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

Lonely Londoners looking to open up to strangers

(AP) It's a typical urban routine: Sit on the subway, headphones in, fiddling with the smartphone to avoid eye contact with fellow passengers. Now a new campaign called "Talk to me" wants to break that habit and change London's image as one of the loneliest places in Britain. "Talking to strangers is a social taboo," said David Blackwell, one of the project's coordinators. "It's something we're inordinately afraid of. Can you imagine how different a city would be if you could just open up to other people with no expectation that a stranger must want something from you?"
Blackwell and other volunteers are handing out badges with the message "Talk to me, I'll talk to you." It's an invitation to strike up a conversation with the wearer, anywhere - whether it's on the commute or waiting in line for coffee. The crowd-funded project is motivated in part by a recent Sheffield University survey indicating that 30 percent of people in the British capital feel isolated and uninvolved in their community, with an impact on their emotional and physical wellbeing.
Of course, the whole concept is opt-in: If you want to keep to yourself, Blackwell says, that's fine. Just don't pick up a badge.
The project isn't without critics. There are fears that wearing a badge could invite unwelcome attention or street harassment.
Community: When I traveled alone in Germany for a few months many years ago, restaurant hostesses would always seat me at a table with other people dining alone. It was a great way to get to know local people. But this below may be going too far:
(The Atlantic) As Americans report feeling more isolated, some people turn to snuggling with strangers.
Some of us cuddle with our pets—as well as our partners.
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Social ties linked to lower suicide risk among men: study

(Reuters Health) Men who have more social connections such as through marriage and religious participation tend to have a lower risk of suicide, according to a new study.
Participants who had the most connections had less than half the risk of suicide over 24 years as those with the fewest social ties, researchers found.
“I’ve been noticing that in a lot of my patients’ stories that social isolation, lack of supports and those types of things figure very prominently,” said Dr. Alexander Tsai, the study’s lead author from the Center for Global Health at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“It was just something I couldn’t avoid,” he said of the new study.
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Wellness means a healthy body and healthy relationships

(Jennifer Baker, Springfield News-Leader) I certainly don't see marriage as the solution to every problem. Some marriages and relationships are dangerous. I also don't believe everyone can or should be married.
What I can't get away from is the data.
Married or not, most people live in a relationship with someone else at some time in their life. When these relationships are stable, safe and healthy, the people in them do better.
So do their children.
When they don't go well, according to continually emerging data from the Adverse Children Experiences Study, the impact can be felt for decades (Felitti, V.J., & Anda, R F, 2008).
I know we need to maintain a healthy weight and diet. I understand the dangers of stress and smoking.
I hope we can also acknowledge the importance of healthy relationships for our overall health and well-being.
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The one instance when skipping a workout is good for you

(Chatelaine) Never underestimate the healing power of friendship, or the significant role that a supportive partner plays in your long-term health. Studies suggest … that close friends and good romantic partners are as important to overall health and wellness as exercise and healthy habits.
In short, strong emotional bonds and lively social networks keep both our body and mind in strong, healthy shape.
Though age often affects our friend-making abilities — it’s not so easy to meet friends when you’re working and have familial responsibilities — the importance of continuing to forge social bonds with people is clear.
One 2010 study … by researchers at Brigham Young University found that loneliness has roughly the same negative impact on overall health and longevity as a heavy smoking habit, alcoholism and a sedentary lifestyle. By contrast,  people that possessed a social network boosted their longevity by 50 percent.
It’s not just friends that bolster our health. Loved ones play a significant role, too. Another study by researchers in Denmark … found a strong link between chronic marital conflict and an increased risk of premature death.
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More Information and Recent Research on Social Relationships

