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Be Heart Smart! Eat Foods Lower in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Food plays a big part in the lives of most African Americans. Good food and celebrations go hand in hand. Yet,the traditional ways of frying foods and using fats for seasoning can increase your risk for clogged arteries and heart disease. Choose foods lower in saturated fat and cholesterol to reduce your risk. Hold on to tradition,but make a few changes to eat in a heart-healthy way.

Fat in your food

The two main types of fat found in food are saturated and unsaturated. Most foods have a mix of both. Together,the two are called total fat.

Why should you be concerned about saturated fat?
Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol the most. Over time,this extra cholesterol can clog your arteries. You are then at risk for having a heart attack or stroke.

Where is saturated fat found?
Saturated fat is found mostly in foods that come from animals. These include:* fatty cuts of meat

* beef
* lamb
* pork
* poultry with skin
* whole and 2% milk
* butter
* cheese
* lard

A high content of saturated fat can be found in some foods that come from plants such as:

* palm kernel oil
* palm oil
* coconut oil
* cocoa butter

Why should you be concerned about cholesterol?
Your body makes all the cholesterol you need. Eating foods high in saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol levels. The higher your blood cholesterol,the greater your risk for heart disease. Too much cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries. You are then at risk for having a heart attack,a stroke,or poor circulation.

Where is cholesterol found?
Cholesterol is found only in foods that come from animals. Foods very high in cholesterol include:

* Egg yolks
* Organs (Liver, kidney, and brains are especially high in cholesterol.)

There is no cholesterol in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains.

Limit your cholesterol
If you are healthy, you should average no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. People who have high blood cholesterol or a heart problem may have to eat less. The yolk of one large egg provides about 214 milligrams of cholesterol. Aim for no more than four egg yolks each week. This includes egg yolks in baked goods and processed foods. Egg whites contain no cholesterol.

Traditional favorite cuts of meats
Choose MORE often:

Pork: Ears, Neckbone, Feet, Ham hocks
Beef: Tripe Opossum

Choose LESS often:

Pork: Brains (low in fat but high in cholesterol), Hogmaws, Tongue, Tail
Vienna sausage, Ribs, Chitterlings
Beef: Oxtail

Cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol

Try some of these new ways of cooking and shopping.New ways for favorite recipes:

* For biscuits--Use vegetable oil instead of lard or butter and skim milk or 1 percent buttermilk instead of regular milk.

* For macaroni and cheese--Use low-fat cheese and 1 percent or skim milk.

* For greens--Use skin-free smoked turkey, liquid smoke, fat-free bacon bits, or low-fat bacon instead of fatty meats.

* For gravies or sauces--Skim the fat off pan drippings. For cream or white sauces, use skim milk and soft tub or liquid margarine.

* For dressings or stuffing--Add broth or skimmed fat drippings instead of lard or butter. Use herbs and spices for added flavor.

* For sweet potato pie--Mash sweet potato with orange juice concentrate, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, and only one egg. Leave out the butter.

* For cakes, cookies, quick breads, and pancakes--Use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs. Two egg whites can be substituted in many recipes for one whole egg. Use applesauce instead of some of the fat.

Healthy ways of cooking:

* Bake, steam, roast, broil, stew, or boil instead of frying. This helps remove fat.

Try these quick tips:

* For crispy fish: roll in cornmeal and bake.

* For crispy chicken: remove the skin; dip in skim milk mixed with herbs and spices; roll in bread crumbs, cornflakes, or potato flakes; and bake.

* Take off poultry skin before eating.

* Use a nonstick pan with vegetable cooking oil spray or a small amount of liquid vegetable oil instead of lard, butter, shortening, or other fats that are solid at room temperature.

* Trim visible fat before you cook meats.

* Chill meat and poultry broth until fat becomes solid. Skim off fat before using the broth. Use skimmed broth to cook greens instead of fatback, hog jowls, or salt pork.

Healthy shopping tips:

* Choose chicken breast or drumstick instead of the wing and thigh.

* Select skim milk or 1 percent instead of 2 percent or whole milk (sweet).

* Buy lean cuts of meat such as round, sirloin, and loin.

* Buy more vegetables, fruits, and grains.

* Read nutrition labels on food packages.

Let the food label help you choose foods lower in saturated fat and cholesterol:
When you select a food, reading the food label can help you view its saturated fat and cholesterol levels. At first, reading labels may be confusing, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Soon you will be able to easily make food choices for a healthy heart.

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Cancer Rates Improving Among African Americans

Fewer African Americans are dying from cancer than 10 years ago, according to new statistics from the American Cancer Society, but African Americans still suffer more from the disease than other racial groups.

“The good news is that death rates are decreasing,” says Michael Thun, MD, vice president of epidemiology and surveillance research for the American Cancer Society. “The bad news, and the issue that still needs enormous work, is that death rates from cancer remain almost 30% higher in African Americans than in non-Hispanic whites, and that the survival for African Americans who develop cancer is lower than in whites.”

The Society published its latest findings in Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans, 2003-2004.

The report estimates about 132,700 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in the African American community in 2003, and about 63,100 African Americans will die from cancer this year.

Those figures represent a decline in both incidence and death since 1992. Despite that decrease, African- American men still have a 20% higher incidence rate and a 40% higher death rate from cancer than white men.

African Americans are also more likely to be diagnosed with later stage disease than whites, meaning their treatment is less likely to be successful because the cancer is more advanced and harder to control. About 28% of African Americans will be diagnosed with advanced cancer, compared to 22% of whites.

Regardless of when their cancer is diagnosed, though, African Americans have a lower likelihood of surviving five years beyond diagnosis, the report finds.

