IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  July 1, 2011

This Italian dinner will please everyone

The Italians have a great way of combining ingredients to make masterpieces, like in linguini with clam sauce, which marries the fruit of the sea with the Durum Wheat flour of the plains to create a dish high in complex carbohydrates, protein and vitamins. The recipe is rich and creamy without being over the top.

Linguini in clam sauce

2 pounds Little Neck clams, scrubbed and cleansed in water, or a 10-ounce can of processed clams without shells.

1 pound linguini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoon chopped fresh, curly Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup clam juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Fill a large pan three-quarters full with salted water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil. Add the linguini and cook 8 to 9 minutes, checking it until soft. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the cooking liquid. Cover and set aside.

In a heavy sauce pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat.

Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the wine and clam juice. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the clams, cover, shaking occasionally. Cook until the clams (if in shells) open, about 5 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.

Add the cream and lemon juice, stir and simmer for 1 minute. Add cooked pasta and toss to coat. Add another small amount extra-virgin olive oil and parsley and toss to coat.

Divide among serving bowls and top each portion with Parmesan.

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Enjoy the company of a pet

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that married couples who owned a pet had lower blood pressure than couples without one.

Individuals who owned a dog were more likely to still be alive one year after having a heart attack than heart attack patients who didn't own one.

Dog owners who walk their dogs are more likely to be physically active and less likely to be obese.


OJ lowers blood pressure, improves blood vessels

Drinking a glass of orange juice every day has long been known to be a healthy practice. New evidence shows it's benefits are more extensive.

Orange juice contains a flavonoid called hesperidin. In a study by the Human Nutrition Unit-INRA in France, it was discovered that two glasses of OJ per day could significantly lower diastolic blood pressure (the second number in a blood pressure reading) and improve blood-vessel function.

Study subjects were overweight, but otherwise healthy men age 51 to 63

The researchers say lowering diastolic pressure by just three or four points could translate into a 20 percent reduction of heart disease. Even if you drink one glass of OJ per day instead of two, you will have beneficial effects.

Chuckles Corner

Five ways to fight stress and improve your health

You already know a few ways to improve your health, such as making it a point to eat fruit every day and to eat high-fiber foods like breakfast cereal. Here are a few other stress-fighters and health-improvers:

1 Approach your life and work with a more positive outlook. Find a positive side in every aspect of your life. Research involving women age 50 and older found those with an optimistic view were much less likely to die of any cause during the years of the study.

2 Try yoga and tai chi. The gentle mind-body practices combine aerobic, strength training, core stability, flexibility and balance. They reduce blood pressure and improve sleep.

3 Develop a sense of gratitude for life. Gratitude is sometimes called a combination of humility, grace, love and acceptance. Each day identify at least one thing that enriches your life. Have gratitude be your last thought before you fall asleep at night and your first thought when you wake in the morning.

4 Try volunteering. Research shows that participating in meaningful volunteer activities promotes emotional and mental well-being. A study reported in the Journal of Aging and Health found that volunteers had lower blood pressure than non-volunteers.

5 Improve your relationships. Forgive yourself and those closest to you. It doesn't mean you condone a wrong done. Forgiveness is associated with improved mood and lower stress.


Nitroglycerin could be new osteoporosis treatment

An inexpensive nitroglycerin preparation administered as an ointment, patch or pill could basically change the way osteoporosis is treated. And it could help prevent fractures in the elderly.

Dr. Sophie Jamal of the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto led the study on nitroglycerine's impact on bone density. It was recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

After two years of using nitroglycerine ointment, study subjects had significant increases in bone mineral density in the spine, hip, neck and thigh. They also experienced less bone resorption.

No osteoporosis drug on the market today both decreases bone resorption and increases bone rebuilding.

How to have more fun at theme parks

Spending a day at a water park, theme park, zoo or entertainment mega-world is a great way to spend quality time with relatives and friends, but it's not easy to have fun without passing out from exhaustion. Here are a few tips to help you avoid going bonkers.

  • Leave your dog at home unless the park has a kennel where you can stash him.
  • If available, buy tickets in advance to avoid long lines.
  • Bring a bag for souvenirs or rent a locker so you won't have to carry them or your umbrella and rain poncho.
  • Take sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. No flip-flops, sandals or shoes with open toes where dust and dirt can get in.
  • Take advantage of hotel shuttles. They are fast and free, and you won't have to park your car in a huge lot.
  • Once there, split up, so groups can visit their favorite attractions. Have times to gather at a meeting place.
  • Avoid getting into a long line. Come back later at a time when a big show is going on somewhere else in the park.
  • Go easy on the candy to avoid the surge and crash that can make you tired and grumpy.
  • Look for a "fast pass" machine that gives you a ticket to ride at a specific time so you won't have to wait in line.
  • Toss your list of "must-dos." It's about fun, not about how many things you can cram into a day.
  • Be smart with money. Have a budget that allows you to buy one or two souvenirs.
  • Eat at unusual times. If you have lunch an hour later, you won't have to wait as long in line or for a table.
  • Be nice and don't fight with family and friends. Give in or ignore a nasty remark.
  • Take special tours if they are available.


