IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  June 1, 2008

Peanuts Are a Smart Choice

For a time, it was considered wise to avoid peanuts because of their fat content. Times have changed. Health conscious people now know that peanuts hold no damaging cholesterol. Their high protein content makes them a good choice for anyone, particularly for vegetarians.

Technically, peanuts belong to the legume family as do peas and green beans, but some people wonder whether peanuts should be in a food group of their own. In addition to protein, they contain vitamin E, niacin, riboflavin, and important minerals.

A study published in the International Journal of Obesity shows that eating peanuts is a valuable way to control hunger without weight gain.

Once considered only fit for animal feed, scientist George Washington Carver spent his life finding better uses for peanuts.

Try this easy recipe.

Peanut-Crusted Chicken

This is a variation of a popular Oriental dish, peanut pork. Peanut-encrusted chicken is high in protein, low in fat and has all natural ingredients.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast filets
1 cup salted peanuts
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons honey.

Using a blender or coffee grinder, reduce the peanuts to a coarse mixture. Do not over grind or you will end up with dry peanut butter.

Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breast filets and brush on a coating of honey for binding and flavor. Roll in the coarsely chopped peanuts and press the coating into the chicken with the back of a tablespoon.

Coat a deep frying pan with canola oil and bring heat to high. Place the chicken in the skillet, reduce heat to half, and cook until golden brown, or about half an hour to 45 minutes.

This dish can also be baked, eliminating the use of the canola oil. Bake the filets at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until crusty brown on top. The dish can be sliced and served piping hot as an entree or it can be served with your favorite dipping sauce as an appetizer.

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Sun Exposure, What You Don't Know Can Hurt

The good advice about staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as well as wearing sunscreen, are pretty well known. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic, however, say there's more to sun protection than that.

  • The ultraviolet rays of the sun can bounce off water, sand, ice, snow and other reflective surfaces. A wide-brimmed hat can protect your head, but your face and neck are still at risk from reflected ultraviolet rays.
  • The color of your clothes affects the absorption of the sun's rays. Darker clothes absorb the UV rays. Tightly woven fabrics such as denim give better protection than knits, which allow the sun's rays to seep through between the threads.
  • Whether your sunglasses are dark or not, they won't stop ultraviolet rays unless the manufacturer's label says they will. They should block 99 percent to 100 percent of all ultraviolet light.
  • Having a dark skin color does not protect you from skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that people of all skin colors take precautions against sun exposure.
  • About 90 percent of the sun's ultraviolet rays can and will pass through the clouds. Follow sun-protection advice even when the sun isn't shining.
  • Proper use of sunscreen is a tricky task. If you normally burn after 20 minutes in the sun, SPF 15 should keep you safe for 15 times that long, five hours.

    But sunscreen protection weakens with time, especially on a humid day. Sweating will also weaken its protection. It's best to reapply sunscreen every few hours and right after swimming.

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  • Protect Teeth From Acid in Food and Drinks

    The acid in food and beverages can cause tooth enamel to erode.

    Saliva helps to restore it, but it goes only so far. To minimize the damage, dental authorities at the Mayo Clinic recommend:

  • Consume fewer acidic products between meals, including citrus fruits, regular sodas, fruit juices, wine, tart candies and anything containing vinegar.
  • Eat or drink these products with a meal. Food neutralizes acids and helps to eliminate them from your mouth.
  • Avoid consuming acidic foods and drinks before going to bed. Saliva production decreases when you sleep.
  • If you must have a regular soda during the day, drink it through a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Never hold the liquid in your mouth.
  • Neutralize acid with a bit of cheese, water or fluoride mouthwash.
  • Wait to brush your teeth. After an acidic item, wait 30 minutes to brush. Brush with a fluoride tooth paste 30 minutes before or after consuming acidic items.
  • Sugarless gum stimulates saliva.

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    For Strokes: A Vacuum cleaner

    The Penumbra, a tiny vacuum cleaner, promises to suction out clogged arteries before they cause permanent brain damage.

    Recently approved by the FDA, it will be helpful for stroke victims who are not treated within the three-hour window when the clot-busting drug TPA is effective. It may also work on clots that are too big or tough for TPA to dissolve.

    Fewer than 5 percent of stroke sufferers get the TPA treatment because they don't get specialized care in time. Of those who get TPA, only 30 percent are helped because the clot is too big or too solid.

    With Penumbra, a tiny tube is inserted into a blood vessel and pushed up into the brain until it reaches the clog. It vacuums up the clot bit by bit to restore blood flow to the brain.

    Specialists have to think carefully about who will get the treatment because there are risks involved.

