Chuckles of the Day

Betty felt like her body had gotten totally out of shape, so she got her doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising.

She decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. After her first session, her friend Alice asked how it went.

Betty said, “I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But by the time I got my leotard on, the class was over.”

* * * * * * *

Two women met for the first time since graduating from high school. One asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, Did you manage to live a well planned life?”

“Yes,” said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.”

Her friend asked, “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life?”

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”

* * * * * * *

If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you are old.

Could a Japanese Plant Turn Cold Cuts Into Healthy Fare?

There’s good news for health-conscious sausage and bacon lovers.

A new study suggests the Japanese knotweed plant could be used to make healthier cured meats.

According to researchers, this fast-growing plant that invades gardens and buildings contains a chemical that could take the place of the preservative nitrite, which has been linked to cancer, in cured meats. That might not only make bacon safer to eat, but also cold cuts, sausages and hams.

Diets high in nitrites have been linked to a higher risk of colon cancer.

“Our latest findings show that using natural additives in processed red meat reduces the creation of compounds in the body that are linked to cancer,” said researcher Gunter Kuhnle. He is a professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

Kuhnle and his team developed a processed red meat that includes natural additives that reduce nitrite added to preserve meats. The sausages and hams they created had preservatives from a mixture of plants and fruits including rosemary, green tea and resveratrol — an extract taken from Japanese knotweed.

The researchers then compared nitrite levels in participants’ feces after they ate conventionally processed red meat, white meat and the specially formulated products. The investigators found significantly lower nitrite levels in those who ate specially formulated cured meats.

“Surprisingly, the natural additives seemed to have some protective effects even when the red meat still contained nitrite,” Kuhnle said in a university news release. “This suggests that natural additives could be used to reduce some of the potentially harmful effects of nitrite, even in foods where it is not possible to take out nitrite preservatives altogether.”

The findings were recently published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.

Source: HealthDay

In Pictures: Steak Doneness

Rare – 120 to 130°F internal temperature

Medium Rare – 130 to 135°F internal temperature

Medium – 140 to 150°F internal temperature

Medium Well – 155 to 165°F internal temperature

Well Done – 170°F and above internal temperature

Source: The Spruce Eats

More than 40% of Adults with No Known Heart Disease had Fatty Deposits in Heart Arteries

More than 40% of adults ages 50 to 64 years in Sweden without known heart disease were found to have some degree of atherosclerosis, according to a new study published today in the American Heart Association’s flagship journal Circulation.

Atherosclerosis, or the buildup of fatty deposits in blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, is a major cause of heart attacks. A widely used approach to screen people who are at risk for heart disease but who do not yet have symptoms is cardiac computed tomography, commonly known as a cardiac CT scan, for coronary artery calcification (CAC) scoring. The scan creates cross-sectional images of the vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle to measure the presence and density of calcium-containing plaque in the coronary arteries. Based on these scans, individuals are given a CAC “score” to estimate their risk for or extent of coronary artery disease. This score can be 0 to over 400. A CAC score of 400 or higher is associated with a high risk for having a heart attack, stroke or dying from either one within the next 10 years. However, CAC scoring can miss a percentage of people who are at risk for heart attack even though they have a zero CAC score.

“Measuring the amount of calcification is important, yet it does not give information about non-calcified atherosclerosis, which also increases heart attack risk,” said study author Göran Bergström, M.D., Ph.D., professor and senior consultant in clinical physiology in the department of molecular and clinical medicine at the University of Gothenburg’s Institute of Medicine in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Bergström and colleagues randomly recruited participants aged 50 – 64 years old from the Swedish census register from 2013 to 2018 as part of the Swedish CArdioPulmonary BioImage Study (SCAPIS). They report on data from 25,182 participants with no history of a prior heart attack or cardiac intervention who underwent both CAC scans and coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) scans . CCTA is a radiologic technique that gives a very detailed image of the inside of the arteries that supply the heart with blood. The researchers wanted to determine the prevalence of atherosclerosis in the general population without established heart disease, and how closely the CCTA findings correlated to CAC scores.

They found:

  • CCTA detected some degree of atherosclerosis in more than 42% of the study participants.
  • CCTA found that in 5.2% of those with atherosclerosis, the build-up obstructed blood flow through at least one coronary artery (out of three) by 50% or more.
  • In nearly 2% of those found to have artery build-up, the atherosclerosis was even more severe. Blood flow was obstructed to the main artery that supplies blood to large portions of the heart, and in some cases, all three coronary arteries were obstructed.
  • Atherosclerosis started an average of 10 years later in women compared to men.
  • Atherosclerosis was 1.8 times more common in people ages 60-64 vs. those ages 50-54.
  • Participants with higher levels of atherosclerosis seen by CCTA also had higher CAC scores.
  • Of those with a CAC score of more than 400, nearly half had significant blockage, where more than 50% of the blood flow was obstructed in one of the coronary arteries.
  • In those with a CAC score of zero, 5.5% had atherosclerosis detected by CCTA, and 0.4% had significant obstruction of blood flow.

“The current, 2019 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guideline for prevention of heart attacks states that adults with a zero CAC score and intermediate level of risk factors are at low risk of future heart attack. We found that 9.2% of people who fit that description had atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries visible by CCTA,” Bergström said. “One strength of CCTA is that not-yet calcified atherosclerosis can be detected. We found that 8.3% of the adults had one or more non-calcified plaques. Non-calcified atherosclerosis is believed to be more prone to cause heart attacks compared with calcified atherosclerosis.”

The AHA/ACC guideline Bergström mentions does not address the use of CCTA in heart attack prevention.

“It is important to know that silent coronary atherosclerosis is common among middle-aged adults, and it increases sharply with sex, age and risk factors,” according to Bergström. “A high CAC score means there is a high likelihood of having obstruction of the coronary arteries. However, more importantly, a zero CAC score does not exclude adults from having atherosclerosis, especially if they have many traditional risk factors of coronary disease.”

A limitation of the study is that it lacks follow-up information about how cardiovascular heart disease develops in this population, which makes it impossible to determine if these findings predict clinical heart disease in this population.

Source: American Heart Association

Grilled Steaks with Onion Sauce


2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
2 dry bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Six 12- to 14-ounce rib eye steaks (about 3/4 inch thick)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound red onions, thinly sliced
2 pickled jalapenos, seeded
1 tablespoon dry red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup drained cocktail onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup oil-cured Moroccan olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup torn mint leaves


  1. In a large, shallow dish, combine the cracked pepper with the bay leaves, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the steaks to the dish and rub all over with the mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate for 4 hours.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the red onions and jalapenos and cook over moderate heat until the onions are just softened, 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and season with salt and ground pepper. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the onions are very tender, 40 minutes.
  4. Uncover the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer the onions to a blender. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar and puree until very smooth. Season the onion sauce with salt and ground pepper.
  6. In a medium bowl, toss the cocktail onions, olives and mint leaves with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  7. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the steaks over moderate heat, turning once or twice, until lightly charred, about 7 minutes for medium-rare meat. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes, then serve with the onion sauce and pickled-onion relish.
  8. Serve with French fries.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Chef Jonathon Sawyer

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