The American Heart Association has launched a new Web site, www.badfatsbrothers.com, featuring characters called Sat and Trans. It's a way to learn about what foods you should avoid in your diet. Here's a quiz from the brothers to find out whether you need to visit their site.
Avoiding or at least cutting down on bakery and fried foods such as doughnuts and french fries will help you avoid saturated fats. True or false?
- Trans fats are worse for you than saturated fats. True or false?
Chicken with skin, if it's not fried, is low in saturated fat. True or false?
Saturated and trans fats are higher in calories than other types of fat. True or false?
Your body does not need dietary fat to be healthy. True or false?
If a label says trans fat-free, it is a healthy choice. True or false?
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are a better choice than saturated and trans fats. True or false?
Tub margarine is a better choice than stick margarine or butter. True or false?
Answers: 1. They are both bad. 2. True. 3. False. 4. False. Fats all have the same number of calories per serving. 5. False. 6. False. It might still be high in saturated fat. 7. True. 8. True.
-- American Heart Association
Go ahead and laugh ... it's really good for you
The idea of using laughter and humor for healing has been around since biblical times. Cultures from the ancient Greeks to American Indians have long recognized the power of humor to help us to heal. The healing power of laughter was reawakened during the 20th century, and research studies in mind-body medicine have confirmed that laughter produces positive changes in our bodies.
So what happens when we laugh? A good belly laugh seems to benefit multiple body systems. There have been a number of studies in the recent past looking at health outcomes with laughter therapy. They have shown the following:
Laughter increases natural killer cells that protect us from cancer and viral infections. One study showed that 30 minutes of watching funny videos produced positive immune changes that lasted for 12 hours!
Laughter seems to relax and dilate our blood vessels, protecting us from heart disease and lowering our blood pressure; one study at Loma Linda University School of Medicine showed that heart attack survivors who watched a funny video for 30 minutes every day significantly reduced their risk of recurrent heart disease. Another study showed that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared with similar folks without heart disease.
Laughter forces us to breathe more deeply and may help us to clear mucus from the respiratory tree; this can be beneficial for people with respiratory diseases, including asthma.
Laughter relaxes our muscles and reduces spasm; this may be one of the reasons why hearty laughter seems to reduce musculoskeletal pain.
Laughter also may boost endorphin production, which is our body's own natural pain-killer.
Laughter reduces our stress hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine; this in turn also protects our immune system, as chronic stress weakens our cells and makes us more vulnerable to infection.
Laughter helps us to maintain optimism and hope; this is enormously powerful in healing, and can also reduce the risk of anxiety and depression when we are facing illness or other challenges in our lives.
- Laughter increases the activity of the immune system, especially IgA, which helps us to fight respiratory infections.
What should you do if you want to become more mirthful? You certainly don't have to become a stand-up comic. In fact, people who learn to find and appreciate the humor all around them seem to benefit the most (that's right -- humor is a learned behavior -- you too can do this).
So go ahead and laugh -- you'll feel better. And who knows -- you may get healthier, too.
Note: If it's tough for you to find pleasure in normally pleasurable activities, especially if this persists for more than a month, then you may be dealing with depression, and you should talk to your doctor.
-- The Sacramento Bee