A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Knowing 'Heart Age' Helps Promote Healthy Lifestyle

(Science Daily) Risk scores for diseases such as CVD are usually presented as the percent chance of contracting the disease within the next ten years. The Heart Age Calculator, http://www.heartage.me, uses the same well established risk factor data, but expresses an individual's risk score as their estimated Heart Age to make it more personally relevant to the individual.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the world's biggest killer, but doctors have long struggled to explain risk factors to patients in a way that encourages them to change their behaviour thus reducing risk. Previous research has shown that Heart Age is more likely to be understood and motivate people to make positive changes than traditional % risk scores, especially those who are at higher levels of modifiable risk(4).
Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that using the Heart Age tool to raise awareness of CVD risk promotes behavioural changes that result in a decrease in CVD risk.
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Mediterranean Diet Linked to Lower Risk of Heart Disease

(Science World Report) The traditional Mediterranean diet has long been touted as a healthy eating plan. A latest study says that the Mediterranean diet is linked to lower risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
The study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Cambridge Health Alliance, CHA, reveals that young firefighters who follow the Mediterranean diet are less susceptible to cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
Over recent years, many studies have discovered a link between the Mediterranean diet and lower risk of heart disease. The latest study is the first to look at the effects of Mediterranean diet in a particular group of young working adults.
The Mediterranean diet mainly consists of nuts, fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs and olive oil. It is hard to pick which element among these is crucial.
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Can A Supplement Promote Heart Health?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you have a personal or family history of heart disease, reducing risks can be challenging. Eating well, losing weight, getting regular exercise and managing stress all take time and focused commitment to implement into a daily routine.
While there is still no magic pill to guarantee heart health, there are a few supplement options that may be valuable parts of an overall lifestyle that lowers cardiovascular disease risk. One is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a potent antioxidant that has been linked to normal cardiac functioning. Many cardiologists recommend supplemental CoQ10 for those taking statin drugs (which can effectively lower cholesterol, but reduce the production of CoQ10). It also has shown potential benefits for anyone with risk factors for heart disease.
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American Heart Month

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) Heart disease is responsible for 1 of every 4 deaths in the United States, making it the leading cause of death in our nation. As we observe American Heart Month, there are some key steps you and your loved ones can take to protect against heart disease.
By maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and not smoking, you can dramatically reduce the risk of premature death or disability due to heart disease. Awareness of risk factors is also critical to preventing heart disease. Far too many people who are at high risk for heart disease don’t know it. That is why it is so important to get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked regularly and to speak with your doctor about your health history.
The Affordable Care Act is making it easier than ever before to take care of your heart. Most health plans now must cover a set of preventive services, such as cholesterol and blood pressure checks, at no out-of-pocket costs to the consumer…
In addition to expanding access to care, we are working to coordinate and strengthen heart disease prevention efforts across the nation through initiatives like Million Hearts®, Healthy People 2020 and The Heart Truth®…
This American Heart Month, please consider what steps you and your family can take to promote a heart healthy lifestyle. There’s no better Valentine than a healthy heart!
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What We've Learned Over The Past Year About Heart Health

(Huffington Post) While there are some risk factors for heart disease we have no control over -- such as genetics -- there are some things we can do, such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. And of course, it's always interesting to look back at what the most recent research has revealed about maintaining a healthy ticker. Read on for our round-up of some of the most interesting heart health-related findings of the past year:
Positivity pays off…
Steer clear of the processed meats…
Don't skip breakfast…
There's a new reason for why red meat may not be great for the heart…
If you quit smoking, your heart will benefit quicker than previously thought…
Cold is the enemy…
Walking is good for your heart, too…
Don't stress.
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More Heart Health Tips