    New Choices for Hormones

    The main type of estrogen made by the bodies of women from the age of puberty through menopause is 17-beta estradiol. It is involved in over 400 functions from skin to hair, bones, heart and brain. The estrogen made after menopause is estrone, which is a large component in many hormone replacement treatments.

    Now, FDA-approved 17-beta estradiol skin patches and gels are available including Alora, Climara and Vivelle. Because they are absorbed through the skin, they don't have to pass through the liver. They pose less risk for blood clots that can cause a stroke or a heart attack. (The Food and Drug Administration, however, says it thinks all hormone replacement therapies produce some risk.)

    Many doctors are prescribing Prometrium or Crinone, natural forms of progesterone approved by the FDA. The Women's Heath Initiative reports that women taking estrogen alone have a lower risk of breast cancer.

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    Another Reason to Get Going

    Seems like every day you hear a new reason to exercise. Add this to your incentives to do it: You'll have longer telomeres. Telomeres are caps at the ends of chromosomes, which tend to shorten as people age. Who needs them? Anybody who wants fewer wrinkles, stronger muscles and more resistance to disease. Studies by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and elsewhere show that people who exercise the most have longer telomeres. Authorities at the National Institute on Aging say the finding is "provocative."

    Testing the Grumpy Guys

    Doctors at Harvard Medical School say testosterone restores sexual function in men, makes them stronger, builds their bones, reduces fat and could gets rid of the blues and grumpies.

    Testosterone levels decline in men beginning at age 40. Though deficiency is often treated in older men, endocrinologists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center feel that men of all ages should be tested for deficiency. There is also some concern that deficiency could be involved in prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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  • 'White Lies' Not So Harmless

    If you have ever seen television's Dr. House in action, you know one of his favorite sayings is, "everybody lies."

    Well, not everybody does, but a survey by WebMD shows that at least half of those responding admit that they fib to the doctors.

    They may say they take their medications every day when they miss once or twice a week. They don't report all the vitamins and medications they take. And they don't tell the whole truth about their drinking, eating and exercise habits.

    Doctors at the University of Washington say people don't intend to lie.

    Because they want to be respected, they say what the doctor wants to hear, which can keep the doctor from making an effective treatment plan.

    In the case of missed medications, the doctor may prescribe a stronger dose, which can cause problems if the patient begins taking it regularly. Not reporting all medicines and supplements could lead to a dangerous drug interaction.

    People tend to omit facts and actually lie when they feel judged or ashamed. Doctors quoted in Arthritis Today say mental illness, sexual dysfunction and domestic abuse are some of the subjects patients don't want to talk about. In the case of diet and exercise, it could be a matter of selective memory. Or people just don't realize how much they eat and how little they exercise.

    Some people will deny having the symptoms of a condition that is diagnosed because they don't want to have it. That's dangerous.

    Doctors should let people know it's OK not to be perfect. Patients should find a doctor they are comfortable with so they can tell the truth.

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    Tendonitis and Wrist Sprains

    In the middle of your wrist is a tendon called the scapholunate ligament. It usually works very well, but if you play golf and tennis, go fishing and maybe work in the garden all in the same week, you could end up with some serious wrist pain.

    Tendon injuries, including sprains and bone chips, are most likely to occur if you participate in activities where snapping the wrist is involved.The tendons are fibrous cords that attach muscles to bone.

    They are covered with a slippery membrane that allows them to move smoothly. Either the tendons or the membranes, or both at the same time, can become inflamed. The usual symptoms are pain, tenderness and sometimes swelling when you move the affected area.

    Another problem in the wrist involves the tendon. It runs on the outside of the hand from the lower forearm and down into the thumb. This area of the hand is used in many activities like opening doors.

    Inflammation can cause pain and swelling. Without rest or treatment, the pain can spread into the forearm.

    To treat these conditions, use heat, ice packs or nonprescription pain-relieving drugs. Avoid movements that cause pain. Wearing a splint or brace to restrict hand movement can help. If these steps aren't effective, see your doctor. The ligament could be separated from the bone, or the bone could be chipped. For extreme pain, get emergency care immediately.

    These wrist problems are different from carpal tunnel syndrome, which can cause pain, numbness and eventually weakness if not treated.

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    A Caution on Flavored Waters

    They look good, taste good and are hydrating. But some have almost as many calories as a bottle of regular soda. And the sugar and fructose corn syrup sweeteners are absorbed differently.

    Purdue University reports that when two groups were fed the same number of calories from jelly beans or drinks, the candy group compensated by eating less, but the soda group gained weight.

    Don't depend on flavored waters that are fortified with vitamins, herbs, minerals and caffeine. Some have no studies backing up their claims.

    Others may take you over the recommended daily allowance when combined with food and a daily supplement.

    If you must have water in a bottle, plain water is good enough on its own.

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