(Science Daily) Dr [Tim] Miles states, “Comedy has often been seen to be a bit frivolous, but it's actually something really important. Research shows that we laugh not so much because something is objectively funny, but because we want people to like us, or we want to feel part of a group that's laughing - it's all about making connections. My work looking at comedians and comedy audiences has shown how live stand-up comedy fulfils a need for feelings of truth, trust, empathy and intimacy between people, which is really important in a society where many people often complain about feeling isolated.”
(Medical News Today) James Fowler [and] Nicholas Christakis … describe how they conducted a genome-wide analysis of nearly 1.5 million markers of gene variation using data from the Framingham Heart Study. Prof. Fowler says, "Looking across the whole genome we find that, on average, we are genetically similar to our friends. We have more DNA in common with the people we pick as friends than we do with strangers in the same population."
(University of Colorado at Boulder) Individuals are more genetically similar to their spouses than they are to randomly selected individuals from the same population, according to a new study from the University of Colorado Boulder.
(Reuters Health) For heterosexual men, women who are “nice” are also “attractive,” according to a new study, but the same doesn’t hold true for women meeting a man for the first time. “Although dating patterns have changed over the years, gender-stereotypic behavior persists in the dating realm,” said lead author Gurit E. Birnbaum.
(The Atlantic) Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.
(University of Stirling) Humans make subtle changes in their voices when they speak to people they find attractive. This is the key finding of a new study led by the University of Stirling which looked at the vocal ranges of men and women in courtship scenarios.
More . . .


Grilled Chicken and Fennel with Orange Glaze
A classic Italian pairing of orange and fennel livens up basic chicken. The sauce turns into a light glaze when brushed on the chicken at the end, but could also work as a marinade if you have time (chill overnight).
Turkey Cutlets with Rhubarb Chutney
Try rhubarb in this tangy chutney with golden raisins and fresh ginger, served with turkey. You can also pair the sauce with grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts or lean pork chops. Serve with: Whole-wheat couscous and steamed asparagus.
Appetite for Health:
Best Summer Gazpacho Recipe!
Gazpacho soup was invented for the summer – it’s refreshingly cold on hot summer days. Make the most of in-season veggies like tomatoes and onions! You will LOVE this soup… healthy, easy-to-prepare, and delicious!
Washington Post:
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5 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Berries

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are among summer’s most delectable treats and an excellent source of fiber, as well as vitamin C, and other disease-fighting antioxidants…
Here are 5 fun ways to enjoy berries this summer:
·         Prepare a yogurt parfait, layering nonfat plain Greek yogurt or low-fat or nonfat flavored yogurt with berries of your choice.
·         Add grilled berries to a salad of grilled veggies and chicken or beef (use a grill topper to make sure the berries don’t fall through the grate). Serve over romaine lettuce, mesclun, or fresh spinach.
·         Create a strawberry-avocado salsa and serve it as a topping for grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp. Or, purée strawberries with a South Beach Diet–friendly barbecue sauce and brush the sauce on your favorite grilled lean meat or poultry toward the end of cooking.
·         Dip strawberries in semisweet or bittersweet dark chocolate for a decadent dessert.
·         Whip up a refreshing summer smoothie with fat-free or low-fat milk, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and frozen mixed berries. Or, concoct a cool summer “sparkler” by mixing fresh lime juice, seltzer, and some of your favorite berries. Add a natural no-calorie sweetener, if desired.
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More Food News

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Olives are among the oldest cultivated foods known - they were planted and harvested in Crete some seven thousand years ago. The fat they contain is predominately the healthy monounsaturated type, which can help to improve cholesterol ratios. Olives are also a good source of vitamin E (which helps to neutralize free radicals), iron, copper and dietary fiber.
(Seattle Times) For home preservers and urban gardeners who grow or process on a small scale, food swaps are a place to offload abundance, as well as try ideas.
(Maine News) Poultry Plant operators will now be able to conduct their own inspections for bird defects and feces on the processing lines. Long-awaited poultry-inspection rules were released by the Agriculture department on Thursday.
Community: Of foxes and henhouses.
(UPI) Center for Science in the Public Interest says the Cheesecake Factory is the most unhealthy restaurant in America.
(Food, Nutrition & Science) Women and children in Mexico are continuing to increase their consumption of sugar-sweetened, caloric beverages, according to a recent study from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. 
Community: So is it any wonder that now “Mexico surpasses US in obesity levels”?
(Businessweek) Coke Life isn’t exactly a diet drink. According to the Guardian, it contains more than four tablespoons of real sugar and has about 89 calories per can—less than the 140 calories found in a can of regular Coke… Instead, Coke Life is Coca-Cola’s answer to the two health concerns that have been hitting the company’s soda sales with a one-two punch: the anti-sugar movement, which rails against its full-calorie, full-sugar line of beverages, and the perception that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (found in both Diet Coke and Coke Zero) are unhealthy and can even contribute to weight gain.
(Michael F. Jacobson, Center for Science in the Public Interest) The SWEET Act is not the spoonful of sugar that will help the medicine go down for Big Soda but it is, indeed, the right prescription for the diseases brought on by excessive consumption of sugar drinks. The Sugar Sweetened Beverages Tax Act would impose an excise tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of sugar or other caloric sweetener at the manufacturing level. It would dedicate the annual revenues, on the order of $10 billion, to the prevention and treatment of tooth decay, diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related diseases.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Quick Takes

