia" seamless underwire bra, $92, anita.com.
Founded in Europe in the late 1800s, Triumph has had continued success developing comfortable and striking bras for women with varying breast sizes. Some of the brand’s cuts go up to an H-cup. In 2015, Triumph launched its “Find the One” campaign to help women find the right bra size. The company’s website hosts a questionnaire that will help you determine if you’re wearing the wrong size. Spoiler alert: You probably are.
Triumph "1860" smooth-skin underwire bra, $50, thebay.com.
One of your first bras was probably by WonderBra, and if you haven’t checked out the company since, it may be time to revisit the brand. WonderBra offers cup sizes up to a DDD and varying support levels, depending on the cut. There’s an outstanding selection of styles, ranging from simple to ornate, to fit your lifestyle and price point. Using innovative fabrics, the bras won’t scratch or poke you, either.
WonderBra "W4436" Breathable T-shirt Bra, $45, wonderbra.ca.
Aside from being an easy snack for the office, yogurt is chock full of ingredients that help your body run smoothly, no matter what age you are.
Although yogurt has long been a staple in the health food world, it has become even more popular thanks to Greek yogurt. Whether you eat it plain, low-fat, greek, frozen, from a tube or a bottle, or in your smoothies, yogurt has health benefits beyond good old calcium. Read on for the lowdown on its many health benefits.
1. The probiotics.
You know yogurt has probiotics because every commercial for yogurt says so, but what does that actually mean? In the simplest of terms, probiotics are good-for-you bacteria. They help in regulating your digestive system and decreasing gas, diarrhea and bloating. Research has even suggested that probiotics can aid in boosting your immune system, help you manage your weight and reduce the risk of cancer.
2. The calcium.
Just like all products in the dairy family, yogurt is a great source of calcium, which plays a huge role in the development and maintenance of strong bones and teeth. It is also important for blood clotting, healing wounds and maintaining a normal blood pressure. Some yogurts contain vitamin D, which helps the small intestine absorb calcium to its fullest potential, so finding those yogurts or pairing yogurt with foods high in vitamin D is always a good idea.
3. The protein.
Plain yogurt made from whole milk is a rich source of protein, which can increase the absorption of minerals, promote lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss.
4. The vitamins.
Yogurt made with whole milk contains every single nutrient the human body needs. Yogurt contains vitamin B12, which keeps your nerves and red blood cells healthy and can only be found in foods originating from an animal. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is also in yogurt. This helps the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, or 'food into fuel.'
Want to incorporate yogurt into your diet, but don't want to be stuck with buying processed, sugary yogurt cups? Check out Canadian Living's recipes:
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.
On Hollywood's biggest night (aka the Oscars) the stars always look incredible. Here are our favourite looks and trends from the 2017 Academy Awards.
Our favourite red carpet dresses from the 2017 Oscars ranged from red hot (Ruth Negga) to classic (Taraji P. Henson) to super romantic (Hailee Steinfeld). See our favourite looks from the Academy Awards below.
Ruth Negga in custom Valentino
Image by: Getty Images
Negga, who is nominated for her role in Loving, paired a demure dress silhouette with a fiery colour. We love the lace detailing on her custom Valentino gown—which she paired with Irene Neuwirth jewellery (including that incredible crown. That blue ribbon she accessorized her dress with? It’s to show her solidarity with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
Hailee Steinfeld in Ralph & Russo
Image by: Getty Images
This dress is the most romantic. With pastel colours, metallic florals, a delicate scalloped neckline and soft flowy fabric, Hailee Steinfeld is the picture of feminine romance. Good thing she paired this stunning dress with a smoky eye to keep things young and modern.
Olivia Culpo in Marchesa
Image by: Getty Images
Culpo not only wore a stunning custom gown from Marchesa, the gown was made in collaboration with Stella Artois to benefit Water.org. We especially love the fringe detailing and that delicate black bow at the waist.
Octavia Spencer in Marchesa
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Spencer looked stunning in this silver, feathery dress by Marchesa. The feathers look artful—not gimmicky—and the colour is gorgeous. Take notes people, because this is how you embrace texture on the red carpet.
Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton
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We love this plunging neckline on Michelle Williams—and the fact that she swapped her usual column gown for this softer silhouette. The two tone blocking isn’t something we usually see on the red carpet, but to combo of classic black and soft golden shimmer are subtly elegant.
Viola Davis in Armani Prive
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We’re suckers for a stunning red dress—so Viola Davis’ off-the-shoulder number is one of our faves. The neckline is super flattering to her toned arms and she wisely chooses to let that colour own the look by keeping hair, makeup and accessories simple. Bravo.
Busy Phillips in Stella McCartney
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More velvet on the red carpet! This strapless hunter green dress is so flattering on Busy Phillips. The polka dot panelling and rounded neckline make this simple silhouette much more interesting.
Emma Stone in Givenchy
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Stone goes for the gold (a trending colour) at the 2017 Oscars. This delicate and detailed (That fringe! The beading!) column gown isn’t as risqué as past red carpet choices for the actress—but of course she stuns in just about anything. Is anyone else getting old Hollywood vibes? Applause all around for this outstanding look.
Not many women can pull off a dress the same colour as their skin tone, but Nicole Kidman is a red carpet pro—so she does it effortlessly. The delicate beading and 90s-era neckline have us swooning over this Armani Prive gown.
Taraji P. Henson in Alberto Ferretti
Image by: Getty Images
Sometimes sinple is best. Henson wore a simple navy velvet dress (yes, we know it looks black) with a high slit and off-the-shoulder neckline. She complemented her almost-LBD with a stunning diamond necklace. Simple, elegant and drop dead gorgeous.
Charlize Theron in Dior Couture
Image by: Getty Images
Metallic and gold were clear winners on the red carpet tonight, so it makes sense that the always-stunning Theron would embrace the trend. We love the deep neckline and pleating of this stunning dress.