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Simply maintaining a positive attitude seemed to help prevent death from any cause over five years among heart disease patients, and also made it more likely that they would exercise, a new European study concludes. What’s more, the heart patients who did exercise were 50 percent less likely to die during the five-year study than those who didn’t work out.
(Appetite for Health) [T]he vast majority of heart disease cases can be prevented with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Here’s 28 ways to improve your heart’s health this month.
(The Telegraph) Eating larger quantities of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and beans could cut the risk of heart disease, according to a review of the impact of dietary fibre.
(Consumer Reports) Although concerted efforts such as the Ornish program can be quite effective, growing research shows that more modest (and less rigid) steps, such as the five we highlight here, yield important health benefits—and show that it’s never too late to make changes. 1. Get moving… 2. Eat more plants… 3. Relax… 4. Drink (a little)… 5. Quit smoking.
(Reader’s Digest) The following clues can point to clogged arteries and underlying heart disease, according to Joel K. Kahn, MD… Erectile dysfunction (ED)… Baldness… Ear crease… Calf pain when you walk.
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More Information and Recent Research on Cardiovascular Health and Disease

(Science Daily) Fewer than half of adults in the United States meet the recommended physical activity guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Often physical inactivity may be associated with overweight and obese individuals, but even healthy, normal-weight Americans sometimes fail to meet physical activity guidelines. Now, researchers have found that simply encouraging healthy adults to be more physically active can improve their cardiorespiratory fitness.
(LiveScience) Birth order could potentially have long-term health effects, a new study suggests.
Community: We can’t do anything about our birth order, but we can be aware of an added risk and use it to use the tools at our disposal to mitigate that risk.
(Science Daily) The association between poor oral health and increased risk of cardiovascular disease should make the reduction of sugars such as those contained in junk food, particularly fizzy drinks, an important health policy target, say experts.
(Science Daily) A new study showed that tuna sashimi contains the highest levels of methylmercury in fish-sushi, based on samples taken from across the USA.
(Headlines & Global News) Air pollution has raised serious concerns across the globe and environmentalists are doing everything in their stride to build awareness about the subject.
(Science Daily) Patients with masked hypertension, or normal BP in clinic but elevated BP when measured at home, had an increased risk of death and cardiovascular events compared with those who had normal BP in both the clinic and at home.
(Science Daily) New research is the first to find that treatment of depression before any apparent signs of cardiovascular disease can decrease the risk of future heart attacks and strokes by almost half.
More . . .

Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash
Take your basic beef stew to the next level by making this simple, fragrant beef tagine featuring butternut squash.
EatingWell:
Healthy Recipe: King Ranch Casserole (Video)
Learn how to make a healthy King Ranch casserole recipe with this how-to video from EatingWell.com. To enjoy a healthy version of this chicken casserole, make a lighter sauce and add more vegetables. This King Ranch casserole recipe makes a double batch so you can freeze extra.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Craving buffalo chicken wings for lunch? No problem! We take the messy and greasy work out of this tasty dish by turning it into a healthy salad. We recreate the same spicy flavor you get from buffalo wings by simmering strips of chicken breast with garlic and red pepper flakes. The blue cheese dressing is spicy, too. Make the salad in advance and either skip the lettuce or pack that separately.
Washington Post:
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Grilled Achiote Red Snapper
SupermarketGuru has "stolen" this delightful recipe from the Caribbean: Grilled Achiote Caribbean Red Snapper with Calaloo Pineapple Couscous from Chef Eric Scuiller of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Is the name of this recipe intimidating? Don't worry, Chef Scuiller has made it simple for us with his tips, so you can easily make this dish at home, but still impress your friends when you reel off the name of this Caribbean delight.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Clam Chowder
The two types of clam chowder are Manhattan clam chowder (with tomatoes) and New England (with milk and cream). It is simply a matter of taste as to which one you choose to make. Ideally, clam chowder should be made with fresh clams, but you also can make it with canned clams.
Food as Medicine
Clams are mineral powerhouses, with abundant amounts of phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium
.
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A low-sodium diet is still the best bet: study

(Reuters Health) Eating less than one teaspoon of salt per day remains the ideal goal for Americans, according to a new study…
The average American still eats about 3,400 mg of salt per day - about one-and-a-half teaspoons - despite public health awareness efforts…
Main food culprits containing high sodium include bread, cured meat, pizza, poultry, soup, cheese and snacks, wrote Lyn Steffen of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis in an editorial that accompanied the new study.
On the nutritional facts panel on food packaging, if the sodium amount per serving is 5 percent daily value, then that is a low-sodium product, Steffen said. Products with 20 percent daily value are high-sodium.
Community: Some research shows that the sodium/potassium ratio is more important than the level of salt intake alone.
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FDA data show arsenic in rice, juice, and beer

