Americans who view Brazil as the land of samba and soccer may start to see it in another light -- as an Eden of tropical beverages. Popping up at smoothie chains and in ready-to-drink beverages is an Amazon-grown berry called aca? (pronounced Ah-sigh-EE) that some nutritionists value for its high antioxidant content. It tastes like a blend of chocolate and plum. You can find it mixed with other juices in bottled smoothies available nationally at Whole Foods (WFMI) under the Sambazon label ($3-3.50 for a 16-oz. bottle). A less diluted form of aca? is Zola ($2.50 for an 11 oz. aseptic pack). Other Brazilian ingredients finding their way to beverages include guaran?, a caffeine-loaded berry, and acerola, a cherry-like fruit rich in vitamin C.
Coming on strong is coconut water, the liquid that brims out of freshly cut coconuts. It's a natural sports drink, low in calories but high in potassium, which is lost when you sweat. You can find it in vacuum-sealed packages under brand names such as Zico, available either in pure form or flavored with extras like passion fruit and orange peel. Zico runs about $2 for an 11-oz. pack.
If racing through airports and lifting luggage is not enough of a workout, travelers can tap certified personal trainers in major cities nationwide, thanks to a partnership between Hilton Hotels & Resorts (HLT) and Bally Total Fitness (BFT). Hilton guests can now arrange for a personal trainer to meet them in the hotel's fitness room or at a nearby Bally's gym, at a cost of $55 to $70 per hour. Those who prefer exercising alone can ask the hotel for a "Travel Fit Kit" -- yoga mat, hand weights, and elastic resistance bands -- that will be delivered to their room for free.
You know spring is here when the daffodils come up and your cholesterol starts to go down. In a study of 517 healthy subjects last year, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School at Worcester found marked seasonal variations in lipid levels that were not explained by changes in diet or exercise. During the winter months, 22% of subjects reached levels at which doctors routinely advise cholesterol-lowering medication. The readings for those same subjects receded during the spring and were within the normal range in the summer. The findings suggest that some people may be taking cholesterol-lowering drugs needlessly. If you have no other cardiac risk factors, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, experts say treatment decisions should be based on the usually lower summer measurement.