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  1. All, It looks like an apple a day helps keep the grim reaper away, at least in elderly women according to this new study [1] shared by Al Pater (thanks Al!). Researchers followed 1500 Australian women for 15 years, assessing their intake of various fruits every few years. Over the years their reported intake of apples and other fruits remained quite stable. The authors focused on the four fruits that made up the bulk (75%) of total fruit consumption - apples (20%), pears (11%), citrus fruit (23%), & bananas (21%). They found that women who ate more than 100g of apple per day (for reference, an average medium apple weighs 182g) had a 35% lower risk of all-cause mortality during the follow-up period, even after adjusting for a bunch of potential confounders, including age, BMI, smoking status, socio-economic status, diabetes, CVD, cancer, use of antihypertensive medication, use of cholesterol-lowering medication, use of low-dose aspirin, physical activity, energy intake and alcohol intake. Here are a couple interesting figures from the full text (available from Al). First, a needle plot of morality for the different fruits and causes of death: As you can see, pears and especially citrus weren't all that great for mortality. But apples, bananas and total fruit were all beneficial. Interestingly, bananas were the best of all these fruit for cardiovascular mortality, perhaps because of the important role potassium plays in CVD risk [2]. The one reservation/caveat I can see is that higher apple intake is associated with lots of other markers for an overall healthy diet, as you can see from this figure: Women who ate a lot of apples also ate (not surprisingly) a lot more fiber, flavonoids, total fruit etc. Although the authors didn't report on it, I suspect they also probably ate more vegetables, less trans and saturated fat, etc. So while apples are certainly healthy, they may also be an indicator of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle, and therefore not the (entire) cause of reduced mortality in these women. --Dean -------------- [1] Apple intake is inversely associated with all-cause and disease-specific mortality in elderly women. Hodgson JM, Prince RL, Woodman RJ, Bondonno CP, Ivey KL, Bondonno N, Rimm EB, Ward NC, Croft KD, Lewis JR. Br J Nutr. 2016 Mar;115(5):860-7. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515005231. Epub 2016 Jan 20. Abstract Higher fruit intake is associated with lower risk of all-cause and disease-specific mortality. However, data on individual fruits are limited, and the generalisability of these findings to the elderly remains uncertain. The objective of this study was to examine the association of apple intake with all-cause and disease-specific mortality over 15 years in a cohort of women aged over 70 years. Secondary analyses explored relationships of other fruits with mortality outcomes. Usual fruit intake was assessed in 1456 women using a FFQ. Incidence of all-cause and disease-specific mortality over 15 years was determined through the Western Australian Hospital Morbidity Data system. Cox regression was used to determine the hazard ratios (HR) for mortality. During 15 years of follow-up, 607 (41·7 %) women died from any cause. In the multivariable-adjusted analysis, the HR for all-cause mortality was 0·89 (95 % CI 0·81, 0·97) per sd (53 g/d) increase in apple intake, HR 0·80 (95 % CI 0·65, 0·98) for consumption of 5-100 g/d and HR 0·65 (95 % CI 0·48, 0·89) for consumption of >100 g/d (an apple a day), compared with apple intake of <5 g/d (P for trend=0·03). Our analysis also found that higher apple intake was associated with lower risk for cancer mortality, and that higher total fruit and banana intakes were associated lower risk of CVD mortality (P<0·05). Our results support the view that regular apple consumption may contribute to lower risk of mortality. Key words Apples; Fruits; All-cause mortality; Disease-specific mortality; CVD; Cancer PMID: 26787402 -------------- [2] J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2002 May-Jun;4(3):198-206. Importance of potassium in cardiovascular disease. Sica DA(1), Struthers AD, Cushman WC, Wood M, Banas JS Jr, Epstein M. Author information: (1)Section of Clinical Pharmacology and Hypertension, Division of Nephrology, Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA. dsica@hsc.vcu.edu The pivotal role of potassium (K+) in cardiovascular disease and the importance of preserving potassium balance have become clinical hot points, particularly as relates to new and emerging cardioprotective and renoprotective therapies that promote potassium retention. Although clinicians may be aware of the critical nature of this relationship, quite frequently there is some uncertainty as to the best way to monitor potassium levels in the face of a host of pathologic states and/or accompanying drug therapies that affect serum levels and/or total body potassium balance. Moreover, guidelines for monitoring of serum potassium levels are at best tentative and oftentimes are translated according to the level of concern of the respective physician. To address these uncertainties, an expert group was convened that included representatives from multiple disciplines. They attempted to reach consensus on the importance of K+ in hypertension, stroke, and arrhythmias as well as practical issues on maintaining K+ balance and avoiding K+ depletion. Because of the complexity of this topic, issues of hyperkalemia will be addressed in a forthcoming manuscript. Copyright 2002 Le Jacq Communications, Inc. PMID: 12045369