(Consumer Reports) Data from the Food and Drug Administration has found arsenic levels in rice and rice products comparable to those found by Consumer Reports in its own investigation. And the FDA found another surprising source of arsenic: beer, which sometimes uses rice as an ingredient.
As Consumer Reports continues to investigate arsenic in the food supply, new scientific studies add to the evidence that long-term dietary exposure to arsenic poses a health risk…
One way arsenic might enter the food supply is through the use of arsenic-based drugs in feed given to chickens, turkeys, and pigs to prevent disease and promote growth. Poultry droppings are used to fertilize many crops and can contaminate them with arsenic. And chickens that are likely to have been raised with arsenic-based drugs result in chicken parts that can have higher inorganic arsenic levels than other chickens, according to a July 2013 study.
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Food Industry Groups Say They'll Label GMOs, On Their Terms

(The Salt, NPR) In an open acknowledgement that many consumers are annoyed that GMO ingredients aren't labeled, a coalition announced Thursday that it supports labeling — sort of.
"The [Food and Drug Association] [[sic]] up to now has said that GMOs are safe, but we also recognize that some consumers want more information and companies might want to include GMO information, so we are asking the FDA to outline labeling standards companies can use voluntarily," Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, told reporters in a teleconference Thursday.
The move represents the industry's attempt to try to pre-empt any future state ballot initiatives, which could turn as messy and costly as what played out in California and Washington. And the coalition admitted as much.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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NIH study finds regular aspirin use may reduce ovarian cancer risk

(National Cancer Institute) Women who take aspirin daily may reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by 20 percent, according to a study by scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health. However, further research is needed before clinical recommendations can be made…
This study adds to a growing list of malignancies, such as colorectal and other cancers, that appear to be potentially preventable by aspirin usage. “Our study suggests that aspirin regimens, proven to protect against heart attack, may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer as well. However intriguing our results are, they should not influence current clinical practice. Additional studies are needed to explore the delicate balance of risk-benefit for this potential chemopreventive agent, as well as studies to identify the mechanism by which aspirin may reduce ovarian cancer risk,” said [Britton Trabert, Ph.D.].
Adverse side effects of daily aspirin use include upper gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke. Therefore, a daily aspirin regimen should only be undertaken with a doctor’s approval, caution the scientists.
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Are there diseases that can be managed with complementary approaches? Find out here.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) Today, many people use complementary health approaches for a variety of diseases or conditions. But how effective are these approaches with diseases affecting older adults such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer? See what some NIH-funded studies have shown about complementary health approaches and diseases or conditions common in older adults.
Take a quiz to see what you know about complementary health approaches.
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Why Your Insurance Company Will Pay You to Take Your Medicine

(Robert J. Szczerba, Forbes) Unfortunately, many patients don’t take medications as directed.  For every 100 written prescriptions, 20-30 never even get filled.  About half of the remaining 70-80 are not continued as prescribed.
Consider the fact that for patients who’ve had at least one cardiovascular event, taking statins as prescribed significantly improves health outcomes and reduces annual costs by an average of $300-800 per patient.  That’s enough money to justify paying a patient $1+ per day as a “kickback” for following their doctor’s instructions through automated monitoring technologies.  Similar incentive-based approaches can be developed for other healthy behaviors, such as eating appropriately and exercising regularly.
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Obamacare Foes to Newly Insured: Put Down the Donut

(NBC News) The White House may be bragging about the 3 million people who’ve got a new shot at health care, including the 2.4 million who’ll get Obamacare on the taxpayer’s dime, but critics have a few choice words for the newly insured: Put. Down. The. Donut.
Commentators like Sandy Pukel, a nutritionist from Coral Gables, Fla., have joined a chorus of scolds who say that expanded access to insurance is just another example of an eroding code of personal responsibility in America.
“If you’re going to go eat donuts and drink Coke and eat crap, you’re setting yourself up to be sick,” said Pukel, 68, who operates a line of healthy “food cruises."
“People are not going to have to take care of themselves because they don’t have to pay for it.”
Specifically, Pukel can’t see the point of offering more government-paid health insurance to people who smoke, drink, overeat, avoid exercise and otherwise fail to look after their own interests.
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More Affordable Care Act News

