In 1966, country-music icon Johnny Cash released his 23rd album, "Everybody Loves a Nut." Filled with novelty songs, such as the title tune ("Everybody loves a nut; the whole world loves a weirdo; Brains are in a rut, but everybody loves a nut"), he was sure right about one thing. Nuts are worthy of big love — for the amazing health benefits they bestow.
Their most recently discovered gift is weight control! Seems eating 1 ounce of whole nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter daily in place of red or processed meat, french fries or desserts may prevent long-term gradual weight gain and obesity. In a recent study presented at the American Heart Association meeting, Brazil nuts were the star; they increase a sense of fullness and stabilize glucose and insulin responses. But all tree nuts, almonds and walnuts included, plus peanuts (a legume) provide substantial benefits.
The key: Don't add nuts' calories (almonds have 146 per ounce, Brazil nuts 196) to your daily intake. Replace other foods with them. You'll tamp down your appetite and up your nutritional powers.
Other benefits: One study found that a higher intake of nuts is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death from respiratory disease, diabetes and infections. Another shows the mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, proteins, fibers, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds in nuts help prevent or treat elevated glucose and LDL cholesterol levels and bodywide inflammation. Clearly, you'd be nuts not to take advantage of this tasty way to improve your health.
More pets, less allergies, more steps
In case you didn't notice this past football season (Cleveland Browns fans sure did), the Dawg Pound on Lake Erie is back! After finally getting rid of a coach who had a win/loss record of 3 and 40 over two-plus years, the Browns, led by quarterback Baker Mayfield and other fresh talent, put together their best record (7-8-1) since 2007.
Dogs have a way of being good for body and spirit. And that is confirmed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin who recently found that infants and newborns who are exposed to dogs are less likely to develop certain types of allergic diseases, such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and asthma. Yet another study from Sweden's University of Gothenburg found that infants growing up with three or more pets had even fewer allergies at ages 7 to 9 than kids who had only one or no pets.
All the researchers believe that early-childhood exposure to animals (the Swedes call it the "mini farm" effect) bolsters or preps a child's quickly developing immune system, sort of like an inoculation. It seems if you bring a newborn into your home and you have a dog and/or a cat — and your child doesn't have an allergic reaction — well, that doubles the likelihood that the child will dodge allergies later in life.
So, we say, "Go Dawgs." And moms and dads with young kids, we know that you have a lot on your hands. But walking that pup will help you get in your 10,000 steps a day!
Rosemary as gut biome balancer
Rosemary Clooney's first big hit was "Come On-A My House" in 1951. It sold over a million copies. She also appeared in "White Christmas" (1954), opposite Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and had five children with Jose Ferrer. But these days, she's best remembered as George Clooney's aunt.
Back in the 1950s, Rosemary was a smash hit. We bet today she'd be happy to know that her namesake herb, rosemary, is taking center stage. Recent studies show that it can help people achieve and maintain a healthy gut biome.
One study of the essential oil in rosemary found that it can improve probiotic levels, by decreasing E. coli counts and fungi that cause gas, bloating, irregular bowel movements and even fatigue. That also helps alleviate heartburn and indigestion that's due to overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.
Rosemary is approved for dyspepsia, high blood pressure, alopecia and rheumatism by the German Commission E. But doses are small: 1-2 grams per day in 5 ounces of hot water. The oil is only topical. And overdosing can cause everything from seizures to miscarriage.
So, skip the supplements and cook with it - it's great on roasted veggies. Dr. Mike loves to season his roasted asparagus with it. And give Dr. Oz's rosemary smoothie a try (the recipe's on www.DoctorOz.com.) Or drop fresh sprigs into a bottle of olive oil for use on salads and chicken. If you grow it in a garden or find it in the wild, rub your hands on the leaves for immediate aromatherapy.
Show some skin (to your dermatologist)
In 2003, LPGA pro Annika Sorenstam took on the PGA's Phil Mickelson, Freddy Couples and Mark O'Meara in a "skins tournament." Playing for a cash prize at every hole (a skin), she managed to sink a 39-yard chip from a bunker for eagle to win four skins and $175,000.
Tour golfers, male or female, whether they're playing skins or not, are well-aware (cautionary tales abound) that constant sun exposure puts them at increased risk for skin cancer. Around 178,560 cases of melanoma (the deadliest form) were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018. Of those, it's estimated 87,290 were confined to the top layer of skin and most easily treated. Early detection is important.
The results of one recent study that tracked more than 77,000 people for 12 years found that routine skin exams significantly increased the likelihood of spotting skin cancers. However, a recent Cochrane Library Special Collection: Diagnosing Skin Cancer makes it clear that a quick look from your GP isn't sufficient.
Cochrane researchers found "visual inspection using the naked eye alone is not good enough, and melanomas may be missed." However, when used by a specialist, dermoscopy - a technique using a magnifying lens and powerful lighting system to zoom in on a mole and the underlying skin - is significantly better at diagnosing melanoma.
So, make an appointment with a dermatologist for a head-to-toe dermoscopy. And use SPF 30-plus on exposed skin year-round. Less than one-third of melanomas develop from existing moles; most appear on the skin as new spots.
Sugary sodas and kidney disease
Coca-Cola's first recipe (1892) included sugar, caffeine, water - and, yes, it was rumored to include leaves of the coca plant and/or processed cocaine. The concoction was marketed as "the ideal brain tonic" that "relieves physical and mental exhaustion." Legend has it that in the early 1900s the "Coca" was removed from the popular drink. (That's when it became known as a "soft" drink.)
We now know that today's Coca-Cola and other sugary soft drinks aren't an ideal tonic in any way. One study found that drinking one or more sugary sodas a day increases your risk for Type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. There's also research showing that sugary beverages are associated with harm to various organ systems.
• A study in Circulation looked at 40,000 men for 20 years and found that guys who averaged one daily can of any sugary beverage had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack, or dying from one, than guys who rarely drank them.
• A recent study in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology looked at 3,000 African-American adults over an eight-year period. Roughly 6 percent of them developed kidney disease, and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages significantly increased their risk. Another related study found an association between sugary beverages and elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. That condition is linked to gout.
Clearly, you reap what you soda! So-duh, make your own! Mix still or seltzer water with lemon, orange or pineapple juice or berries. Add mulled mint for some natural zing.
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.