Summer Sweets

The sweets are sold by Ginza Cozy Corner Cafe at Ginza, Japan. The prices are from 630 yen to 980 yen.

Frozen Pudding with Chocolate and Vanilla on a Stick


2 cups whole milk
2 egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk and egg yolks.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. Whisk the sugar mixture into milk mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly with a flexible spatula or a wooden spoon, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. When the mixture starts to bubble around the edges, cook it gently, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  5. Immediately divide the pudding between two heatproof bowls.
  6. Stir the chocolate into one bowl until it is melted and smooth.
  7. Stir the vanilla into the other portion. Let the pudding cool to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  8. Spoon the two flavors alternately into ice pop molds, beginning with the chocolate. You can rap the molds firmly on the counter a few times to settle any air pockets. Insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.
  9. To unmold the pops, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.

Makes 6 to 8 pops.

Source: Perfect Pops

NIH Halts Controversial Industry-Funded Study of Alcohol Health Benefits

Andrew Joseph wrote . . . . . . . .

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has suspended enrollment in a study aimed at investigating whether moderate alcohol consumption helps cardiovascular health following concerns over the alcoholic beverage industry’s role in the study.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee Thursday, NIH Director Francis Collins said that enrollment had been halted a week ago as officials investigate how the funding for the study was raised and if the study is still worth pursuing.

“For NIH, our reputation is so critical,” Collins said. “And if we are putting ourselves in a circumstance where that could be called into question, I felt like we had to look at that very seriously and come up with another strategy.”

Recent reports in Wired and the New York Times revealed that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an NIH agency, had wooed the industry to contribute millions of dollars to the study. Critics said that the funding created a conflict of interest and a potential motivation to publish findings that would back industry claims that moderate drinking does indeed provide health benefits.

Collins said part of the investigation was looking at whether NIH employees sought those funds in ways that violated NIH policies.

Apart from the moderate drinking study controversy, STAT reported last month that George Koob, the NIAAA’s director, told an executive at a lobbying group for alcoholic beverage producers that the agency would stop funding research into the effects of alcohol advertising, a line of study that the industry opposes. STAT also reported that the NIAAA had not funded any new study by outside researchers specifically looking at the effects of alcohol advertising since Koob took over as director in 2014.

An NIAAA spokesperson said at the time that Koob had continued the institute’s “long-standing strategic areas of focus” and that “behavioral and social science research to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse remains an Institute research priority.”

Public Citizen, the research and advocacy group that has called for an independent investigation of the study’s funding, applauded the suspension of the study.

“Until these concerns are resolved,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, referring to industry’s involvement, “it’s appropriate to stop the study. But it’s equally important that NIH not be doing its own internal investigation” of what role alcoholic beverage makers played in funding the study.

The study is being led by Dr. Kenneth Mukamal of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

In a statement, Beth Israel said it has been conducting its own review of the study to make sure it met its research standards, “and we have not found any reason to believe that it does not adhere to our institutional requirements.” The statement also said Beth Israel was cooperating with the NIH’s investigation.

Source: Stat

Improving Heart Health Could Prevent Frailty in Old Age

New research has shown that older people with very low heart disease risks also have very little frailty, raising the possibility that frailty could be prevented.

The largest study of its kind, led by the University of Exeter, found that even small reductions in risk factors helped to reduce frailty, as well as dementia, chronic pain, and other disabling conditions of old age.

Many perceive frailty to be an inevitable consequence of ageing – but the study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences found that severe frailty was 85% less likely in those with near ideal cardiovascular risk factors.

It also found that those with fewer heart disease risk factors were much less likely to have other conditions unrelated to the heart – including chronic pain, incontinence, falls, fractures, and dementia.

Dr João Delgado, of the University of Exeter Medical School, joint lead author of the study, said: “This study indicates that frailty and other age-related diseases could be prevented and significantly reduced in older adults. Getting our heart risk factors under control could lead to much healthier old ages. Unfortunately, the current obesity epidemic is moving the older population in the wrong direction, however our study underlines how even small reductions in risk are worthwhile.” The study analysed data from more than 421,000 people aged 60-69 in both GP medical records and in the UK Biobank research study. Participants were followed up over ten years.

The researchers analysed six factors that could impact on heart health. They looked at uncontrolled high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, plus being overweight, doing little physical activity and being a current smoker.

The international research team involved the UConn Center on Aging at UConn Health in Connecticut, USA, and the National Institute on Aging, USA.

The project was funded by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. They analysed data from participants using GP medical records (Clinical Practice Research Datalink) and healthy volunteers (UK Biobank).

Dr Janice Atkins, of the University of Exeter Medical School, joint lead author of the study, said: “A quarter (26%) of participants from UK Biobank, made of predominantly healthy volunteers, had near perfect cardiovascular risk factors compared to only 2.4% of the population via GP records. This highlights the huge potential for improvement in cardiovascular risk factors of the general population in the UK.”

It is the first largescale study to show that older people with near-ideal cardiovascular risk factor profiles have better outcomes on a number of factors that are not directly linked to heart-disease.

Dr. George Kuchel, Director of the UConn Center on Aging at UConn Health, co-researcher on the study, said: “Individuals with untreated cardiovascular disease or other common chronic diseases appear to age faster and with more frailty. In the past, we viewed ageing and these common chronic diseases as being both inevitable and unrelated to each other. Now our growing body of scientific evidence on ageing shows what we have previously considered as inevitable might be prevented or delayed through earlier and better recognition and treatment of cardiac disease.

“This overall approach working at the interface of ageing and varied chronic diseases could be transformative in helping adults to maintain function and independence in late life, adding life to their years as opposed to just years to their life.”

Dr Ivan Pavlov, Programme Manager for Systems Medicine at the MRC, said: “These findings are relevant to us all because they re-emphasise the importance of a healthy lifestyle for better quality of life in old age. These new results also show that age-related conditions may share common risk factors or mechanisms with cardiovascular diseases. We’re living longer so it’s crucial that we recognise this by taking care of our bodies and monitoring our risk for disease even earlier in life.”

Source: EurekAlert!

Learning Music or Speaking Another Language Leads to More Efficient Brains

Whether you learn to play a musical instrument or speak another language, you’re training your brain to be more efficient, suggests a Baycrest study.

Researchers found that musicians and people who are bilingual utilized fewer brain resources when completing a working memory task, according to recently published findings in the journal, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Individuals with either a musical or bilingual background activated different brain networks and showed less brain activity than people who only spoke one language and didn’t have formal music training to complete the task, according to the study’s findings.

“These findings show that musicians and bilinguals require less effort to perform the same task, which could also protect them against cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia,” says Dr. Claude Alain, first author of the paper and senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute. “Our results also demonstrated that a person’s experiences, whether it’s learning how to play a musical instrument or another language, can shape how the brain functions and which networks are used.”

Musicians and people who are bilingual have long been shown to have a better working memory, the ability to keep things in mind, such as remembering a phone number, a list of instructions or doing mental math. But it remains a mystery as to why this is the case. This is the first brain imaging study looking at all three groups and this work uncovers how these activities boost different parts of the brain among individuals, adds Dr. Alain.

The study looked at the brains of 41 young adults between the ages of 19-35, who fit into three categories: English-speaking non-musicians, musicians who only spoke English and bilinguals who didn’t play a musical instrument. Brain imagery was captured for each participant as they were asked to identify whether the sound they heard was the same type as the previous one. Sounds from musical instruments, the environment and humans were among those used in the study. Participants were also asked to identify if what they heard was coming from the same direction as the previous noise.

Musicians remembered the type of sound faster than individuals in the other groups, while bilinguals and musicians performed better on the location task. Bilinguals performed at about the same level as individuals who spoke only one language and didn’t play a musical instrument on remembering the sound, but they still showed less brain activity when completing the task.

“People who speak two languages may take longer to process sounds since the information is run through two language libraries rather than just one,” says Dr. Alain, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Medical Science and the Department of Psychology. “During this task, the brains of bilinguals showed greater signs of activation in areas that are known for speech comprehension, supporting this theory.”

As next steps, researchers are exploring the impact of art and musical training among adults to see if this leads to changes in brain function.

Source: Baycrest Health Sciences

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Music, Language, and the Brain: Are You Experienced? . . . . .

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