(ThinkProgress) A new working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago finds that health care reform in Massachusetts — which relies on many of the same policies in the Affordable Care Act — significantly reduced “financial distress.” Researchers looked at financial outcomes for a broad sector of the state’s residents, not just the low-income people who gained access to insurance.
(Washington Post) AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong on Thursday offered a number of unusual explanations for why his company pulled back its 401(k) benefits for employees this year. The first reason: Obamacare. The second: two women at the company who had "distressed babies" in 2012.
(Kaiser Health News) The immigrant community became self-sufficient by necessity, building its own hospital more than a century ago. Now, that hospital offers a health plan on Covered California that is exceeding its enrollment goals.
(Kaiser Health News) But Colorado's insurance commissioner says people there have always paid more and that subsidies can help. 
(Sacramento Bee) Hoping to increase the number of Americans eligible for tax subsidies under the new federal health care law, two Bay Area lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday that would expand the subsidized income level for those living in high-cost areas of the country.
(Wall Street Journal) Aetna Inc. said it expects to lose money on its business in the health-law marketplaces this year, with the demographics of enrollees skewing slightly more than expected toward people likely to rack up higher costs.
(MarketWatch) Cigna Corp. said its fourth-quarter profit declined 11% as the health insurer's global health-care margins slipped and it lost members from the prior quarter.
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Hill Plan Would Reward Medicare Doctors For Quality

(Kaiser Health News) After negotiating for months over how to overhaul Medicare’s troubled payment system for physicians, the bipartisan leadership of three Senate and House committees has reached a deal on the policy.  Their next task could be even harder – finding a way to finance repeal of the “doc fix,” the shorthand for the 1997 formula used to set physician payments, the sustainable growth rate (SGR).
Under the legislation unveiled Thursday, doctors would receive an 0.5 percent bump for each of the next five years as Medicare transitions to a payment system designed to reward physicians based on the quality of care provided, rather than the quantity,  as the current payment formula does.  
Focusing Medicare physician payments more on quality mirrors ongoing efforts in the private sector, some of the health law’s payment changes to hospitals and Medicaid efforts to improve medical care and lower costs.
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Wacky and wonderful health innovations

(Chatelaine) Ready for your annual checkup at the doctor’s office of tomorrow? Imagine incredible shrinking X-rays and superbug-zapping robots. Here’s a preview of what’s to come.
Diagnose disease before it strikes (Available now)
With a simple mouth swab, genomicists can now sequence more than three billion base codes of your DNA. Known as genomic and epigenetic testing, the process reads you (and your 21,000 genes) like a book, scanning for early signs of disease…
Grow stem cells now, cure illness later (Coming soon)…
Tiny embryonic stem cells, capable of renewing indefinitely, hold the promise of producing cell types to repair diseased tissues and organs…
Error-free surgery (In clinical trials)
Introducing iKnife, a smart scalpel developed by researchers at Imperial College London. It provides near-instant feedback to help surgeons distinguish between cancerous and healthy tissue surrounding tumours as they excise them from the body…
Sports bras that detect breast cancer (In final testing — aiming for 2014 release)
Goodbye, mammograms; hello, ultra-sophisticated tumour-tracking gym wear!...
Pocket-sized doctors (In 2014, pending approval)
No more waiting in waiting rooms! DIY diagnosis is putting good health in your hands, thanks to the latest gadgets…
Make the immobile mobile (In development)
An exciting brain stimulator could help get paralyzed patients moving again…
Cure for blindness (Coming this year, with higher-quality implants by 2017)
The first “bionic eye” is now approved for worldwide use after 20 years of research…
Microchip organs (In 10 years)
Harvard researchers have created a “spleen on a chip” that cleanses blood and fights infections — just like a real spleen…
Wearable hugs squeeze away stress (Coming soon)
An inflatable hugging garment called BioHug doles out cuddle cures. It’s a unique alternative to managing stress in people with autism, say Israeli researchers.
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Sensory Substitution Device Enables the Blind to 'See' Colors and Shapes

