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Why the Thanksgiving Turkey Isn't What It Used to Be

Dig­i­tal Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The turkeys the pil­grims prob­a­bly encoun­tered when they stepped off the boat were of the wild vari­ety. They were long, lean and some­what gamey from a life of for­ag­ing and flee­ing predators.

As for the large-breasted, plump-limbed Thanks­giv­ing turkey we enjoy today, it’s a tri­umph of mod­ern technology.

In the late 1920s, breed­ers began tin­ker­ing with domes­ti­cated turkeys, which still resem­bled their wild cousins, so that they matured faster and grew larger. The nick­name for one pop­u­lar breed was “bronze Mae West,” accord­ing to Mod­ern Farmer, but the indus­try even­tu­ally agreed on call­ing them broad breasted bronze.

Keith Williams, a spokesman for the National Turkey Fed­er­a­tion, said the turkey indus­try really got cook­ing in the 1940s and ‘50s when farm­ers real­ized they could raise turkeys sim­i­larly to how they raised chickens.

Rather than hunt­ing through the woods for eggs, they could incu­bate them and the ani­mals could be safely housed in large sheds,” he said. “This allowed them to raise ani­mals more effi­ciently and less expensively.”

Thanks to selec­tive breed­ing and grow­ing tech­niques, Williams said, farm­ers can now pro­duce a bird that has far more white meat and larger, more mus­cu­lar thighs than its ancestors.

Because the skin of darker birds were speck­led with col­ored dots all over after pluck­ing, the indus­try even­tu­ally shifted to a breed known as the broad breasted white, which doesn’t speckle and now accounts for the major­ity of birds sold.

In the 1930s, the average-size Thanks­giv­ing turkey was between 7.5 and 10 pounds, accord­ing to the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture archives.

Today, fam­i­lies tuck into a bird that weighs an aver­age of about 15 pounds, the Min­nesota Turkey Grow­ers Asso­ci­a­tion estimated.

Up until about 1970, turkeys that made it to mar­ket arrived in big bar­rels of ice and were “New York dressed,” Williams said.

They came with the head, feet and all their organs still intact,” he said.

Most birds sold today come frozen and fully dressed so they are oven-ready, he added.

Nearly 90 per­cent of Amer­i­cans will dine on turkey this Thanks­giv­ing, accord­ing to the National Turkey Fed­er­a­tion. That’s 46 mil­lion birds.

One last turkey fact before you slip yours in the oven: Most Thanks­giv­ing turkeys Amer­i­cans eat are hens. Amer­i­cans don’t ordi­nar­ily eat the male toms except in the form of the humon­gous drum­sticks sold at Dis­ney and other amuse­ment parks which, Williams noted, are often mis­taken for ostrich legs.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Five Tips to Avoid Overindulging on Thanksgiving

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thanks­giv­ing is every dieter’s night­mare: turkey slathered in gravy, can­died sweet pota­toes with marsh­mal­lows, green bean casse­role, cran­berry sauce and but­tery, and calorie-laden pecan pie.

Adults gain about a pound between Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas, and they don’t lose it in Jan­u­ary, accord­ing to experts. That means that, of the pound or two a year that adults gain as they age, half of it hap­pens over the hol­i­days, said Cedric Bryant, chief sci­ence offi­cer of the non­profit Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Exercise.

But there are ways you can enjoy Thanks­giv­ing with­out over­do­ing it:

Exer­cise Before or After the Meal

Start­ing your morn­ing with a turkey trot — a Thanks­giv­ing 5K jog — will help off­set some of the effects of a big hol­i­day din­ner, Bryant said.

An after-dinner walk or jog is even better.

When you eat the calo­rie– and fat-laden meal, your triglyc­eride lev­els become ele­vated and your blood sugar spikes. This can lead to a feel­ing of malaise. Over time, it can con­tribute to meta­bolic dis­or­ders and type II diabetes.

Light exer­cise before the big meal decreases your triglyc­eride lev­els — the fat in your blood — by 25 per­cent, Bryant said. Exer­cis­ing after din­ner will decrease triglyc­erides by 70 percent.

The exer­cise will also help periph­eral tis­sues, such as mus­cles, respond to insulin, which con­trols blood sugar, he said.

