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Posted - Nov. 24, 2004 at 8:20 a.m.



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Nov 24, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- MANY THANKSGIVING FOODS HEALTHY

The November issue of the Harvard Heart Letter says many Thanksgiving foods are healthy food choices for U.S. adults and children. A 3-ounce serving of skinless white meat contains 25 grams of fat, and less than 1 gram of saturated fat, but the dark meat has more saturated fat than white meat. Eating the skin, though, adds a hefty serving of bad fats. Cranberries should be eaten more often because they are packed with dozens of different antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, beta carotene, potassium and fiber, while pumpkin -- before the pie crust -- is low in fat and loaded with potassium and other important vitamins. Pecans also are great sources for heart-healthy fats.

COOK FOODS THOROUGHLY

Britain's Public Health Laboratory found 88 percent of the reported cases of domestic food poisoning were from family social functions. "Foodborne outbreaks in the home seemed to occur when individuals catered for larger groups than usual," said Sarah O'Brien of the PHL. "People may not have a problem cooking for their families, but many hosts, unused to preparing food for large numbers of people, undercooked meals, failed to keep food stored correctly and allowed food to become cross-contaminated, by using the same knife or surface to chop uncooked and cooked meats." Chicken dishes and food containing raw egg were identified as the biggest source of post-party illness, by the British researchers.

FOLIC ACID PREVENTS SPINA BIFIDA

Texas researchers find 70 percent of cases of spina bifida are preventable by folic acid supplementation at conception and during early pregnancy. Spina bifida results from the failure of the neural tube -- the embryonic form of the brain and spinal cord -- to fuse, and is one of the most common malformations. The cause is not known in most cases, but Laura Mitchell, of the Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, says spina bifida cases can be prevented by maternal folic acid supplementation around the time of conception. The mechanism is unknown, but it is likely to include genes that regulate folate transport and metabolism, says Mitchell. "Spina bifida is the only birth defect for which there have been tremendous successes in both treatment and prevention," the authors write in The Lancet.

ACUPUNCTURE, DRUG MORE EFFECTIVE

Acupuncture as complementary therapy to drug treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee is more effective than drug treatment alone, a Spanish study finds. The research, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at 88 patients treated for osteoarthritis of the knee -- one who received acupuncture plus diclofenac -- an anti-inflammatory drug -- and the others who had placebo acupuncture plus diclofenac. The acupuncture group had a greater reduction in pain and stiffness, improved physical functioning and quality of life than the placebo group.

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(EDITORS: For information on the Harvard Heart Letter, contact (877) 649-9457. For FOLIC ACID, Laura Mitchell at (713) 677-7582 or lmitchell@ibt.tamushsc.edu.)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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