Natural Wonders: Avocado

Avocado and its nutrients:


Avocados are getting popular as your neighborhood fruits vendor too has begun to stock them. This creamy, delicious fruit contain many essential nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, fiber,vitamin EB-vitamins. In addition this fruit is known as a nutrient-booster as it aids better nutrient absorption.


Health benefits of avocados:


Protection against oral cancer: Research suggests that certain compounds in avocados manage to seek out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them, without causing any harm to healthy cells.


Keeps breast cancer away: Avocado also helps prevent breast cancer. Like olive oil, this fruit is high in oleic acid, which according to many studies is known to prevent breast cancer.


Protects against prostate cancer: Avocado also inhibits the growth of prostate cancer.

For a healthy heart:
 Studies show that people who eat foods rich in folate have lesser chances of developing health diseases. A cup of avocado meet b23% of the recommended value of folate, so make it a part of your daily diet to keep heart diseases at bay. Additionally, avocado contains good amounts of vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione, which are good for you heart.


Prevents stroke: This fruit contents high amounts of folic acid, which as per various studies is known to help prevent strokes.


Lowers cholesterol: This fruit is high in a compound called beta-sitosterol, which studies say can lower cholesterol. Another compound, oleic acid is also known to help in lowering cholesterol.


Nutrient-booster: Avocados help greatly enhance your body’s ability to absorb the health-promoting carotenoids (organic pigments like lycopene and beta carotene) from vegetables. So add some slices of this yummy fruit to your salad and reap its benefits.


Source of vitamin E and antioxidants: Avocados are rich in vitamin E and an antioxidant called glutathione, both these help protect the body against damage from free radicals.


For healthy eyesAvocados have more of the carotenoid lutein in comparison to any other popular fruit. This compound is known to protect eyes from muscular degeneration and cataracts, both age-related eye diseases.

L.A.’s richest man ups the ante for city, cancer fight

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – As owner of 5 percent of the Los Angeles Lakers, Patrick Soon-Shiong could walk into the locker room of the storied basketball franchise any time for a chat with stars like Kobe Bryant. But the richest man in Los Angeles chooses to sit with the rest of his team’s fans.

Smoked salmon blamed for salmonella outbreak

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Smoked salmon tainted with salmonella has sickened hundreds of people in the Netherlands, authorities said, sparking major recalls there and in the U.S.


U.S. health authorities say they are also investigating whether the salmon could be at the root of a multi-state outbreak of the illness.


The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said the salmon was traced to a Dutch company called Foppen, which sells fish to many major supermarkets in the Netherlands and stores around the world.


In the U.S. Foppen said it only supplied the fish to CostCo Wholesale Corp. It did not believe the contaminated fish was sold to any other countries.


The Dutch public health institute said that around 200 people — and likely more — have been sickened in the Netherlands by a strain of the bacteria called Salmonella Thompson.


A representative for the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, Lola Russell, says the federal agency has 85 recorded cases of the same strain from 27 states starting from July 1. Without an outbreak, she said the average number of such cases over that time would be about 30.


“We’ve investigating a possible link between the cases in the U.S. and cases in the Netherlands,” Russell said.


That process entails state public health officials interviewing patients to find out what they may have eaten before they got sick, including the smoked salmon.


Russell said 10 people have been hospitalized, with no deaths.


Craig Wilson, vice president of food safety at Costco, said the company immediately pulled the smoked salmon from shelves after receiving a call from Foppen late Monday. CostCo also blocked sale of the salmon in stores, meaning the products won’t scan at registers.


The smoked salmon was sold under the Foppen name, as well as under Costco’s store-brand name, Kirkland. Wilson did not know how much of the product was sold.


Customers who purchased the items will be called by CostCo to notify them of the recall, Wilson said. The calls will be followed up with a letter.


Wilson said Costco’s independent testing of the smoked salmon hasn’t yet turned up any positive results for salmonella. He said the company has not received any reports of illnesses.


In the Netherlands Foppen estimated the number of infections could rise.


