Almost Half of All U.S. Adults Have Heart Disease or High Blood Pressure

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.—and it seems as if the problem is only getting worse. Nearly half of American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to a new report released by the American Heart Association.

The report, the AHA’s annual Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update, was published in the journal Circulation on Thursday. For the gigantic report, a panel of experts looked at data from a range of sources (including government reports and clinical trials) to find statistics on cardiovascular disease, which was defined as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or high blood pressure.

The results showed that 48 percent of American adults (which is about 121.5 million people) have some form of heart disease, and that heart disease is also contributing to an increasing number of deaths. For instance, the report found that that there were 840,678 deaths from the disease in 2016, which is up from 836,546 in 2015.

This reality is something we should all be thinking about, Mariell Jessup, M.D., chief science and medical officer of the American Heart Association, tells SELF. “People need to see that number of 48 percent and realize the odds of an individual having some form of cardiovascular disease is very high,” she says.

Experts say there are a few factors that could be contributing to this trend.

The major issues often come down to lifestyle factors: lack of exercise, smoking, obesity, and not making lifestyle changes when other risk factors for heart disease are present. “The fact that humans have embraced an unhealthy lifestyle contributes to the fact that cardiovascular disease is the scourge of the United States and the rest of the world,” Dr. Jessup says.

That said, people are more active than they’ve been in the past. Adults reported that they’re moving more: In 2016, just 26.9 adults reported being inactive, compared to 40.2 percent in 2005. Unfortunately, they’re still not moving as much as they should. For instance, only 27.1 percent of high school students reported getting at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity, which the authors said in the report is “likely an overestimation of those actually meeting the guidelines.” Federal guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise of 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise and do muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week—and only 22.5 percent of adults said they’re actually doing that.

Rates of smoking, a habit that’s a known risk factor for heart disease, still have a way to go, too, Helene Glassberg, M.D., an associate professor of clinical cardiovascular medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, tells SELF. While adult smoking rates are dropping—nearly 80 percent of adults said they were nonsmokers between 2015 and 2016, up from 73 percent in 1999 to 2000—there are still plenty of people who are engaging in the habit. That may change in the future, though: Nearly 95 percent of kids between the ages of 12 to 19 were nonsmokers in 2015 to 2016, which is a huge change from 76 percent reported between 1999 and 2000.

Although the link between heart disease and excess weight is incredibly complicated and poorly understood, the AHA consistently names obesity as a major risk factor for cardiovascular issues. And obesity rates may be contributing to the rates of cardiovascular disease, Dr. Glassberg says. Nearly 40 percent of adults and 18.5 percent of kids were classified as obese during the report period, and 7.7 percent of adults and 5.6 percent of children were classified as severely obese.

People also aren’t being proactive about their heart disease risk the way they should. “Many Americans have at least one of the major risk factors that cause heart disease, and many are controllable or at least manageable,” Dr. Glassberg says, citing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, inactivity, being overweight, and smoking among them. “When they’re treated, this significantly lowers the risk of having a heart attack. But many people aren’t doing that.”

If you take high blood pressure out of the equation, 9 percent of American adults (or 24.3 million) qualify for having cardiovascular disease, the report says. However, high blood pressure shouldn’t be discounted: It’s a major risk factor for developing stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease, Sanjiv Patel, M.D., a cardiologist at MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells SELF. “High blood pressure creeps up on you and many people don’t know they have it until it causes a stroke or heart attack,” he says.

If you’re worried about your own risk for heart disease or high blood pressure, there are a few things you can do.

First off, it’s important to note that the AHA and American College of Cardiology changed the definition of high blood pressure in their hypertension guidelines in 2017 (after much of the data in the report was collected). Previously, people were classified as having hypertension if they had a blood pressure reading of 140/90 or above, but it’s now defined as 130/80 or above. So, if you haven’t gotten your blood pressure checked recently, now is the time to do that—even if it hasn’t changed much, you might be in a different hypertension category now.

The report points out that about 80 percent of all heart disease can be preventing by controlling high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, as well as living a healthy lifestyle. That includes not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being active, and doing your best to keep a healthy weight.

