#10 #Safest #Cities in the #World

As with anything, traveling comes with its risks. Odds are, you’ve heard some stories of tourists becoming victims of crimes or being taken advantage of on their holidays. Unfortunately, crime exists in all parts of the world and it can sometimes be difficult to avoid. However, book your holiday in one of the 10 cities listed below and you have extremely good odds of enjoying a peaceful and incident-free adventure. Check out some of the safest cities in the world that also double as excellent vacation destinations.

1. Tokyo, Japan

Aerial photo of Tokyo at night

The bigger the city, the more dangerous it is? Not true for Tokyo. This city has a population of over 13 million and it’s still one of the safest cities on the planet. In terms of how well your cyber security is protected, Tokyo is ranked on top. This means identity theft is super rare and digital privacy is highly respected and protected. The low crime rates are probably related to the fact that the majority of the Tokyo residents are considered “upper-middle class.” What’s more? Tokyo boasts a world-famous nightlife scene which can be enjoyed worry-free!

2. Singapore

Aerial photo of Singapore skyline

The number of violent crimes, theft, and level of police engagement is the lowest in the world in Singapore. If that doesn’t make you feel safe, we don’t know what will. In fact, Singapore reported a 135-day completely crime-free streak in 2017. The small island nation has close to 100,000 surveillance cameras positioned around the city, keeping citizens honest and majorly deterring those who are tempted to stray. Because of their super-safe environment, Singaporeans really trust each other. It’s not uncommon to see shops without windows, locks, or doors!

3. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Photo taken on a bridge in Amsterdam, with bikes in the foreground and buildings in the background

This city is probably best known for its liberal and legal use of marijuana and a notorious red-light district. Despite this (or could it be because of it?!) Amsterdam has been named one of the safest cities in the world. The city’s infrastructure is some of the best in the world. Amsterdam has high-quality buildings and roads, while simultaneously boasting a low number of car accidents and excellent air quality. Perhaps this is due to another one of the city’s trademarks – the biking culture!

4. Stockholm, Sweden

Photo of colorful buildings in Stockholm

The capital of Sweden proudly presents itself as the safest country in all of Europe. How does Stockholm keep its nearly 1 million residents in check? Thanks to an extremely effective police force, the crime rate is uber-low here. There may be the occasional petty theft or pickpocket incident, however violent crime is impressively low. Stockholm is also one of the best cities in the world when it comes to protecting its people’s cyber privacy and health security.

5. Osaka, Japan

Photo of Osaka at night

If safety is your top priority when you’re traveling, Japan is a great choice. Osaka is the second Japanese city to make our list of safest cities in the world. The city of roughly 2.6 million shares some similar characteristics with Tokyo. Osaka is home to a wealthy population, is considered to be the second safest city in the world in terms of violent crime (just behind Singapore), and has an excellent health care system ensuring its residents are well cared for. To clarify: safe doesn’t mean boring. Osaka’s got a happenin’ nightlife and stylish restaurant scene that rivals the likes of Paris and New York City.

6. Munich, Germany

Photo of city square in Munich

Party at the biggest beer festival in the world, learn something at a world-class museum, and admire ancient architecture in Munich all without a care in the world. This German city is ranked as one of the safest cities for tourists to visit. Solo female travelers can feel especially comfortable in Munich and the risk of being mugged or scammed is very low. Additionally, airport security is tight – just be patient and remember it’s for your own protection!

7. Reykjavik, Iceland

Aerial photo of the city of Reykjavik with a mountain in the background

The land of the Northern Lights is a super popular travel destination for those who crave a unique holiday. Even better, traveling around the scenic Icelandic capital is hassle and worry-free thanks to the Reykjavik’s safety rating. There are literally no “bad areas” in the city and homelessness, drugs, and crime are essentially non-existent. Reykjavik is an easy country for new travelers to explore as there is very very little chance of being ripped off by dishonest locals or being pickpocketed or mugged.

8. Vienna, Austria

City square in Vienna

The riverside Austrian capital boasts imperial palaces, art galleries, museums, and oozes modern culture that appeals to travelers from every corner of the world. Vienna was also the home of Mozart and Beethoven, giving it even more clout. The icing on the cake is that visitors can enjoy the charms of the city in peace. Violent crimes and muggings are rare here. Just take the normal precautions against pickpockets and be logical when it comes to bargaining with locals and you’ll easily avoid getting robbed or scammed.

9. Niagara Falls, Canada

Photo of Niagara Falls and a crowd looking on

One of the most internationally recognized places in North America is also one of the safest. The locals are very friendly to visitors and violent crime is practically nil. The only thing tourists really need to be careful of is the water and mist around the famous falls, which can cause slippery conditions. Keep your footing and a holiday here is all gravy. By the way, the city of Niagara Falls isn’t just a pretty (waterfall) face – it’s also renowned for its breweries, wineries, boutiques, casinos, and festivals. Is there any reason not to visit this Canadian wonderland?

10. Abu Dhabi, UAE

Aerial photo of Abu Dhabi

Interestingly, over half of this middle-eastern city’s population is made up of ex-pats! Foreigners flock to Abu Dhabi for business opportunities, but end up staying because of its extremely safe and easy-going atmosphere. Ritzy, glitzy and at the same time traditional and charming, Abu Dhabi is one of the safest cities in the middle east as well as the world. Travelers have a very low risk of being mugged, pickpocketed, or scammed and women report feeling just as safe in Abu Dhabi as they do in other European and North American cities.

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7 #Places Where #Summer Never #Ends

There’s something special about summertime that makes us wish it could stay forever. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, sunset on the beach, or drink by the pool, we all have favorite activities when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. Some lucky locations get to keep that summertime fun going all year long. If you aren’t ready to say goodbye to the season just yet, check out these seven warm-weather destinations where summer never seems to end.

