Gadget: Combined Lemon Juicer and Sprayer

Lemon Spritzer

You simply place a cut lemon on the spritzer’s reamer, twist, and the juice flows straight into the spritzer container.

Attach the base, flip it over and you’re ready to add a fine mist of lemon to your broiled fish or fresh salad.

Setting the Record Straight on Some Common Beliefs About Food and Health

“Everything our parents said was good is bad,” complains Alvy Singer, the character played by Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” his 1977 Oscar-winning romantic comedy.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but when it comes to what certain foods can do to or for you, it’s probably best to take motherly advice, familiar sayings and other bits of conventional wisdom with a grain of salt.

“There’s some validity to some of them, but many of them are just old wives’ tales or myths that have trickled down over the years,” said Annette Frain, a registered dietitian at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

To help draw the line between what is and isn’t baloney, so to speak, here’s the medical lowdown on a couple of widely held notions about food and health.

Fish is brain food

Score one for Mom.

“Many long-term studies have found a correlation between improved cognition and the consumption of fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA,” said Frain, the medical program coordinator at Wake Forest Baptist’s Weight Management Center. “This isn’t a speedy fix – you’re not going to get a higher score on your test or do a better job on your project at work because you ate fish last night. It’s rather the build-up over time. So the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be in the long run.”

The best seafood sources of these omega-3s that promote optimal brain function are fatty and oil-rich fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines and herring.

These obviously aren’t among America’s most popular types of seafood. The “lighter” fish like flounder and tilapia that more frequently appear on our plates are good for you, too. Just not as good.

“They aren’t as potent in terms of omega-3s, and they’re often breaded and fried, which only adds calories,” said Frain, who recommends grilling as the best way to prepare fish.

Eating chocolate causes acne

Nope.

“I remember hearing that when I was growing up and I still hear it when I see patients, especially teenagers,” said Sarah Taylor, M.D., a dermatologist at Wake Forest Baptist. “But it’s not true. Chocolate has been studied, and there’s no hard evidence it has anything to do with acne.”

Acne occurs when the skin’s pores become clogged with excess oil produced by hair follicles. This allows dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells to build up in the pores and form the lesions and blemishes of acne.

What triggers this isn’t clear. Hormonal changes can prompt the overproduction of oil, and heredity can be a factor. But eating chocolate is not. That goes for pizza, potato chips, french fries and cheeseburgers, too.

Research, however, has identified one acne-food connection.

“Non-organic dairy products can make acne worse, because the cows are treated with growth hormones,” Taylor said. “So we’ll tell patients that when they’re having yogurt, cheese, milk or ice cream to make sure it’s organic if they want to help their acne out.”

Eating carrots improves vision

Not exactly.

“Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, which is one of the nutrients necessary for good ocular health,” said Craig Greven, M.D., chair of ophthalmology at Wake Forest Baptist. “But they won’t improve your eyesight.”

Their vision-friendly reputation notwithstanding, carrots are far from the only way to get vitamin A. Dairy products, eggs, fish and liver are prime sources, as are a number of fruits (peaches, mangoes, tomatoes) and vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, peas, red bell peppers) that also provide other nutrients and antioxidants that contribute to good vision.

“In general, a balanced diet, and really anything that leads to a healthy lifestyle, is good for your eyes,” Greven said. “But there’s not one specific perfect eye food.”

Spicy foods cause ulcers

No. Jalapenos and habaneros aren’t to blame.

Ulcers are sores on the inside lining of the stomach, esophagus or small intestine that develop when acid is able to penetrate the layer of mucus that normally protects the digestive tract. But spicy foods have nothing to do with that.

“About 75 percent of all ulcers are caused by bacteria called Helicobacter pylori,” said Joel Bruggen, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Wake Forest Baptist. “Most of the others are caused by the use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.”

So how did chili, curry and kung-pao chicken get such a bad rap?

“Stomach ulcers can produce a burning pain in your stomach,” Bruggen said, “and if you have a pain in your stomach after eating spicy food you might think you have an ulcer, or a doctor might even tell you you have an ulcer, but you probably don’t.”

