What is Your Lifestyle IQ?

Often we think we know more about what’s healthy than we really do. Let’s test your lifestyle knowledge.
  1. Which is healthier for you, olive oil or canola oil?
  2. What is the best dietary advice for your heart: eat less fat, eat more fiber, or eat more fish?
  3. How much more would you weigh in five years if you ate one more 100-calorie cookie every day?
  4. Which contains more sodium, a portion of cornflakes or a portion of potato chips?
  5. Who describes his or her life as less enjoyable, an obese child or a child with cancer?
  6. Who benefits more from exercise, a middle-aged person or an elderly person?
  7. Is happiness life-saving?

Question 1:
Which is healthier for you, olive oil or canola oil?

Everyone knows that olive oil is good for your heart. Right? Surprisingly, it’s actually the omega-3 loaded oils, such as canola, walnut, flaxseed, and fish oils, that have been proven in scientific studies to save lives. Olive oil is better than butter, for sure, but canola oil is even better.

Question 2:
What is the best dietary advice for your heart: eat less fat, eat more fiber, or eat more fish?

In a large British trial, eating less fat, more fiber, and more fish were compared. Eating less fat and more fiber had no effect on mortality, but eating more fish reduced deaths by about 30 percent, mostly because it reduced heart disease. Eating more fish and other omega-3 rich foods is the best dietary advice for your heart.

Question 3:
How much more would you weigh in five years if you ate one more 100-calorie cookie every day?

What’s a measly little 100 calories, right? Well, consider this: one additional 100-calorie cookie per day is almost one added pound per month. In five years, you would add 50 pounds just by eating an extra cookie every day.

Ultimately, that is terrific news, because it tells you how easy it is to lose weight, even if slowly. Take just one cookie out of your diet and you will lose 50 pounds in five years. We recognize, of course, that you neither want to get thin nor rich slowly. You want to be rich and thin by next Thursday. The truth is that you have almost as much chance of winning a lottery as permanently losing weight by crash dieting.

Question 4:
Which contains more sodium, a portion of cornflakes or a portion of potato chips?

One ounce of cornflakes contains more than 200 milligrams of sodium, even before you add milk. Potato chips vary by manufacturer, but generally contain between 120 and 180 milligrams of sodium per ounce. Most of the high blood pressure generating sodium in our diet is hidden in processed foods we never think of as salty. Canned food and soups are especially loaded with sodium.

Question 5: Who describes his or her life as less enjoyable, an obese child or a child with cancer?

Obesity in America has exploded in the last 20 to 30 years. Teenagers today are 31 pounds heavier than they were 30 years ago. This is a huge medical problem because obesity is the fastest path to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.

Jolly fat people exist only in fairy tales. In a recent study, obese children ranked their quality of life on par with children undergoing treatment for cancer. Obesity is anything but enjoyable.

Question 6: Who benefits more from exercise, a middle-aged person or an elderly person?

The FDA would approve the drug equivalent of exercise in about two minutes flat. Physical activity not only reduces obesity, it slows aging and picks up our spirits. We live an hour longer for every hour we spend physically active.

Unfortunately, we have become the ultimate sedentary society. We endlessly circle parking lots looking for the closest parking spot. We panic when we lose the remote control and—heaven forbid!—actually have to stand up to change the channel. Our children play video games rather than outdoor games.

Yes, our children need to be more physically active, but the original question was about us old farts out there, who are the ones who benefit the most from exercise. In the Honolulu Heart study, middle-aged men had 17 percent less heart disease if they walked 30 minutes daily, but elderly men had 50 percent less heart disease. The older we get, the more we need to exercise.

Question 7: Is happiness life-saving?

Stress is unhealthy. Sudden deaths triple in the year after a spouse’s demise; Mondays and earthquakes both double the incidence of heart attacks. Just as stress, anger, and social isolation accelerate heart disease, joy and mirth can impede its attack. The bottom line here is that the head is connected to the heart in more ways than one. Enjoying life is a great way to keep your ticker strong and healthy.

How did you do on these questions? If you answered all seven correctly, congratulations! If you got some of them wrong, it’s perfectly understandable; most of us don’t have the facts in hand that can improve and lengthen our lives. The good news is that they are all here in the pages of The Pritikin Edge: 10 Essential Ingredients for a Long and Delicious Life.

From THE PRITIKIN EDGE by Robert A. Vogel. Copyright
(c) 2008 by Dr. Robert Vogel and The Pritikin Organization, LLC.
Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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