Fort-de-France, Martinique

The tropical island of Martinique located in the Caribbean boasts warm weather year-round, with average temperatures ranging from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Martinique is on the southern end of the Lesser Antilles, in between the popular tourist islands of Dominica and Saint Lucia. The official language of the island is French due to Martinique’s long history of French influence and it is still an official Region of France today. Apart from its scenic beaches, a must-see landmark on the island is the active volcano Mount Pelée. Don’t worry — it has remained dormant since its eruption in 1932. A day hike to the volcano is a perfect activity for any outdoor adventurer — plus it comes with a great view.

Casablanca, Morocco

Casablanca is a great warm-weather destination for travelers looking for sunshine and vibrant culture. As a Moroccan port city on the Atlantic Ocean, Casablanca is home to breathtaking sunsets and impressive Moorish architecture. The weather here has little variation, with warm summer temperatures in the 80s and mild winters with little to no rain. Try traditional Moroccan fare, tour the ornate Hassan II Mosque, or go on a sunny stroll through a local market. The rich colors and patterns of local textiles and architecture provide a cheerful and lively environment. For an unforgettable meal, make reservations at Rick’s Cafe, a romantic restaurant inspired by the 1942 film Casablanca.

Nosy Be Island, Madagascar

Nosy Be is an island off the northwestern coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. With year-round average daily temperatures in the 80s, this nature-filled island is an ideal getaway during any time of the year. Similar to neighbor Madagascar, Nosy Be is home to many species of lemurs, chameleons, geckos, and other exotic animals. Check out the Lokobe Nature Reserve for a once-in-a-lifetime view of these native species. Surrounded by smaller islands and coral reefs, these serene blue waters offer exciting encounters with sea turtles and other marine life. Despite being such a rugged island, there’s a variety of accommodations along the western coast including luxurious hotels and open-air seaside bungalows.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

What country better embodies a never-ending summer than Mexico? From the warm waters of the Gulf to romantic sunsets on the West Coast, travelers flock to Mexico when in need of a tropical breeze. Although there are many great destinations in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas, on the tip of the Baja California Peninsula, is the most fun. Known for its rock formations like the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, this coastal city has more than just a pretty landscape. The main beach, Playa El Médano, is home to romantic outdoor restaurants and upbeat bars and nightclubs. One of the most beautiful views is from El Farallon Restaurant’s cliffside dining area located in The Resort at Pedregal.

Sentosa Island, Singapore

Singapore is a technology and architecture hub located off the coast of southern Malaysia. Besides its ever-growing cityscape, this island also has excellent summer weather with temperatures ranging from the upper 70s to the lower 90s all year. Looking for a beach? Sentosa Island is an action-packed resort area connected to the city by road, cable car, monorail, and boardwalk. Home to Universal Studios Singapore, Tiger Sky Tower, luxury hotels, and scenic beaches, Singapore is the ideal place for family-friendly summer fun at any time of year.

Islamorada, Florida, U.S.A.

Tucked away in the center of the Florida Keys is Islamorada, the “Village of Islands.” Islamorada encompasses the central Keys and is commonly called the “Sportfishing Capital of the World.” With average temperatures in the 70s and 80s all year, outdoor activities are plentiful here. For nature lovers, catch a sunset dolphin cruise or try your hand at scuba diving. Islamorada is known for its upscale, small-town atmosphere due to its sprawling bay and ocean views, fine dining options, and luxury resorts.

Cairns, Australia

Cairns, in Queensland, Australia, is best known for its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. This tropical city boasts hot summers in the 80s and mild winters, making it perfect for year-round snorkeling. Palm Cove, located just north of the city, is known for its palm tree-lined beach and outdoor activities such as golfing and kayaking. Journey through the tropical rainforest in Kuranda by train or get a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest canopy from the Skyrail in a gondola. A few islands line the coast of Cairns, including Fitzroy Island, that can be visited by ferry for hiking and relaxing on the beach.

CREDIT: thediscoverer

How to #Protect Yourself in a #Foreign #Country

Traveling is exciting, but it still involves a certain amount of risk. Traveling outside your comfort zone and exploring an unfamiliar destination is inherently risky. This is part of what makes it so fun, but you still need to stay safe. If you’re traveling to a new destination, keep these tips in mind on how to protect yourself in a foreign country.

Keep Scanned Copies of Important Documents

Whether someone manages to steal some of your important documents or you just forget them in the hostel, losing your travel documents can be a major headache. To avoid this pain, make sure to scan and copy your passport, tickets, driver’s license, and any other documents you may need, like your travel itinerary or copies of hotel reservations. Make sure to scan the back of everything as well. This can make your life much easier if you happen to lose your passport or something of equal importance.

Try to Blend in

One of the easiest ways to protect yourself while traveling is to avoid standing out. Dressing like the locals and avoiding typical tourist apparel can help keep you from becoming an easy mark. Instead of dressing to impress, opt for a more casual dress code. This will help you avoid the attention of pickpockets or purse snatchers. As a bonus, dressing casually means you’ll probably be more comfortable. Just leave the bright white sneakers at home.

Stay in Well-Lit Areas

While experiencing the nightlife of a major city can be one of the more exciting parts of travel, it can also be risky. To stay safe, make sure not to venture too far into the dark. Staying out of sight can make you easy prey for criminals, so instead, stick to well-lit, crowded areas. If this means you can’t explore the part of a city you really wanted to see, just visit the area in the daytime instead. This is far less risky, plus you’ll be able to see more in the daylight.

Buy Traveler’s Insurance

Traveler’s insurance offers plenty of benefits. Whether you have a medical emergency or just need to cancel your trip early to return home, your insurance can help you recoup some of your losses. It doesn’t cover everything, but it’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around. Different plans cover different aspects of travel, so don’t just pick the first traveler’s insurance you find. Make sure to compare a few different plans and decide on what you need.