Stress and alcohol also can be added to the list of things that don’t cause ulcers. In fact, the research pointing to bacteria as the primary culprit has been around since the mid-1980s.

But, as Bruggen put it, “Some legends just live on.”

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Power Bowl with Canadian Foods from Coast to Coast

Ingredients

6 cups winter vegetables cut into 1/2-inch chunks (squash, beets, parsnips, mushrooms)
2 tbsp canola oil
pinch of salt
2 cups green lentils, cooked (or rinsed and well-drained canned)
2 cups cooked barley
4 cans (each 125 g) sardines (preferably canned in water)

Maple Mustard Dressing

1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF).
  2. Toss vegetables with canola oil and salt. Roast for 30 minutes until tender.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients.
  4. To assemble bowls, divide vegetables, lentils, barley and sardines equally among four bowls. Drizzle with dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

What’s for Lunch?

Japanese Lunch Set at Kanda Restaurant in Namegawa, Japan

The Menu

  • Shrimp and Vegetable Tempura
  • Sashimi
  • Spinach with Sesame Dressing
  • Salad
  • Pickled Dried Daikon
  • Miso Soup
  • Cooked Rice

Mediterranean Diet with Virgin Olive Oil May Boost ‘Good’ Cholesterol

A Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may enhance the cardioprotective benefits of high-density lipoproteins (HDL—the “good” cholesterol) compared to other diets, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

High levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL—the “bad cholesterol”) and triglycerides, a type of blood fat, are associated with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. HDL cholesterol is associated with a lower risk because these lipoproteins help eliminate the excess cholesterol from the bloodstream.

“However, studies have shown that HDL doesn’t work as well in people at high risk for heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases, and that the functional ability of HDL matters as much as its quantity,” said senior study author Montserrat Fitó, M.D., Ph.D., and coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona and at the Ciber of Physipathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN), Spain. “At the same time, small-scale trials have shown that consuming antioxidant-rich foods like virgin olive oil, tomatoes and berries improved HDL function in humans. We wanted to test those findings in a larger, controlled study.”

Researchers randomly selected 296 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease participating in the PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea) study. Blood samples were taken from the participants at the beginning of the study and again at the end. Participants, average age 66, were randomly assigned to one of three diets for a year: a traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil (about 4 tablespoons) each day, a traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with extra nuts (about a fistful) each day, or a healthy “control” diet that reduced consumption of red meat, processed food, high-fat dairy products and sweets. In addition to emphasizing fruit, vegetables, legumes, such as beans, chickpeas and lentils, and whole grains, both Mediterranean diets included moderate amounts of fish and poultry.

The study found that only the control diet reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. None of the diets increased HDL levels significantly, but the Mediterranean diets did improve HDL function. The improvement in HDL function was much larger among those consuming an extra quantity of virgin olive oil.

Fitó and her team found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil improved key HDL functions, including:

  • Reverse cholesterol transport, the process by which HDL removes cholesterol from plaque in the arteries and transports it to the liver where it is used to produce hormonal compounds or eliminated from the body.
  • Antioxidant protection, the ability of HDL to counteract the oxidation of LDL, which has been found to trigger the development of plaque in the arteries.
  • Vasodilator capacity, which relaxes blood vessels, keeping them open and blood flowing.

Researchers said they were surprised to find that the control diet, which like the Mediterranean diets was rich in fruits and vegetables, had a negative impact on HDL’s anti-inflammatory properties. A decrease in HDL’s anti-inflammatory capability is associated with cardiovascular disease. Participants on the Mediterranean diets did not experience a decline in this important HDL function, the authors wrote.

Researchers said the differences in results between the diets were relatively small because the modifications of the Mediterranean diets were modest and the control diet was a healthy one. They added that study results are mainly focused on a high cardiovascular risk population that includes people who can obtain the most benefits from this diet intervention.

Still, Fitó said, “following a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil could protect our cardiovascular health in several ways, including making our ‘good cholesterol’ work in a more complete way.”

Source: American Heart Association


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