Don’t Worry About Dis­ap­point­ing the Host

Research at the Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity Food and Brand Lab showed that peo­ple often overeat at din­ners because they’re afraid of offend­ing or dis­ap­point­ing the host or host­ess, said the lab’s direc­tor, Brian Wansink, who authored the book Slim by Design: Mind­less Eat­ing Solu­tions for Every­day Life.

One easy way to do that is just only eat the stuff that’s home­made,” he said. “The host­ess isn’t going to be offended if you don’t eat the peanuts or the nuts before din­ner or you don’t eat the din­ner rolls she bought. She’s going to be annoyed if you don’t eat the dress­ing or the turkey.”

Hosts in Wansink’s research never remem­bered how much guests ate, but remem­bered whether they went back for sec­ond help­ings, he said.

So, start the meal with extra-small por­tions, Wansink sug­gested. That way, when you go back for sec­onds, you’re not overeating.

Make a Few Thanks­giv­ing Swaps

A few sim­ple sub­sti­tu­tions can go a long way on Thanks­giv­ing, Bryant said.

Choose white meat over dark meat,” he said. “The white with no skin is going to be about half the calo­ries and prob­a­bly 1/6 to 1/7 the fat of dark meat with skin.”

A six-ounce serv­ing of skin­less white meat is only about 180 calo­ries and 3 grams of fat, Bryant said. By com­par­i­son, the same serv­ing of dark meat with skin is 370 calo­ries and 20 grams of fat.

Choos­ing pump­kin or apple pie instead of pecan pie will save about 150 calo­ries, he said.

If you’re host­ing Thanks­giv­ing, serv­ing steamed green beans instead of green bean casse­role will also save guests about 100 calo­ries, Bryant said. And serv­ing sweet pota­toes with just sugar and spices is bet­ter than serv­ing it can­died and loaded with marshmallows.

Start at the Healthy End of the Buffet

Peo­ple load up 60 to 65 per­cent of their plates with the first three things they see at the buf­fet, Wansink said. To save calo­ries, start near the salad and vegetables.

And if you’re host­ing the din­ner and want to save your guests from overindulging, keep the buf­fet away from the table so peo­ple have to con­sciously get up to get sec­ond help­ings. Peo­ple who served them­selves from a buf­fet ate 20 per­cent less than peo­ple who served them­selves from the mid­dle of the din­ner table, he said.

Thanks­giv­ing is one of the great­est Amer­i­can hol­i­days of the year,” Wansink said. “It’s prob­a­bly not the best time to start your diet. To help, eat a lit­tle bit less but still enjoy the holiday.”

Eat Slowly and Drink Water

Bryant said absently “shov­el­ing” in food as you catch up with rel­a­tives is bound to lead to overeat­ing. Instead, remind your­self to eat slowly and stay aware of what you’re eating.

Give you brain an oppor­tu­nity to catch up with your appetite,” he said.

Another help­ful trick is to drink water through­out the day.

Hunger cues and your hydra­tion cues can become con­fused,” Bryant said. “Mak­ing sure to address hydra­tion can cer­tainly help to curb the appetite.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


What Not to Talk About at Thanksgiving Dinner

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s the sea­son for a lot of things, but talk­ing about why you’re still not mar­ried isn’t one of them. Thanks­giv­ing din­ner only hap­pens once a year, so it’s best to leave such uncom­fort­able con­ver­sa­tions for another day, and focus on safe top­ics like the weather, sports or, most impor­tantly, the turkey — unless it’s burned, but we’ll get to that.

Keep table talk peace­ful by avoid­ing these taboo topics:

“Somebody’s Hun­gry!”

Sure, peo­ple like to indulge on Thanks­giv­ing, but that doesn’t mean you need to point out when some­one clears their plate or grabs an extra help­ing of stuffing.

You want to avoid com­ment­ing on how some­one eats,” eti­quette expert Daniel Post Sen­ning of the Emily Post Insti­tute said. “The com­pli­ment doesn’t always get received that way.”

But you can always com­pli­ment the chef,” he said. “You can say how good you feel, how good the food was, how full you are.”

Reli­gion, Pol­i­tics and Money

These should be no-brainers: Reli­gion, pol­i­tics and finances are def­i­nitely top­ics you’ll want to avoid dur­ing a hol­i­day celebration.