Use Credit Cards Instead of Cash or Debit

If a thief steals your wallet, cash money is as good as gone. Even if you don’t carry cash, a debit card effectively gives them direct access to your bank account. Using a credit card while traveling offers much more protection. If your credit card is stolen, you can easily freeze your credit. This means that you might be inconvenienced, but you don’t stand to face the same losses as if your cash is stolen. If you do carry cash, be sure to scatter it among your belongings and not keep it stored in one place. That way, if you lose your wallet, you still have some money stocked away in your suitcase, backpack, even the soles of your shoes.

Let Friends and Family Know Your Itinerary

It’s never a good idea to travel without letting anyone know you’re leaving. If you’re headed somewhere where you may be concerned for your safety, this is doubly true. When your friends or family know you’re traveling, they’re more likely to answer a call from a foreign country. Send them a copy of your travel itinerary so they can keep track of the news in the areas you’re visiting. If you need help for any reason, it’s good to have certain people know you may be trying to get in touch with them.

Keep an Eye on Your Belongings

This may sound like a given, but some people tend to leave their bags or luggage lying around. If you’re not directly holding on to a bag, make sure you keep a very close eye on it. Even seeing that you’re watching your luggage can be enough to deter a potential thief. Setting something down for just a few seconds might seem relatively risk free, but a few seconds is all it takes for someone to grab your bag and run.

Lock Your Bags

Locking your bags isn’t as easy as it used to be. If you plan to check them, you need to use a TSA-approved lock which, in turn, makes it easier for thieves to open your bags. That said, even the appearance of a lock on your bag can be enough to deter criminals. If you’re not checking your bag, you can use sturdier locks. You can also buy a lock once you’ve arrived at your destination to be safe.

Don’t Zone Out on Your Phone

One of the key aspects to staying safe no matter where you are is to be aware of your surroundings. You can’t do this if you’re busy staring at your phone. You may be used to losing yourself in your phone on public transit at home, but don’t do this while traveling. If you need to check your phone, try to get to a safe area first. If you’re traveling with someone else, have them keep an eye out while you post your photos to Instagram or update your friends. Otherwise, try to duck inside an alcove or similar space where your back is protected.

CREDIT: thediscoverer

5 #Popular #Travel #Destinations #Everyone #Needs to #Visit #Once

Around the world, travelers gravitate towards the Eiffel Tower, Rome’s mighty Coliseum, and Australia’s precious Great Barrier Reef. While wandering off the beaten path has become a mission for many, the beauty and grandeur of the world’s most popular destinations still often outshine the crowds. Here are five popular tourist destinations that should still make it onto your bucket list.

New York City, New York, United States

New York City is a trendsetter in the arts, fashion and dining categories. Its grid of streets offers a smorgasbord of choices from Michelin-starred restaurants to unassuming $1 pizza joints. Explore the boroughs where iconic yellow cabs roam, traversing through Brooklyn, Tribeca and Queens and discovering each neighborhood’s unique personality. Spend your afternoon laying on the immaculate lawns of Manhattan’s urban oasis of Central Park with fresh bagels from a nearby deli, or nibbling on cotton candy on Coney Island. When night falls, the city is bedazzled in neon lights. Quintessential to any NYC experience is a night out on Broadway, clapping along to an acclaimed musical or sharing laughs with the audience at an improv show. Visit during the Christmas holidays for an air of romance, when plazas convert into outdoor ice rinks and horse drawn carriages trot down the snow blanketed streets.

The best part about New York City is that no matter how many times you’ve been before there’s still something new to discover. New clubs and bars, restaurants, hotels, shows and more make this city feel fresh every time you stop through.

Florence, Italy

Traipse the city’s delicate web of narrow alleyways and you’ll discover overwhelming evidence of the Renaissance in each monument, internationally-recognized museum brimming with works by Michelangelo and da Vinci and fresco-adorned cathedral. Shop (or window shop) for fine jewelry in the stores that line the Ponte Vecchio, and hang out on the banks of the Arno river with some rich and creamy pistachio gelato. Interspersed with atmospheric piazzas and elegant cathedrals, Florence was made for every kind of traveler. Make your way to one of Florence’s many delightful eateries and warm up with a hearty bowl of ribollita — a hearty bread and vegetable soup — or gorge on a succulently grilled Florentine steak seasoned to perfection, paired with a glass of house Chianti. Beguiling Florence is a destination of fine Tuscan culinary indulgence and rich history. And despite the tourists that flock here every summer, it’s one Italian hotspot you shouldn’t miss.

Tokyo, Japan

Incredibly modern yet rooted in tradition, Tokyo is a city of parallels — where stand-up ramen bars share the sidewalk with fine dining establishments featuring perfectly marbled Kobe beef. Where the timeworn traditions of observing cherry blossoms and sumo wrestling contrast modern Japanese entertainment of zany robot shows and karaoke. The city plays host to an eclectic collection of themed cafes that allow visitors to immerse themselves in diverse worlds in the span of an afternoon. Relax in an onsen, a volcanically heated hot spring, then shop among cosplayers in the perpetually moving district of Shibuya, where the city’s infatuation with manga and their thriving pop scene add depth to Tokyo’s complex culture. Like New York, Tokyo is constantly evolving, reaching for newer and more elaborate spectacles in all spheres of life.

