TIME Heart Disease

14 Things Heart Doctors Tell Their Friends

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Insider advice to maintaining a strong, healthy heart

By now you know the basics of keeping your heart in shape: You’re all over the Mediterranean diet and you do that cardio. But thanks to conflicting headlines running amok, the details get confusing: Should I take aspirin? How hard do I really need to work out? That’s why we went to leading cardiologists and asked them to level with us about what heart-health habits women absolutely need. Check out their straight-up answers.

Skip food fads

“So many trends come and go. A gluten-free diet is not worth your time unless you have celiac disease or a real gluten sensitivity. If you’re considering Paleo, forget it! It’s not heart-healthy to bypass beans, legumes or whole grains (which are proven to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar).” — Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, director of women’s heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and author of Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum’s Heart Book

Eat better fish

“The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week, but that doesn’t mean just anything from the ocean. Fish like tilapia or orange roughy contain basically zero omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides and inflammation. And shrimp and lobster—they’re not even fish! Eat salmon, herring, tuna and anchovies. They have the highest levels of omega-3s.” — Leslie Cho, MD, director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Center at the Cleveland Clinic

Quit worrying about salt

“The long-standing salt limit is 1,500 milligrams a day, but some studies show that blood pressure rises only when salt intake tops 3,500 mg daily. If your kidneys are healthy, you probably don’t need to cut all added salt from your diet. Instead, avoid processed foods, which are real sodium bombs.” — Holly Andersen, MD, director of education and outreach for the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital

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Pass on the Aspirin

“Despite all the studies about aspirin’s heart benefits, it’s not for everyone. The term baby aspirin makes it seem benign—like, “Babies take it!”—but one danger is bleeding. If you’re under 65 with no risk factors, daily aspirin is not helpful.” — Dr. Cho

Find your happy place

“Chronic daily stress ups blood pressure and can lead to depression and anxiety. Have dinner with your girlfriends or listen to music. I use apps: Happify, which has daily gratitude activities, is a good one.” — Stacey Rosen, MD, vice president of women’s health at the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, North Shore-LIJ Health System

Say no to sugar

“We cardiologists pushed everyone to eat low-fat, and as a result, food manufacturers have added more sugar to things like crackers and cereals. When you eat too much sugar, your body may stop getting the message to feel full. Focus on protein and healthy fats instead of refined carbs.” — Dr. Andersen

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Pay attention to your pregnancies

“Most women don’t know this, but your pregnancies can tell you a lot about your future heart risk. Since your blood volume rises so much (blood flow just to the uterus increases eightfold), pregnancy is like a stress test. If you had pregnancy-related high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes, you’re at greater risk as you age.” — Chrisandra Shufelt, MD, associate director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles

Build muscles

Strength training revs your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories at rest. This may keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels low and helps prevent metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for heart disease. Use weights or your own body: I have a 15-minute daily routine that includes planks, sit-ups and push-ups. ” — Dr. Steinbaum

Laugh it up

“Laughter is huge. Fifteen minutes of laughter is equivalent to 30 minutes of aerobic activity in terms of what it can do for cardiovascular health.” — Dr. Andersen

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Don’t go to bed angry

“Studies show that a healthy marriage decreases heart disease risk. When you have problems with your husband, that stress you feel is the inflammatory markers going up. The longer you let it bother you, the worse it gets for your heart. Maintaining a stable, happy relationship really matters.” — Dr. Steinbaum

Don’t turn to hormones

“It’s true that heart risk goes way up once estrogen starts to drop as women age; estrogen helps maintain the flexibility of our arteries and helps keep our LDL (bad) cholesterol low. But studies show that adding synthetic estrogen doesn’t work the same way. You can use hormone therapy in the short term to help with menopause symptoms — but it won’t protect your heart.” — Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center

Go nuts for nuts

“I snack on walnuts, almonds, pecans and more. They help increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and people who eat nuts seem to live longer with less disease. I proportion them in baggies (about a quarter-cup scoop each) so when I get hungry, I won’t eat the doughnuts people bring to the office.” — Dr. Andersen

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Just move already

“Whatever exercise you can do consistently is the best exercise for your heart. Have fun with it. Boosting intensity is always great, but work up to it or you may burn out or get hurt. ” — Dr. Cho

Put your job second

“Women who say their jobs are stressful are more likely to die of heart disease. But so much of the pressure we feel is actually self-imposed. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do well at work, but most people aren’t going to get fired for eating lunch away from their desks. So do it: Get out of the office to eat, take a break when you need one, go home on time. Don’t let your job steal your health.” — Dr. Andersen

Cheers to your heart

There’s no magic elixir for a healthy life, but that’s not to say that your drink can’t affect your ticker. Here’s your beverage update.

