Wednesday, October 19, 2016

They're Trendy but Are They Really Healthy?

They are getting a lot of attention and may even be good for you

Credit: Thinkstock
In the never-ending parade of new food products that make headlines every year, there are always a few that catch on and become trendy, almost fashionable. They are options that beg to be included in any healthy diet.

The question is: Are they worth bringing to the table? Put another way, will they help you age more gracefully and do they have unique nutritional benefits?

Here’s a look at seven of the trendiest edible offerings that people are talking about around the water cooler, at book clubs and in the coffee shop, along with details on what they do and don’t offer when it comes to health, nutrition and disease prevention:

1. Lollipop Kale

The new “it” veggie of the produce bin might be labeled lollipops, or kale sprouts or KalettesTM, depending on where you shop. Whatever the moniker, nutritionists agree that crossing two superstars of the vegetable world — Russian Red Kale and Brussels sprouts — is definitely a win-win when it comes to health.

What you’ll get in 1.5 cups: Just 45 calories, but a full day’s supply of Vitamin K, almost half the required vitamin C and a good dose of vitamin B6.

What they taste like: A little bit sweet, a little bit peppery, a little bit nutty, with mild notes of that distinctive brassica (Brussels sprouts) vegetable flavor.

How to eat them: The beautiful red-green mini leaves look nice in a salad like this Orange Kalettes Salad from Tozer Seeds, the British company that created the cultivar. The savory “lollipops” are also good sautéed or roasted.

2. Grass-Fed Beef

Rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a type of fat that is showing promise in the prevention of cancer, grass-fed beef is also lower in fat and saturated fat than its grain-fed cousin.

According to the American Grassfed Beef Association (AGBA), a sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has about one-half to one-third the amount of fat as one raised on grain. And that adds up, says AGBA: “If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to grass-fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year — without requiring any willpower or change in eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you’ll lose about six pounds a year.”

If that sounds good but you’re put off by the higher price tag of grass-fed beef, not to worry. “Lean beef that’s 10 percent fat or less — whether it’s grass-fed beef or another type of beef — can be part of a heart-healthy diet,” says Dr. Rekha Mankad, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

3. Bone Broth

While long, slow-simmered stovetop stocks made with roasted bones and vegetables have always been around, paleo and detox diet proponents are making them trendy again by calling them bone broths. Nourishing bone broths. The name, they say, is meant to separate these homemade elixirs from mass-produced broths cluttered with additives and devoid of gelatin and other good nutrients that leech from meat bones that are slow simmered. (Ironically, the trend is so hot that big soup companies are now mass-producing boxed “bone broths.”)

Is bone broth nourishing? Yes. Is it lower in sodium that boxed varieties? Most of the time. Is it a superfood that tames inflammation? Not really. It’s just one food, one healthy diet choice.

With soup weather here, try this homemade beef bone broth recipe or homemade chicken stock. Called bone broth or stock, they’re both the same, and both good for you.

4. Coconut Sugar

As the “all things coconut” craze heats up, the caramel-colored sugar made from the sap of the coconut palm is riding a wave of popularity. It’s not really a new sweetener, just new to Westerners. Used in South Asia for thousands of years, coconut sugar has a flavor similar to brown sugar. But that’s not all that’s similar. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) says coconut palm sugar provides just as many calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar: about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon.

“It is OK for people with diabetes to use coconut palm sugar as a sweetener, but they should not treat it any differently than regular sugar,” the ADA says.

What about those health claims that say coconut sugar is low on the glycemic index (a scale that measures how blood sugar levels react to carbohydrates)? Holistic medicine specialist Dr. Andrew Weil takes issue. “This is irrelevant,” says Weil. “The glycemic index does not directly apply to sweeteners.” Weil’s bottom line: Sugar is sugar, whether it’s from a natural source or not. Go easy on it if you want to stay healthy.
5. Raw Sauerkraut

Hot dog topper and traditional side dish for pork chops, fermented white cabbage has long been recognized for potential cancer-fighting benefits. But who knew? This German staple is now getting a second health look, not for its cabbage content but for the good-for-you (or your immune system and digestive tract) probiotic bacteria produced during fermentation. (Here’s a good review of probiotics from WebMD if you need it.)

Why raw sauerkraut? Canned and bottled sauerkrauts are typically heat treated, which destroys probiotic bacteria. So the only way to nab the beneficial bugs is with unpasteurized or raw cultured sauerkraut, the kind usually found in whole food or health food supermarkets.

More good news for raw sauerkraut: A preliminary study finds the probiotic strains it harbors, called lactobacilli, might help prevent the body’s absorption of some pesticides.

