Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Mango for Dinner and Dessert


If you are also a fan of mango, this is the best time of year to enjoy them, writes Martha Rose Shulman in this week’s Recipes for Health:

Often called the “king of fruits” elsewhere in the world, the mango is not high in calories, and it is an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin A and potassium. Now is the time to get acquainted with them: although they’re in season from January to August, mangoes peak in May and June. A ripe mango gives a bit when pressed, and its fragrance should be heady and sweet, particularly at the stem end. But if you can find only hard, green mangoes, bring them home anyway – they will ripen at room temperature in a few days time. Put them in a paper bag with an apple to speed the process along.

To dice a mango, cut down the broad side of the fruit, slightly off center, from the stem end to the tip end. The knife should slide down against the flat side of the pit. Repeat on the other side, cutting as close to the pit as possible. Cut the flesh from the sides of the pit, following the curve of the pit.

Lay each half on your cutting surface and score with the tip of your knife in a crosshatch pattern, down to — but not through — the skin. Lift the mango half, and press on the skin with your thumbs to turn it inside out. Little cubes of mango will pop out on the other side, and you can easily cut them away from the skin.

If you want to peel the mango before cutting, slice off a small piece of the end, stand the mango upright and peel down the sides using a paring knife, between the skin and the flesh, as you would a pineapple.

Strawberries in a Mango Sea

A simple mango puree paired with strawberries makes a refreshing and healthful treat.

Pigeon Peas With Mango

Garam masala adds spiciness to this curry dish.

Shrimp and Mango Tacos

A sweet and pungent combination of mango, shrimp, chilies and cumin.

Mango, Orange and Ginger Smoothie

Ginger combines well with mango in this dish.

Red Coconut Rice Pudding With Mango

This dish is inspired by a classic Thai sweet made with sticky rice.

General Medicine/Family Medical

Heart Attacks in the Morning Are More Severe

Study Shows Heart Attacks in the Morning Are More Serious Than Those in Overnight Hours

April 27, 2011 — The most common time of day for heart attacks is the morning, and now new research suggests that morning heart attacks are also the most serious.

Heart attacks occurring between 6 a.m. and noon were associated with the most the damage in the study, reported Wednesday in the journal Heart.

Low Health Literacy May Have Deadly Consequences

by Jennifer Warner

Lack of Basic Health Information Raises Risk of Heart Failure Death, Study Finds

April 26, 2011 — Not knowing enough about basic health can be deadly for people with heart failure, a new study finds.

The study shows that nearly one in five people with heart failure have low health literacy, making them more than twice as likely to die as a result of their condition. According to the Institute of Medicine, health literacy is the degree to which a person can obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Drugs for Bone Loss May Also Help the Heart

by Brenda Goodman

Study Shows Patients Taking Combination of Didronel and Lipitor Have Fewer Heart Attacks

April 28, 2011 — An early report of a new study shows that the first-generation bisphosphonate, Didronel, in combination with the cholesterol drug Lipitor reduced abdominal aortic plaques by about 12% in people with high cholesterol, compared to 1% in people on Lipitor alone.

Death Rate Declines for Americans With Hypertension

By Cari Nierenberg

But Study Shows Smaller Decline in Death Rate for Women With High Blood Pressure

April 25, 2011 — There’s been a decline in the number of deaths among Americans with high blood pressure for heart-related reasons or any cause, but these rates are still higher than in people with normal blood pressure, a study shows.

Arthritis Patients More Likely to Be Obese

by Kathleen Doheny

Obesity 54% Higher in Those With Arthritis Than Those Without, Researchers Say

April 28, 2011 — Adults with arthritis are more likely than those without arthritis to be obese, according to a new government study.

”The frequency of obesity is 54% higher among people with arthritis compared to those without,” says Jennifer Hootman, PhD, an epidemiologist with the CDC.

Gastric Bypass May Improve Diabetes Quickly

by Salynn Boyles

Researchers Say Changes in Amino Acid Levels Explains Improvements in Bypass Patients

April 27, 2011 — Gastric bypass weight loss surgery often improves type 2 diabetes long before patients lose much weight. Now a new study from Duke University Medical Center and Columbia University may help explain why.

When researchers compared patients who had gastric bypass surgery to those who lost the same amount of weight by dieting, they found that the surgery patients had lower levels of amino acids that have been linked to insulin resistance.

Leprosy May Pass Between Armadillos and People

by Brenda Goodman

Study: Infected Armadillos, Patients Share the Same Bacterial Strain

April 27, 2011 — They may be built like tanks, but armadillos’ natural armor doesn’t protect them from leprosy.

Now a new study shows that some armadillos and people with leprosy in the southern United States are infected with the same bacterial strain. That suggests that the disease, which causes skin lesions and eventual nerve damage, can pass between species, although that circumstance appears to be rare.


Pediatricians Seek Stiffer Regulation of Chemicals

by Denise Mann

Pediatrician Group Says Current Legislation Does Not Adequately Protect Children, Pregnant Women

April 25, 2011 — The U.S. chemical management policy known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) does not adequately protect children and pregnant women from hazardous chemicals in the environment and needs to be overhauled, according to a new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Women’s Health

Study: Ovary Removal Doesn’t Raise Heart Risk

by Salynnn Boyles

But Findings Oppose Earlier Study Linking Ovary Removal During Hysterectomy With Heart Risk

April 25, 2011 — A new analysis of data from a major women’s health study finds little evidence that ovary removal during hysterectomy increases heart disease risk.

