IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date: November 1, 2007
Spaghetti protein dinner
Many restaurants serve spaghetti portions that are half the size of a
basketball. Eating that much very often is not a good idea.
Spaghetti contains only 180 calories per cup. Those
calories are in the form of complex carbohydrates, the kind recommended
by Food and Drug Administration. Complex carbs provide energy and keep
hunger away for hours.
Adding meat to the sauce has the added benefit of
protein, an important dietary ingredient which increases spaghetti's
The sauce contains tomatoes, onions, and garlic, all
of which rank high on any list of healthful foods. Tomatoes contain
vitamin C and lycopene, an antioxidant and cancer fighter.
Traditional Italian cooks may think nothing can equal
their day-long sauce preparation. But today there are high-quality
bottled sauces that come very close. By adding ground beef and possibly
customizing the sauce, results are certain to be appetizing and
While the following recipe can be done in half an
hour or less, preparing to entertain will take longer. It includes
spiffing up the house, setting an attractive table, making a great
salad, chopping ingredients to customize the sauce, and getting dressed
For all of this, allow 2 hours.
Cook 1 pound of at least 80 percent lean ground beef in a frying pan
until just done. In a sieve, wash under hot water to remove any extra
If desired, chop a green pepper, fresh garlic, and
half an onion to add a fresh taste. Put in the same pan and cook
Add a 26 ounce jar of high-quality spaghetti sauce
and the ground beef. Bring to a boil, then cook on low heat for 15
minutes. Add some water if it's too thick. Keep warm until served.
Cook 1 pound of spaghetti according to directions. If
it will not be served immediately, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and mix to
This recipe serves 4. For big eaters, or more people,
double the recipe.
Zinc and type 2 diabetes
A Finnish study reported by Johns Hopkins Health
Alerts followed type 2 diabetes patients between the ages of 45 and 64.
Those who had lowest levels of zinc in their blood at the start of the
study were more likely to have a heart attack or die during the 7-year
Foods containing high levels of zinc include meat,
seafood, chicken, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, beans, and peas.
Avoid macular degeneration
Although age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is
the leading cause of blindness in people age 65 and over,
ophthalmologists have found the first stages begin earlier in life.
There are two types of AMD. Dry AMD is caused by a
breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the center of the retina. Wet AMD
is triggered by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the macula
that can leak blood and fluid and damage the macula.
To prevent AMD or keep it from progressing, studies
reported in the Archives of Ophthalmology suggest getting adequate
amounts of vitamin D and fish can help. In their studies, people who ate
more than two four-ounce servings of broiled fish per week, or one
four-ounce serving of baked or broiled fish, were more than 40 percent
less likely to develop advanced AMD. The same was true for those who had
high levels of vitamin D in their blood.
Weight loss maintained
Information published in the journal Obesity shows
that reducing the number of calories in a diet is more important than
exercising for maintaining weight loss. About 80 percent of those who
participated had maintained their weight loss at a two-year checkup by
sticking to a low-calorie (or low-energy density) diet, including those
who did not exercise at the recommended level. Doctors say exercise plus
diet is still the best advice.
Low-energy density foods include fruits, vegetables,
and whole grains.
More kids have low levels of vitamin D
A study of children in the northeastern U.S. shows
that 55 percent had low levels of vitamin D, rising to 68 percent during
About 90 percent of black children had low levels,
probably because of the sun-filtering effect of dark pigments in their
skin, according to Science News.
Vitamin D is needed by the immune system. A
deficiency can also cause poor absorption of bone minerals, which can
contribute to cancer, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and type 1
The study was made by the Nutrition and Growth
Laboratory of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Study subjects were from 6 to 21 years
Exposure to sunshine is the best way to boost vitamin
D levels in the blood, the researchers say. The best dietary source is
Though sunlight exposure wasn't measured in the
study, the doctors think that lower vitamin D levels in older children
are probably related to decreased outdoor activity.
Benefits of omega-3s found in fish oil
Sometimes it's difficult to believe that one substance can have many benefits. As
with statins, however, omega-3 fatty acids are one such substance.
Beginning with 1970 studies showing that Eskimos who
ate a lot of fish had low cardiac disease risk, omega-3s in fish oil
have been recommended for heart health.
New research shows omega-3s to be beneficial in many
more ways. Unfortunately, only a quarter of the U.S. population consumes
any omega-3 on any given day. Benefits include:
Heart: In addition to already-known heart benefits, a
study reported by Tufts University links fish consumption and omega-3s
to improved electrical function in heart cells. They protect against
abnormal heart rhythms.
Brain: The DHA in fish oil is the most prominent
fatty acid in the brain, especially in the cerebral cortex, which is
responsible for memory, language, and thinking. Dementia, Alzheimer's
disease: The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center reports their study
subjects with the highest DHA levels reduced their risk of dementia by
47 percent and of Alzheimer's by 39 percent.