HEALTH.COM: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

Good
Green tea: For every extra cup you sip a day, you may reduce your coronary artery disease risk by 10 percent, according to a recent review. Brew your own for best results.
Coffee: Jacking up your java by at least a cup a day may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes (which raises your heart risk), per a new study.

Bad
Energy drinks: A 2014 study linked guzzling energy drinks with angina (chest pain), irregular heartbeat and death. One can is OK, but why not choose espresso instead?
Soda: A 12-ounce can is your entire daily sugar limit—and then some! Overdoing it on sweets raises triglycerides and may reduce HDL (good) cholesterol.

It’s Complicated
Wine: Unwinding with a glass of red or white vino can protect against cardiovascular disease—but only if you also exercise, according to a 2014 Czech study. The wine-drinking participants who experienced a rise in levels of good cholesterol were those who worked their bodies at least two times a week.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Pope Francis

Stop Breeding Like Rabbits? The Pope Misses the Point on Contraception

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Pope Francis adresses journalists sitting onboard a plane during his trip back to Rome, on Jan. 19, 2015. Giuseppe Cacace—AFP/Getty Images

Emily is Beijing Correspondent at TIME.

It is not the mom of seven who should be scolded for "irresponsibility"

On his flight back to Rome on Monday, Pope Francis offered the press corps some friendly advice on family planning. During his recent travels in the Philippines, he said, he met a mother who risked her life to bear seven children. Chiding her “irresponsibility,” he said the Catholic Church’s prohibition on modern contraception does not mean large families are a must. “Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits,” he said. “But no.”

Now, I can’t argue with the Pope on matters of doctrine — that’s his specialty. But in the Philippines, the church’s stance on “artificial” contraception is also a national political issue. And its opposition to the use of things like birth-control pills and condoms is a matter of public health and human rights. From that perspective, his decree is deeply problematic.

The Philippines’ Catholic hierarchy has fought long and hard to restrict access to prophylactics. Over the past few decades, as most countries embraced family planning, the Philippines has moved in the opposite direction, discouraging the use of contraception and prohibiting abortion under any circumstance. They cast condom use as anti-Catholic and anti-Filipino, insisting that couples ought to use “natural methods.” That means abstinence — or abstinence on all but a woman’s least fertile days. (I once got a briefing on this from a bishop; it was awkward.)

Opposition from the church, particularly the influential Catholic Bishops Conference, kept the country’s family-planning bill on the shelves for more than a decade. Yet the Holy See is at odds with the stated preferences of Filipinos. Research suggests that most support voluntary family planning, and surveys show an unmet need, meaning a large number of women would like to control the number and timing of their pregnancies but can’t. That gap is highest (about 25%) among poor women, who, for instance, might be less able to afford pills or condoms, or may be less educated on their use.

The antiprophylactic rhetoric is also at odds with what we know about family planning in terms of public health. As social policy, abstinence does not work. Multiple studies show that without access to affordable, modern methods of contraception, the number of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies rises, as do rates of sexually transmitted infections and unsafe abortions. (Here is a telling case study from Manila.)

Finally, whether she chose to have seven children or did not have other options, the woman Pope Francis met — and all others — are entitled to make their own decisions about reproduction and reproductive health without coercion, danger or disrespect.

“Irresponsibility” is insisting on abstinence at women’s expense.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME contraception

Pope Francis Tells Catholics That They Shouldn’t Be Breeding ‘Like Rabbits’

After hopping around Asia, the Pontiff condemns artificial contraception

Pope Francis used his return journey from Asia to insist that the Catholic Church’s prohibition on artificial contraception does not necessitate followers bearing an enormous brood of children.