(Science Daily) Using auditory or tactile stimulation, Sensory Substitution Devices (SSDs) provide representations of visual information and can help the blind "see" colors and shapes. SSDs scan images and transform the information into audio or touch signals that users are trained to understand, enabling them to recognize the image without seeing it.
Currently SSDs are not widely used within the blind community because they can be cumbersome and unpleasant to use. However, a team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have developed the EyeMusic, a novel SSD that transmits shape and color information through a composition of pleasant musical tones, or "soundscapes." A new study … reports that using the EyeMusic SSD, both blind and blindfolded sighted participants were able to correctly identify a variety of basic shapes and colors after as little as 2-3 hours of training.
Most SSDs do not have the ability to provide color information, and some of the tactile and auditory systems used are said to be unpleasant after prolonged use. The EyeMusic, developed by senior investigator Prof. Amir Amedi, PhD, and his team at the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences (ELSC) and the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University, scans an image and uses musical pitch to represent the location of pixels. 
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Google Glass Passes IRB Muster, Assists in Cardiothoracic Surgeries

(HealthLeaders Media) The hardware of Google Glass itself is a wonder of miniaturization : a forward-facing 5-megapixel camera, hands-free high-definition video control, and a small prism that presents the wearer with an effect of looking at a 25-inch monitor as seen from 7 or 8 feet away.
While it has already been used in orthopedic and gastrointestinal surgeries, the University of California at San Francisco is the first to receive IRB approval for use of Google Glass during cardiothoracic surgery. Already, Pierre Theodore, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UCSF, has performed 10 of 15 planned surgeries using Google Glass.
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Dermatology goes digital with MoleScope

(The Globe and Mail) Skin cancer is both common and potentially deadly, with risks increasing the longer it goes undetected.
So it made little sense to Maryam Sadeghi that people can wait days, weeks or even months to find out if suspicious moles were something to worry about.
So she created MoleScope, a thumb-sized microscope designed to use with a smartphone to collect and manage images and, if necessary, send them to specialists to determine whether further examination or treatment is required.
“We can reduce unnecessary visits and provide better quality of care by giving priority to patients who need to have immediate access,” says Dr. Sadeghi, who obtained her PhD in computing science from Simon Fraser University and is currently heading the Digital Health Hub, a Surrey-based innovation centre.
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Medical Technology News

(Helmholtz Association) Medical implants, complex interfaces between brain and machine or remotely controlled insects: Recent developments combining machines and organisms have great potentials, but also give rise to major ethical concerns.
(New Scientist) LIFE in virtual reality could soon get a whole lot tastier – now a digital simulator can transmit the taste of virtual food and drink to the tongue. This might mean that gamers and VR explorers will be able to sample something of the food appearing on their VR headset or computer screen.
Community: So maybe one day we’ll be able to taste the concoctions on Top Chef, eliminating the need for judges. I’m really upset with them for choosing Nicholas over Nina in Season 11.
(Singularity Hub) Most … new health monitors strap to your wrist to record heart rate and activity. But Heapsylon’s Sensoria smart socks are a little different and may provide a clue to which way the wind blows—in the near future, more fitness trackers and health sensors may be embedded in clothing or attached to the skin.
(Singularity Hub) Most … new health monitors strap to your wrist to record heart rate and activity. But Heapsylon’s Sensoria smart socks are a little different and may provide a clue to which way the wind blows—in the near future, more fitness trackers and health sensors may be embedded in clothing or attached to the skin.
(Singularity Hub) Medtronic recently announced they’ve successfully implanted a … Micra TPS pacemaker, into the heart of an Austrian patient. The device, roughly the size and shape of a multivitamin, is a tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and 30% smaller than the Nanostim pacemaker.
(Singularity Hub) In a recent paper…, [Carnegie Mellon biomedical engineer Christopher] Bettinger documents that an edible battery made from the pigment of cuttlefish — sea creatures related to squid — can discharge 10 microamperes of electricity for a period of five hours, with an ideal performance of 24 hours, as long as something ingested is likely to remain in the body.
(The Telegraph) An artificial heart that can give patients up to five years of extra life has been successfully implanted for the first time. The heart, powered by watch-style batteries that can be worn externally, was put into a patient at Paris’s Georges Pompidou Hospital. It uses a range of “biomaterials”, including bovine tissue, to reduce the likelihood of the body rejecting it. Unlike previous artificial hearts, created mainly for temporary use, the design by the French Carmat biomedical firm is intended to replace a real heart for as many as five years.
(LiveScience) Nine years ago, Dennis Aabo Sørensen severely wounded his left arm in a fireworks accident, and had to have it amputated. Now, a bionic hand has restored his ability to feel, the first time this has ever been done… "I could feel things that I hadn't been able to feel in over nine years," Sørensen, who lives in Denmark, said in a statement.
More . . .