Since the company set up a public information phone line two days ago, de Vries said about 1,400 people had called and around 350 of the callers “reported symptoms consistent with a salmonella infection.”


Those infected by the salmonella bacteria can suffer symptoms including fever, vomiting and diarrhea.


Foppen, which processes fish in the Netherlands and at a factory in Greece, is investigating the cause of the outbreak.


“The investigation into the cause is under way and has been narrowed down to one production line at one factory (in Greece),” De Vries said. “We can’t yet say what the cause of the infection was.”


Foppen has halted all production of smoked salmon until the investigation is completed, he added.



Analysis: Romney would send consumers healthcare bill, with benefits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has a prescription for controlling soaring costs within the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system, partly by making consumers pay more of their own medical bills.


Romney’s vow to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul has played prominently in the campaign, even as Romney has offered few details about his alternative.


But as he prepares to face Obama in their first presidential debate on Wednesday, Romney is giving a few hints. The former Massachusetts governor’s advisers say he would accelerate the use of high-deductible insurance plans that offer lower premiums but require beneficiaries to pay thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses than they would face under conventional coverage.


Romney’s overriding aim is to create a much bigger retail market in healthcare, with transparency on pricing and services, more flexible insurance pools and interstate insurance markets.


That would allow consumers to choose up front what products and services to buy and from whom, according to the Romney campaign. But consumers would cover most routine medical expenses themselves, including annual check-ups, with assistance from health savings accounts and new tax breaks intended to align the private markets for group and individual insurance that cover more than 160 million people.


“The result,” Romney wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, “will be patients who can confidently choose the coverage that is right for them, who know and care what healthcare costs.”


The Romney campaign says its series of changes differ dramatically from Obama’s 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires most Americans to buy health coverage and seeks to make it easier to do that by creating state-based insurance exchanges. Medicaid, the national program for the poor, would be expanded to accommodate those with low incomes.


Romney’s approach is a political departure for him.


In Massachusetts, he oversaw the passage of comprehensive state healthcare changes that later became the model for “Obamacare,” the president’s federal program.


Romney’s role in creating the Massachusetts plan made many conservatives wary of him, and in seeking the Republican nomination for president Romney made a point of rejecting Obama’s plan as an illegal overreach by the federal government.


Since winning the Republican nomination, however, Romney has said he would support some Obamacare provisions. More recently, Romney has been criticized for describing emergency rooms as a way to cover the uninsured – the type of expensive treatment that programs such as Obamacare and his Massachusetts plan seek to avoid.




Romney’s new incentive-based strategy also could hold pitfalls for consumers.


Analysts say the use of heath savings accounts favors the affluent, while statistics indicate that high-deductible plans can mean big out-of-pocket costs for people with lower wages and little disposable income.


“It remains a very significant tax shelter, and with all tax shelters, it means a lot to people in high (income) brackets,” said Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution.


But Romney advisers say the approach strikes at two major contributors to spiraling medical prices: a federal tax exclusion on employer-sponsored health plans and conventional benefit packages that insulate consumers from the true cost of healthcare through co-payments and limited deductibles.


The idea would be to provide new tax breaks for consumers who now have employer-sponsored plans, which are exempt from federal income tax. But it’s unclear whether those breaks would equal the value of the current tax benefits.


Conservative analysts say plans with high deductibles make consumers more responsible because they eliminate co-payments and require the patient to see more of the bill.


“Healthcare is the only service in the United States that you buy and use without knowing what the price is,” said Dr. Scott Atlas, a Romney adviser with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. “If you’re paying out of a health savings account, you actually see the bill. It really does reduce prices.”


But Obama supporters and some independent analysts say the Romney strategy could backfire, leaving consumers with higher costs and tax assistance that favors the more affluent.


“What he’s really talking about is shifting more and more of the cost onto the individual,” said Christen Linke Young, Obama campaign associate policy director. “That’s what he means when he says ‘patient centered.’ It’s really troubling.”




