Video: Popcorn – One of the World’s Most Ancient Snacks

Popcorn is truly ancient. Archaeologists have uncovered popcorn kernels that are 4,000 years old. They were so well-preserved, they could still pop. In 2012, scientists discovered popcorn cobs that were grown even earlier — more than 6,000 years ago.

Dolores Piperno, a paleobotanist with the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Insitute, says corn, and specifically popcorn, helped lay the foundations for the Aztec empire.

Watch video at You Tube (1:46 minutes) . . . . .


Malaysian-style Fish Curry in Coconut Sauce


1-1/4 pounds monkfish or other firm-textured fish fillets, skinned and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shredded coconut
6 shallots or small onions, roughly chopped
6 blanched almonds
2-3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-3/4 cups canned coconut milk
1-3 fresh chilies, seeded and sliced
salt and ground white pepper
fresh chives, to garnish
boiled rice, to serve


  1. Spread out the pieces of fish in a shallow dish and sprinkle them with the salt.
  2. Dry fry the coconut in a wok or large frying pan over medium to low heat, turning all the time until it is crisp and golden (see Cook’s Tip).
  3. Transfer the coconut to a food processor and process to an oily paste. Scrape into a bowl and reserve.
  4. Add the shallots or onions, almonds, garlic and ginger to the food processor. Cut off the lower 2 inches of the lemongrass stalks, chop them roughly and add to the processor. Process the mixture to a paste.
  5. Add the turmeric to the mixture in the processor and process briefly to mix. Bruise the remaining and set the stalks aside.
  6. Heat the oil in a wok. Add the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes without browning. Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent curdling.
  7. Add the cubes of fish, most of the sliced chili and the bruised lemongrass stalks. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the coconut paste (moistened with some of the sauce if necessary) and cook for a further 2-3 minutes only. Do not overcook the fish. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  9. Remove the lemongrass. Transfer to a hot serving dish and sprinkle with the remaining slices of chili. Garnish with chopped and whole chives and serve with boiled rice.

Cook’s Tip

Dry frying is a feature of Malay cooking. When dry frying do not be distracted. The coconut must be constantly on the move so that it becomes crisp and of a uniform golden colour.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Asian Cooking

In Pictures: Character Bento

Charaben キャラ弁

Nut Consumption May Aid Colon Cancer Survival

Anne Doerr wrote . . . . . . .

People with stage III colon cancer who regularly eat nuts are at significantly lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality than those who don’t, according to a new, large study led by researchers at Yale Cancer Center.

The findings were published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study followed 826 participants in a clinical trial for a median of 6.5 years after they were treated with surgery and chemotherapy. Those who regularly consumed at least two, one-ounce servings of nuts each week demonstrated a 42% improvement in disease-free survival and a 57% improvement in overall survival.

“Further analysis of this cohort revealed that disease-free survival increased by 46% among the subgroup of nut consumers who ate tree nuts rather than peanuts,” said Charles S. Fuchs, M.D., director of Yale Cancer Center and senior author of the study. Tree nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, and pecans, among others. In contrast, peanuts are actually in the legume family of foods.

“These findings are in keeping with several other observational studies that indicate that a slew of healthy behaviors — including increased physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, and lower intake of sugar and sweetened beverages — improve colon cancer outcomes,” said Temidayo Fadelu, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and lead author of the paper. “The results highlight the importance of emphasizing dietary and lifestyle factors in colon cancer survivorship.”

Additionally, the researchers emphasized, the study highlighted connections between biological mechanisms that worsen disease not just in colon cancer but in certain chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.

Many previous studies have reported that nuts, among other health benefits, may help to reduce insulin resistance, a condition in which the body has difficulty processing the insulin hormone. Insulin resistance leads to unhealthy levels of sugar in the blood and is often a predecessor to type 2 diabetes and related illnesses.