    Football and basketball fans: Take it easy driving home

    Here's some disturbing news for sports fans: When your team wins a nail-biter, you face a higher risk of dying in a crash on the way home.

    Research by the North Carolina State University and South Carolina University finds that traffic deaths rise in the hometowns of winning teams on game day, and rise proportionately the closer the game is. The result is the same whether the game is at home or away.

    The research focused on highly anticipated events, such as playoff and rivalry games . Because final scores don't always reflect how close a game was, fans were asked to rate the 271 college and professional games they studied.

    The increase in fatalities happens in locations of winning games, such as game sites and hometowns. The difference in fatalities after a blow-out game and a nail-biter was 133 percent.

  • Acupuncture:

    Building on a 2,000-Year track record

    The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture is spreading rapidly across the West. A national health survey, quoted in Healthy Years, found that more than eight million U.S. adults have used acupuncture for their physical problems. At the Center for East-West Medicine at UCLA, they say acupuncture sends a signal to the body to turn on its own rescue system.

    How it works

    According to Chinese medicine, energy called qi (or chi) flows through the body across 12 major pathways called meridians. The meridians correspond to specific organs and body functions. If the flow of qi is blocked, you get sick. At UCLA center, doctors also say acupuncture re-regulates the body and can turn off pain signals.

    Inserting very fine needles at specific points along the meridians helps restore the flow of qi. Most doctors today believe that the needle stick causes the central nervous system to release morphine-like pain killers called endorphins.

    What it targets

    The World Health Organization recommends acupuncture for respiratory diseases, eye and mouth problems, orthopedic trouble, neurological disorders, and gastrointestinal ailments. It can reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications. The therapy has shown promise in relieving nausea associated with chemotherapy.

    It has been used to help patients regain movement after stroke, to treat depression, headaches, and low back pain and Parkinson's disease.

    What to expect

    Patients feel a tiny prick as the needles are inserted. It isn't painful because needles are only as thick as a single human hair. The needles stay in place for five to 20 minutes, depending on the illness, but it's important to have a certified practitioner do the treatment.

    Before starting acupuncture, discuss its possible benefits with your doctor, and check with your insurance company to determine whether acupuncture treatments are covered.


    July is National Grilling Month

    Cook on the grill for healthy, flavorful foods, but do it right.

    Cooking outside in the fresh air is one of the joys of summer. Grilling can enhance food flavors, and the company of family and friends can make any dinner a party.

    There's more to it than slapping a steak on the grill and turning up the heat. To prevent foodborne illnesses, you have to do it right.

  • Thaw frozen meats and poultry thoroughly. Slow thawing in the refrigerator is best. Or thaw sealed packages in cold water. Microwave thawing is OK if you grill the item immediately.
  • Use marinades properly. Marinate in the refrigerator. Set aside a portion of the marinade before placing it on the meat. You can use the saved marinade to baste while grilling. Never reuse a marinade that has been used on meat, say scientists at the Mayo Clinic.
  • A marinade of olive oil and citrus juices can reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances on foods by as much as 99 percent. A food safety project at Kansas State University also discovered that basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano or sage used in marinades can reduce the formation of free radicals when foods are grilled.
  • Keep the grill clean and make sure it's hot before you put food on it. Consider indirect heat to prevent charring. Charred meats may contain carcinogens. Avoid flare-ups by trimming fat from the meat.
  • Avoid cross contamination. Never reuse utensils or platters that have come in contact with raw meat.

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    New treatment for lupus

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first new drug for lupus in more than 50 years. Lupus affects up to 1.5 million Americans. It is more common in women, Caucasians and African-Americans.

    The drug, Benlysta, by Human Genome Sciences, Inc. and GlaxoSmith Kline PLC, is expected to reach blockbuster status.

    Researchers say many patients were able to reduce their use of steroids while taking Benlysta. They had a reduced incidence of severe flare ups, a painful characteristic of the disease. But African-Americans didn't respond as well to the new drug as Caucasians.

    New heart catheterization

    About one million U.S. patients each year undergo heart catheterizations, which involve threading a thin plastic tube up to the heart from a puncture wound doctors make in the groin.

    Now, cardiologists are increasingly beginning the procedure in the wrist instead. This eliminates the risk of bleeding, a potentially life-threatening problem associated with entry in the groin. Although it rarely happens, bleeding increases the risk of a heart attack.


    Don't lose your fitness resolve

    Sometimes people welcome spring by getting outside to walk, play and get fit. As summer moves on, they lose interest. Don't let it happen to you!