Critics also say the patient-centered approach would do little to help the chronically ill, whose needs account for the lion’s share of annual medical costs but who often are unable to change providers or forego expenses.


The Romney campaign said people with high medical expenses would still be able to rely on more conventional plans with co-payments and limited deductibles, adding that high-deductible plans can provide catastrophic coverage.


Growing numbers of U.S. employers have embraced high-deductible plans in recent years to try to guard against rising costs that outpace growth in the economy, inflation and wages.


About 19 percent of Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage now are enrolled in high-deductible plans, up from 4 percent in 2006, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies healthcare trends.


Deductibles average about $2,200 for individuals and $4,000 for families, while premium savings for beneficiaries average $350 for an individual and $1,000 for a family, according to Kaiser. Annual out-of-pocket liabilities are capped at about $6,000 for single coverage and $12,000 for family coverage.


To help consumers, Romney would enhance the attractiveness of health savings accounts, tax-deferred instruments funded by employer and individual contributions. Options include higher contribution limits and a wider range of covered costs.


The Romney camp believes those kinds of changes could shift the $800 billion private health insurance market toward high-deductible plans that health savings accounts support.


Employer contributions to health savings accounts now average $600 for individuals and $1,000 for families, according to Kaiser.


“When you make them easier for people to access, that number gets bigger and bigger. And as that number gets bigger and bigger, the market shifts dramatically,” said a Romney campaign official, referring to the higher-deductible plans. “We’re on our way. The idea is to continue that trend.”


A Romney administration also would usher in new tax benefits to help consumers meet their medical bills, possibly including deductions for health expenses and tax credits for those who would not benefit from deductions because they pay little or no income taxes.


Those new tax breaks could replace some or all of the current tax code exclusion that exempts employer-sponsored healthcare benefits from federal income taxes. The tax exclusion costs the U.S. Treasury about $100 billion to $200 billion a year in lost revenue.


“The current tax treatment of health insurance is the engine that fuels our health inflation costs. There are myriad ways of solving that. But until we solve it, we do not have health reform,” the Romney campaign official said.


(Editing by Michele Gershberg, David Lindsey and Lisa Shumaker)

Smokers may have more sleep problems



NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Smokers may get fewer hours of sleep and have a less restful slumber than non-smokers, a new study suggests.

German researchers found that of nearly 1,100 smokers they surveyed, 17 percent got less than six hours of sleep each night and 28 percent reported “disturbed” sleep quality.

That compared with rates of seven percent and 19 percent, respectively, among more than 1,200 non-smokers.

The findings cannot prove that smoking directly impairs sleep. Smokers may have other habits that could affect their shut-eye – such as staying up late to watch TV or getting little exercise, said lead researcher Dr. Stefan Cohrs, of Charite Berlin medical school in Germany.

But there is also reason to believe smoking is to blame – namely, the stimulating effects of nicotine, Cohrs told Reuters Health in an email.

There have also been studies showing that smokers’ sleep improves after they quit the habit, according to Cohrs.

“If you smoke and you do suffer from sleep problems, it is another good reason to quit smoking,” Cohrs said.

Poor sleep quality may not only make your waking hours tougher: Some studies have also linked habitually poor sleep to health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

The new study, which appears in the journal Addiction Biology, included 1,071 smokers and 1,243 non-smokers who were free of mental health disorders – since those conditions may make a person both more likely to smoke and more vulnerable to sleep problems.

The researchers used a standard questionnaire that gauges sleep quality. Overall, more than one-quarter of smokers had a score that landed them in the category of “disturbed” sleep.

That means they had a “high probability” of having insomnia, according to Cohrs.

Many things can affect sleep quality. Cohrs’ team was able to account for some of those factors, like age, weight and alcohol abuse. And smoking was still linked to poorer sleep quality.

It’s still possible there are other things about smokers that impair their sleep. But Cohrs thinks the most likely culprit is nicotine.

Of course, there are already plenty of established reasons to kick the smoking habit. But the prospect of better sleep could offer people more motivation, Cohrs noted.







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