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Friends can support your efforts, work out with you, and call your attention to matters you may be ignoring. Here are some tips to help you and your friends stay healthy and safe.
(Discover Magazine) The predawn nights from the end of July to mid-August are typically very rich in meteors, and the show has already begun. While August’s headliner is of course the Perseid meteor shower, there are also six additional minor showers that will light up the night sky over the next several weeks.
(Reuters) Smith & Nephew, Europe's largest maker of artificial joints, is to offer U.S. customers a new "no frills" service that will slash the cost of buying its replacement hips and knees… By stripping away some traditional costs, such as sending a company technician to attend procedures, [Chief Executive Olivier Bohuon] told reporters U.S. customers using Syncera could cut costs by 40 to 50 percent.
(LiveScience) Will your job give you a heart attack? A new report finds that workers in service and blue-collar occupations, as well as unemployed people, are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
(Science Daily) Researchers have shown that BMP and WNT proteins are the so-called 'Turing molecules' for creating embryonic fingers. Findings explain why polydactyly -- the development of extra fingers or toes -- is relatively common in humans, affecting up to one in 500 births, and confirms a fundamental theory first proposed by the founding father of computer science, Alan Turing, back in 1952.
Community: What a shame that this genius was hounded to his death because he was a homosexual. He was one of the primary brains behind the code breakers at Bletchley Park that helped the Allies defeat Germany in World War II. We’ll never know how much the whole world lost because of narrow minded people.
More . . .

Is Hormone Therapy Safe for Menopausal Women? New Study Creates Confusion

(The People’s Pharmacy) The headlines this week reassured millions of women that hormone replacement therapy poses no risk to the heart. This contradicts a prior study that found HRT increased the risk for heart attacks and strokes. What gives?...
What [the researchers in the new study] did not mention was that the new trial did not actually look for heart attacks or strokes the way the [Women’s Health Initiative] study did. Just because there was no increase in atherosclerosis in a relatively small number of women does not clear hormone therapy in our minds. Because the Women's Health Initiative was so much bigger, lasted so much longer and looked at outcomes that women really care about (heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, dementia and breast cancer), there is no way to fairly compare the two studies.
The Bottom Line
Be wary of misleading headlines and quick analyses of complicated topics like hormone replacement therapy. To learn more about other ways to deal with hot flashes, we suggest Graedons' Guide to Menopause. It will provide you a much more in-depth understanding of the results of the Women's Health Initiative and other strategies for coping with menopausal symptoms.
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'Rewired' Mice Show Signs of Longer Lives With Fewer Age-Related Illnesses

(Science Daily) While developing a new cancer drug, researchers at The Wistar Institute discovered that mice lacking a specific protein live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses. The mice, which lack the TRAP-1 protein, demonstrated less age-related tissue degeneration, obesity, and spontaneous tumor formation when compared to normal mice. Their findings could change how scientists view the metabolic networks within cells.
In healthy cells, TRAP-1 is an important regulator of metabolism and has been shown to regulate energy production in mitochondria, organelles that generate chemically useful energy for the cell. In the mitochondria of cancer cells, TRAP-1 is universally overproduced.
The Wistar team's report … shows how "knockout" mice bred to lack the TRAP-1 protein compensate for this loss by switching to alternative cellular mechanisms for making energy.
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DNA changes linked to health effects of childhood abuse