Recipes

Cooking Light:
23 Must-Try Kale Recipes
Bursting with nutrients, kale makes a tasty addition to soups, casseroles, or even simply sautéed as a side dish.
MyRecipes.com:
Enchilada Casserole
Make a hearty, healthy Mexican casserole the whole family will enjoy. Substitute ground turkey and chicken broth instead of beef, if desired.
EatingWell:
Margherita Pizz’alad
This Italian-flag-inspired Margherita pizza recipe is topped with juicy tomatoes and slices of fresh mozzarella. What could make it better? Adding a salad on top of the pizza to make a pizz’alad. In this case the Margherita pizza is topped with a salad of arugula, basil and parsley tossed with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. Bread flour gives the pizza crust a crisp and sturdy structure, but all-purpose flour works well in its place.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
Open Faced Ham and Swiss Cheese Sandwich on Rye
If you're looking for a quick and easy lunch, this simple open-faced sandwich can be assembled at home in less than 10 minutes before you head off to the office. When you're ready to eat, enjoy the sandwich with a side salad or with a can of low-sodium vegetable juice blend.
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7 Foods That Can Help Lower Your Cholesterol

(SouthBeachDiet.com) February is American Heart Month, so what better time to take preventive steps to reduce your heart disease risk and the chances of having a heart attack or stroke? While optimal levels of cholesterol are different for each individual, and not everyone will react to dietary changes the same way, there are some foods that can help with reducing high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called "bad" cholesterol that can cause artery-clogging plaque to form in your coronary artery walls. Try adding some or all of the following foods to your diet every day.
Wild salmon (and other omega-3-rich fish)…
Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables)…
Beans and other legumes…
Oats and other whole grains…
Nuts and seeds…
Tea…
Red wine.
Community: You can get some of the benefits in red wine by eating red, purple, or black grapes, or by taking a supplement that contains resveratrol.
Appetite for Health also has some heart healthy eating advice for us: “Eat Right for Heart Health Month.”
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Americans need to eat more whole grains, study suggests

(Reuters Health) Most children and adults in the U.S. are getting less than the recommended amounts of whole grains and dietary fiber, according to a recent study.
Researchers found people who did eat the recommended three or more servings of whole grains each day also tended to consume the most fiber.
Whole grains are present in some types of hot and cold cereal and bread. Previous studies have tied whole grain intake to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease among adults. The health benefits are in part attributed to the fiber in whole grains.
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Is Your Sweet Tooth Killing You? Sugar & Aspartame Linked to Fatal Diseases

(The People's Pharmacy) For decades we've been told that saturated fat and cholesterol are the twin culprits behind heart disease, but a new study suggests that sugar may be at least as dangerous to the heart. The research … found that sugar could be a major contributor to death from heart disease…
The latest research analyzed sugar consumption in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality. Tens of thousands of Americans were tracked for decades. The more calories people consumed in the form of sugar, the greater their likelihood of dying from heart disease…
Many people have responded to the advice to cut back on sugar by turning to artificial sweeteners. Aspartame, one of the most popular, has been available for over 40 years and is included in more than 6,000 products… The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly affirmed that aspartame is safe…
[A] new review by Italian researchers, however, calls for a re-evaluation of the data. The authors point to studies of carcinogenicity over the lifetime of laboratory animals. They argue that their lifetime exposure studies are actually more sensitive than typical two-year protocols because they reflect effects that may take a long time to show up.
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Monkeys That Eat Omega-3 Rich Diet Show More Developed Brain Networks