“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits — but no,” the 78-year-old Argentine told reporters while flying from the Philippines back to Rome, reports Reuters.

Francis spoke of meeting a Filipina woman who had risked her life to give birth to seven children, and revealed that he scolded her for her “irresponsibility.” He has developed a reputation for using plain, colloquial language to get his points across.

But despite garnering praise as a liberal reformer, Francis continues to condemn artificial birth-control methods, criticizing the Philippines’ recent legislation to make contraceptives more easily available to the public. He called these laws “ideological colonization,” claiming they conflict with traditional family values. (Advocates insist birth control empowers women and guards against sexually transmitted diseases.)

Francis explained that there are church-approved natural contraceptive methods that can prevent Catholics from having too many children. These consist primarily of abstinence while a woman is fertile.

[Reuters]

TIME Exercise/Fitness

Why You Should Start Forcing Your Coworkers to Take a Walk With You

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Take a hike for your health

A quick jaunt with coworkers could make you feel better all over, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia in the U.K. were looking for an easy yet effective way to get people to exercise. Turns out, simply telling people that exercise is good for them doesn’t work all that well. (A full 8% of people in England don’t walk continuously for more than five minutes, the team’s research has shown.)

MORE: Get Fitter (Much) Faster

They analyzed 42 studies on the subject across 14 countries and found that people who were part of walking groups showed significantly lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, cholesterol levels and even depression scores compared with their levels before they embarked on group walks. They also had better lung capacity — a good indicator of fitness — and were able to walk farther.

These weren’t hard and grueling hikes, either. The vast majority, 75%, weren’t even strenuous enough to count as moderate physical activity, yet the health effects were clear.

“It’s very small levels of exercise that people need to do,” says Hanson. “Increasingly we’re thinking, Look, let’s not overburden people by saying you need to do all these massive amounts of minutes of exercise. Let’s keep talking about 10 minute bouts of exercise.”

Those who were part of walking groups also had low levels of dropout — about three-quarters stuck with it — a finding Hanson credits to the presence of other people. Even if they don’t join to make friends, being able to clear your mind and follow the leader is enjoyable and fulfilling, she says.

If this were a medicine with such pronounced health benefits, “then people would buy it by the bucketful,” Hanson says. “But it’s free, and we don’t really realize how good some of these things are for us.”

TIME medicine

It Doesn’t Matter How Much You Exercise If You Also Do This

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Sitting too much can negate the benefits of exercise Simon Watson—Getty Images

Your workouts may not mean a lot if you sit too much

Most of us know that we need to be more physically active. Only 20% of American adults get the recommend amount of physical activity—150 minutes of the moderately intense aerobic kind—each week.

But simply moving more isn’t enough, according to a new report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The benefits of exercise can be blunted if you also spend most of the rest of your day sitting.

MORE Sitting Is Killing You

Dr. David Alter, a heart expert from the University of Toronto and senior scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and his colleagues found that sitting too much—even among people who exercise regularly—led to higher rates of hospitalization, heart disease and cancer, as well as early death.

The researchers looked at 47 studies that asked people how much time they spent sitting and exercising, as well as rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and death from any cause. The more hours people in the studies spent sedentary—like watching TV or reclining on a couch—the higher their risk of all of these negative outcomes. Heavy sitters showed a 90% higher risk of developing diabetes than those who sat less, an 18% higher chance of dying of heart disease or cancer, and 24% greater odds of dying from any cause. These rates were the average among people who both exercised regularly and those who did not.

MORE Now There’s Another Reason Sitting Will Kill You

“What struck me, and I was quite surprised by this, was that the deleterious effects of sitting time were almost uniform across the board of total mortality, heart disease mortality, the occurrence of heart disease, the occurrence of cancer and the mortality from cancer,” says Alter. “When we see a consistent effect, that reaffirms that something real is going on.”

What’s happening, he suspects, is that the metabolic effects of sitting are overwhelming any benefits that exercise might have. Even if people exercise regularly for half an hour or an hour a day, how they spend the remainder of that day is also important to their health. Alter says that the unhealthy effects of sitting are somewhat reduced among those who are physically active—by about 15%—but they aren’t completely erased. “You can make a little bit of headway on the bad effects of sedentary time by at least doing some exercise,” he says. “But you can’t completely nullify it.”

