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Since he made the jump from soap operas to movies, there’s been some debate about which of Brad Pitt’s 63 movies are the worst. “Johnny Suede” (1991) and “Cool World” (1992) may be the two least memorable, but a sure-fire throwaway is 2004’s “Troy.” RobertEbert.com gave it two stars, saying (politely), “Achilles is not a character he [B.P.] inhabits comfortably.” But fortunately for us, most Brad Pitt movies (“Thelma & Louise,” “The Big Short,” etc.,) are worth holding on to. And that’s true too of the often-discarded but actually valuable avocado pit.
You probably know that an avocado’s creamy flesh contains good-for-you monounsaturated fats, including odd-numbered omega fatty acids, that reduce lousy LDL cholesterol, and is rich in vitamin C, potassium and vitamin E. But chances are you, like the rest of the country, have overlooked the health benefits crammed into the pit and its brown, papery husk.
In South America, the pit, loaded with antioxidants, has been used for generations to treat inflammation, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Want to try it? Chop up an avocado pit and place in a tea diffuser with boiling water.
The husk of the pit is even more beneficial it contains a goldmine of more than 130 nutritious compounds in its oil and wax. Recent research has scientists speculating that the medicinal compounds within them eventually could be used to treat cancer, heart disease and other conditions.
You can crumble the husk into a salad, add it to a smoothie or just munch it (bitter alert) as a snack.
Big coughs and big solutions
Last spring, Australian MP Graham Perrett, was watching an episode of “Veep” while eating sushi. Laughing at a scene in which Congressman Jonah Ryan is caught shaving his head to fake having cancer, he inhaled a clump of rice and began to cough violently. “I kind of stumbled forward and knocked my head on the corner of the kitchen cabinet,” he told BuzzFeed. His wife found him unconscious on the ground. “I must have been out for only a few seconds,” he reported, “because, when I came to, I was still laughing at Jonah.”
Funny incident (Perrett was OK), but a severe cough is usually no laughing matter. Six to 12 percent of the U.S. population experiences chronic coughing. It can get so violent and persistent that it triggers vomiting, cracked ribs or bleeding. Possible causes:
1. Smoking (anything) traumatizes airways and can cause persistent, violent coughing. Go to clevelandclinic.org for a quit plan.
2. A chronic, dry cough can sometimes be the only symptom of asthma (and can trigger vomiting). Get a diagnosis and a treatment plan before you have a breath-stopping attack.
3. Bronchitis, pneumonia or whooping cough can produce heavy coughing, gagging and vomiting. (Get vaccinations!)
4. ACE inhibitor meds for hypertension and other drugs can cause severe coughing. Talk to your doc about alternatives.
5. Acid reflux into your food pipe and airways can cause irritation and severe coughing. Talk to your doc about diet changes. Medication or a Mediterranean diet and eating early can effectively relieve GERD.
Are you high —
on carbs? On fats?
“High Noon.” “Hang ‘Em High.” “High Sierra.” “High Plains Drifter.” When it comes to creating a suspenseful Western, Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood (twice) and Humphrey Bogart all found that you can get a lot of attention by declaring something too high or not high enough. In movies, that’s harmless, but when researchers declare that ditching a high-fat diet for a high-carb one is life-threatening, well, then it’s time for a shootout at the “That’s Not OK Corral.”
A seven-year study called PURE had 135,000 people from 18 countries as diverse as Sweden and Zimbabwe (but not the U.S.) fill out questionnaires about their diet. With that info, researchers concluded that folks eating the most carbs were MORE LIKELY to die during the study period than those who ate the fewest, while those who ate the most fat were LESS LIKELY to die.
What’s off about this? How about their definition of high consumption of fats? It’s average or even low consumption for most Americans. We don’t need more! Plus, what kind of carbs are they talking about? Broccoli and artichokes (life-extending carbs for sure), or foods like white rice crammed with highly processed, refined carbs — from which over 50 percent of Americans and the poorest in other countries get their daily calories? That people around the globe are forced to make poor food choices, leading to premature death, is really the study’s takeaway.
Nine servings daily of carbohydrate-packed fruits and veggies, and sticking with noninflammatory fats like olive oil are PROVEN to help you avoid life-threatening heart disease and cancers.
Avoid unnecessary trips
to the emergency room
In the 2000 movie “Pay It Forward,” the storyline is all about doing good deeds for strangers who, in turn, pass on a good deed to someone they don’t know. One example: A stranger gives a journalist a jazzy new Jaguar S-Type when the writer’s car is damaged in an accident. When asked why he’s doing it, the stranger says that recently he took his daughter to the emergency department while she was having an asthma attack. She wasn’t getting the care she needed until a wounded thug in the ER went ballistic (literally) in order to help the girl — and probably saved her life. Now he wanted to do something that was unexpected and generous for someone else.
The frustrations of waiting for hours in a crowded ER, well, that’s something most folks have experienced at one time or another. Wouldn’t it be a lot nicer if you could avoid these visits all together?
Maybe you can! Researchers at the UCSF Department of Emergency Medicine looked at data on 424 million ER visits and identified the “avoidable” reasons people end up there (“avoidable” was defined as visits that did not require any diagnostic or screening services, procedures or medications and were discharged home).
The top three preventive solutions were:
1. Alcohol-related problems: Seek help for dependency or abuse problems.
2. Mood disorders: See an M.D. therapist who can offer talk/cognitive therapy and medication.
3. Dental-related disorders (mostly toothaches): Get a checkup 1-2 times annually, brush twice and floss daily.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.