The findings appear to contradict those from another large study in women suggesting a higher risk for heart disease and stroke associated with the practice.

About 600,000 women in the U.S. have their uteruses surgically removed each year. About half of these procedures include removal of the ovaries.

Men’s Health

Being Tall, Obese May Boost Risk of Blood Clots

by Kathleen Doherny

Risk Highest for Men, but Researchers Don’t Know Why Height Plays a Role

April 28, 2011 — Being tall and obese boosts the risk of blood clots, especially in men, according to new research.

Obesity has long been linked with dangerous blood clots in the deep veins, usually in the legs, and with blood clots in the lungs, known as pulmonary embolisms. More recently, experts have found a link with height and cannot thoroughly explain it.

Pediatric Health

Many Kids With Epilepsy Don’t Take Their Medicine

by Salynn Boyles

Study Suggests Some Parents Forget to Give Antiseizure Drugs, but Others Choose Not To

April 26, 2011 — More than half of children with newly diagnosed epilepsy do not take their seizure medications as prescribed, a study shows.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

FDA OKs Meningitis Vaccine for Infants

by Bill Hendrick

Vaccine Known as Menactra Can Now Be Used Starting at Age 9 MonthsApril 26, 2011 — The FDA has approved the use of Menactra, a vaccine that prevents a life-threatening form of meningitis, in children as young as 9 months.

Menactra is already approved for use in people ages 2 through 55. It helps prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis.

Obese Teens Engage in Risky Behavior

Study: Smoking, Risky Sex More Common in the Heaviest High School Students

April 25, 2011 — Teens with extreme obesity may engage in risky behaviors at similar rates as those with a healthy weight, but sometimes in more dangerous ways, according to a new study.

The government-funded research looked at the risks for sex, alcohol, illegal drugs, or suicide attempts reported by more 9,000 high school students who took part in a nationwide survey.


Thyroid Drug Linked to Fracture Risk in Elderly

by Salynn Boyles

Study Raises Concerns About Levothyroxine DosingApril 28, 2011 — Older adults with underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, who take drugs to treat the problem may be at increased risk for fractures, new research suggests.

Thyroid hormone deficiency is common in the elderly, especially women. The drug levothyroxine, a synthetic form of the natural thyroid hormone, is widely prescribed.

New Guidelines: Treat High Blood Pressure in Over-80s

by Daniel J. DeNoon

High Blood Pressure Treatment Extends Life in the Very Elderly

April 25, 2011 – New guidelines stress more aggressive treatment of high blood pressure in very elderly patients.

It’s long been clear that people ages 65 to 79 benefit greatly from treatments that lower blood pressure. But now an expert panel convened by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) endorses treatment for patients over age 80.

Because blood-pressure-lowering drugs can have dangerous side effects in very elderly patients, doctors have been wary of aggressively treating high blood pressure in people over age 80.

The result: Only one in three men and only one in four women over age 80 have their blood pressure under control.


Wine, Salt, and Your Heart: Confusion Abounds

by Bill Hendrick

Survey Shows Many Americans Misunderstand the Effects of Wine and Salt on Heart Health

April 26, 2011 — Most Americans believe that drinking red wine is good for the heart but may not fully understand that failure to limit the amount they drink could lead to serious health problems, according to a new survey by the American Heart Association (AHA).

What’s more, most people also mistakenly believe that sea salt is a good low-sodium alternative to table salt, the survey shows.

The poll of 1,000 adults was conducted to help the AHA gauge American perceptions about wine and sodium consumption as those substances relate to heart health.

The AHA says drinking of any type of alcohol should be limited to no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women. That’s about 8 ounces of wine for men and 4 ounces for women.

Tai Chi Benefits Heart Patients

by Bill Hendrick

Tai Chi Exercise Improves Mood and Health of Heart Failure Patients, Study Finds

April 25, 2011 — Tai chi, often called “meditation in motion,” appears to improve the quality of life in people with heart failure, say researchers at Harvard Medical School.

The ancient Chinese exercise of tai chi features physical movements that are slow and gentle and require concentration.

Cayenne Pepper May Burn Calories, Curb Appetite

by Brenda Goodman

Study Suggests Pepper May Help Weight Loss When Combined With Other Weight Loss Efforts

April 27, 2010 — Red cayenne pepper may help burn calories and curb appetite, especially in people who aren’t used to eating it, says a new study that was partly supported by the National Institutes of Health and the McCormick Spice Company.

The study found that about half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper either mixed in food or swallowed in a capsule helped normal-weight young adults burn about 10 more calories over a four-hour period, compared to eating the same meal but without the red pepper.

New Clues to Low-Calorie Diets and Longer Life

By Denise Mann

Study Helps Explain Why Low-Calorie Diets May Increase Life Span

April 27, 2011 — Research has suggested that very low-calorie diets may increase life expectancy in animals, and now a new study in humans provides some important clues as to why this may occur.

In the new study, individuals who had higher metabolic rates — the amount of energy the body uses for normal body functions — were more likely to die early from natural causes than those who had lower metabolic rates.

The new findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism


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