You just want to be care­ful,” Sen­ning said. “It’s not that you’re never allowed to talk about these things, but you need to be pre­pared for peo­ple to have legit­i­mate and valid dif­fer­ences of opin­ion. By def­i­n­i­tion, that’s what makes these poten­tially controversial.”

For some fam­i­lies, heated dis­cus­sions about pol­i­tics are almost a hol­i­day tra­di­tion. If that’s the case, just save those for after din­ner, so peo­ple who don’t want to par­take can be left out.

Sex and Relationships

We’ve all heard the sto­ries of peo­ple whose fam­i­lies’ use hol­i­days as an oppor­tu­nity to nag about when they’re get­ting mar­ried. Or engaged. Or hav­ing kids.

Sen­ning says such “prob­ing ques­tions” should be off lim­its, but under­stands they can be hard to avoid when fam­ily is around.

Of course, this is fam­ily, peo­ple are going to pry,” he said. “A great tac­tic is to turn around and ask some­one else what they think, if a con­ver­sa­tion is start­ing to feel a lit­tle too per­sonal. Steer the con­ver­sa­tion toward safer territory.”

When the Food Is Bad

Is the turkey over­cooked? Pre­tend it isn’t, and com­pli­ment the chef on the mashed pota­toes if any­one asks.

Keep the focus pos­i­tive,” Sen­ning said. “You’re there to celebrate.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


There's a Whole New Set of Wrinkles to Worry About

Image Source Pink/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Frown lines. Crow’s feet. Dynamic expres­sion lines. It’s enough to send a per­son run­ning to the Botox nee­dle. And now there’s a whole other wrin­kle to worry about. The kind that hap­pen while you sleep.

It turns out the notion of “beauty sleep” might be a farce, accord­ing to Dr. Goe­sel Anson, a board cer­ti­fied plas­tic surgeon.

Sleep wrin­kles are cre­ated by the dis­tor­tion of the face when it’s pressed into the pil­low sur­face night after night,” she said.

But, unlike expres­sion wrin­kles, which can be treated by Botox and fillers, Anson said sleep wrin­kles can only be pre­vented. It’s a sen­ti­ment that’s echoed by the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Der­ma­tol­ogy, which sug­gests sleep­ing on your back to reduce pre­ma­ture skin aging. Sleep­ing on your side or your face causes the lines you may notice on your face when you wake up in the morn­ing, the Acad­emy said on its website.

In time, these lines turn into per­ma­nent wrin­kles,” she said.

In other words, not even sun­screen can help you here.

Anson said most peo­ple move an aver­age of 20 times per night. To pre­vent this, she cre­ated a $180 sleep pil­low to pre­vent mush­ing of the face dur­ing sleep. The JuveR­est sleep wrin­kle pil­low is espe­cially help­ful for side and stom­ach sleep­ers, the web­site says.

But do sleep pil­lows really work? It’s def­i­nitely pos­si­ble, though Dr. Lisa Donofrio, asso­ciate clin­i­cal pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Der­ma­tol­ogy at the Yale Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine, said it would “take many years to eval­u­ate their true efficacy.”

The pil­lows could work,” she said, “by re-distributing pres­sure and pre­vent­ing creas­ing. These pil­lows seem to help.”

Donofrio said she rec­om­mends the enVy pil­low to her patients.

Dr. Patir­ica Far­ris said pil­lows that encour­age back sleep­ing are “def­i­nitely ben­e­fi­cial. We see lots of sleep lines that develop on the sides of the cheeks and around the mouth that can be directly attrib­uted to lying on the face.”

Another sug­ges­tion? “Using linens that are satin and slip­pery makes you less likely to develop wrin­kles,” Far­ris said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Babies Can Retain Happy Memories

Wave­break­me­dia Ltd/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Do you remem­ber any­thing from when you were five months old? No doubt, you don’t.

In fact, babies that young would be hard pressed to recall things that hap­pened from hour-to-hour. How­ever, Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor Ross Flom says that infants as young as five months old are capa­ble of remem­ber­ing things that make them happy.