(Science Daily) Monkeys that ate a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids had brains with highly connected and well organized neural networks -- in some ways akin to the neural networks in healthy humans -- while monkeys that ate a diet deficient in the fatty acids had much more limited brain networking, according to an Oregon Health & Science University study.
The study …s have been able to use functional brain imaging in live animals to see the large-scale interaction of multiple brain networks in a monkey. These patterns are remarkably similar to the networks found in humans using the same imaging techniques.
"The data shows the benefits in how the monkeys' brains organize over their lifetime if in the setting of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids," said Damien Fair, PA-C, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience and assistant professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine and senior author on the paper. "The data also shows in detail how similar the networks in a monkey brain are to networks in a human brain, but only in the context of a diet rich in omega-3-fatty acids."
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Subway Takes Chemical Out of Sandwich Bread After Protest

(ABC News) Subway said [Wednesday] it is removing a chemical used in yoga mats and shoe soles from the bread of it its popular sandwiches after a food blogger got more than 50,000 signatures in a petition drive.
"The complete conversion to have this product out of the bread will be done soon," Subway said in a statement. The company said the move had nothing to do with the protest and that it was "already in the process of removing azodicarbonamide as part of our bread improvement efforts."…
The World Health Organization has linked this chemical additive to respiratory issues, allergies and asthma, and it is banned in Europe and Australia. Azodiacarbonamide is legal in the United States and Canada.
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Vitamin D Blog: No Threshold for Calcium Absorption

(MedPage Today) Some researchers have posited that there could be a level of vitamin D intake above which there's no further influence on calcium absorption. If that were the case, doctors would have a cut-off to stop vitamin D supplementation since there'd be no additional benefits for skeletal health.
To determine whether that's the case, John Aloia, MD, …, and colleagues gave various doses of vitamin D (or placebo) to 76 postmenopausal women – 800 IU, 2,000 IU, or 4,000 IU per day.
They found a linear increase in calcium absorption as the dose went up, at 3.9%, 5%, and 6.7%, respectively. (Calcium absorption fell by 2.6% for those who took placebo, showing the need for adequate vitamin D levels to maintain calcium absorption, the authors said.)
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Vitamin C May Help Fight Tumor Cells, Study Finds

(NBC News) Qi Chen of the University of Kansas and colleagues took a look first at how ascorbate [vitamin C] might work. Tests on ovarian tumor cells in lab dishes showed it busted up DNA in cancer cells but not in other cell types. Adding chemotherapy accelerated the effect. Mouse tests showed the combination didn’t seem to be toxic, so they took the trial to 25 women with advanced ovarian cancer -- one of the deadliest cancers.
“High-dose intravenous ascorbate was added to conventional paclitaxel/carboplatin therapy, and toxicity was assessed,” they wrote in their report.
Not only did the treatment appear to do no harm, but it also seemed to kill the tumor cells better and reduce side effects from the chemotherapy. There were not enough women taking part in the trial to really tell, but the researchers said it’s worth trying out the approach in more patients.
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Short stay in darkness may actually heal hearing

(Financial Express) Minimising a person's sight for as little as a week may help improve the brain's ability to process hearing, scientists say.
Hey-Kyoung Lee at the Johns Hopkins University and colleagues examined the relationship between vision and hearing in the brain and found that simulated blindness can help revive hearing.
Music experts often cite blind musicians Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles as examples of how a lack of sight can heighten or enhance hearing, researchers said.
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The Case for Tele-Emergency Services

(Science Daily) New research from the University of Iowa College of Public Health supports the claim that tele-emergency services can successfully extend emergency care in rural hospitals…
Tele-emergency is the urgent care component of telehealth, a term used to describe services consisting of diagnosis, treatment, assessment, monitoring, communications, and education of medical conditions via digital technologies like videoconferencing. Telehealth can deliver important medical services where they are needed most, and remove barriers of time, distance, and limited health care providers. This includes remote, rural areas and medically underserved urban communities.
"Tele-emergency improves patient care through integrated services that deliver the right care at the right time and the right place," says Keith Mueller, head of the Department of Health Management and Policy and lead author of the report. "Our country's health care system is in a massive state of change, and it's through services such as this that we'll be able to address patient need and assist in the financial concerns of smaller medical care units."
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