Gadget: Bread Cutting Guide

Four different thickness

The price of the guide in Japan is 108 yen (tax included).

Light and Crisp Whole Grain Cracker


6 ounces sprouted wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 ounces cold unsalted butter
4 ounces milk
olive oil and sea salt for topping crackers, optional


  1. Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Work in the cold butter until the mixture resembles wet sand.
  3. Add the milk and stir until dough becomes cohesive.
  4. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a clean surface, and knead until it becomes smooth, about 1 minute.
  5. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a rectangle and wrap them in plastic. Set the pieces aside to rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Roll one piece of dough out on a lightly floured work surface as thinly as possible, 1/16″ or thinner, or roughly 16″ x 8″ to 10″. Roll the dough on a piece of parchment paper is very helpful here.
  8. Cut the dough into 1″ to 2″ squares and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you’ve rolled the dough out on parchment, simply transfer the parchment to the baking sheet.
  9. Lightly brush the crackers with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt, if desired, then bake them for 12 to 15 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden.

Makes between 6 and 12 dozen crackers, depending on size and thickness.

Source: King Arthur Flour

In Pictures: Avocado Toasts of Avocadooo Restaurant (アボカドゥー) in Tokyo, Japan

Study: There’s No ‘Healthy Obesity’ for Women

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . .

Obese women who have been healthy for decades may still be on the path to heart problems, a new study suggests.

“If you are obese, but free of disease like diabetes or hypertension, it does not mean you are free of the risk for cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher Matthias Schulze. “You are still at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to normal-weight healthy women.”

Schulze, who’s with the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, in Nuthetal, cautioned that this study can’t prove obesity caused heart issues, just that’s there’s an association.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes may double the risk for heart attack and stroke, but as many as one-third of obese women don’t suffer from these metabolic diseases, the researchers said.

In the study, Schulze and his colleagues collected data on more than 90,000 U.S. women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study and didn’t have heart disease. The women were followed from 1980 to 2010.

In addition to measuring their metabolic health (whether they had high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes), Schulze’s team took into account factors such as age, diet, smoking, exercise, alcohol use, race, education level, aspirin use and family history of heart attack or diabetes.

Over an average of 24 years, 6,300 women developed cardiovascular disease, including 3,300 who had heart attacks and 3,000 who suffered strokes, the findings showed.

Cardiovascular disease risk was high in women who had high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, regardless of their weight, the researchers said.

Women who had metabolic disease but were still a normal weight were about 2.5 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, compared with normal-weight women with no metabolic abnormalities, according to the report.

But metabolically healthy obese women still had a 39 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers found.

Time also took its toll: 84 percent of women who were obese and metabolically healthy and 68 percent of normal-weight metabolically healthy women became metabolically unhealthy over the course of 20 years, Schulze noted.

Even obese women who were metabolically healthy over the 20 years still had a 57 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, the study authors reported.

Although this study included only women, Schulze said the findings would most likely apply to obese men.

The report was published online in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

One specialist said that even though obesity is rarely healthy, keeping physically fit can reduce the risks associated with it.

“This study did not assess cardiorespiratory fitness, and many studies demonstrate that fitness is more important than fatness for predicting long-term risk,” said Dr. Carl Lavie. He is medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and preventive cardiology at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.

Lavie, who co-authored an editorial that accompanied the study, said, “We suspect, therefore, that metabolically healthy obese women who are also fit aerobically would be at very low risk.”

It’s important to assess fitness to really know long-term risk, he said.

“The best way to assure good fitness is with regular physical activity, more so with exercise that increases the heart rate,” Lavie said.

In addition, preventing and treating high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, the components of metabolic syndrome, is extremely important, he said.

This can be accomplished with regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and when necessary, effective drugs, “all of which are critical for the prevention of cardiovascular disease,” Lavie said. “Unfit obesity is rarely healthy.”

Source: HealthDay

How Much Exercise Needed to Help the Aging Brain?

Maureen Salamon wrot . . . . . . . . .

It’s well-known that exercise benefits the brain as well as the heart and muscles, but new research pinpoints just how much — and what types — of exercise may promote thinking skills as you age.

Reviewing data from dozens of studies on older adults, scientists found that those who exercised an average of at least 52 hours over about six months — and for about an hour during each session — showed improvements in their thinking skills. The research didn’t show a link between a weekly amount of exercise and better brain function.

“The data seem to suggest … you have to keep exercise up for a while before you start to see these changes actually impact your life in a positive manner,” said study author Joyce Gomes-Osman. She directs the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Neuromotor Plasticity Laboratory.

Study participants experienced specific, significant changes in mental sharpness, Gomes-Osman said. These included improvements in processing speed, or the amount of time needed to complete a task; and executive function, or the ability to manage time, pay attention and achieve goals.

“This is also super-encouraging, because these are the first two things that people, as aging progresses, start to have problems with,” said Gomes-Osman, who’s also a postdoctoral research scholar at Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “The study provides evidence that with exercise, you can actually turn back the clock of aging in your brain.”

Adults older than 60 will comprise 2 billion of the world’s population by 2050, and the highest priority of this age group is staying mentally sharp, according to the U.S. National Council on Aging. But while much scientific evidence has established positive effects in the brain from exercise, scant research has addressed just how much exercise is needed to promote brain health, according to the study authors.

Gomes-Osman and her team reviewed 98 studies involving more than 11,000 participants that analyzed various exercise “doses” and their relationship to improved brain performance. The researchers sought to identify consistent patterns of reported effects on thinking skills.

The reviewed studies all focused on older adults (average age 73) who were asked to exercise for at least four weeks. Their tests of thinking and memory skills were then compared to those of peers who did not start a new exercise routine.

Among all participants, 59 percent were categorized as healthy adults, while 26 percent had mild cognitive impairment, which can precede the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Another 15 percent had diagnosed dementia. A total of 58 percent of participants did not exercise regularly before being enrolled in a study.

Of those who exercised, aerobic exercise was the most common type, with walking the most common form. Some studies incorporated a combination of aerobic exercise along with strength or resistance training; a small number used mind-body exercises such as yoga or tai chi.

Ultimately, any form of exercise was found to be beneficial to thinking skills in older adults, including aerobic exercise, strength training, mind-body exercise or combinations of these. Notably, these effects extended to those with established dementia, the researchers said.

How does exercise work to help the brain? Dr. Ajay Misra, chairman of neurosciences at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., said physical activity improves blood circulation “all over the body — that includes the brain.”

Additionally, exercise produces endorphins, natural “feel-good” chemicals that promote increased motivation and enjoyment, said Misra, who wasn’t involved in the new research.

“That improves your overall view of life, which is beneficial in terms of cognition,” he added. “It improves your outlook on life, so you keep on exercising.”

Gomes-Osman’s advice to people of any age — especially those concerned about brain health — is simple.

“I tell people to get moving,” she said. “We’re not made to be sitting around — we need movement. I encourage people to make an appointment with themselves to get moving and to keep it up for a while.”

The study was published online in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice.

Source: HealthDay

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