6. Matcha Green Tea

In Manhattan, matcha is the “new java,” a hipper caffeinated brew and an ingredient chefs are using to create all kinds of sweet and savory treats. It’s also the tea of choice in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. But among “food as medicine” proponents, the star feature of matcha is that it contains three times as many as catechins (substances that studies show might do everything from fighting cancer to preventing heart disease, to helping with weight loss) as regular green teas. The reason: This tea isn’t steeped from green tea leaves, but is actually ground up tea leaves. When Matcha is harvested, the leaves are ground into a beautiful bright green powder that is then whisked into water. Make it at home.

But if you’re hitting the local tea or coffee shop for your fix, be aware. “Sweetened tea beverages introduce calories, fat and other ingredients that get away from the basic premise that the tea leaf may be responsible for any health benefits,” Dr. Howard Sesso tells Harvard Health Publications. Sesso is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

7. Natto

Heralded as “the breakfast of champions” by many Japanese, paleo diet enthusiasts are singing the praises of the fermented soybean mixture called natto. For starters, it’s healthy for the heart. It’s a natural blood thinner, it lowers blood pressure and it’s super-rich in vitamin K2, a hard-to-get nutrient that helps prevent osteoporosis and keep bones strong. In other words, natto might offer multiple benefits for many of the common lifestyle ills that plague a fiftysomething body.

There’s just one hitch. While Japanese diners are in love with all forms of natto — there’s natto ice cream, natto toast, natto sushi — the slippery texture and stinky aroma are not an easy sell to Westerners, says one Japanese fan.

If natto is a no-go for you, Weil says there might be some other options. “I think all of these fermented soy foods are healthy — miso, natto, tempeh,” he says. “Adding fermented foods in general to the diet is good.”

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.


The Surprising Secrets of Successful Retirees

What 'The Retiree Next Door' author learned by surveying them

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock
If you’re in your 40s, 50s or early 60s, odds are you’d like to know what it takes to have a happy and successful retirement. To find out, a few authors — such as Wes Moss (You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think) and Bob Lowry (Living a Satisfying Retirement) — have surveyed retirees.

And now Marc Diana, the Los-Angeles-based CEO of the new personal-finance site site, has surveyed 510 retirees to learn the magic elixir. He published the findings in the free e-book, The Retiree Next Door: Successful Seniors’ Surprising Secrets (you can download it at the MoneyTips site).

I spoke with Diana, a serial entrepreneur who also founded, to find out what those surprising secrets were and what pre-retirees should do now if they want to join the club. I confess that the results did, indeed, surprise me. (You can pose your own questions at The Retiree Next Door one-hour tweet jam Tuesday November 18 at 11 a.m. PT; 2 p.m. ET; I’ll be participating.)

Highlights from my conversation with Diana:

Next Avenue: What made you decide to do this survey?

Diana: We did a survey of boomers four months ago and found that half of boomers were not satisfied with their finances and a third had no plan. We thought that was a recipe for disaster for a large body of Americans, so we said: ‘Let’s reach some successful retirees and see how they are doing and how did they get there so we can help boomers approaching retirement.’

What did the successful retirees have in common?

They’re living within their means and they had a savings plan for retirement. About a quarter of them calculated how much they’d need to retire when they were in their 40s; another 21 percent did it in their 50s.

And how much were they saving each year before they retired?

Nearly 60 percent saved between 6 and 20 percent a year.

What surprised you in the survey results?

44 percent said they were comfortably retired with less than $500,000 in assets. That surprised me quite a bit. I’m in my 40s and that wouldn’t cut it for me.

What does this tell you?

It hits on one of the ingredients in the root of what I uncovered through the survey, which is that successful does not mean ‘I’ve got gobs of money and houses all over the place and cars.’ People who came to terms with what they wanted out of life and managed to figure how to budget and live within that were happily retired.

Are the successful retirees frugal?

No. They’ve been prudent, not frugal. Only 35 percent call themselves frugal; the rest said they spend enough to live comfortably. And 67 percent live on less than a $100,000 a year; 23 percent are in the 25 to 50 grand bucket.

The key is that two-thirds of them have been on some kind of monthly budget and stuck to it.

Did they use financial advisers to plan for retirement?

About 62 percent consulted advisers, at least some of the time, through their career to make investment decisions.

Was having a financial adviser useful for them?

Without a doubt. Engaging an adviser made them more likely to have a budget and to live within it.

What investment mistakes did the successful retirees regret making?

One big mistake they made was getting into the stock market too late or getting out of it too late. They tried to rifle-shot the market. And the other mistake they made was making bad real estate bets.

What keeps them up at night?

The fear of outliving their savings and incurring substantial health care costs. And twenty five percent are concerned about maintaining their standard of living. They worry that something might happen — like inflation or their lifespan increasing.

What are they doing to minimize the risk of running out of money?

More than half don’t have a car that’s newer than two years old. A lot own their homes outright. And they’re cutting back on extras, like travel and memberships.

I noticed that most of the successful retirees worked for large companies and in the public sector. They generally weren’t the self-employed ‘Millionaire Next Door’ types. What does that tell you?

