Gadget: Edible Chopsticks

The chopsticks are made with igusa, the type of reeds used to make traditional Japanese tatami floor mats.


Watch video at You Tube (1:23 minutes) . . . . .

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Appetizer with Avocado, Mango and Jicama

Ingredients

12 large very thin slices jícama
1 large slightly firm but ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and coarsely grated
1/3 cup diced slightly firm but ripe mango
1 tablespoon minced green onions
1 tablespoon shelled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon chili verde (green salsa) (lowest sodium available)
grated lime zest (from 1 or 2 medium limes)

Method

  1. Using a round cookie cutter, cut a 2-inch round from each slice of jicama.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the avocado, mango, green onions, pumpkin seeds, and chili verde until well combined. Top the jicama slices with the avocado mixture. Sprinkle with the lime zest.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: American Heart Association

In Pictures: Vegetarian Dishes of Restaurants in London, UK

Fruit and Veggies Rich in Potassium may be Key to Lowering Blood Pressure

Erica Rheinschild wrote . . . . .

Consuming potassium-rich foods like sweet potatoes, avocados, spinach, beans, bananas — and even coffee — could be key to lowering blood pressure, according to a USC researcher.

“Decreasing sodium intake is a well-established way to lower blood pressure,” said Alicia McDonough, professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, “but evidence suggests that increasing dietary potassium may have an equally important effect on hypertension.”

Hypertension is a global health issue that affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that hypertension is responsible for at least 51 percent of deaths due to stroke and 45 percent of deaths due to heart disease.

McDonough explored the link between blood pressure and dietary sodium, potassium and the sodium-potassium ratio in a review article published in the April 2017 issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. The review looked at population, interventional and molecular mechanism studies that investigated the effects of dietary sodium and potassium on hypertension.

Her review found several population studies demonstrating that higher dietary potassium (estimated from urinary excretion or dietary recall) was associated with lower blood pressure, regardless of sodium intake. Interventional studies with potassium supplementation also suggested that potassium provides a direct benefit.

McDonough reviewed recent studies in rodent models, from her own lab and others, to illustrate the mechanisms for potassium benefit. These studies indicated that the body does a balancing act that uses sodium to maintain close control of potassium levels in the blood, which is critical to normal heart, nerve and muscle function.

“When dietary potassium is high, kidneys excrete more salt and water, which increases potassium excretion,” McDonough said. “Eating a high potassium diet is like taking a diuretic.”

Early eaters

Increasing dietary potassium will take a conscious effort, however. McDonough explains that our early ancestors ate primitive diets that were high in fruit, roots, vegetables, beans and grains (all higher in potassium) and very low in sodium. As a result, humans evolved to crave sodium — but not potassium. Modern diets, however, have changed drastically since then: Processed food companies add salt to satisfy our cravings, and processed foods are usually low in potassium.

“If you eat a typical Western diet,” McDonough said, “your sodium intake is high and your potassium intake is low. This significantly increases your chances of developing high blood pressure.”

When dietary potassium is low, the balancing act uses sodium retention to hold onto the limited potassium, which is like eating a higher sodium diet, she said.

But how much dietary potassium should we consume? A 2004 Institute of Medicine report recommends that adults consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium per day to lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of dietary sodium and reduce the risks of kidney stones and bone loss, McDonough said. Eating ¾ cup of black beans, for example, will help you achieve almost 50 percent of your daily potassium goal.

McDonough recommends developing public policies to increase intake of dietary potassium from plant-based sources. She also advocates adding potassium content to nutrition labels to help raise consumers’ awareness of economical sources of potassium.

Source: University of Southern Califorina

Study Suggests Potential Link between Sleep Deprivation and Fatal Prostate Cancer

Adequate sleep isn’t a luxury; it’s essential. And for men, it might even mean the difference between life and death, a preliminary study suggests.

Researchers found that men younger than 65 who slept just three to five hours a night were 55 percent more likely to develop fatal prostate cancer than those who got the recommended seven hours of shuteye nightly.

And, six hours of sleep a night was linked to a 29 percent higher risk of prostate cancer death compared to seven hours.

“If confirmed in other studies, these findings would contribute to evidence suggesting the importance of obtaining adequate sleep for better health,” said lead study author Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society.

However, more research is needed to better understand the biologic mechanisms, said Gapstur. For now, she considers the study “intriguing” but not substantive enough to cause sleep-deprived males any alarm.

Still, the findings contribute to evidence that the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle — circadian rhythms — might play a role in prostate cancer development, Gapstur said.

The study results stem from an analysis of long-term data on more than 823,000 men in the United States. The findings were scheduled for presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in Washington, D.C.

Lack of sleep can inhibit production of melatonin, a hormone that affects sleep cycles. Low melatonin production can lead to an increase in genetic mutations, greater oxidative damage, reduced DNA repair and a weakened immune system, Gapstur said in an association news release.

Lack of sleep may also contribute to the disruption of genes involved in tumor suppression, she added.

It’s not clear why the link between limited sleep and higher death risk from prostate cancer wasn’t seen in men 65 and older. But, Gapstur suggested that the natural decline in nocturnal melatonin levels with age might possibly reduce the relative impact of lack of sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get at least seven hours of sleep a night.

Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Source: HealthDay


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