Maui, Hawaii, United States

A dynamic landscape of verdant valleys and otherworldly volcanic slopes, Maui is an island of stunning geographical diversity. Encircled by the Pacific and blessed with a pristine coastline, Maui is a premiere destination for beach bums and water sports enthusiasts. The island is also a haven for nature lovers, with a sizable network of trails that transport hikers past rotating windmills and along rugged terrain. Road trippers embark on the Road to Hana, a drive of harrowing hairpin turns that unveil a treasure trove of sparkling red and black sand beaches, secluded coves and silky waterfalls. Budget time to witness golden sunrises or fiery sunsets that transform into a dark night sky of dancing stars atop Maui’s active shield volcano of Haleakala. While parts of the island can get overcrowded, especially during peak travel seasons, if you travel smart you can miss the crowds and enjoy the wonders that this island holds.

Prague, Czech Republic

Irresistibly charming, Prague is an urban wanderer’s delight. The city is a mishmash of architectural styles, as demonstrated by the solid piers of St. Longin’s Rotunda in Romanesque form, the soaring spires of the Gothic Vitus Cathedral and the glory of the Baroque Saint Cajetan Church. From Staré Město, Prague’s Old Town Square, wander on the cobbled streets towards the 14th-century Charles Bridge for a romantic stroll and find yourself admiring the enchanting Prague Castle. Though drawing in hordes of tourists year round, it’s possible to find peace by strolling through neighborhoods like Vinohrady, and meandering away from the center to uncover charming cafes, secluded gardens and pubs frequented by locals.

CREDIT: thediscoverer

#10 #Beaches to See Before You #Die

When aren’t you in a tropical state of mind? Even as snow storms pummel the northern hemisphere, images of sandy beaches and sunshine continue to pop up on our phones, beckoning us to get away. And while we love the mountains and city, there’s something about the beach that screams “vacation time.”

If you’re thinking about escaping to the beach in the future, I recommend going big or staying home. TripAdvisor just released its list of best beaches in the world. The ranking is based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected about the world’s beaches over a year.

Pick one of these, and remember to leave your coat at home — you won’t need it where you’re going.

1. Baia do Sancho, Brazil

Located on the small island of Fernando de Noronha, Baia do Sancho was rated “excellent” by 91 percent of reviewers. People love this beach for its beautiful, bright waters and its isolated, tropical surroundings. In fact, the beach is part of the national park Parque Nacional Marinho de Fernando de Noronha, so while you have to pay an environmental tax to get in, the end destination is totally worth it. If you can hold out a little longer, the best time to visit the secluded beach is during the rainy season, from April to June, to catch a glimpse of two waterfalls forming off a nearby cliff.

2. Varadero Beach, Cuba

With steady weather ranging between 60 and 80 degrees Farenheit, white beaches and calm waters, it’s no wonder Varadero Beach makes it to No. 2. The beach is simply stunning, and the water is warm and soothing, almost like dipping into a bath. Covering 13 miles, Varadero Beach offers the perfect respite for the busy traveler.

3. Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach is exactly what you picture when you think of a Caribbean beach. Complete with white sands, cerulean waters and Aruba’s famous divi divi trees, it looks like it was plucked from a travel brochure. This highly-rated beach is so large it rarely feels crowded, feeling like a private beach wherever you post up. The beach is also the prime spot for Aruba’s nesting turtles, who make their way to the ocean from May to November.

4. La Concha Beach, Spain

The crescent-shaped La Concha Beach separates the sea from the Spanish city of San Sebastian. Its urban border makes it easy to transition between the city and the natural beauty of the bay. One traveller called it “This is a gorgeous stretch of beach with the background of mountains and a lovely promenade beside it.” Whether you’re strolling along the sand or hiking for views in the mountains surrounding the bay, you’ll want to make sure you have enough space on your camera for all the photos.

5. Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos

Grace Bay Beach is known for its soft stripe of white sand bordered by thickets of trees on one side and those crystal blue waters you always want to see on your beach vacation. This beach in Providenciales stretches 13 miles and has some of the softest sand in the Bahamas. Though resorts and restaurants are easily accessible, the beach feels isolated and tranquil, creating a relaxing haven just for you.

6. Clearwater Beach, United States

The only U.S. beach to top the list is, no surprise, in Florida. Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the warm waters of Clearwater Beach offer a safe haven for those fleeing their daily life. Dolphins swim so close to the shore you can usually spot them from where you’re sunbathing on your towel. Plus, all the nearby restaurants make it easy to spend your entire day here.

7. Spiaggia dei Conigli, Italy

Surrounded by a rocky cliffs and outcroppings, Spiaggia dei Conigli in Siciliy feels like your very own little secret. Translated as “Rabbit Beach”, this spot features a rugged coastline that spills into a narrow sliver of sand.  You can surf waves with schools of fish, or hike to the top of the nearby hills to drink in the whole scene. It can be hard to believe, but pinch yourself — it’s real.

8. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Seven Mile Beach is the place to go if you want to get a little adventurous in paradise. Try parasailing in the bright water, or watch the sunset on a dinner cruise. If you get tired of the ocean (as if that’s possible), you can make the easy switch to the pool at your resort for a slight change of scenery. But I doubt you’ll need it. One reviewer called the Seven Mile Beach “heaven on earth.”

9. Playa Norte, Mexico

Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres makes it easy to feel like you’re far, far away from your regular life. Featuring beautiful water, fine sand, and a ban on motorized water activities, Playa Norte puts an emphasis on the peaceful tranquility of the ocean. Nearby food and drink options will keep you satiated but you’ll still enjoy minimal crowds in this oasis.

10. Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica

Not to be confused with the other seven-mile beach on this list, the Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica has something to keep you busy at every interval. Loungers are available right on the sand, and bars, restaurant and entertainment are in no short supply. Walk along the beach between venues and soak up the sun you’re probably missing back home.

CREDIT: thediscoverer

How #habits #affect your #mental #health?