That’s interesting because of what comes with being at those forms of employment. Things like matching retirement plan contributions are great because they push you into a style of saving. You lower your risk of not having a comfortable retirement by the sheer nature of working there.

Based on what the successful retirees said, what should people nearing retirement be doing so they can have successful retirements?

Number one: have an annual or monthly budget and stick to it. Number two: have a plan to retire. Number three: be disciplined as an investor. It’s very risky to make bets on the stock market or on real estate. If you’re disciplined, you can have a nice nest egg in retirement.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Antique and Classic Cars Descend on Cecil Pines for the Annual Auto Show and Open House

Car enthusiasts and fans enjoy autos, food and music while supporting American Cancer Society research

Colors range from electric blues to glossy lemon yellows. Real wood grain dashboards and leather rumble seats adorn the interiors. Bright silver chrome shimmering in the sun, running boards and perfectly lacquered finishes grace the stylish bodies. An irresistible sight that no one can pass up. This is the way many believe cars were meant to be.
1909 Sears Kit Car 

Marlin Crider remembers the day when he bought his first DeSoto, a brand-new, two-tone green custom Sportsman Coupe for $2,895,” said the car enthusiast and regular participant at the annual Cecil Pines Antique Auto Show and Open House. “I still have that car, including the bill of sale and the factory warranty. There’s just something special about that car. I never wanted to get rid of it.”

Each fall, you will find Marlin and other auto enthusiasts at the Cecil Pines Adult Living Community campus when it transforms into an automobile heaven on earth as gear heads, staunch aficionados, novice collectors and fans of custom, classic and antique cars come from across the state of Florida to view automobiles from the early 1900s through the 1970s. Among the beauties on display have included a 1909 Sears kit car and sheriff’s department dragster, 1929 Ford Model A roadster, 1938 Buick hearse, 1969 Pontiac GTO muscle car, 1926 Sunbeam and of course plenty of 1957 Chevys, a favorite among car enthusiasts and fans.

Antique and classic car shows are not uncommon in Jacksonville, Florida but what makes the Cecil Pines show special is that in exchange for free admission, games, food and music, visitors are encouraged to donate to the American Cancer Society of Northeast Florida. And for the past 13 years they have done so, helping Cecil Pines raise close to $43,000 for Alzheimer’s and Cancer research.

“I think our show is popular because it’s a relaxing, fun day with an important purpose,” said Byran Beinkampen, who recently retired as Cecil Pines’ executive director but still supports and attends the show. “Usually classic and antique car shows are about competition, but not ours. We just like to have a good time, reminisce about years past, visit with friends, eat some good food, listen to music and enjoy dozens of fine looking cars and trucks while supporting Alzheimer’s and Cancer research. It’s like a big backyard barbeque and everyone is welcome.”

Hosting an annual car show at Cecil Pines was Byran’s idea, being a car enthusiast himself. “I thought it would be a great way to bring the community together,” he said. “Cecil Pines is such a beautiful place with wide open spaces and shade. It’s the perfect setting for our show.” During its first year in 2003, the Cecil Pines show featured about 30 cars and 300 people and raised $445 for the Alzheimer’s Association. In 2015 the show featured about 100 cars and about 700 people and raised almost $5,000.

Cecil Pines General Manager Chris Purdy invites local car clubs to participate and she works with local businesses for in-kind donations for the drawings they hold for visitors. Local and state law enforcement and fire agencies bring in antique fire and police vehicles. In 2014, Front Porch’s Social Accountability in Action program, which funds projects, programs and services designed to meet community needs, contributed an additional $2,000 to the American Cancer Society in support of the car show.

“The Cecil Pines show is always a great time to meet with fellow collectors and friends I only see once a year here,” said Car Show Attendee Les Becker, who has attended every Cecil Pines show.

“I’ve loved cars my entire life,” Les said. “I’ve been buying and selling them for years. I grew up in the 1960s. Back then if you wanted to own a car you needed to know how to fix it, so I learned. I love older cars because I can work on them myself. Nowadays, you have to take your car to the dealer and they hook it up to a computer.”

The 2016 Cecil Pines Antique and Classic Car Show and Open House is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on November 12. For more information, call 904-771-8839.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing Hosts Twitter Chat On Cyber Security

On October 6th, 2016, in honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing hosted a Twitter chat (#SrCyberChat), along with partners, AARP Fraud Watch Network (@aarpca) HelloTech (@hellotech), Serving Seniors (@servingseniors), St. Barnabas Senior Services (@SBSSla) to facilitate greater awareness of cyber security issues affecting older adults. 

This chat was part of the Piers Project, funded by a gift from the family estate of Ellie Piers to benefit the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing’s ongoing mission of using technology to enhance wellbeing among older adults. Piers lived at Carlsbad By The Sea, a Front Porch retirement community in Carlsbad, CA. 

What follows is a transcript of our discussion. Enjoy!