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4 Reasons to Eat Pistachio

Pistachios, like most nuts, are a healthy snack when eaten in moderation, and their fat content can help stave off hunger pangs. If you need more reasons to pick up a bag of pistachios, consider that pistachios:

  1. Can help reduce the risk of heart disease. They are rich in the amino acid arginine, phytosterols and unsaturated fat - all of which promote heart health.
  2. Are a good source of polyphenol antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress and inflammation.
  3. Can promote eye health. Pistachios have high levels of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  4. Provide fiber. One ounce of pistachios (about 47 nuts) has three grams of dietary fiber - more than a half cup of spinach and the same amount as an orange or apple.

I recommend avoiding nuts that are dyed red or white, and eating only the natural ones (the green hue of the actual nut is natural and comes from chlorophyll). To keep pistachios fresh and crunchy, store them in an airtight container to prevent them from drawing moisture from the air and becoming soggy. If you keep them in the refrigerator or freezer, you can store them for as long as a year.


Just Eat More Produce!

Whether you're in top physical shape or struggling with a health concern, anyone can reap the benefits of fresh produce. Vegetables and fruits are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, and both promote healthy digestion, can fill you up with few calories and little to no fat, and are among the healthiest snack options when on-the-go.

Dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables are especially good choices, as are berries and other low-glycemic fruits. Aim for 4-5 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit per day - go for a wide range of colors, choose fruit and vegetables that are fresh in season, and buy organic whenever possible.


A Note on Almonds

The benefits of almonds are plentiful. They contain monounsaturated fats that help reduce the risk of heart disease and promote healthy cholesterol levels; protein to provide sustained energy; calcium for strong and healthy bones; and magnesium, which plays a role in a healthy metabolism. Dr. Weil recommends keeping unsalted or low-salt almonds that are raw or dry roasted as a staple in your pantry. Toss some in a salad, or on cereal or yogurt. Chop finely and use in a marinade, or to coat tofu "burgers." Or simply enjoy them on their own!

Try a Pineapple Almond Shake for an invigorating treat.


Green Tea Beats the Blues

Seniors are less likely to be depressed if they sip four or more cups of green tea daily. In a study involving both men and women, all of whom were over 70, Japanese researchers found that those subjects who drank more than four cups of green tea were 44 percent less likely to report symptoms of depression than those who drank less than four cups daily. The effects of green tea held true even after the researchers factored in gender, social and economic status, diet, history of medical problems and antidepressant use. No such association with depression was found for black or oolong tea or coffee. More studies are needed to confirm that drinking green tea really does have an anti-depressant effect, but the investigators noted that the amino acid theanine found in green tea may play a role in the benefits they saw. The study was published in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Acupuncture for Eczema

New research from Germany suggests that acupuncture can ease the itchiness of an eczema outbreak and may also tamp down the severity of these itchy allergic reactions. In a small study that included only 30 patients, investigators at the Technical University of Munich found that acupuncture administered minutes after the patients were exposed to pollen or dust mites - allergens that can set off a skin reaction in susceptible patients - took some of the itch out of the flare-ups. And when they compared patients treated with "true" rather than "sham" acupuncture (in which needles are inserted at points that traditional Chinese medicine does not associate with itchy skin), they found that both had similar anti-itching effects but that only true acupuncture lead to a overall diminished skin reaction to the allergens. While acupuncture seemed to work well in the experimental setting devised by the research team, it may not do the trick in real world use of this therapy. More research is needed to confirm these findings and determine how acupuncture elicits its effects to help eczema patients. The study was published on Dec. 11, 2009 online in the journal Allergy.

More information on acupuncture.


Cancer Prevention Series at True Food Kitchen

Fox Restaurant Concepts' True Food Kitchen will host an upcoming lecture series on cancer prevention.  Led by the experts from the University of Arizona and The Arizona Cancer Center, each of the lectures in the six-part series will cost $25 and include appetizers and beverages.  The lectures run from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and will include time for questions and answers. Reservations are required by calling 480-751-2176 and space is limited.

"True Food Kitchen is not only known for its great food and service, but also as an educational resource for the community," said Sam Fox, founder and CEO of Fox Restaurant Concepts. "The cooking and wine classes we held last summer with Dr. Andrew Weil and our Executive Chef Michael Stebner were a huge hit. We think this lecture series is really important for the community and are proud to partner with the Arizona Cancer Center."

Specific lecture topics include:

February 23, 2010
Steven P. Stratton, PhD
Research Associate Professor of Medicine at The University of Arizona
Topic: "Prostate Cancer Prevention"

March 9, 2010
Scott J. Leischow, PhD

Associate Director for Biobehavioral and Social Sciences Research at the Arizona Cancer Center
Professor, Colleges of Medicine and Public Health at The University of Arizona
‘Topic: Putting the "Person' back into "Personalized" Medicine

March 23, 2010                 
Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD

Associate Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The University of Arizona
Topic:"Diet and Cancer Prevention"

April 6, 2010                      
Francisco A. Garcia , MD, MPH

Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Public Health
Director, Center of Excellence in Women's Health at The University of Arizona
Topic: "Cervical Cancer Prevention: What's New and What's True"

April 20, 2010
Amanda F. Baker, PharmD, PhD

Research Associate Professor of Medicine at The University of Arizona
Topic: "What Can Clinical Trials Do for You?"

May 4, 2010
David S. Alberts, MD

Regents Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology, Nutritional Sciences, and Public Health at The University of Arizona
Director, The  Arizona Cancer Center
Topic: "How You Can Prevent Skin Cancer"

True Food Kitchen is located in the Biltmore Fashion Park at 2502 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 135 and is open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Take-out and catering is available for diners on the go. Reservations are available for parties of six or more. True Food Kitchen is the official caterer for the Phoenix Suns and will soon open expansion locations in Arizona and California. For more information call 602-774-3488 or visit or


The Younger You Look, the Longer You'll Live

At least that's what Danish researchers concluded after testing 1,800 pairs of twins over the age of 70. The investigators performed physical and cognitive tests on the twins and also took their photos. Then three separate groups of people who didn't know the twins' year of birth looked at photos of the twins' faces and guessed their ages. The researchers tracked the twins for the next seven years and found that the ones who had looked younger than their actual age were much more likely to still be living, even after adjusting for such factors as gender and environment. The researchers also found that the bigger the difference in perceived age within any set of twins, the more likely it was that the older looking sibling died first. The only biological explanation advanced was that the individuals who looked younger also tended to have longer telomeres (repeating DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes) that are linked to aging. Individuals with shorter telomeres are thought to age faster - in this study, the more fresh-faced individuals had longer telomeres. The findings were published online on December 14 in the British medical journal BMJ.


Your Diet and the Risk of Alzheimer's

The amino acid methionine found in red meats, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds could increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia noted that our bodies transform high levels of methionine into another amino acid, homocysteine and that high levels of homocysteine are associated with a higher than normal risk of developing dementia. The investigators explored this connection in a study in which they fed seven-month old mice that had the mouse version of Alzheimer's a high methionine diet and while a similar group of mice ate their regular diet. After eight months, the mice on the normal diet had normal homocysteine levels but those on the high methionine diet had increased levels of homocysteine plus up to 40 percent more plaque in their brains (plaque is characteristic of Alzheimer's). The high homocysteine mice also were less able to learn new tasks. Methionine is an essential amino acid for humans so it isn't advisable to avoid foods that contain it. However, a diet high in red meat could put you at added risk because it is associated with high levels of circulating homocysteine.