(Reuters Health) Trauma has lasting effects on mental and physical health that may stem from changes to DNA which undermine a person’s ability to rebound from stress, according to new research.
The small study of abused children adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that experiences can alter gene activity, explaining how mental anguish can translate to lingering physical effects, and possibly opening new avenues for treatment, study authors say…
The findings, [senior study author Seth] Pollak said, support research showing that “genes aren’t fixed and stable” as was once thought. Scientists have long known that a person’s genes interact with their environment, but this kind of finding helps to illustrate how that actually works, he notes.
Community: And as we’ve seen, the effects of childhood abuse continue causing problems many years later. It’s one reason why adults who suffered such abuse need to take extra care of our health.
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Smoking linked to risk, progression of macular degeneration

(Reuters Health) People who smoke, or have smoked a large number of cigarettes over time, are more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration or to have it worsen sooner, according to a long-term study.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease that results in damage to the central part of the retina and is a leading cause of blindness among Americans over the age of 50.
“This study and other studies suggest that the cigarette smoking may increase the chance of macular degeneration worsening, which in turn, can increase the chance of losing central vision,” Dr. Neil Bressler told Reuters Health.
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Infectious Disease News

(VOXXI) Vibrio vulnificus has been referred by some as the “flesh-eating” bacteria that can be found in warm beach waters, but what the sometimes deadly infection causes are blisters.
(UPI) Health officials in Massachusetts confirmed they've located a second West Nile-infected mosquito pool in Boston.
(Reuters) A salmonella outbreak linked to California-based poultry producer Foster Farms' contaminated chicken appears to be over, more than 17 months after it began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. The salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, which public health investigators say began on March 1, 2013, and ended July 11 this year, made 634 people sick in 29 states and Puerto Rico, the agency said.
(Reuters) A U.S. aid worker who was infected with the deadly Ebola virus while working in West Africa will be flown to the United States to be treated in a high-security ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, hospital officials said on Thursday. The aid worker, whose name has not been released, will be moved in the next several days to a special isolation unit at Emory. The unit was set up in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Shots, NPR) If all goes according to plan, patients with Ebola virus will soon enter the United States. How does a hospital care for critically ill patients while protecting other patients, staff and the public?
(ABC News) An American doctor being treated for Ebola in Liberia has “taken a slight turn for the worse overnight,” according to Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian Charity based in North Carolina. An "experimental serum" to treat the virus arrived for the two infected Americans, but there was only enough for one person, according to Samaritan’s Purse. Dr. Kent Brantly, who noticed his Ebola symptoms and quarantined himself last week, offered the dose to the other infected American, missionary Nancy Writebol.
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Reasons to See a Physician Assistant

(U.S. News & World Report) A PA is “a licensed medical professional who can examine, test, treat and prescribe medication for patients,” says Debra Herrmann, an assistant professor of physician assistant studies at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at George Washington University. “Like physicians, the exact duties of the PA depend on the type of medical setting in which they work and their level of experience, specialty and the state laws where they practice.”
Here’s a partial list of what PAs can do: obtain patient medical histories, conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret tests, develop treatment plans, counsel on preventative health care, assist in surgery and write prescriptions.
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Shopping for Your Health Care: Can You Tell if the Price Is Right?

(Joshua Liao, M.D., Brigham & Women's Hospital) By now, many people know that our country's health care costs are unsustainably high, and rising. But the component details -- the prices for testing, medications, procedures and hospital stays -- have remained arbitrary and opaque even to most health care leaders and physicians, not to mention patients.
Of the many drivers behind our high health care costs, low transparency and consumer awareness are particularly intriguing ones. The idea is straightforward: Without accurate, usable knowledge about how much health care services cost, patients can't make choices that satisfy both their health needs and their pocketbooks, like they could if they were purchasing cars or refrigerators. For decades, patients have received care without really knowing what it costs.
Access to more information, on the other hand, could allow people to make the economically sensible decisions that drive prices down to more competitive, market-dictated levels…
Some believe that we have made strides over the last few years. Medicare released nationwide information about what prices hospitals and clinics charge, and actually get paid… It then upped the ante by publishing information about what individual doctors charge medicare for their services…
At least for now, however, shopping thoughtfully for your health care will remain far more difficult than the click of a few buttons. The first issue is that most bills are negotiated and therefore don't equal what insurance companies or patients pay out of pocket. The other is that additional costs are frequently baked into bills, including those around "case mix adjustment" (added costs for hospitals caring for sicker patients) and education (added costs for hospitals that sponsor new, young doctors in residency training). The medical community are split on how helpful all this new data really is.
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Health Insurance News