Earlier research among patients with colon cancer has revealed worse outcomes among those with lifestyle factors — such as obesity, lack of exercise, and a diet with high levels of carbohydrates — that heighten insulin resistance and quickly raise levels of blood sugar.

“These studies support the hypothesis that behaviors that make you less insulin-resistant, including eating nuts, seem to improve outcomes in colon cancer,” Fuchs said. “However, we don’t know yet what exactly about nuts is beneficial.”

Nuts also might play a positive role by satisfying hunger with less intake of carbohydrates or other foods associated with poor outcomes, Fuchs noted.

Patients may not be eating nuts due to concerns about the high fat content, said Fuchs. For example, a one-ounce serving of about 24 almonds holds about 200 calories, including 14 grams of fat. “People ask me if increasing nut consumption will lead to obesity, which leads to worse outcomes,” he said. “But what’s really interesting is that in our studies, and across the scientific literature in general, regular consumers of nuts tend to be leaner.”

Dietary changes can make a difference. An earlier analysis of diets in the same patient cohort by Fuchs and his colleagues found a significant link between coffee consumption and reduced recurrence and mortality in colon cancer.

When Fuchs advises his patients about lifestyle choices, “first and foremost I talk about avoiding obesity, exercising regularly, and staying away from a high-carbohydrate diet,” he said. “Then we talk about things like coffee and nuts. If you like coffee or nuts, enjoy them, and if you don’t, there are many other helpful steps you can take.”

“Overall, we are working to apply the same rigorous science to the understanding of diet and lifestyles in the colon cancer patient population that we apply to defining new drugs,” Fuchs said.

Source: Yale University

Study Finds Alcohol Use Disorder Biggest Risk Factor for Dementia

Alcohol use disorders are the most important preventable risk factors for the onset of all types of dementia, especially early-onset dementia. This according to a nationwide observational study, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, of over one million adults diagnosed with dementia in France.

This study looked specifically at the effect of alcohol use disorders, and included people who had been diagnosed with mental and behavioural disorders or chronic diseases that were attributable to chronic harmful use of alcohol.

Of the 57,000 cases of early-onset dementia (before the age of 65), the majority (57%) were related to chronic heavy drinking.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines chronic heavy drinking as consuming more than 60 grams pure alcohol on average per day for men (4-5 Canadian standard drinks) and 40 grams (about 3 standard drinks) per day for women.

As a result of the strong association found in this study, the authors suggest that screening, brief interventions for heavy drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders should be implemented to reduce the alcohol-attributable burden of dementia.

“The findings indicate that heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders are the most important risk factors for dementia, and especially important for those types of dementia which start before age 65, and which lead to premature deaths,” says study co-author and Director of the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research Dr. Jürgen Rehm. “Alcohol-induced brain damage and dementia are preventable, and known-effective preventive and policy measures can make a dent into premature dementia deaths.”

Dr. Rehm points out that on average, alcohol use disorders shorten life expectancy by more than 20 years, and dementia is one of the leading causes of death for these people.

For early-onset dementia, there was a significant gender split. While the overall majority of dementia patients were women, almost two-thirds of all early-onset dementia patients (64.9%) were men.

Alcohol use disorders were also associated with all other independent risk factors for dementia onset, such as tobacco smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, lower education, depression, and hearing loss, among modifiable risk factors. It suggests that alcohol use disorders may contribute in many ways to the risk of dementia.

“As a geriatric psychiatrist, I frequently see the effects of alcohol use disorder on dementia, when unfortunately alcohol treatment interventions may be too late to improve cognition,” says CAMH Vice-President of Research Dr. Bruce Pollock. “Screening for and reduction of problem drinking, and treatment for alcohol use disorders need to start much earlier in primary care.” The authors also noted that only the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder – ones involving hospitalization – were included in the study. This could mean that, because of ongoing stigma regarding the reporting of alcohol-use disorders, the association between chronic heavy drinking and dementia may be even stronger.

Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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