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Test Your Nutrition IQ

Study Shows that Aspirin Affects Sexes Differently

Did You Know?

Study Shows that More Milk not Key to Strong Bones

Test Your Nutrition IQ

Do fats, carbs, protein and alcohol all have the same number of calories per gram?

NO. Fat is the most 'expensive' calorically at nine calories per gram; next is alcohol at seven calories per gram. Carbohydrates and protein both have four calories per gram.

Total calories are nothing more than a combination of the fats, carbohydrates and protein in a particular food. So, if a food has 1 gram of fat (9 calories), 2 grams of carbohydrate (8 calories), and 1 gram of protein (4 calories), it should have about 21 total calories.

Is it true that whole milk has only about 3% fat?

YES. The fat percentage figures refer to how much of the milk's total weight comes from fat. Whole milk is about 88% water, 3.25% protein and 5.25% lactose (milk sugar), according to Christine Bruhn, Ph.D., a professor of Food Science at the University of California-Davis. It's about 3.25% fat on average, and therefore about 96.75% fat free.

However, that doesn't mean there aren't tremendous calorie differences among types of milk.

  • Whole milk (1 cup): 150 calories, 70 calories from fat.
  • Two-percent milk (1 cup): 120 to 130 calories, 45 calories from fat.
  • One percent (low-fat) milk (1 cup): 90 to 100 calories, 20 calories from fat.
  • Skim (non-fat) milk (1 cup): 80 calories, 0 calories from fat.

Which has more calories: unhealthy saturated fat or "heart-healthy" monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats?

All fats, gram for gram, have virtually the same number of calories. "Fat (whether it's saturated or not) has nine calories per gram," says Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., a nutrition professor at Tufts University. Nevertheless, saturated fat, from animal sources, has been linked to high cholesterol and should be limited in your diet, whereas unsaturated fats have heart-healthy properties (but still have nine calories per gram).

What is the most common nutrient deficiency in America?

According to Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., associate professor of medicine and pathology at the University of Vermont, iron deficiency is the most common. Those at highest risk include infants, teenage girls, pregnant women and the elderly.

Iron is an essential mineral necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, and myoglobin, which carries oxygen in muscle tissue. Animal foods (poultry, red meat and fish) seem to be the best for iron absorption. Plant sources include dried fruits, leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole-grain products.

Is there any benefit to washing meat and poultry?

NO. Believe it or not, 'washing poultry or meat with water does not effectively reduce the pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses,' says Mark Sobsey, Ph.D., a professor of public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 'In fact, washing these foods could actually increase your risk of getting sick, because it could easily spread germs on your hands and around the sink,' warns Sobsey. The best way to make sure your food is safe is to heat it to the proper temperature, making sure no red or pink color is visible.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, author of The Automatic Diet (Hudson Street Press, 2005) and founder of Integrated Wellness Solutions.

Study Shows that Aspirin Affects Sexes Differently

Aspirin is recommended now for both men and women at high risk of heart disease. Many doctors have assumed it also prevented heart problems in healthy women because of research showing it helped healthy men. A recent study indicates that it helps women avoid strokes, but benefits to the heart were not seen. The new study "raises issues about the dangers of generalization," said Dr. Paul Ridker of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, one of the researchers.

Nearly 40,000 female health professionals, 45 and older, were randomly assigned to take either fake pills or 100 milligrams of aspirin which is slightly more than the 81milligram "baby aspirin" pills commonly sold, every other day. After 10 years, aspirin users had a 17 % lower risk of stroke and a 24 % lower risk of strokes caused by blood clots, the majority of strokes, probably due to aspirin's well-known anti-clotting properties, researchers believe.

Women 65 and older got the most benefit: They were 30 % less likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot, and 34 % less likely to suffer a heart attack. The risk of hemorrhagic stroke, the kind caused by bleeding, was slightly higher in the aspirin group, as expected, because aspirin reduces the blood's tendency to clot. Aspirin's protection was greatest for non-smokers and former smokers, and didn't vary among women who did or did not use hormones after menopause. Unfortunately, the benefits came with a cost. Stomach or intestinal bleeding requiring a blood transfusion occurred in 127 women on aspirin and in 91 women taking dummy pills.

"The new study fills gaps in knowledge, because virtually all research in the past on this issue was done on men," said Harvard's Buring. "We finally have the evidence base needed for women to make rational decisions about the use of aspirin in preventing cardiovascular disease," she said. Reasons for the gender differences are unclear. Strokes usually occur from blood clots that form in neck arteries; heart attacks usually come from coronary artery clots. Aspirin may affect one or the other more in men than in women.

The dose of aspirin in this study also was lower than some previous men's studies. "It also may be due to a difference in biology between men and women that we simply don't understand. It could be that men and women respond differently to aspirin," Nabel said.

Studies in men have indicated that aspirin protects them against heart attacks. In 1989, for example, the Physicians' Health Study of healthy men from 40 to 84 found that those who took 325 milligrams of aspirin (the amount in a standard pill) every other day received a 44 % reduction in their risk of heart attack. Subsequent studies using smaller doses of aspirin showed a similar benefit in men.

People who already have suffered a heart attack or stroke are typically advised by their doctors to take a low dose of aspirin daily, because research has clearly established its benefit in preventing subsequent heart attacks. Aspirin is also recommended for people who are experienced symptoms of a heart attack. "If you're having a heart attack, it means you have a clot already," Buring said. "If you take an aspirin, it will keep another clot from forming."

"The results generally are good news, because women proportionately suffer more strokes, and men have more heart attacks; therefore aspirin cuts the risk of the top concern for each sex," the specialists said.

Did you know?

  • Researchers have come up with yet another reason to eat well. A new study suggests diets rich in fruits, vegetables and dairy foods can prevent the disabilities that often come with age. The study, which followed 9,404 middle-aged Americans for nine years, found that a healthy diet seemed particularly beneficial among African-American women, who are generally at greater risk of developing physical limitations as they age. The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


  • Strength training has cardiovascular benefits. Yes, regular strength training lowers your percentage of body fat and adds muscle tissue, both of which can help guard against heart disease. In fact, a study released last month reported that 104 adults aged 55 to 75 reduced their rate of metabolic syndrome by 41% after six months by adding 20 minutes of weightlifting to their aerobic routine. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes, including obesity. According to the researchers, losing weight around the abdomen and increasing muscle are central to lowering the rate.

Study shows that more milk is not the Key to Strong Bones

In a report published in the Journal of Pediatrics in March 2005, researchers indicate that children who drink more milk don't necessarily develop healthier bones. In a review of 37 studies examining the impact of calcium consumption on bone strength in children older than 7, researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington found 27 didn't support drinking more milk to boost calcium.

The government has gradually increased recommendations for daily calcium intake, largely from dairy products, to between 800 and 1,300 milligrams to promote healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. But the report said boosting consumption of milk or other dairy products wasn't necessarily the best way to provide the minimal calcium in-take of at least 400 milligrams per day.

Other ways to obtain the absorbable calcium found in one cup of cow's milk include a cup of fortified orange juice, a cup of cooked kale or turnip greens, two packages of instant oats, two-thirds cup of tofu, or 1-2/3 cups of broccoli, the report said.

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In Good Health.
Pamela Nathan

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