Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Biggest Mistakes You Make Using Your Fridge

Does your milk smell like onions? Your lettuce go limp in a week? What about cold cuts? Are you throwing them out before you get a chance to make sandwiches? Avoid the mistakes below and you may find you're wasting less food.
  • Storing milk and dairy on the door As temperatures are highest on the door, keeping your milk, yogurt, and butter there can shorten their "shelf life". Better to keep them on refrigerator shelves. 
  • Not keeping meat in the meat drawer On most models, this compartment, called the meat drawer or deli locker, is designed to keep foods colder than the rest of the refrigerator, making it an ideal spot for storing raw meat or poultry, cold cuts, or anything that spoils quickly like the smoked salmon, shrimp, or caviar you may splurge on during the holidays. Many of these drawers have various settings -- choose the coldest one,and it may even keep your chicken and hamburger meat slightly below freezing so they'll stay fresh significantly longer. Remember to keep meat, poultry, and fish in containers or bags so their juices can't leak out and contaminate other foods in the locker.
  • Failing to clean the condenser coils If you notice that your fridge temperatures seem to be rising, it could be because you need to clean the coils. This easy-to-do task should be done several times a year and even more often if you have dogs or cats that shed. Unplug the unit, snap off the grate, then use an inexpensive coil-cleaning brush, which you can find at hardware stores, or your vacuum's crevice tool. You may even see a drop in your electric bill as your unit will operate more efficiently. 
  • Not wrapping foods tightly before freezing them You can use zipper-top freezer bags, aluminum foil, or heavy-duty plastic wrap but whichever you opt for make sure to remove all the air by smoothing it around the food. If you're using storage containers, fill them almost to the top so you'll protect leftovers from burn but give the food enough room to expand as it freezes. 
  • Not stashing fruits and vegetables in the crispers They're called crispers for a reason. Keep your Boston lettuce and your broccoli in one of your fridge's produce drawers with the humidity level set to high and you may be surprised at how long they stay sprightly. Use one crisper for veggies, the other for fruit with the humidity levels at low. By keeping a half an onion in a produce drawer, wrapped up in plastic of course, you'll help keep it from flavoring your milk.

Monday, December 2, 2013


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A generally active life, even without regular exercise sessions, was tied to better heart health and greater longevity in a study of older Swedes.

Based on nearly 3,900 men and women over age 60 in Stockholm, the study adds to evidence suggesting that just sitting around may be actively harmful, researchers say.

"We have known for 60 years that physical activity is important for the heart," said lead author Elin Ekblom-Bak, of the ├ůstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences in Stockholm.

But until recently the research has mainly focused on exercise and has "forgotten" about the background activity that we do during daily life, she told Reuters Health.

Whether someone exercises vigorously or not, it still usually only takes up a small fraction of the day. That leaves the rest of the time for either sitting still or engaging in non-exercise activities, like home repairs, lawn care and gardening, car maintenance, hunting or fishing.

For older people, who tend to exercise vigorously less than younger people, spending more time doing low-intensity activities like these could help cut down on sitting time, Ekblom-Bak and her colleagues write in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Between 1997 and 1999, more than 5,000 60-year-olds were invited to participate in the study, which began with a questionnaire about health history, lifestyle and daily activities, as well as medical tests and measurements.

At the study's outset, people who were more active on a daily basis, regardless of their exercise levels, tended to have smaller waists and healthier cholesterol levels.

The participants were followed for the next 12.5 years. During that time nearly 500 people had a first-time heart attack or stroke, and nearly 400 people died from any cause.

People who had reported high levels of daily non-exercise activity were less likely to suffer a heart-related event and less likely to die than those who were the least active.

For every 100 people reporting low activity levels who had a heart attack or stroke, for example, only 73 highly active people experienced such events. For every 100 of the least active who died, only 70 of the most active did.

"These are fascinating findings," said David Dunstan, of the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, "but not really surprising since other studies that have looked at this from a different angle - that is, describing the detrimental relationship between excessive sitting and mortality outcomes - are essentially showing the same thing but in reverse because there is such a high correlation between sitting time and nonexercise physical activity behaviors."

While sitting, muscles do not contract and blood flow decreases, which reduces the efficiency of many body processes, like absorbing glucose from the blood, said Dunstan, who studies heart health and exercise.
Non-exercise activity likely prevents the general slowing-down associated with sitting, he told Reuters Health.

"In addition to engaging in regular health enhancing exercise, people should be encouraged to also think what they do during the long periods in the day in which they are not exercising," he said in an email.
"Engaging in regular exercise is still important," Ekblom-Bak said. "We saw that those who exercised regularly and that also had a daily physically active life had the lowest risk profile of all."

Moderate-to-vigorous exercise helps strengthen the heart muscle and other body muscles, and may help regulate blood pressure more than general activity, Dunstan said.

But it is important for doctors and society in general to promote daily activity, not just exercise, she said.
"Human beings are designed to move," said Phillip B. Sparling, a professor of Applied Physiology and Health Behavior at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta who was not involved with the new study.

"Ideally, we should have a mix of all levels of activity," he said. "But, regardless of whether one exercises or not, the new message is to move more and sit less throughout the day."