New research reveals a list of everyday activities that can bring on feelings of isolation or lift spirits

Depression affects around 10 per cent of the population at any given time, according to the Office for National Statistics, and is now second only to high blood pressure among the most common conditions recorded by GPs.

But while bereavement, unemployment and illness are common triggers for low mood, experts say everyday activities — from what we eat and drink to spending too much time online — could also contribute to leaving you feeling down.

So what’s affecting the way you think? Here are some possibilities, and what can you do about the impact they have on you.

Taking antibiotics

Certain groups of antibiotics, including quinolones and penicillin, are linked to depression, say scientists.

A large Tel Aviv University study of British patients found that taking just one course of antibiotics can raise the risk of depression and anxiety by around a quarter. And taking between two and five courses raises the risk by nearly half, they reported in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. It’s thought that disrupting the balance of bacteria in the gut can harm the way in which the brain cells communicate.

BOOST YOUR MOOD

A major proportion of your immune system actually lies in your gut in the form of friendly bacteria, and antibiotics can wipe these out — automatically weakening your immune system.

Restore the balance by promoting the production of good bacteria when taking antibiotics by eating live yogurt (containing lactobacillus, for example), or fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and miso.

Always online?

Swedish researchers found that those who spend long hours in front of a computer screen or on their phones (up to 150 hours a week) reported more depression, possibly due to sleep deprivation and lack of face-toface communication.

And a separate study by University of Michigan psychologist Ethan Kross found a direct correlation between time spent on social media and feelings of dissatisfaction, loneliness and isolation.

BOOST YOUR MOOD

Don’t visit a social network when feeling sad or dissatisfied with your present situation as, chances are, it will only make you feel more sorry for yourself and more depressed. Consider deactivating your account temporarily or unfollowing those who make you feel worse.

Pick up a bestseller instead. Those who read books regularly are, on average, happier and more satisfied with life, according to a study by reading charity BookTrust.

Too many coffee breaks

In the same way that sugary and fatty foods can leave you on a rollercoaster of emotion, coffee and high-caffeine energy drinks, too, can impact the way you feel, warns nutritionist Patrick Holford, author of Feel Good Factor.

Consuming caffeine sets off a stress response in your brain, which then stimulates the production of adrenaline, making you more alert, he says.

“In the long term, however, too much caffeine throughout the day causes constant adrenal overload,” he adds. “As a consequence, an increasing number of people are suffering from chronic anxiety, panic attacks, low mood, insomnia and stress-related weight gain.”

BOOST YOUR MOOD

Cut back on caffeinated drinks and eliminate them completely after 4pm. Instead, try herbal teas.

Not eating your greens

Those who eat the least fresh fruit and vegetables are most likely to become depressed, according to a University College London study.

The high levels of antioxidants found in fresh produce help prevent free radical damage to cells, including those in the brain.

BOOST YOUR MOOD

Find ways to sneak extra fruit and vegetables into your meals.

Eating just one extra portion of berries, greens or salad boosts one’s mental wellbeing by the same amount as walking for an additional 10 minutes for seven days a week, over four weeks, say researchers.

And, adding 10 additional portions of fruit and vegetables to your daily diet has the same effect on emotional wellbeing as going from unemployment into a job.

Is #Sunflower #Oil #Healthy?

Sunflower oil is one of the most prevalent cooking oils in the world.

It is also easy to hear claims that sunflower oil is “heart-healthy” cooking oil, but is there truth to this?

This article provides an in-depth guide to sunflower oil and its nutritional and chemical properties.

What Is Sunflower Oil?

Glass Bottle of Sunflower Oil Next To Flower and Seeds.

Sunflower oil is an edible oil made from the seeds of the sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus).

This oil is one of the most common vegetable oils, and global production hit 19.45 million metric tons in 2019 (1).

The fat content of sunflower oil is primarily unsaturated fat, and it is mainly a source of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Uses

Food companies widely use sunflower oil in their packaged food products, particularly in snacks like potato chips.

Since the oil is cheap, it is common to find sunflower oil in homes. The oil is often used for frying and sauteing.

How Is It Made?

The majority of commercial sunflower oil goes through a lengthy production process which involves refining, bleaching, and deodorization (2).

For this reason, the oil is also known as an RBD oil; a refined, bleached, and deodorized oil.

This production process involves following the steps below in order;

  • Cleaning to remove any impurities from the oil and then heating and drying the seeds.
  • The mechanical pressing of the seeds to extract 50-75% of the oil.
  • Next, the leftover seed meal is treated with solvents such as hexane to extract more oil.
  • After extracting all the oil, the added solvents need removing from the oil via a heat and steam distillation system.
  • Following this, the sunflower oil undergoes degumming, bleaching, and deodorizing processes to make it edible and give it the required color and aroma.
Key Point: Sunflower oil is a common refined vegetable oil used around the world.

Nutrition Facts

Before we discuss the oil’s relative health properties, here are the full nutritional values for an average serving of sunflower oil.

The source of the nutrition data is the USDA’s National Nutrient Database (3).

Nutrition Facts For Sunflower Oil (Per tbsp Serving)
Calories/Nutrient Amount
Calories 120 kcal
Carbohydrate 0 g
Fat 13.60 g
  Saturated Fat 1.40 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 2.65 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 8.94 g
    Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    Omega-6 Fatty Acids 8.87 g
Protein 0 g
Vitamin E 5.59 mg (28% DV)
Vitamin K 0.7 mcg (1% DV)

Fatty Acid Profile

  • Palmitic acid and stearic acid are the main saturated fatty acids in sunflower oil.
  • Oleic acid is the source of the monounsaturated fatty acids.
  • Linoleic acid is the polyunsaturated fat.
Key Point: As shown in the nutritional values, sunflower oil is a pure source of fat, and it contains significant amounts of omega-6.

Does It Have Any Benefits?