If your job makes it tough to be active during the day, it’s crucial to find time to work out around that, even if it’s going for a brisk walk, Dr. Patel says. “You need to move,” he says. “It can make a big difference in your health.”

It’s also crucial to “know your numbers,” Dr. Glassberg says, which means blood pressure but also cholesterol. “Doing regular cholesterol and blood pressure checks can bring your risk factors to your doctor’s attention long before a heart attack happens.”

Getting a general physical exam (where these things are usually monitored) regularly is also important, Dr. Jessup says. (Exact recommendations on how often you should get one vary by age, but MedlinePlus suggests that you see your doctor for a physical every one to two years if you’re between 18 and 39, and every year if you’re over 40.)

If your doctor does find that you have a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, take their advice to follow steps to make a change, whether it’s through lifestyle changes or medication. “The good news is that a significant percentage of cardiovascular disease is totally preventable with lifestyle changes and modern medicine,” Dr. Jessup says.


Fear of Flying: How to Finally Overcome Yours

I know a little something about having a fear of flying. About six months ago, on a flight from New Jersey to California, I had a panic attack. It was likely induced by a lack of sleep, which provokes my anxiety, and my fear of becoming panicked on the plane, which is ultimately exactly what occurred.

While I haven’t been formally diagnosed with panic attacks, I’ve known since grammar school that anxiety is the reason why I sometimes experience moments of intense dread accompanied by physical symptoms like sweaty palms, extreme nausea, and trouble breathing.

My plane landed safely, and I had an amazing time on my trip, but my flight experience was obviously less than ideal. Although I made it through my return trip without having a panic attack, I found myself in a similarly excruciating circumstance on a more recent flight, this one to Florida. I got off the plane never wanting to feel trapped in the sky again.

To get closer to that reality, I spoke to three psychologists with experience treating people who have a fear of flying. Here, they offer up some of the best ways to deal with flight anxiety.

Why does a fear of flying happen in the first place?

“The fear of flying [can be] a confluence of many different phobias,” Martin Seif, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and head of Freedom to Fly, a workshop for fearful fliers held in New York’s Westchester County Airport, tells SELF. Being afraid of heights, tight spaces, social situations, or leaving your comfort zone can all make you scared of flying, Seif explains.

In other cases, people experience flight anxiety because they have had a bad experience on a previous flight, Alexander Alvarado, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in phobias and anxiety and owner of Thriving Mind Psychology, a private practice in New York City, tells SELF. Or they might have never flown before, so they’re not sure what to expect. The complex mechanics of aviation don’t help; many people are nervous to fly because they don’t understand how planes function. (It is kind of wild that they can just…stay up like that.)

Panic attacks, like the ones I’ve experienced, are another common reason for flight anxiety. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), panic attacks are characterized by a swift onset of overwhelming fear or dread, along with at least four physical or psychological symptoms like trembling, feeling out of breath, chest pain, and fear of dying.

If you experience repeated panic attacks without an obvious trigger, you could have panic disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). A common characteristic of panic disorder is intense fear about having another panic attack, particularly in situations where you’ve had one in the past. So, if you previously had a panic attack in a grocery store or on a cramped airplane, you may be more likely to experience debilitating worry whenever you’re at the grocery store or on a plane.

Even if you don’t have a panic attack when flying, you might spend the entire flight afraid of experiencing one, Seif says. This can lead to you avoiding flying even when you’d theoretically like to travel.

A fear of flying can get so severe that it becomes an anxiety disorder.

Also known as aviophobia, a fear of flying is listed in the DSM-5 as a specific phobia. That means you have an intense fear of an object or situation that is out of proportion to the actual risk involved, according to the Mayo Clinic. For a flight phobia, symptoms would include things like avoiding flying (or feeling panicked if you absolutely have to fly), a spike in anxiety when you even think about getting on a plane, and physical reactions like shaking.

Specific phobias are some of the most common anxiety disorders, but there’s a range here when it comes to a fear of flying. You can be scared of flying without actually having a phobia. The latter involves long-lasting, life-disrupting physical and psychological reactions to air travel.

Wherever you fall on the fear-of-flying spectrum, there are tactics you can try to reduce your anxiety.

Learning about aviation can help tame a fear of flying for some people.

Since a fear of flying can stem from a lack of understanding, learning more about how planes work may help.

As part of Seif’s Freedom to Fly program, participants learn aviation facts to counter their anxious thoughts. “Anxiety … [is] fueled by ‘what if’ catastrophic thinking,” says Seif. Through education about aviation, those who fear flying learn to challenge this thought process.

“If someone has the thought, ‘I can’t fly because it’s more dangerous [than driving] and I could crash,’ learning about flying might help them have a counter-thought, which is, ‘Planes are actually safer than driving in a car,’” Gabrielle Avery-Peck, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders including panic disorder and specific phobias, tells SELF. Knowing more about aviation means you can tell yourself that the bump you hear isn’t the plane falling apart—it’s the landing gear extending. You’ll know that turbulence is basically a plane’s version of a car going over potholes, not a sign that the flight’s going down.

Learning about aviation on your own is more likely going to help with a less severe fear of flying, not an actual phobia. With that in mind, if you decide to do this, it’s important to be mindful of how you conduct aviation research.

Focusing on aviation disasters could just make your fear of flying worse.

Avery-Peck warns that there’s a fine line between learning just enough about aviation and learning so much that you freak yourself out even more.

One huge reason flying is so safe today is that aviation experts have changed flying equipment and protocol based on past crashes. If you’re researching aviation, you might stumble upon a lot of graphic information about how certain plane crashes happened. Depending on how your mind works, these details might fuel your fear even more.

It’s also possible for aviation research to become a “safety behavior” for people with a fear of flying, Avery-Peck says. That means it’s something you do because you feel it will protect you when it really won’t at all. It’s basically like a mental crutch. At that point, you’re no longer learning about aviation to reframe your pre-existing notions about flying. You might instead be reinforcing the idea that reading everything you can about planes is the only way you’ll be safe when you fly, which isn’t constructive in the long run.

Here are some resources for learning about aviation in a helpful way.

Not sure where exactly to begin? Start here:

  • Look at this list from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, which explains common noises associated with each step of flying. It may help you avoid catastrophic thinking when you hear a noise you otherwise wouldn’t be able to identify.
  • Read a book meant to help with a fear of flying. Some, like Patrick Smith’s Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel, are actually written by pilots who can explain aviation in laypeople’s terms.
  • Watch informational videos from various airlines, like those offered by British Airways. You can virtually tour some of their popular aircrafts and learn about basic airplane functions for free.
  • Use online self-help guides, like this free one offered by The Anxiety Disorders Treatment Center of Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina. It offers a step-by-step resource for understanding and overcoming your fear of flying.
  • Google “fearful flier program near me.” Fearful flier programs can offer a variety of techniques such as one-on-one coaching, educational courses on aviation, and sometimes in-person or virtual reality airport and airplane tours. Some programs, like Seif’s Freedom to Fly, even offer the option of a “graduation flight” at the end of the program, where you go on a short flight with a psychologist as well as a group of other fearful fliers.
  • Take a flying lesson at a flight academy near you. Often called “discovery flights,” these typically involve taking a short flight in a small plane so a pilot can explain the technicalities of flying to you. (Of course, do your research to make sure anywhere you do this is safe and properly licensed, and don’t force yourself to do this if you’re terrified.)

If you feel like learning about aviation on your own might just make things worse, or if you’ve tried and you’re not seeing progress, Avery-Peck says it may help to seek guidance from a mental health professional.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most common therapeutic approaches for fear of flying.

Through CBT, people learn to reframe their thoughts and challenge the beliefs they have about their fears, Avery-Peck says.

A CBT technique known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) can be especially useful for a fear of flying, Avery-Peck says. It involves exposing someone to a situation that stokes fear, then training them to cope with those feelings in a healthy way. Avery-Peck uses virtual reality (VR) to help accomplish this with those who have a fear of flying.

“The virtual reality will walk them through waiting at home, having a cab pick them up, driving to the airport, waiting at the gate, walking onto the plane, then being on the plane itself,” she says. Some practices may even try to personalize your VR experience by capturing and using footage from the particular airport you’re flying out of, Alvarado says, explaining that his practice does this when possible.