  2. All, Avocados are one of the most popular sources of healthy monounsaturated fat among CRers. But they can be a expensive, especially to buy them fully ripe, and to make sure they are ripe (and not overripe/rotten) when you want to eat one. It isn't quite this bad, but its close: I eat 1/2 an avocado every day, and to make sure I have a steady supply I've developed a system I figured I'd share with people. Plus, my favorite grocery store, Aldi's, has avocados on sale this week for $0.49 each - which is an amazing bargain, so you might want to run right out and stock up. This compares to my local "full service" grocery store (Giant Eagle), where avocados are on "Special Sale!!" this week at $1.50 each (down from the usual price of $1.99)... The downside of Aldi's avocados (besides being a bit on the small side) is that they sell them rock hard. Many people avoid them because of that, not having the patience to wait for them to ripen (same with Aldi's bananas, which are always quite green, but a lot cheaper than other stores). But I consider underripeness in avocados (and bananas) to be an advantage, since it allows me to control and carefully time their ripening. Here is a photo of the stash of 14 avos I picked up this week at Aldi's, along with the nice ripe half I'll be eating tomorrow (I ate its twin this morning already ). The way I manage to always have a fresh ripe avocado half ready every morning is to store the bunch I've bought in the fridge at 34degF. At that temperature, they seem to stay rock hard virtually indefinitely. The trick is to have a ripening pipeline, and to always remember to take out of the fridge when you consume one (or in my case, the second half of one). In my 62degF basement kitchen, it takes about 5-6 days for an avocado to go from rock hard to silky smooth and creamy. Since I eat half an avocado per day, I keep 2-3 of them out of the fridge ripening at all times. Works like a charm for me. Depending on your fridge and kitchen temperature, and your level of preferred ripeness, you might need to adjust the length of the pipeline, by adding or subtracting an avocado. I consider an avocado ripe when it gives a bit to a gentle squeeze. Inside the flesh should be a uniform yellowish-green color, like in the photo above (and video below). If for some reason you've got a ripe one you don't want to eat yet, you can put it back in the fridge and buy yourself a couple extra days before it starts to turn brown inside. At the bottom is a 10sec video of how to remove the pit from an avocado. I then scoop out the flesh with a big spoon. I store the other half of a ripe avocado, which I'll eat the following day, in the fridge, after wrapping it in plastic wrap to keep it from oxidizing. My favorite way to eat avocado is as a replacement for butter on the 1/3rd ear of corn on the cob I eat daily (from my summer CSA, frozen and vacuum sealed), sprinkled with turmeric & curry spice rather than salt. Here is an article with other tips on avocados, although I didn't find much that was very helpful beyond what I've said above. I employ this pipeline approach to ripening other fruit and to growing sprouts as well. Here is a current photo of my fruit ripening table: You can see the two avocados (lower left) between a big papaya (far left bottom), and nine persimmons, one of my favorite fruits, but which are very slow to ripen and which I picked up (along with 15 more stored in the fridge) during my monthly shopping trip to the Asian market. At the top you can see my banana ripening pipeline as well. The very green ones on the right are from Aldis, where they were $0.29/lb last week (another amazing bargain). They are already quite a bit more yellow now than when I bought them, if you can believe it. I eat 3 bananas a day, so these will last me about 11-12 days. I'll shop again at Aldis in about six days and pick up another week's worth of very green ones to add to the back of the pipeline. In the meantime, the green ones you see here will have ripened - so I'll always have perfectly ripe bananas like those on the left - with brown spots. It just takes a little planning and organization. One final thing. Someone asked me about my veggie prep and storage method on another thread. Since I chopped a week's worth of 'chunky' veggies this morning, I figured I'd snap a photo of them in the Anchor Hocking 2-gal glass jar I store them in, separated by layers of paper towels to absorb moisture: I've taken off the glass top, and the top layer of paper towels, so you can see all the veggie goodness. Buried in the very small print of this CRON-O-Meter screen capture (on in this older and somewhat out of date, but easier to read webpage) is the list of ~35 'chunky' vegetables mixed up in the jar (basically one of everything in the produce isle ), which I'll eat over the course of the coming week. Not shown is the mix of 'leafy' veggies (incl. kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, & pre-washed 'spring mix' baby greens) that I will also add to my big daily salad. Using this pipeline strategy and weekly mega-chopping of veggies, I can eat the same thing every day, minimize prep time, never waste any food (something I'm loath to do), and only have to leave the house (actually the neighborhood - since I run/walk outside) once per week, to grocery shop. Yes, I'm pretty much a hermit... Anybody else have tips on buying, processing, or eating avocados, bananas or other fruit/veggies they'd care to share? --Dean
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