Like with any isolated source of fat, there is not a lot of nutritional value in sunflower oil.

However, the oil does contain a reasonable amount of vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties (4).

Generally speaking, most fats contain vitamin E as it helps to protect the fatty acids from oxidizing (5).

Aside from this vitamin E content, the oil is also widely available and affordable.

However, there are also some important concerns to consider regarding sunflower oil and the fatty acids it contains.

Key Point: Sunflower oil contains a moderate amount of vitamin E.

Sunflower Oil Has Poor Oxidative Stability, and May Produce Large Amounts of Polar Compounds

On the negative side, one of the biggest concerns surrounding sunflower oil is that it can generate polar compounds (oxidation products such as aldehydes) when heated.

Research suggests that consuming these polar compounds can cause oxidative stress in the body. On this note, oxidative stress can raise the long-term risk of various chronic diseases (6).

An independent lab recently conducted an extensive study to test the oxidative stability of popular cooking oils. In this study, the researchers heated the various oils to different temperatures to see the effects this had on the oil (7).

Unfortunately, this study showed that sunflower oil produces large amounts of oxidation products, and particularly so during longer cooking times.

For example, tests showed that sunflower oil contains around 6% polar compounds in its raw state.

After heating for 30 minutes at 180°C (356°F), this rose to 10%. At the three hour mark, sunflower oil contained a higher percentage of polar compounds (17-18%) than any other cooking oil.

Sunflower Oil Versus Other Cooking Oils

The table below demonstrates how sunflower oil compared to various other cooking oils regarding oxidative stability and changes in polar compounds after cooking;

Table Showing the Oxidative Stability of Various Cooking Oils.

In summary, the data here show that (7);

  • Sunflower oil contained the third most polar compounds out of any oil before heating.
  • After heating, sunflower oil’s polar compound content increased more than any other cooking oil.
  • Sunflower oil had the least oxidative stability out of all the oils. It was slightly less stable than grapeseed oil, which had the second lowest oxidative stability. It was significantly more prone to oxidation than the other oils.

Also, there is another recent study that compared the oxidative stability of sunflower oil to three other options;

  • Camellia oil
  • Perilla oil
  • Palm oil

Among these four oils, palm oil had the highest oxidative stability, and sunflower oil had the lowest (8).

Why Is Sunflower Oil Prone To Oxidation?

Three primary factors can influence the oxidative stability of a type of fat;

  • The level of saturation (polyunsaturated fats have the lowest oxidative stability) (9).
  • Vitamin E content of the fat (10).
  • Polyphenols (refined sunflower oil barely contains any) (11).
Key Point: Regular sunflower oil has poor oxidative stability and appears to generate various polar compounds when heated.

Sunflower Oil Contains Large Amounts of Omega-6 and Significantly Impacts the Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio

A single tablespoon of sunflower oil contains nearly nine grams of omega-6 and virtually no omega-3.

Omega-6 is one of two essential fatty acids that the human body requires to function. This fatty acid plays a crucial role in growth and development, wound healing, and more (12).

Generally speaking, omega-6 has pro-inflammatory properties. In contrast, omega-3 has anti-inflammatory biological functions (1213).

However, despite being essential, we only need small amounts of omega-6, and some researchers believe that excessive amounts could be harmful.

The reason for this is disagreed upon, however.

Why Might the Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio Matter?

Some researchers believe that an imbalanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, which can be up to 20:1 in the modern diet, can put the body into a pro-inflammatory state. By comparison, the evolutionary ratio was approximately 1:1 (14).

In this regard, excessive amounts of omega-6 may impair the biological activity of omega-3.

Linoleic acid (the primary omega-6 fatty acid) can block the uptake of DHA and EPA (omega-3 from animal sources) into tissues. Additionally, linoleic acid also competes with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) for absorption. ALA is an omega-3 precursor found in plant foods (15).

That said, this issue is still not fully understood, and contrasting evidence exists.

For instance, some studies show that high blood levels of linoleic acid (omega-6) do not increase markers of inflammation. However, this research only took absolute omega-6 status into account, and the omega-3 status of the participants was not clear (1617).

For those who wish to maintain a more balanced omega-6 to 3 ratio, sunflower oil is not an ideal choice.

Key Point: Sunflower oil is exceptionally high in omega-6 fatty acids. Excessive intake of omega-6 compared to omega-3 may potentially have adverse effects.

High Oleic Sunflower Oil May Be a Healthier Option

For those who wish to use sunflower oil, it is worth noting that there is a different type available: high oleic sunflower oil.

‘High oleic’ means that the fat contains high amounts of oleic acid (at the expense of the polyunsaturated omega-6 content). This high oleic oil is made by the conventional breeding of sunflower plants to produce seeds that are rich in oleic acid.

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid which we can also find in extra virgin olive oil (1819).

There are several benefits of high oleic sunflower oil compared to the regular version;

  • It has an entirely different fatty acid profile, and it is much lower in omega-6 (20).
  • High-oleic sunflower oil has much greater oxidative stability compared to the regular version. The oil is more shelf-stable and less prone to oxidation during cooking (21).

How Does High Oleic Sunflower Oil Compare To Regular Sunflower Oil?

The table below shows how the fatty acid profiles of regular and high-oleic sunflower oil differ per tablespoon serving (322);

Fatty Acid Profile of Regular Sunflower Oil vs. High Oleic Sunflower Oil
Type of Fat Regular Sunflower Oil High Oleic Sunflower Oil
Saturated 1.40 g 1.38 g
Monounsaturated 2.65 g 11.7 g
Polyunsaturated 8.94 g 0.53 g
Omega-3 26.9 mg
Omega-6 8870 mg 505 mg

As we can see, the high oleic version of the oil is much lower in omega-6.

Therefore, it should provide better heat stability.

Key Point: There is a high oleic version of sunflower oil which offers many benefits over the standard oil.

Final Thoughts

Overall, regular sunflower oil has more drawbacks than benefits.

While the high oleic variety offers numerous improvements, it is probably better to stick to more proven cooking oils.

For a like-for-like alternative, extra virgin olive oil is one of the most evidence-backed oils.

Aside from this, other cooking oils that have excellent oxidative stability include animal fats and coconut oil.

Credit: nutritionadvance

The 11 most #beautiful #train #stations around the #world

TRAVELING BY TRAIN is a time-tested method to enjoy seeing parts of countries we may not otherwise experience. Whether commuting or taking a long-distance journey, architecture, history, and artful aesthetics can make that wait for the next train pass in no time at all.

Here are some of the most beautiful, inside and out, train stations around the world.

1. Estação de São Bento, Porto, Portugal

Sao Bento railway
The first train pulled into the station in São Bento in 1896. Architect Marques da Silva drew inspiration from Parisian architecture for its exterior and, inside, artist Jorge Colaço spent 14 years crafting a massive azulejo tile mural.
Sao bento
Even those in a hurry slow down to gaze upon its 20,000 hand-painted, tin-glazed, blue and white tiles. This is a busy destination for trains heading to the suburbs of Porto, as well as to and from Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon.

2. Antwerp Centraal Station, Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp

Officially noted by the media as one of the world’s most beautiful railway station, this stone-clad terminal was originally constructed between 1895-1905.

Antwerpcentraaal
Designer Louis Delacenserie designed the building using over 20 types of marble and stone. The impressive multi-level glass and iron vaulted ceiling survived the V-2 bombs of World War II. Delacenserie definitely used his imagination in the creation of this space: it can be assigned no particular architectural style other than just being simply stunning.

3. Grand Central Terminal, New York City, New York

Grand central station viaduct and entrance

The world’s largest train station welcomes travelers beneath the ticking face of the world’s largest Tiffany clock. Over the rush of the workday crowds, an aquamarine ceiling bends with six gold-leafed signs of the zodiac, famously painted in reverse order.

Main hall grand central terminal

Built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1871, customers can still purchase tickets through the original gold barred ticket windows and entertain themselves during layovers with whispering galleries, secret bars, and a stop at its ever-popular Oyster Bar.

4. Estación de Madrid Atocha, Madrid, Spain

Atocha

This station’s most striking feature is the lush greenery of the tropical garden growing in its main concourse. It was Madrid‘s first and largest train station when built in 1851, but a 1992 fire forced the building of a more modern structure adjacent to the historical one.

Station Atocha

Though trains now leave from the new building, the original Atocha station structure is alive with shops, cafes, and even a nightclub.

5. St. Pancras International, London, England

St Pancras

The imposing Victorian structure has a red-brick, Gothic facade that is unyielding. But the station softens inside, where one can grab a seat at Europe’s longest champagne bar.

London train

The massive station took 20 years to build and, upon its completion in 1868, it was for some time the largest enclosed space in the world. Seemingly untouched by the battering of bombs in World War II, St. Pancras is a gateway to Britain’s National Rail network.

6. Gare de Lyon, Paris, France

Paris train station

Commissioned for the 1900 World Exposition, this station is an exemplary standard of period architecture with fine Beaux-Arts details. Trains head to destinations in the south of France, as well as Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Over the decades, its famous clock tower has overseen the regular comings and goings of millions, including Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, and Brigitte Bardot.

7. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai, India

Chatrapati Shivaji

Built to honor Queen Victoria, construction of this massive station was completed in 1888. A fusion of Western and Eastern styles, the palace-like exterior served as a symbol of Bombay’s prestige within the British Empire and has earned it a spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The terminal now connects Mumbai and its suburbs with an impressive 3 million commuters passing through it each day.

8. Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin new zealand

Architect George Troup became known as “Gingerbread George” after the completion of this ornate, Flemish Renaissance-style station in 1906.

Constructed of basalt from the small town of Kokonga and white Oamaru stone, it has become a regular stop for tourists looking for photo opportunities and a jump-off point for scenic trips on the local Dunedin line.

9. Kanazawa Station, Kanazawa, Japan

Drum gate japanese train station

Originally opened in 1898, this station became internationally known when the modern tsuzumi(drum) entrance to the station was unveiled in 2005. A dome of aluminum and glass shelters travelers from the weather while also filtering light into the shops and restaurants inside.

The introduction of such large-scale modern architecture to this traditional town was not particularly well-received at the time but has since attracted its fair share of admirers.

10. Helsinki Central Station, Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki finland train station

Originally built in 1862, this station proved to be too small for its needs, so in 1904, a contest was opened for a new design. Of the 21 entries, a design of National Romanticism was chosen, sparking a debate over public building design, many calling for a more modern, practical look. Luckily, the winning architect, Eliel Saarinen, was happy to oblige. Clad mostly in Finnish granite, this station opened in 1919 and is emblematic of Saarinen’s signature Art Nouveau style. Four massive sentry statues holding spherical lights oversee coming and goings of hundreds of thousands of commuters each day.

11. Liège-Guillemins Station, Liège, Belgium

Gare de Liege train station

Just outside of Brussels lies Liège, Belgium‘s third-largest city, and its gateway for high-speed trains across Europe. The first railway station of Liège-Guillemins was inaugurated in May 1842 but this most current inception was introduced in 2009.

Liege Guillemins train station

The design of glass, steel, and white concrete by Santiago Calatrava has earned accolades in contemporary architecture, and the light that permeates the structure makes a long, commute much kinder. 

CREDIT: matadornetwork

#Top #Ten #Beaches In The #World

Be it a budding traveller, or even a seasoned one, beaches never seem to leave the bucket lists of them, and rightly so! While some travellers incline toward wide, open beaches with crowds of activities and individuals to see, others lean toward more of abandoned shorelines with quiet waters.