MORE Sitting Can Increase Your Risk of Cancer By Up to 66%

The only way to do that is to sit less, and not just exercise more. For so long, the public health message has been to move more and squeeze in as much active time as possible into the day. That message is still important, he says, but it needs to change as new research on the dangers of sitting starts to emerge. “It’s time to modify the public health message,” he says. “We still need more research, but there is a signal there that it’s time to do that. We need two different strategies—one that targets exercise for 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day, and the other is to reduce sedentary behavior.”

For his patients, Alter starts by helping them realize how much of their day they spend in a chair. There’s no prescription for sitting, and no research yet to support the optimal levels for avoiding cancer or heart disease or early death. But studies have shown that standing burns twice as many calories per hour, about 140, as sitting. And burning extra calories is a good way to maintain a healthy weight, one of the key factors in preventing heart disease and some cancers.

“Little things add up to a lot,” says Alter, who says he checks emails while on a elliptical. He also recommends standing up or moving around for several minutes every half hour when you’re at your desk, and aiming to sit two to three hours less in a 12 hour day. If you can’t give up your favorite TV shows, he adds, stand during the commercials.

Read next: Why You Should Start Forcing Your Coworkers to Take a Walk With You

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TIME Research

Here’s What Alcohol Advertising Does To Kids

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Booze ads reach kids far younger than the legal drinking age

Alcohol advertising that reaches children and young adults helps lead them to drink for the first time—or, if they’re experienced underage drinkers, to drink more, according to a study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

“It’s very strong evidence that underage drinkers are not only exposed to the television advertising, but they also assimilate the messages,” says James D. Sargent, MD, study author and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “That process moves them forward in their drinking behavior.”

The study found that young people were only slightly less likely than their older counterparts to have seen an alcohol ad. While 26% of young adults between the ages of 21 and 23 had seen a given alcohol advertisement, 23% of 15 to 17 year olds said they’d seen the same one. Researchers also found that young people who could accurately identify alcoholic products and who said they liked the ads were more likely to try drinking or to drink more.

Based on the findings, Sargent says that alcohol manufacturers should self-regulate more to limit the number of children they reach. The tobacco industry, which has volunteered not to buy television ads or billboards, could serve as model for alcohol manufacturers, he says.

“Alcohol is responsible for deaths of people during adolescence and during young adulthood,” says Sargent. “It seems to me that the industry should be at least as restrictive as the tobacco industry.”

“The spirits industry is committed to responsible advertising directed to adults and adheres to a rigorous advertising and marketing code,” said Lisa Hawkins, vice president of Public affairs at the Distilled Spirits Council, in a statement. The Distilled Spirits Council is a trade association that represents alcoholic beverage companies.
TIME Diet/Nutrition

Older Adults May Be OK to Eat More Salt Than Previously Thought

New study takes a look at sodium recommendations

It’s currently recommended that adults aged 51 and older consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day for better heart health. Since that’s less than one teaspoon of salt, it can be hard to achieve if fast or processed food is part of their diets. But now a new study shows that consuming up to 2,300 mg of salt isn’t associated with greater mortality, cardiovascular disease, or heart failure in older adults.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, doesn’t refute Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations that older people should consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, but it shows there also isn’t harm if people consume up to 2,300 mg (which is the CDC’s recommendation for the general population).

The authors note that a limitation of the study is that the amount of sodium consumed was self-reported, and people generally tend to underestimate their sodium consumption.

There did seem to be a greater risk for heart-related health problems among people who consumed more than 2,300 mg, but the numbers were not statistically significant.

To reach these findings, the researchers looked at the self-reported diets of 2,642 adults between ages 71 to 80, and followed-up 10 years later. The researchers found that 10-year mortality rates were 33.8% among people consuming less than 1,500 mg a day, 30.7% among people consuming 1,500 to 2,300 mg, and 35.2% among people consuming more than 2,300.