Socio-economic Factors Important

The higher poverty rate among African Americans, and the reduced access to health care that goes along with poverty, are key reasons for these disparities, the report says.

“Access to high-quality treatment might be less available, it might be that treatment is delayed, or is sub-optimal, or not completed,” Thun says.
These differences persist even though screening rates for colorectal, cervical, breast, and prostate cancer among African Americans are comparable to those among whites.

Thun says even though the percentage of people screened is about the same, screening may be occurring less frequently in the African American community, or there may be a longer interval between screening and actual diagnosis and treatment of a problem.

Socio-economic factors may also be at work here, Thun says. A woman without health insurance may be able to get a mammogram through a public screening program, but may not be able to get immediate care from a doctor if a problem is detected.

The new statistics emphasize the “continuing importance” of eliminating these social disparities through public policy and education efforts, Thun says.

Individual Strategies

But there are also things all people can do on an individual level to lower their risk of getting cancer and dying from it.

Quitting smoking, and keeping kids from starting, is tops on the list, Thun says, “because smoking kills half of the people who continue to do it long term.”
Indeed, lung cancer kills more African Americans than any other cancer, according to the new statistics; some 15,800 African Americans are expected die from it this year. Yet more than 26% of African American men and nearly 21% of African American women were still lighting up in the year 2000.

Another important step African Americans can take is maintaining a healthy body weight and level of physical activity, Thun says, not only for cancer prevention, but also for prevention of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

The latest figures show that 77% of African American women and 59% of African American men are overweight, putting them at increased risk for breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer and other cancers. About one-third of African American adults report getting no leisure time physical activity.

Thun says the American Cancer Society is working on policy approaches that make it easier for people to have a healthy lifestyle – improving neighborhood safety so physical activity isn’t dangerous, restricting tobacco – in addition to raising awareness about cancer in minority communities.

“For all Americans,” he says, “there are great opportunities in reducing cancer by applying the knowledge we already have with respect to prevention, avoidance of tobacco, healthy body weight, regular physical activity, diet, detection, and improvements in treatment.”

Power of Positive Thinking Extends, It Seems, to Aging

Do happy people live longer? A growing body of evidence suggests they may. Recent studies have correlated long life with optimism, with positive thinking, and with a lack of hostility, anxiety and depression.

One thing that remains unclear, however, is whether happiness can actually cause longevity. Perhaps happy people live longer because they practice healthy behaviors, or for some other unknown reason.

"It is definitely the case that certain people who are psychologically healthier live longer," said Dr. Howard S. Friedman of the University of California at Riverside, a psychologist who has studied personality traits that correlate with longevity. "But the explanations are usually complicated."

The second open question is: What, if anything, can unhappy people do about it?
The most recent study of personality and longevity was conducted among a group of 660 people over 50 in Oxford, Ohio, who, in 1975, had answered questions having to do with, among other things, their attitudes about aging. They had been asked whether they agreed or disagreed with statements like "Things keep getting worse as I get older," "I have as much pep as I did last year," and "I am as happy now as I was when I was younger."

Researchers checked to see which participants were still alive in 1998, and they noted when the others had died. It turned out that those who viewed aging as a positive experience lived, on average, 7.5 years longer than those who took a darker view.
That is an advantage far greater, the researchers point out, than what can be gained from lowering blood pressure or reducing cholesterol, each of which has been found to lengthen life about four years. It also beats exercise, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight, strategies that add one to three years.

The researchers who conducted the study have been careful not to suggest that views of aging are more important for one's health than exercise, nutrition and not smoking. "I think they are all important in predicting survival," said Dr. Becca Levy, a social psychologist at Yale. But, Dr. Levy said, it is surprising to find that a psychological characteristic could also be such a strong predictor of life span.

In analyzing the data, Dr. Levy and her colleagues took into account race, sex, socioeconomic status, self-reported health, overall morale and loneliness — all factors that might have clouded the picture. But even after statistically controlling for such characteristics, views of aging were highly correlated with long life.

Optimism was linked to longevity in a study reported two years ago by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Dr. Toshihiko Maruta, a psychiatrist, reviewed psychological tests that had been given to more than 800 people in the early 1960's, and based on the people's responses, he classified 197 of them as pessimistic. He then checked to see how long they lived.

Dr. Maruta found that the pessimists had a risk of death for any given year that was 19 percent greater than average.

Other studies have drawn connections between longevity and the degree of control people feel over their lives and between longevity and mindfulness, defined as an awareness of one's environment and one's reactions to it. Some research has shown that people who are relatively more depressed, hostile or anxious are unlikely to live as long as others.

Dr. Carolyn Aldwin, a professor of human and community development at the University of California at Davis, has reviewed many such studies and examined another group of people who took psychological tests in the 1960's. She found that those who seemed to be relatively stable emotionally had lived longer.

"You're better off if you are less likely to go to extremes emotionally," Dr. Aldwin said, "if you keep on an even keel and don't let yourself get too upset."

How do happy, upbeat, calm people keep themselves alive?

Dr. Levy suspected that the answer might be linked to the positive thinkers' will to live. Previous studies showing, for example, that people of all cultures are more likely to die in the days and weeks after holidays than they are in the days leading up to them, had suggested that will to live could affect survival.

So Dr. Levy and her colleagues checked back to see how the respondents had answered other questions in the original survey. In these, they had been asked to choose from three pairs of adjectives — empty-full, hopeless-hopeful and worthless-worthy — the ones that best described their lives. Those who answered full, hopeful and worthy were deemed to have the greater will to live

"Will to live appeared to be a partial mediator," Dr. Levy said, "but it didn't completely explain why the people with positive views lived longer. So there must be other things involved. One likely candidate is how people respond to stress. Older people with a negative view of aging."

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