Eyes: According to the Archives of Ophthalmology,
dietary omega-3 intake is associated with a 39 percent reduction in
age-related macular degeneration. Those who take fish oil supplements
for dry eye may be able to cease other medications.
Joints: It has been known for some time that omega-3s
can reduce joint tenderness and the need for corticosteroids in people
with rheumatoid arthritis.
A daily fish oil supplement could be helpful for the
heart, brain, joints, and eyes.
Weight-loss surgery may cure diabetes
New studies show that 76.8 percent of type 2 diabetes
patients have seen their disease disappear after they have bariatric
surgery. They go on to live without insulin or other medicines.
Additionally, 70 percent had abnormal cholesterol resolved and 85
percent were cured of sleep apnea, according to the American Medical
In the surgery, the size of the stomach is decreased,
and in some cases, the intestines are rerouted. As with all types of
surgery, it is not without risk.
Some doctors believe weight-loss surgery is a new
weapon against a disease that affects 20 million people in the U.S. and
250 million worldwide.
Laser liposuction is easier
In a new procedure, some surgeons are using laser
liposuction which is performed under local or oral sedation. The surgeon
makes a tiny incision, inserts a tiny laser probe, and aims it at fat.
In small areas, the liquefied fat cells are reabsorbed by the body. For
larger areas, fat is drawn out. There is virtually no pain or bruising.
The laser also encourages body sculpting. There is
immediate tightening as the body responds to the laser heating. It
encourages new collagen formation, say authorities at the Cosmetic
Surgery Foundation and Tufts University.
Depression and heart failure
Older patients with symptoms of depression are 50
percent more likely to die or be hospitalized for heart problems than
those who are not depressed.
Doctors at Duke
University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina say those
with depression should be treated for heart problems at the same time.
Over a three-year period, 26 percent with both conditions died and 48
percent were admitted to hospitals for heart problems.
Sleep habits have health effects
Doctors are worried. They say sleep disorders and
sleep deprivation are an unmet public health problem. One reason: Many
otherwise health-conscious Americans consider sleep to be an expendable
luxury. It's a serious error in judgment and planning.
New studies have discovered these facts about sleep deprivation.
An American Heart Association report concludes people who get five hours
of sleep per night are twice as likely to have high blood pressure than
those who get the recommended seven or eight hours.
Sleep apnea should be treated. People with severe cases have more than
twice the risk of ischemic stroke. Older people are more vulnerable than
A Northwestern University study found that
poor sleep and sleep debt were associated with poor glucose control
among subjects with type 2 diabetes. Poor sleep could even cause the
Quoted in the Archives of Internal
Medicine, researchers said not only does voluntary chronic partial sleep
deprivation increase the risk of diabetes, but continuing the pattern
makes it difficult to treat the condition.
sleep is associated with overweight. A study of 68,000 women showed that
those who slept just five hours per night gained 30-plus pounds during
the 16-year study. Sleep deprivation alters the hormones leptin and
ghrelin, both of which are involved in appetite control and metabolism.
If you slept poorly last night and today you want to eat all the time,
you are feeling the effects of leptin and ghrelin, researchers say.
Exercise guidelines updated
There's some good news for couch potatoes: Even a
little activity is better than none. Walk around during TV commercials
if nothing else.
Many people will not have the time or inclination to follow all of the
following recommendations, but doing a little on a regular basis will
improve general health and cardiovascular capabilities. Almost any
amount of exercise provides some benefits.
American College of Sports Medicine, along with the American Heart
Association, has updated physical-activity guidelines for the first time
in 12 years. They recommend:
Moderately intense cardio, like walking fast, for 30 minutes five days a week, or running for 20 minutes three times a week.
Eight to 10 different strength-training exercises like push-ups or stomach crunches (eight to 12 each) twice a week, or lifting weights.
People over age 65 should add stretching twice a week and consider balance exercises to reduce the risk of falling.
Antioxidants are known for their ability to reduce
risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and macular
degeneration. Antioxidants are found in vitamins C, E, carotene, lutein,
and other substances.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic
now report that taking antioxidant supplements gives far fewer benefits
than getting antioxidants from food. Foods are a better choice for good
reason. They contain an array of antioxidant substances while a
nutritional supplement contains only one form.
Scientists say vitamin A, for example, has several hundred forms of
antioxidants and it's not known which of them confer the greatest
benefits. Further, researchers think antioxidants in food may form
chemical networks that interact with our own particular genetic and
Many foods contain antioxidants:
Berries of all kinds.
Beans, including red, kidney, pinto, and black beans.
Fruits such as whole apples,
pears, plums, oranges.
Vegetables with high contentinclude spinach, whole potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and red cabbage.
Beverages such as tea, coffee, wine, and fruit juices.
Nuts such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and almonds.
Don't forget oats and dark chocolate. Both are high in antioxidants.
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