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‘Dragon’s Breath’ Chili Is The New World’s Hottest Pepper

Constantine Spyrou wrote . . . . . .

Up until today, the world’s hottest chili pepper has been known to be the Carolina Reaper. Dialing in at around 2.2 million Scoville heat units, this chili would easily blow your mouth away. You could still consume it at caution, however.

That’s not the case with this new weapons-grade chili that easily eclipses the Reaper in terms of heat. It’s so potent that it has to be kept in a sealed container and nobody has actually orally consumed it yet out of fear that it could actually kill you.

This new pepper, called the “Dragon’s Breath” chili, was developed by hobby grower Mike Smith and Nottingham University, according to the Daily Post. The team is expecting a confirmation letter from the Guinness Book of Records to officially name their pepper as the world’s spiciest.

At 2.48 million Scoville heat units, the Dragon’s Breath is more potent than law-enforcement grade pepper spray and dangerous to consume because it could literally burn your airways, forcing them to close up and inducing anaphylactic shock. The creators haven’t dared to eat it themselves, but one did put it on the tip of their tongue and reportedly spat it out after 10 seconds due to the intensity of its heat.

While you may not want to eat this chili (or do, if you’ve got insane heat tolerance and a love for crazy-hot peppers), it was actually developed for medicinal purposes, as the oils from the chili are so potent that they can actually numb the skin, giving it a use as a topical anesthetic for those who are allergic to current painkillers out there.

The Dragon’s Breath will be displayed at the Chelsea Flower Show next week, but there’s no telling yet if or when this will be available for people to order and consume. My guess is that not very many people will want to given how fiery it is.

Source: Foodbeast

Indian-style Broiled Haddock Fillets

Ingredients

1-1/2 lb haddock fillets, skinned
lemon wedges, to garnish

Sauce

1-1/4 cups plain unsweetened yogurt
2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1-1/4 tablespoons sweet paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/4 tablespoons tomato paste
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

Method

  1. 1. Mix together all the sauce ingredients.
  2. Place the fish in a shallow dish. Pour over half the sauce, cover and leave in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate the reserved sauce.
  3. Heat the broiler to moderate and line the pan with foil. Remove the fish and broil for 6 minutes on each side.
  4. Heat the sauce through gently in a small saucepan.
  5. Garnish the fish with lemon wedges and serve the sauce separately. Serve with rice, broiled poppadoms and chutneys.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Cooking Naturally

To Age Better, Eat Better

Liz Mineo wrote . . . . . .

A habitually healthy eater, Frank Hu stocks his refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and chicken. His pantry holds brown rice, whole grains, and legumes, and his snack cabinet has nuts and seeds. He eats red meat only occasionally, rarely buys white bread, soda, bacon, or other processed meats. He’ll purchase chips and beer, but only now and then, mostly when entertaining friends.

When it comes to eating smartly in ways that can help us keep fit and live longer, Hu knows best.

Hu took over the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in January. His eating habits are greatly informed by his research on what constitutes a healthy diet. While he knows they’re not for everyone, he says people can nonetheless move toward eating patterns that both appeal to them and help them stay well.

“There is no single, fit-for-all diet for everyone,” said Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “People should adopt healthy dietary patterns according to their food and cultural preferences and health conditions. I don’t have a rigid regimen, but I always emphasize healthy components in all my meals.”

And so, according to considerable research, can all those who want to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other chronic illnesses, and increase both longevity and quality of life in old age.

We become what we eat

To some extent, when it comes to healthy aging, we become what we eat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four deaths results from heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Among the top risk factors are obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and poor diet — with the first three often tied to the last. The rise in obesity has hit the United States hard. More than a third of adults and one-fifth of children and adolescents age 2 to 19 are obese.

Research shows that sustained, thoughtful changes in diet can make the difference between health and illness, and sometimes between life and death. For more than 50 years, researchers who have studied the link between diet and health have extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, and its de-emphasis on red meat and dairy.


“The elements of a healthy diet were readily available in the Mediterranean, where people had to eat local fruits, vegetables, and fish.”
— Walter Willett


Pioneering studies, such as one led by nutrition expert Ancel Keys in the late 1950s, helped establish the Mediterranean diet as the benchmark. Keys’ landmark Seven Countries Study, which promoted diets low in saturated fats (beef, pork, butter, cream) and high in mono-unsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil), showed decidedly lower risks of cardiovascular disease.