The CDC recommendations offer a bit more leeway for people two and older who are supposed to consume 2,300 mg of sodium or less. But the American Heart Association has a 1,500 mg a day recommendation for all ages. Both recommendations have been disputed, with some experts arguing there’s a lack of evidence that people really need to be aiming for that little sodium, and that it’s a goal that most people cannot realistically meet.

“In older adults it’s probably ok if you stick with the general recommendations of one teaspoon (2,300 mg),” said study author Dr. Andreas P. Kalogeropoulos of Emory University. “If you reach 70 and are free of cardiovascular disease or heart failure, these people are probably going to do ok with the standard recommendations. But know that anything over one teaspoon is bad for your health.”

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Is the Scary Amount of Pizza Kids Are Really Eating

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Pizza is a ubiquitous part of the American diet, but a new study finds that it’s an even bigger contributor than we thought—so big, researchers say, that physicians should address pizza intake during doctors’ visits.

To figure out how much pizza kids and adolescents are eating, researchers looked at the diets of children ages 2 to 11 and teens aged 12 to 19 from 2003-2010. They found that pizza makes up about 20% of kids’ daily calories on days when they eat pizza—and despite the insistence of some politicians that pizza should be considered a vegetable for its ample tomato sauce, those calories aren’t coming from an onslaught of veggies.

Overall pizza consumption didn’t drop significantly throughout the study, and in 2009–2010, pizza was ranked as the second highest contributor to children’s solid fat intake from schools and fast-food restaurants. (Grain desserts, like cookies, donuts and pie, took the cake for the number-one solid fatty food category.)

Researchers found that many kids were getting their pizza in school cafeterias, though it may be a bit healthier than it used to be: the USDA’s nationwide nutrition standards for school lunch have improved the nutritional content of all lunch offerings, including pizza. But the researchers also note that a recent evaluation of the nutrients in pizza from two undisclosed top national chains showed a high increase in sodium for thin crust cheese pizzas between 2003 and 2010, so the nutritional standards may not always trickle down.

Compounding the problem, many fast food restaurants that sell regular, full-calorie pizza are often clustered near schools in low-income neighborhoods, the researchers say, so a child who gets hooked on pizza during school could get the heavier version on their own time.

Because of pizza’s popularity in lunchrooms across the country, more should be done to inform kids that it comes with a lot of empty nutrition, researchers say. Pizza should be targeted as a food that can contribute to obesity, and marketing targeted to kids should be more controlled, they write.

TIME ebola

Mali Is Now Ebola-Free

Mali Ebola Spared No More
A health worker sprays disinfectants near a mosque, after the body of a man suspected of dying from the Ebola virus was washed inside before being buried in Bamako, Mali Baba Ahmed—AP

The country has gone 42 days without reporting a new case

Mali is officially Ebola-free after going 42 days without reporting a new case, according to the World Health Organization.

The country’s Health Minister Ousmane Kone made an announcement during a national broadcast on Sunday night.

During his speech, Kone heaped praise on the country’s health workers and Malian authorities for “weeks of intense work” that led to the result, according to Agence France-Presse.

Mali recorded its first Ebola case in October after a 2-year-old contracted the deadly virus. Following the incident, the country launched a massive eradication campaign.

In total, the disease only infected eight people in the country, but six of them were killed by it, according to statistics compiled by the WHO.

More than 8,400 people have succumbed to the deadly virus in West Africa.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

How You Can Eat More of These 5 Winter Fruits and Veggies

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Fruits and veggies don't stop sprouting in the winter

I frequent my local farmers’ markets year round, and while I adore summer selections like berries, cherries, and melon, I also get excited for winter’s bounty. Here are five of my in-season favorites, why they’re so good for you, and easy, delicious ways to incorporate them into meals and snacks.

Beets

One cup of beets contains more than 30% of your daily folate needs, a B vitamin that helps the nervous system function. Too little folate has been linked to mental fatigue, forgetfulness, and insomnia, and several common medications can deplete the body’s supply of folate, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, anti-inflammatory meds, and birth control pills. This root veggie has also been shown to significantly boost endurance. When UK researchers asked athletes to sip either 16 ounces of organic beetroot juice or a placebo, those who downed the real thing cycled for up to 16% longer.

