Carvings April 15th, 2022

In the news

            Most of us in California are pretty familiar with avocados and we have some good news to share. A Harvard study showed that in two studies involving more than 100,000 people over 30 years, having two or more servings (one half of an avocado) on a weekly basis lowered the risk of coronary artery disease by more than 20 percent. Considering that in the first couple of decades of these studies avocados were not a particularly popular food item, it’s likely that even better results will be observed in the future.

            Another bit of good news is that avocados were at the top of the Environmental Working Group’s 2022 list of the Clean Fifteen – the fruits and vegetables that had the lowest levels of contamination with pesticides.

            (Caveat: the EWG is not without controversy and so is its list of the Dirty Dozen – the ones with the highest levels of pesticide residue. The EWG has been criticized for being alarmist, castigating levels of pesticides that are far below those deemed to be harmful, using data that are far out of date, and of doing sloppy research. A group of toxicologists has dismissed their findings. We will discuss these topics in detail in a future post.)

            Let’s get back to avocados. They are loaded with beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, fiber, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (i.e., the ones that do not contribute to heart disease but without which our health would suffer significantly).

            The studies showed that persons who savored avocados were less likely to eat much saturated fat, cheese and meat products. That of course would also lower their risk of heart disease.

            But let’s face it, avocados are an acquired taste – maybe not as bad as okra or tofu but not as appetizing as most other fruits and vegetables. The good news is that you can get your one-half-of-an-avocado serving in a sandwich or salad, where the sweetness adds a good deal to the overall flavor of the item.

            There are several varieties of avocados so don’t give up on them if your first taste leaves you unimpressed. It’s worth trying different varieties to gain some outstanding health benefits. And there’s even avocado ice cream! But it’s called frozen dessert☹

Lifestyle

            For the last couple of decades there have been scary stories about the link between cell phone usage and brain tumors. It’s probably time to stop worrying.

            In a study that involved nearly 800,000 women in the U.K. there was no apparent link between cell phone usage and any kind of brain tumor. Although this information is reassuring it will probably take a decade or more to really know if cell phones can lead to brain cancers. This is a moving target. When cell phones first came on the scene they were huge. Do you remember “the brick” – phones that were ten or twenty times as large as the ones we use now? New technology has resulted in lower radiation levels from  these phones; many of us use earbuds and no longer hold the device against our skull.

            Considering how many deaths occur because of driving while dialing, talking or texting, and the occasional phone-distracted pedestrian who walks into the path of a bus, it doesn’t make much sense to lose sleep over the risk of acquiring a brain tumor from a cell phone.

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