Archive for September, 2011

You may have seen the newest information on coffee on the news in the past week – that drinking coffee may actually cut the depression risk for women. I admit I received health email updates on it and even got a message from my favorite local coffee shop promoting the benefit. So I thought others might be like me and wondering if this was something that can be trusted, or just the latest quack thing, so here is what I found.

The research was done by Harvard University on over 50,000 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study, which is one of the largest health studies done on women in the United States. The results showed that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day showed a 15% lower risk of depression, and those who drank four cups per day had a 20% lower risk. Keep in mind that this study should be replicated before we truly advocate the coffee consumption and depression link, but if you are already a coffee drinker – this may be a positive piece.

Other studies have also shown a link between the consumption of coffee and other positives in our health such as:

  • A reduced risk for type 2 diabetes with drinking caffeinated coffee.
  • A lower risk of prostate cancer and the most deadly type of prostate cancer for men who drank higher amounts of coffee.
  • A reduced risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer among those who were regular coffee consumers.
  • A lower risk of Parkinson ’s disease with higher consumption of coffee.

So what are the possible negatives for coffee and your health? Most of the research I found was linked to caffeine and a negative health consequence, not precisely coffee consumption. There is research linking caffeine and gout attacks, as well as heart burn. And the obvious link between caffeine and insomnia. Remember that caffeine from a cup of joe can stay in your system for up to 6 hours, so you probably want to switch to decaffeinated or avoid it all together after about 5:00 PM. There is also a great deal of
research linking larger caffeine consumption and pregnancy issues – so discuss this with your health professional.

My conclusion after looking at the new research and coffee consumption was that it does have some positive effects and a couple cups, earlier in the day could provide some health benefits.


Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/

Web MD, http://www.webmd.com/

JNCI, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org

Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


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An apple a day keeps the doctor away?  Truth or Fiction?  Many recent studies are finding that there is some truth to that saying.

The phytonutrients, flavonoids and polyphenols in apples work together to help regulate your blood sugar.  The pectin in apples seems to help lower the body’s need for insulin.

Total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol are both decreased with consumption of apples.  It is important to eat the whole apple to gain the cardiovascular benefits. A recent study reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that a high intake of apples, pears and other white-fleshed fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of stroke by 52 percent.

Apples can provide satiety.  Researchers found that people eating whole apples reported less hunger than people eating applesauce or drinking apple juice.  When adults ate one medium-sized apple about 15 minutes before a meal they reduced the amount of calories they ate by 15%.

Apples consumption is linked with a decreased risk of asthma and lung cancer risk.  In some recent studies apples helped reduce the symptoms caused by asthma.  Preliminary results show that eating apples can be beneficial in preventing other cancers too.

Apples may help protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and actually help increase bone density.

Apples may reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slow cognitive decline seen in normal aging.

With so many varieties of apples you can choose sweet, tart or in-between.  The free fact sheet from Ohio State University Extension “Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Apples,” available at http://ohioline.osu.edu  can provide information on best choices for different recipes.  Store apples in the refrigerator (32 to35° F) in a perforated plastic bag and wash apples before eating or using in a recipe by rinsing in cool water.

A few ideas for serving apples:

  • Add chopped apple to your breakfast oatmeal.
  • Add sliced or chopped apples to your green or fruit salads.
  • Microwave an apple for a quick baked apple for dessert or snack.
  • Braise a chopped apple with red cabbage.
  • Serve sliced apples with peanut butter or cheese.

How do you serve apples?

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The days may still be warm, but a chill in the evening air reminds us that fall is just around the corner. And even though summer has ended, there’s still time to enjoy the bounty of your local farmers’ market. Stands are filled with sweet potatoes, squash, apples, turnips, beets, cabbages, and pears. Low-cost and filled with flavor, these super foods are packed with nutrients such as vitamins A and C, minerals, and fiber.

Most of us live within a few miles of a supermarket filled with products that meet our every need. So why shop at a farmers’ market when you can find everything you need at your local grocery store? The answer is simple: a farmers’ market is a delight to the senses and brings us closer to our food supply.

Fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets are in-season and are usually local or regionally grown; certified organic products may also be available. Produce at farmers’ markets have a refreshingly natural, unpolished appearance. Eggs, poultry, and value-added products—jams, jellies, baked goods, salsa—may also be available.

Shopping at farmers’ markets is also good for the environment. Food travels a shorter distance, decreasing the use of fossil fuels. Packaging is reduced, eliminating waste and extra costs. Farmers’ markets can also stimulate economic growth, attracting business to the community.

Preserving Your Harvest

To get full benefit from your bounty, be sure to follow these tips:

  • Eat fresh produce within a few days to maximize taste and  nutritional value.
  • Enjoy fruits and vegetables raw or gently cooked until just-tender.
  • Store salad items in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Keep fruits and vegetables whole, chopping them only when you are ready to eat them.
  • Store root vegetables such as turnips and potatoes in a cool, dark, dry place, away from sunlight.
  • Refrigerate fruits such as apples and pears if you don’t plan on using them within a few days.

Although you may be tempted to overbuy at the farmers market, buy only what you’ll be able to eat. Then visit again next week!

Sources: Agricultural Marketing Service; USDA. American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter, Issue 61. 

Submitted by Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County/Miami Valley EERA.

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Have you ever stopped to think about the number of times you have been asked to do something and you really don’t have the time?  For instance, when the president of the athletic boosters asks if you wouldn’t mind coordinating the car wash fund raiser or your colleague pleads with you to cover for them on a special project while they are out of the office for a couple of days.  It’s easy to say “Yes” even if what you’d really like to say is “No”.  What makes it even more challenging is when you are scheduled solid with work or family obligations and you continue to take on additional responsibilities.  Many of us have trouble saying “No”.

So, how do you say “No”?  The solution is to say “No” firmly, politely, and without resentment.  The trick is to keep it short.

Take time to think about it; never say “Yes” immediately.  If you’re not sure how to respond, say “I need to look at my other commitments and family obligations and I will get back with you later.”  This gives you an opportunity to review your schedule and give a response that you won’t regret.

Firmly say “No”.  Politely say “No” while thanking them for thinking of you.  Most won’t know how to respond, when you thank them for thinking of you.  Thus, they’ll accept “No” as your response.

Suggest an alternative.  A friend invites you to go shopping at the mall.  Be honest – “I’d love to go to the mall shopping, but the truth is, we are doing some household remodeling projects and I am on a very tight budget.  Can we get together for a walk in the park instead?”

Set limits: Consciously and deliberately preserve time to connect with what matters most to you.  Preserve important connections.  Unless you consciously and deliberately preserve time for, say family dinner, or lunch with a friend, or Sunday dinner at Grandmas, or golf or free time with your spouse, your connection with whatever it is will erode.  You can be so busy that you don’t even take the time to decide what actually does matter most to you, let alone make the time to do it.  One way to put this into perspective is to calculate the number of Saturdays you have left in life.  Based on the life expectancy for your gender (74 for men and 79 for women), take that number, subtract your current age, and multiply by 52.  The end result is the number of Saturdays you have left in life (assuming you live to projected life expectancies).  How do you want to spend your remaining Saturdays? The more time you give away, the less you have for what matters most
to you.

Remember that yes rhymes with stress. If you agree to a task and then can’t follow through, it’s far worse for everyone than if you had just said no from the start.  It’s far harder to change a yes to a no than it is to change a no to a yes.

The bottom line is . . .  “Don’t write a check that your body can’t cash.”                – Flip Wilson as Geraldine

Author: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences,         Ohio State University Extension.



Hallowell, M.D., E. (2006).  Crazy Busy, Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!  Strategies for coping in a world gone ADD. New York, New York: Ballantine Books.

Borysenko, J. (2001). Inner Peace for Busy People: 52 Strategies for transforming your life.  Carlsbad, California: Hayhouse

Bottom Line/Women’s Health interview from Joy Browne, PhD, a clinical psychologist inNew York City.