Flom says her study is the among the first to mea­sure how emo­tions influ­ence mem­ory. To do so, the babies first heard a per­son on a com­puter speak­ing in either a happy, neu­tral or angry voice. That voice was imme­di­ately fol­lowed by the visual image of a geo­met­ric shape.

The infants were later tested by show­ing a new shape and one of the old ones. The researchers then watched the babies’ eye move­ments and how long they spent star­ing at an image.

Invari­ably, the babies focused more on shapes that they asso­ci­ated with pos­i­tive voices than the ones linked to neg­a­tive voices.

Flom says that by height­en­ing the babies’ atten­tional sys­tem and arousal, “We heighten their abil­ity to process and per­haps remem­ber this geo­met­ric pattern.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


Yogurt Shown to Reduce Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Not a yogurt fan? Here’s infor­ma­tion that make might you one.

Accord­ing to researchers at the Har­vard School of Pub­lic Health, eat­ing yogurt daily might help lower the risk of devel­op­ing type 2 dia­betes, the most com­mon form of the disease.

Lead author Mu Chen said her research was based on three sep­a­rate large stud­ies involv­ing a total of 200,000 men and women ages 25-to-75 for as long as 30 years. About 15,150 peo­ple over­all were diag­nosed with type 2 diabetes.

Although dairy con­sump­tion itself was not asso­ci­ated with either an increase or decrease in the risk of con­tract­ing dia­betes, Chen and her team learned that peo­ple who ate 12 ounces of yogurt daily, about two reg­u­lar con­tain­ers worth, low­ered their risk of devel­op­ing the dis­ease by 18 percent.

Although Chen said there is no defin­i­tive proof that yogurt will pre­vent type 2 dia­betes, “Some mech­a­nisms sug­gest that yogurt is spe­cial,” he said. “There is some research sug­gest­ing that the pro­bi­otic bac­te­ria in yogurt may be beneficial.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


CDC: Majority of Americans with HIV Don't Have It Under Control

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion(NEW YORK) — Most of the 1.2 mil­lion Amer­i­cans infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, did not have the dis­ease under con­trol in 2011, accord­ing to a new study by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.

The CDC says that about 70 per­cent of those with HIV had not achieved viral sup­pres­sion. What’s more, just 13 per­cent of Amer­i­cans ages 18 to 24 had it under control.

Accord­ing to the gov­ern­ment, it’s not so much igno­rance that pre­vents peo­ple from get­ting the drug ther­a­pies nec­es­sary to com­bat the virus but lack of access to med­ical care and an appar­ent indif­fer­ence to the dis­ease, which can become full-blown AIDS if left untreated,

CDC Direc­tor Dr. Tom Frieden said Tues­day that besides peo­ple with HIV need­ing to seek treat­ment, it’s also up to health care sys­tems that diag­nose patients to make sure that they get the med­ica­tions and follow-up treat­ment if for no other rea­son but to pre­vent patients from pass­ing on the infec­tion to others.

The CDC says that anti­retro­vi­ral med­ica­tion allows peo­ple to live longer by keep­ing HIV at very low lev­els, pro­vided it’s used con­sis­tently. This treat­ment also cuts the trans­mis­sion of HIV to oth­ers by 96 percent.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


The Real Secret to Self-Control

dolgachov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Every­one is sus­cep­ti­ble to some form of temp­ta­tion and a lot of peo­ple often give in to it, some­times with dis­as­trous results.

How­ever, as researchers at Florida State Uni­ver­sity report, it doesn’t have to be that way, pro­vided you know the strat­egy for success.

It’s pretty sim­ple, actu­ally: just don’t get into a sit­u­a­tion where you might lose your self-control, accord­ing to a study pub­lished in Per­son­al­ity and Indi­vid­ual Dif­fer­ences.

In an exper­i­ment with 38 col­lege stu­dents, the par­tic­i­pants were told to choose between a crowded stu­dent lounge to solve a prob­lem or wait for a quiet lab to become available.

Most of the peo­ple ranked with low self-control picked the lounge over the lab while a major­ity of those with more self-control chose the lab over the lounge. Another exper­i­ment with peo­ple aged 18–60 yielded sim­i­lar results.

The bot­tom line, accord­ing to the FSU researchers, is that high self-control is more asso­ci­ated with shun­ning dis­trac­tions than try­ing to over­come them.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio