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Dec 03, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- THIS SEASON, GIVE THEM NUTS

Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and other nuts are tasty and healthy treats for the holidays, researchers say. Contrary to popular fears that all fats may be harmful, those in nuts actually are beneficial to the heart, said clinical nutritionist Lona Sandon of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "A handful a day of most nuts may lower the risk of heart disease, and nuts are a great source of protein," she said. "Nuts contain high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are known to lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol -- the bad kind of cholesterol -- levels in the blood and reduce the risk of heart disease."


As winter approaches it's a good time to remember symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills hundreds of Americans each year. A colorless and odorless gas, carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of fuels, including the oil and gas used to power indoor furnaces, ranges, water heaters, room heaters and vehicles. "In most cases, the exposures are the result of poorly installed appliances, including substituting gas appliances to heat the home," said Dr. Greene Shepherd, professor of emergency medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. People who experience initial symptoms -- including headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness -- should get fresh air immediately, call the fire department and seek medical care.


Glycerin -- popular in skin care products for centuries -- also has real therapeutic value, says a study from the Medical College of Georgia. Drs. Wendy Bollag and Xiangjian Zheng say the natural alcohol glycerol also makes skin look and function better by interacting with enzymes and controlling the continual production of new, healthy cells. "We think the glycerol is serving as a substrate to allow the skin to mature properly and, when you don't have enough glycerol in the skin, cells don't mature properly and that is why you get hyper-proliferative, thick skin," Bollag says. While further research is necessary, the findings may ultimately help people with diseases resulting from abnormal skin cell cycling, such as psoriasis and non-melanoma skin cancers, and may augment wound-healing.


This holiday season, practice safe uncorking -- champagne is festive but cork projectiles can cause serious eye injuries. Some people suffer ruptured globes, detached retinas and painful bruising from uncorking accidents, a University of Texas study cautions. Ophthalmologist Preston Blomquist recommends the following safety tips:

-Chill champagne and sparkling wine to at least 45 degrees because a cork in a cold bottle is less likely to pop unexpectedly.

-Hold the cork down while removing the wire hood and point the bottle away from people at a 45-degree angle.

-Place a towel over the entire top of the bottle, grasp the cork, and slowly and firmly twist the cork with a slight upward pull. Continue until the cork is almost out of the neck. Counter the outward force of the cork by applying slight downward pressure just as the cork breaks free from the bottle.


(EDITORS: For more information on NUTS contact Amy Shields at (214) 648-3404. For CARBON MONOXIDE contact Rachel Horton at (214) 648-3404. For GLYCERIN contact Toni Baker at (706) 721-4421 or For BUBBLY contact Staishy Bostick Siem at (214) 648-3404)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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