Research by renowned Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett, who chaired the Nutrition Department for 25 years until this past January, has confirmed the pronounced benefits of the Mediterranean diet. In his 2000 book “Eat, Drink and Be Healthy,” Willett wrote that the “main elements of the Mediterranean lifestyle are connected with lower risks of many diseases.”

Using data from Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), a long-term epidemiological probe into women’s health, Willett also concluded that “heart diseases could be reduced by at least 80 percent by diet and lifestyle changes.”

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Nurses’ Health Study was established by Frank Speizer in 1976 to examine the long-term consequences of oral contraceptives. In 1989, Willett established NHS II to study diet and lifestyle risk factors. The results of that study have heavily influenced national dietary guidelines and the way Americans think about how they should eat.

“The picture that has emerged is that the traditional Mediterranean diet promotes health and well-being,” said Willett, the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology. “The elements of a healthy diet were readily available in the Mediterranean, where people had to eat local fruits, vegetables, and fish. Back then, most people didn’t have much choice in what to eat.”

Researchers also generally approve of both the vegetarian diet and the Asian diet because they also help increase longevity and decrease the risk of chronic disease. But the Mediterranean reigns supreme, because the Asian diet has salt and starch, and the vegetarian lacks important nutrients.

A design for healthy eating

To publicize everyday ways to eat better, researchers at the Harvard Chan School came up with the Healthy Eating Plate. It suggests eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean poultry, and olive oil, and asks people to limit refined grains, trans fats, red meat, sugary drinks, and processed foods. In addition, it touts staying active.

Harvard’s plate was a response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate, which, a comparison by Harvard nutrition experts suggested, could have gone further in detailing information about which foods to favor or limit.

A 2012 Harvard study found that eating red meat led to increased cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality, and that substituting healthier proteins lowered mortality. As for milk, a source of calcium, Willett said there is no evidence that drinking more of it prevents bone fractures as much as physical activity does. Yogurt, because of its positive effects on the intestinal system, proves even more beneficial than milk.

“Most populations along the world don’t drink any milk as adults,” said Willett. “Interestingly enough, they have the lowest fractures. And the highest bone-fracture rates are in milk-drinking countries such as northern Europe and the United States. Calcium is important all through life, but the amount of calcium that we need is probably overstated.”

What is hard to overstate is the importance of eating healthily and mindfully through life, but the good news is that benefits begin as soon as the improved diet does. “If you’re still alive, it’s never too late to make a change in our diet,” said Willett.

Recent studies have found that a healthy diet can also boost the brain and slow cellular aging. Researchers are examining the role of coffee and berries in improving cognitive function and reducing the risks of neurodegenerative diseases. At the same time, researchers keep circling back to the Mediterranean diet as a model of healthy eating.


“The evidence is very encouraging because, even among old people, when they improve their diet quality, the risks of getting chronic diseases and mortality can be reduced, and longevity can be improved.”
— Frank Hu


In a 2015 study in Spain, seniors who ate a Mediterranean diet, supplemented with olive oil and nuts, showed improved cognitive function compared with a control group. Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, chemicals that help avert the harm of “free radicals” in the body, the Mediterranean diet may even help prevent some degenerative diseases that, to some degree, are caused by vascular aging and chronic inflammation, Hu said.

“Healthy, plant-based foods can improve vascular health, not just in the heart but in the brain,” he said. “And that can slow down the aging of the brain and cellular aging, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.”

Clues on biomarkers of aging

The research shows promising paths ahead. In a 2014 study, Hu found a correlation between the Mediterranean diet and telomere length, a biomarker of aging. Telomeres — caps at the end of chromosomes that protect them from deterioration — may hold a key to longevity. Their lengthening slows the effects of aging, and their shortening is linked to increased risks of cancer and decreased longevity.

As of now, science says the best prescription to slow the effects of aging is a mix of factors, from regular exercising to a healthy diet to maintaining a healthy body weight.

“Maintaining a healthy diet for a long period of time is more important than having a yo-yo diet,” said Hu. “The evidence is very encouraging because, even among old people, when they improve their diet quality, the risks of getting chronic diseases and mortality can be reduced, and longevity can be improved.”

Hu said his own diet is a fusion of the Mediterranean, Asian, and vegetarian models, and he tries to combine the healthiest elements of each. In general, he avoids the problematic components of the Western diet: sugary foods, processed meats with high amounts of preservatives, sodium, and saturated fats.

Yet he reminds even healthy eaters that it’s fine to indulge in treats occasionally. After all, a long life should be worth living, and food is one of its joys.

Source: Harvard Gazzette

Study Finds More Accurate Way to Determine Adolescent Obesity

Adam Pope wrote . . . . . . .

The body mass index calculations that physicians have been relying on for decades may not be accurate for assessing body fat in adolescents between the ages of 8 and 17.

A new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics shows that tri-ponderal mass index estimates body fat more accurately than the traditional BMI in adolescents.

These new findings are timely as diagnosing, treating and tracking the prevalence of children and adolescents with obesity is a high public health priority. Moreover, many school districts are sending home report cards labeling adolescents as overweight — a practice that has been controversial because children and adolescents tend to be more vulnerable to weight bias and fat shaming than adults.

bmi tmi graphic“Treating obesity in adolescents requires an accurate diagnosis first,” said lead scientist Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “We found that TMI is both more accurate and easier to use than BMI percentiles. These new findings have the power to potentially change the way we diagnose obesity in children and adolescents ages 8 to 17.”

BMI is the standard used worldwide to screen for obesity in both children and adults, despite prior evidence that it does not work as well in adolescents. To test BMI accuracy in adolescents, researchers compared body composition data from 2,285 Caucasian individuals ages 8 to 29 who participated in the 1999-2004 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Their findings challenge the accuracy of BMI (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) in adolescents and show that TMI (weight divided by height cubed) estimates body fat more accurately than BMI in those 8 to 17 years old.

“BMI is a pretty good tool for determining whether adults are overweight or obese,” Peterson said. “But we’ve always kind of known that it doesn’t work as well in children.”

Using three different calculations — stability with age, accuracy in estimating percent body fat and accuracy in classifying adolescents as overweight versus normal weight — researchers compared BMI to several different obesity indices. They found that TMI is the best overall body fat index to use in Caucasian adolescents between the ages of 8 and 17.

The researchers found that TMI better estimates body fat percentage, especially in male adolescents for whom the investigators found BMI to be particularly inaccurate. Their analysis also showed TMI to be a better index for diagnosing overweight adolescents than the current BMI percentiles. Using BMI percentiles, researchers noted that adolescents are incorrectly diagnosed as overweight 19.4 percent of the time, versus an only 8.4 percent incorrect overweight diagnosis rate for TMI. The data showed this is especially true for lean adolescents, a significant fraction of whom are incorrectly being diagnosed as overweight.

The researchers also used mathematical strategies to show how the relationship between body weight and height is much more complex in children and adolescents than it is in adults, particularly when adolescents are rapidly growing. The authors explained that for decades this complexity made it challenging to figure out the optimal body fat index for adolescents.

Steven Heymsfield, M.D., one of the team’s physician scientists at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, added that, to make BMI work in children, complicated BMI percentiles called “Z scores” were developed to diagnose overweight status and obesity based on BMI levels specific to a child’s age and gender. But the researchers found that using percentiles does not solve BMI’s accuracy problems.


“These findings are important. Many school districts send home report cards labeling adolescents as overweight, and children and adolescents tend to be more vulnerable to weight bias and fat shaming than adults.”

— Courtney Peterson, Ph.D.


Peterson mentioned that percentiles are problematic because they change over time and can become outdated. However, she emphasizes that, even if BMI percentiles were updated to be as accurate as TMI for diagnosing adolescents as lean versus overweight, TMI still inherently estimates levels of body fat in adolescents more accurately than BMI does, while also eliminating the need for complicated percentiles.

“These findings are important,” Peterson said. “Many school districts send home report cards labeling adolescents as overweight, and children and adolescents tend to be more vulnerable to weight bias and fat shaming than adults.”

Obesity increases the risk of several chronic diseases in adults, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Children who are overweight are at an even higher risk than adults, and nearly one in six children in the United States is overweight. Several national and global initiatives are underway to screen and diagnose children who are overweight as a first step in curbing the obesity epidemic and the chronic diseases that follow.

Investigators agree that further research is needed to assess the effectiveness of TMI in broader audiences, including wider age ranges and ethnicities.

“We look forward to collaborating with other existing national and global health organizations to analyze additional data for diagnosing weight status among children and adolescents,” Peterson said. “Ultimately, we hope this research lays the foundation for improving the health of adolescents, and we think that down the road TMI will likely replace BMI for children and adolescents.”

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham


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