How to eat more: Include raw beets when juicing, or remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, shred or grate, and add to garden salads. Beets are also fantastic roasted, then drizzled with balsamic vinegar (note: cooking beets does diminish the folate content). Just peel, slice thinly, spread the slices on a roasting pan, and mist or brush with extra virgin olive oil. Roast at 400° F for about 25-30 minutes for two medium beets.

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Brussels sprouts

Don’t forget the s! Brussels sprouts are named after the capital of Belgium, where they originate. This powerhouse member of the cruciferous vegetable family (which also includes kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), contains natural compounds that have been shown to disable or wipe out cancer-causing substances. Brussels sprouts have also been shown to help improve osteoarthritis and support immunity. One cup packs just 60 calories, provides 15% of your daily fiber needs, and has more than 500 mg of potassium, more than a medium banana. Potassium acts as a natural diuretic, to lower blood pressure and combat bloat. It also helps nerves and muscles function properly and has been tied to preserving muscle mass.

How to eat more: My two favorite ways to enjoy these “mini cabbages” are to oven roast or grill them, especially baby Brussels sprouts. To roast, remove the outer leaves, wash, and cut in half. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and roast at 350° F for about 15 minutes per cup. Or slice off the bottom stems, spear with wooden skewers, and grill, turning every 5-8 minutes to cook evenly on all sides (they’re fantastic as is, or brushed with sun-dried tomato pesto after grilling).

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Cranberries

I adore fresh cranberries, and they’re only available for a short time (they’re still at my local market—check yours). You’ve probably heard that these ruby gems help prevent urinary tract infections. They accomplish this by preventing bacteria from being able to cling to the walls of the urinary tract. The same reaction happens in your stomach to prevent ulcers, and in your mouth to fight gum disease. Cranberries also supply vitamin C, and have been shown to contain more phenol antioxidants (known to fight heart disease and certain cancers) than 19 other commonly eaten fruits and veggies.

How to eat more: My go-to recipe for fresh cranberries is to whip up a simple sauce, which can be used as a topping for oatmeal, wild rice, steamed spinach, or even fish. I combine one and a half cups of fresh cranberries with a cup of 100% fresh-squeezed orange juice, swirl in a tablespoon of organic maple syrup, and simmer until the cranberries pop. Then remove from heat, and stir in a half teaspoon of cinnamon, quarter teaspoon of cloves, and a teaspoon each of fresh grated ginger and organic orange zest. Cool to room temperature, then serve or chill.

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Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a potent source of immune-supporting vitamin C. Half of a medium grapefruit supplies 100% of the daily value for vitamin C, as well as 35% for vitamin A, another key nutrient for immunity. The pigment that gives the pink and red varieties their rosy hues also provides lycopene, the same antioxidant found in tomatoes, which has been tied linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, breast and prostate cancer. Consuming red grapefruit has also been shown to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol by as much as 20% in 30 days.

How to eat more: I love juicy fresh grapefruit raw, either “as is” or added to garden salads with toasted nuts. But when it’s cold outside, I also enjoy it roasted. Just slice in half, cut a little off the bottom so it won’t roll around, place on a baking sheet, pop it in the oven, and cook at 450° F until it looks browned. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon, fresh grated ginger, or even a savory herb like rosemary.

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Pomegranate

Fresh whole pomegranate, or pomegranate arils (seeds covered with juicy fruit), are still currently in season, and taking advantage of them may be advantageous for your health. Pomegranate has also been studied for its ability to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, and decrease the risk of heart disease by preventing “bad” LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, a reaction that hardens arteries. Pomegranate has also been tied to helping osteoarthritis sufferers and preventing cancer from spreading. This beautiful fruit contains natural substances called ellagitannins, which have been shown to protect against hormone-dependent breast cancer. Half of a medium pomegranate also packs 25% of the daily value for vitamin C, along with six grams of fiber, a quarter of the daily recommended minimum.

How to eat more: Sprinkle arils onto oatmeal, yogurt, garden salads, sautéed greens, baked or grilled salmon, cooked quinoa or wild rice, roasted squash or sweet potatoes. You can also use them as a garnish for celery stuffed with almond or cashew butter, fold them into melted dark chocolate, or spoon over a small scoop of coconut milk ice cream.

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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