For all sorts of you beach lovers, we have curated a list of top ten beaches in the world, which includes the lively ones as well as the serene ones!

1. Maundays Bay, Anguilla

Considered one of the best beaches in the world by seasoned travellers, it is hard to believe that this beach is rarely ever crowded, which gives you serenity lovers an incentive to visit the beach as long as it remains that way!

It is considered that tiny Anguilla has the best beaches in the Caribbean, and a very decent food scene. So, we suggest that you don’t miss out on this!

Where to stay: best Hotels in Anguilla:

1. Malliouhana, Auberge Resorts Collection.
2. Royal Palms Holiday Suites Hotel, Anguilla.
3. Carimar Beach Club.
4. Hotel Le Toiny, St Barths.
5. Christopher St Barth.
6. Quintessence Hotel, Relais & Chateaux.

2. Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Baia do Sancho is located on a small island of Fernando de Noronha in Brazil. Agreed upon as one of the most picturesque beaches one can think of, Baia do Sancho is inundated with the turquoise waters and vibrantly coloured fauna hidden behind proud cliffs. Its laurels include being rated as the number one beach in a lot of travel blogs!

3. Blue Lagoon, Fiji

This beach is one of the most peaceful beaches there are! This pristine and serene location is something Fiji is proud of. Indulge in Snorkelling, Scuba Diving and whatnot! Giving you an overwhelming, natural fantasy, Blue Lagoon, Fiji is a beach you cannot miss exploring!

4. Kiawah Island, South Carolina , United States

Kiawah Island, a mostly private, gated community, a very brief drive from Charleston International Airport is a low-country winner. East and West Beach, combined, expand for 10 miles along the Atlantic. Public beach access is at Beachwalker County Park, at the famous island’s far southern end. The sand is flat, the water is not very deep, there are lifeguards on duty all the time, and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas rentals.

5. Radhanagar Beach, India

One of India’s most beautiful and most acclaimed beaches, Radhanagar is a stunning stretch of sugar-white sand on Havelock Island, which is a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, off India’s eastern shore. The sand is bordered by a verdant forest, and thriving coral reefs offer great snorkeling.

6. Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile

This beach on the infamous Easter Island in Chile, far out into the large Pacific Ocean, has soft coral sands and crystal clear water. A considerable amount of palm trees in the sand offer shade, and eight of the island’s famous storied stone statues look over this earlier sacred land of the island’s noble family.

7. Whitehaven Beach, Australia

Whitehaven Beach, very correctly juxtaposed, has really pretty white sands, dark green rainforests, and crystal clear waters. It’s a wild island, part of the Great Barrier Reef, and by far the most beautiful location to experience in Australia, beach-wise.

8. Navagio Beach, Greece

A very picturesque setting awaits you at Navagio Beach, an exposed cove on the famous coast of Zakynthos. Tourists and travellers come from all corners of the world to grab photos of the incredibly famous ship wreck, called Panagiotis. The deep blue water is spectacular, and in contrast to the white cliffs and sand.

9. Anse Lazio, Praslin, Seychelles

Very popular as a honeymoon spot, Anse Lazio draws travellers from all around the world because it’s secluded, romantic and oh-so-pretty! The Seychelles are located in the centre of the beautiful Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar. Anse Lazio beach is located in the northwest of Praslin Island and has some of the best diving in the world!

10. El Nido, Philippines

Considered as a spectacular pristine beauty, this serene location needs to be in your bucket list! This place is without any debate, beautiful beyond measure. With beaches stretching for miles, this place is a true breath-taker. Shockingly, El Nido remains steadily under the radar, even though it continues to rank highly in rankings when it comes to the best beaches in the world. With the bluest of waters and one of the best places to watch the sunset with your special someone, this is one location you do not want to miss!


We hope to have satisfied your inner wanderlust’s appetite by putting together top 10 beaches in the world! Pack your swimwear and snorkelling equipment, and get ready for exploring a few of the best beaches our world has to offer!

Credit: ceoworld

#Google launches ‘#Bolo’ to #tutor #children to #read #Hindi, #English

  • Google’s Bolo app, which is being launched in India first, uses speech recognition and text-to-speech technology
  • Bolo will be available on Google Play Store in India for all smartphones running Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and higher

Tech giant Google Wednesday unveiled a new app ‘Bolo’ that aims to help children in primary school learn to read in Hindi and English.

The free app, which is being launched in India first, uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.

The app features an animated character ‘Diya’, who encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word. It also lauds the reader when he/she completes the reading.

“We have designed the app to work offline, so users need to just download the under 50MB app once and then they have access to close to 100 stories in Hindi and English that the children can read out loud and improve their reading skills,” Google India Product Manager Nitin Kashyap told PTI.

Bolo will be available on Google Play Store in India for all smartphones running Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and higher, he added.

Citing the annual ASER 2018 report, Kashyap said, it was found that only half of students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook.

“Lack of reading ability can significantly impact further education, and ultimately children’s ability to realise their full potential. Limited access to quality material, under-resourced infrastructure, and barriers to learning outside the classroom are some of the challenges that children often face,” he added.

Google piloted the ‘Bolo’ app in about 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh and the early results are very encouraging with 64 per cent of children showing an improvement in reading proficiency in just three months, Kashyap said.

“We are now actively working with a number of non-profit partners to take the app to more people across the country who could benefit from it,” he said.

Kashyap said the company is also looking at expanding the app to other Indic languages like Bengali, soon.

To ensure safety of the child, all personal information always stays on device. The users are also not asked for details like email ID and gender for logging into the app.

“This story has been published from a livemint feed without modifications to the text.”