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The end of the gardening season brings a variety of healthy foods for your family.  Are you still harvesting corn, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, squash and onions?  What else do you have still growing?  There are many vegetables which are available well into the fall season.

Garden vegetables are naturally high in fiber, low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals which help you feel healthy and energized.

Healthy ways to cook vegetables:

  • Bake a potato for lunch, top with broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Boil turnips and potatoes.  Mash them together and season with salt and pepper.
  • Steam cabbage and season with caraway seed, salt and pepper.
  • Stir Fry zucchinni, yellow squash, tomatoes, and onions with olive oil and fresh herbs.
  • Saute a variety of different colored peppers and serve as a side dish.
  • Roast winter vegetables such as parsnips, turnips, rutagaga, beets, and sweet potato at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Coat lightly with olive oil and fresh herbs and spread in a even layer in a baking sheet.
  • Wrap corn on the cob in aluminum foil and Grill until tender.

Source:  Produce for Better Health Foundation, www.fruitandveggiesmorematters.org

Author:  Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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Fruits and vegetable juices are not usually considered high risk products. Yet juices might be considered high risk if they are raw and not pasteurized. Contamination from bacteria on the outside of the fruit can get into the finished product and grow in the juice.

The most common bacteria is E.coli which can be resilient in acid conditions and survives for long periods of time.  Pasteurization is the best method to ensure safe fruit juices and is a process to destroy any bacteria, yeast and mold spores that may be present in raw juices.  Approximately, 98% of the juices sold in the United States are pasteurized. However, unpasteurized juices are available at some specialty markets and have lead to foodborne illness outbreaks.  Several years ago an outbreak of Salmonella infection was linked to inadequate treated orange juice labeled as fresh squeezed.

As a consumer, know what you are purchasing. Look for pasteurization on the container of fruit juice which will indicate  high temperature has been used to destroy pathogens.  Juices in different forms have been treated to be safe to consume. The production of frozen juice concentrates includes a heat treatment equivalent to pasteurization.  “Treated juices” also have been processed to achieve a reduction in bacteria or might use UV irradiation or Ultra high Temperature (UHT) process. UHT treated juices are often packaged in airtight containers such as non-refrigerated boxes, bottles and cans to make them shelf stable.  Read the container of juices packaged outside of the United States to make certain they are  pasteurized.  Price may be not be an indication of quality and safety of products.

Unpasteurized apple cider or other fruit juices have been known to cause food borne illness due to harmful bacteria. Untreated juices are commonly sold refrigerated in specialty stores of farmer’s markets. Food and Drug Administration mandates a warning label stating that juice is not pasteurized and may contain illness causing bacteria.

Children, elderly persons and others with compromised immune persons are most susceptible to food borne illness. As a consumer read the juice containers and know what you are consuming.   Caution before consuming juices can help to avoid any food borne illness problems.

Author: Doris Herringshaw, Ed. D, retired Ohio State University Extension Educator.

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baby laughing.

Could laughing more help prevent heart attacks?  Could this no cost, no side effect action really be part of the preventative action needed to keep one free from heart disease?

A team from the University of Maryland Center for Preventive Cardiology has started to document some proof of this very thing. In fact, this study which is the first to show a connection between an active sense of humor and laughter and heart disease found that people with heart disease were 40% less likely to laugh compared to others of the same age that did not have heart disease.

The key professor of medicine involved in this study, Dr. Michael Miller. M.D. explained the connection of mental stress with problems in the protective barrier lining that lines the blood vessels. An inflammatory reaction leads to fat and cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries. This is what leads to heart attacks.

This study looked at 300 people, one half with heart disease and the other half without heart disease. Questionnaires that looked at how often people laughed in certain situations as well as anger and hostility indexes were used. The study showed that those with heart disease didn’t laugh at everyday situations as often and often displayed more anger.  Miller concluded that with heart disease being the number one killer of citizens, the ability to laugh may be one of the most important ways to decrease the disease.

Maybe someday the prescription for a healthy heart will include eating right, exercising and a good daily dose of laughter!


Source: http://www.umm.edu/features/layghter.htm.

Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator, Ohio State University.

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