Today’s Headlines: Apples, Crossing the Street and Saffron

Apples help keep medications away, not doctors. The old refrain about an apple a day may have to be changed as a result of new research that found that the fruit do seem to minimize the need for medications. “The researchers set out to tackle a light-hearted question: is a proverb about apples that dates back to at least the 1800s really true? To find the answer, they compared apple eaters to abstainers, using data from 8,399 U.S. adults who completed questionnaires between 2007 and 2010 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Just 753 participants, or 9 percent, ate at least one small apple day. Apple eaters in the study had higher educational attainment, were more likely to be from a racial or ethnic minority, and were less likely to smoke. And at first blush, apple eaters seemed more likely to keep the doctor away, with fewer self-reported visits to health care providers. But the difference wasn’t statistically significant after adjusting for socioeconomic factors and other health characteristics. The apple eaters did appear to be significantly more likely to avoid prescription medications.” The researchers point out that the finding is just an association and that more apple eating is probably just an indicator of a healthier lifestyle. Those who eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains have been found to have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. (Reuters)

When crossing, look the driver in the eyes. Crossing the road can be dangerous and, in some cases, deadly. New research has found that making eye contact with drivers before crossing can help keep you safe. “Drivers stopped more often if pedestrians looked directly into their eyes as the car approached the crosswalk than when they didn’t make eye contact, according to the study. Men were more likely than women to stop if the pedestrian staring at them was a man.” The team had test subjects cross when either staring at the driver or looking away. “Overall, about two-thirds of drivers stopped for women compared with 58% for men. But when eye contact was made with drivers, 68% stopped for the pedestrians, compared with 55% of drivers who stopped without eye contact. When the pedestrian was a man, male drivers were 30% more likely to stop when stared at, compared with no staring. But when a woman pedestrian made eye contact, male drivers were 20% more likely to stop.” The researchers think the eye contact may help pedestrians assert their dominance over drivers. It also helps make sure the driver actually sees you before they go through the intersection. (WSJ)

Saffron supplements may help with post-workout pain. You might be more familiar with using saffron  in recipes, but research released this week has found that it may also be help the body recover after a bout of intense exercise. “Researchers in Iran recruited 39 men, who didn’t participate in regular vigorous exercise and were about 18 years old, for the study. Twelve men took daily capsules containing 300 milligrams of powdered saffron, one week before and three days after a strenuous exercise session. Another 12 men took indomethacin, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. or NSAID, three times a day. Fifteen controls received placebo pills. The exercise session consisted of four sets of 20 repetitions on a leg-press machine with a weight load equal to 80% of the subject’s maximum muscle capacity. Only the right leg was used. The saffron group was pain-free for three days after the session. The indomethacin group experienced minor pain at 24 hours that disappeared after 72 hours. Controls reported severe muscle pain for three days, which peaked at 48 hours.” While the results are promising, the findings need to be repeated with more people to see if the effect applies to the general population. It’s also unknown if consuming saffron after it’s been cooked has the same effect.  (Fox)