(Kaiser Health News) The health law’s unpopularity among the public rose sharply in July with a surge of disapproval from people who had been agnostic about it in recent months, a poll released Friday shows. The law is as unpopular as it has been since it was enacted four years ago… The poll noted, as prior foundation polls have, that much of the public does not know how big parts of the law work.
Community: Don’t let ignorance of the subject keep you from having an opinion, Americans.
(Kaiser Health News) Kaiser Health News’ consumer columnist Michelle Andrews explains that if the insurance offered through an employer is considered affordable, you can’t qualify for the health law’s program to provide financial help to cover costs such as deductibles and co-payments.
(Reuters) The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal appeals court on Friday to reconsider its July 22 ruling that poses a major setback to the Obamacare health insurance overhaul as it could limit the availability of federal health insurance subsidies for millions of people… In the court filing, the government, as expected, asked the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the three-judge panel's decision.
(Los Angeles Times) Lawyers challenging President Obama's healthcare law filed a quick appeal with the Supreme Court on Thursday, urging justices to take up the issue this fall and throw out insurance subsidies for nearly 5 million Americans. "The monumental significance of this legal issue requires the court's immediate, urgent attention," they said in a filing. "The longer the lawless IRS rule is in effect, the greater the upheaval when it is ultimately vacated."
(Kaiser Health News) Covered California's executive director and other analysts pointed to specific factors for this moderate increase. For starters, enrollment was very strong in 2014, more than a million people. In addition, healthy people signed up, spreading the risk. But the state's insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, sees a different force in play. He believes that a statewide ballot measure, Proposition 45, has insurers scared.
Community: Democratic state above, Republican state below.
(Kaiser Health News) Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer, is increasing premiums by an average of 17.6 percent for its Affordable Care Act exchange plans next year, company officials say. The nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate blames higher health costs as a result of attracting older adults this year who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected.
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3 Reasons New Yorkers Live Longer

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) According to the New York City Department of Health, a New Yorker born in 2004 can expect to live 78.6 years, nine months longer than the average American. Add to this that the life expectancy of New Yorkers is lengthening faster than that of other Americans, and it's worth taking a look at some reasons why:
1.     Less smoking. The city's wide-ranging smoking ban of 2003 is estimated to have decreased deaths attributable to smoking by 10 percent.
2.     Healthier food options. New York (like other large cities) attracts a critical mass of people who demand fresh, organic or otherwise superior food choices.
3.     Walking. Perhaps most importantly, New Yorkers walk far more than do most suburban Americans, or even residents of other large cities (perhaps due to the fact that New York's high-density urban amenities make walking uniquely viable for shopping, commuting and other daily tasks). They also tend to walk faster.
The good news is you don't have to move to New York to avail yourself of these advantages. Anyone, anywhere, can decide to stop smoking, walk more and seek out healthy foods (the number of farmers' markets has doubled in the last decade, making fresh produce more available everywhere).
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7 Ways Pets Can Make You Healthier

(U.S. News & World Report) Owning a dog or a cat is a great deal of responsibility, but it turns out putting in that work is well worth it. A pet not only adds companionship to your life, but also years, by reducing your risk of a variety of conditions and improving your overall health.
Beat depression…
Help your heart…
Get more exercise…
Reduce your stress…
Avoid allergies…
Socialize more…
Live longer
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Trees Save 850 Human Lives Every Year

(Medical Daily) You may have a new good reason to a hug a tree today: Trees are responsible for cleaning our air and lungs, and they save hundreds of lives per year.
In a new study completed by Forest Service scientists, researchers examined the extent to which trees provided people with a boost in their health, and found that they save about 850 human lives in a year, and prevent up to 670,000 incidents of acute respiratory symptoms.
Trees help reduce air pollution by trapping pollutants and preventing them from entering human lungs; they also absorb plenty of carbon dioxide which they turn into oxygen for us to breathe…
Trees can make cities healthier. Air pollution can have a negative effect on your overall health, specifically with diseases like asthma, pulmonary and cardiac disorders, as well as vascular and neurological problems.
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Green Cities, Happy Cities

(The Greater Good) The ingredients of happy communities have been long debated by urban planners, politicians, and activists. New research, however, suggests there could be a simple way to give a universal boost to urban residents’ mental well-being: more green space.
Research recently published … suggests that just moving to a greener urban area improves our mental health for at least three years following the move…
In a 2013 study using the same data sources, the team concluded that greener urban areas have far less of an impact on our happiness than getting married, or better yet, becoming employed. But unlike either of those happiness boosters, this recent study suggests that more urban green space gives us an increase in happiness that lasts…
So why are we happier living in greener urban areas?
Researcher Ian Alcock said there are several prevalent theories. First, the sight of green space might help to de-stress us, he said, allowing our “overburdened cognitive faculties to restore themselves to a more relaxed state.” Alternatively, there could be a link between the amount of green space in an area and the amount of exercise we get or the amount of social interaction we have with other people.
Community: Green spaces even affect fetuses in the womb:
(Science Daily) Mothers who live near green spaces deliver babies with significantly higher birth weights, according to a new study.
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Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli
Put dinner on the table fast by simply roasting shrimp and broccoli together for a quick, flavorful meal.
Pork Chop Suey
Chop suey is often made with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts—add them to this recipe if you wish. Serve with: Udon noodles.
Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD, Appetite for Health:
Healthy Greek Yogurt Recipes
Nonfat or lowfat plain Greek yogurt has more protein-per-calorie than most other protein rich foods, like beef, chicken or fish. It’s one of the foods I have daily in my diet, normally with my oatmeal, with fresh fruit or mixed into my post-exercise recovery smoothie. I also love using it as an ingredient to make many of my recipes healthier–from tuna salad to frosting and even creating a fat-free “cream” sauce for pasta (see recipes below) or a lighter cheesecake.
Cooking Light:
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Powerhouse watercress stars in shrimp summer rolls

(Washington Post) A recent study at William Paterson University in New Jersey ranked the top “powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” based on the nutrients they provide per calorie. What topped the list? No, not kale or spinach (though they didn’t do too badly). The most powerful of the powerhouses was watercress.
The ranking used Agriculture Department data based on fruits and vegetables’ content of fiber, potassium, protein, calcium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D and other nutrients, all considered important to our health. Watercress, a cruciferous vegetable, received a score of 100 (51 points higher than kale). At only four calories per cup, every bite packs a huge dose of vitamins and minerals.
Watercress, used as a cleansing medicine since ancient times, is a delicate and tender leafy green known for containing high levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, riboflavin, niacin and folate. All of these nutrients help to protect against cancer and heart disease. Watercress is also a good source of calcium. Served fresh, rather than boiled, you get 100 percent of the nutrition it offers.
Community: My local supermarket sells an “upland cress” that has its roots and some soil attached. It stays fresh a lot longer than the watercress I used to buy. I hope it has the same nutrients. I chop some to put on my almost-daily salad.
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How Market Basket Keeps Prices Low

(Boston.com)  [T]hree things come up regularly when conversation turns to Market Basket’s business operations.
There’s the low prices. There’s the better-than-industry-norms compensation and benefits package. And there’s the reported profit margins that, even with those financial factors in mind, are still considered among the best in the grocery industry where margins tend to be razor-thin.
On its face, that all sounds a bit contradictory. So, how does the company make it work?...
First and foremost, [says Kevin Griffin of The Griffin Report], the fact that the company does not carry any debt is a big help, as it is for any company that avoids debt…
Griffin also pointed to the size of the workforce at Market Basket’s corporate headquarters. Retailers with more than $4 billion in revenue annually and 25,000 employees will generally have much larger teams working at the corporate level, he said. When not embroiled in a protest movement, about 125 people work in Market Basket headquarters, sources have previously told Boston.com. And only six employees worked as grocery buyers before recent events shook things up. Griffin says a chain of a similar size might have four to five times as many grocery buyers.
The reason Market Basket can work with such a small corporate team has to do with the amount of time those employees spends with the company. It is far from unusual for an employee at headquarters to have spent more than 40 years with the company.
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More Food News

(Reuters Health) A recent study suggests that most elementary age students are okay with eating the healthier school lunches required by the USDA. Despite early complaints from kids when the new menus were introduced in the fall of 2012, researchers found that by the second half of the school year, sales of school meals were up among disadvantaged kids, an important target audience for the healthier fare.
Community: If kids can learn to like healthy food, we all can. And when will the shouters and screamers on talk radio and cable TV admit they were wrong to insist that children be allowed to go back to their junk food? Never, I’m betting.
(TIME) The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has handed out their annual Xtreme Eating Awards to the fast food meals and chains that they deem the unhealthiest. After surveying over 200 chain restaurant menus for meals and combos that are especially high in calories, fat, sugar and salt, the winner of this year’s ignominious prize is a real monster. Specifically, Red Robin’s “monster-sized” A.1. peppercorn burger, served with “bottomless” fries and a “Monster” milkshake, which clocks in at a whopping 3,540 calories.
(The Supermarket Guru) A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from Michigan State University reviewed the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and found the consumption of nitrates for those following the diet was up to 550 times that of the World Health Organization’s Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)… The DASH diet [is] known for its dramatic blood pressure lowering effects… Nitrates can do harm…and maybe some good?...
[T]he source of nitrates and nitrites, whether from its addition to cure meats or its natural occurrence in fruits and vegetables, is most likely what determines its impact on health. As we have discovered about fats, not all nitrates and nitrites are created equal. A diet rich in a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is ideal, and look for cured meats processed without nitrates, especially during summer grilling season!
Community: I’ve been wondering for years why nitrates in vegetables are good for us but those found in meats are bad for us.
(NIH News in Health) It can be hard to keep foods safe to eat during warmer weather. Learn how to handle food properly to avoid the misery of food poisoning.
(Des Moines Register) The homeless shelter in downtown Des Moines is partway through a project officials say will both provide fresh vegetables to its clients and teach residents about planting, growing, harvesting, preparing and selling produce.The hope is that residents will be able to apply those skills in a number of settings — from working in restaurants and hotels to starting their own businesses — as they transition out of shelter housing and find work.
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Quick Takes

(Daily Mail) The remarkably preserved mummies from five ancient cultures – including Egyptians living 3,000 years ago – bear the unmistakeable hallmarks of heart disease. CT scans of hundreds of bodies found atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries due to build-up of fatty deposits, which is the underlying disease process that causes heart attack and strokes.
(Science Daily) [Study] authors say: "Until now, the Iceman is the only ancient human remain in which a genetic predisposition for cardiovascular disease has been detected...future genetic studies of ancient humans from various geographic origins and time periods have the potential to provide more insights into the presence and possible changes of genetic risk factors in our ancestors. The study of ancient humans and a better understanding of the interaction between environmental and genetic influences on the development of heart diseases may lead to a more effective prevention and treatment of the most common cause of death in the modern world."
(MedPage Today) Hormone replacement therapy early in menopause does not reduce the risk of atherosclerosis in low-risk women, a finding now confirmed by data from the KEEPS trial.
(Reuters Health) Patient navigators may be able to help steer women with breast cancer through what can be a daunting treatment process, a new study suggests. Breast cancer kills a disproportionate share of low-income and African-American women, researchers note, and employing patient navigators is thought to be a potential way to assist underserved patients.
(Well, New York Times) Statins, the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs, may have a role in surgical wound healing, a new analysis suggests. The review … covered 20 studies of statins and surgical wound healing. They demonstrated various mechanisms by which statins can lower inflammation, improve the mechanical strength of a healing wound, promote the growth of blood vessels and reduce healing time.
(NIH Director’s Blog) The Foldscope is a “use and throwaway” microscope designed by Stanford University bioengineer Manu Prakash to help global health workers diagnose disease.
Community: Why aren’t we looking at more of these kinds of inventions to reduce the cost of healthcare right here in the U.S.A.?
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