When using ERP with VR, a therapist might ask you to recreate the physical feeling of being anxious by doing jumping jacks to increase your heart rate or hyperventilating so you’re breathing abnormally. Your therapist can also equip you with techniques like deep breathing to learn how to calm the physiological signals that are contributing to your anxiety.

“The goal is to get used to your anxiety,” Avery-Peck says. “We inadvertently keep ourselves anxious by interpreting our physiological symptoms as dangerous. [Your body] can learn that something is scary, but it can also unlearn that something is scary.”

If your flight anxiety is really affecting your life, it’s important to get a psychological assessment. Only then can you work toward overcoming your fear of flying. To find help, try Googling “fear of flying therapy near me” or looking through resources like Psychology Today and GoodTherapy for practitioners specializing in anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks. The right therapist can help you work on your coping skills through CBT and other measures, help you identify if something you’re not aware of is contributing to your fear of flying, and explain if you might benefit from anti-anxiety medication when you fly.

While my panic attacks have never made me not want to fly, they have made the experience very uncomfortable at times. Now that I know there are so many options for tackling my fear, I’m hopeful that anxiety-free flights are in my future.


How to Sleep When Pregnant: 7 Ways to Make Sleep More Comfortable

Pregnancy can make it hard to do a lot of everyday things, including getting the sweet, sweet sleep you know you’re going to miss once your baby arrives. Luckily, figuring out how to sleep when pregnant doesn’t have to be impossible. There are a few tweaks you can make—both before you get into bed and once you’re between the sheets—to help make sleep a little more comfortable when you’re expecting.

1. Sleep on your side.

The further along you are in your pregnancy, the more uncomfortable it might be to sleep on your stomach. And sleeping on your back when you’re pregnant can lead to backaches, hemorrhoids, breathing issues, and even low blood pressure, the American Pregnancy Association says—all of which can screw with your ability to sleep comfortably at night. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommends that you sleep on your side, specifically pointing to how it can help with back pain.

Beyond that, a growing body of research is investigating a potential link between back sleeping and stillbirth, which is when a pregnancy is lost after 20 weeks, though the data on this isn’t conclusive so it isn’t currently a factor in the side-sleeping recommendations.

2. Put one or two pillows between your bent knees.

“Bending your knees can help stabilize you,” Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells SELF. That way, you’re less likely to feel uncomfortable or roll over onto your back. And the pillows? Those are to prevent back pain, which can be a major issue when you’re pregnant for a few reasons.

One is the strain your growing belly puts on your back muscles. As your pregnancy develops, your uterus becomes heavier and you naturally bend forward, ACOG explains. To keep you from toppling over, your posture changes, so you might lean backward, causing your back muscles to work harder.

Your abdominal muscles also tend to get stretched out and weaker than usual when you’re pregnant, and that can mess with the stability of your spine and increase your risk of hurting your back, ACOG says. Also, during pregnancy, your body releases the hormone relaxin to loosen up the ligaments in joints in your pelvis so the baby can eventually fit through the birth canal. This is a clutch way of your body looking out for you and the baby, but it can also cause pain if your joints become too flexible.

All of this leads to ACOG’s recommendation to put one or two pillows between your knees before you sleep. That extra cushioning can help keep your spine straight and alleviate pressure on your spine, hips, and surrounding nerves, Medhat Mikhael, M.D., a pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Spine Health Center at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells SELF. (You can try using body pillows made specifically for pregnancy if that’s more comfortable.)

3. Avoid eating any heartburn triggers before bed.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but eating right before you go to bed increases the odds that you’ll wind up with heartburn. This can occur during pregnancy because your digestive system works more slowly due to changing hormone levels, the Cleveland Clinic says. Your larger-than-usual uterus can also crowd your stomach and thrust digestive acids upward, creating heartburn in the process.

You may have noticed that certain items are more likely to trigger your heartburn, like spicy foods, citrus, chocolate, and fatty or fried foods, according to the Mayo Clinic. Or perhaps eating anything beyond a certain time does it for you.

Either way, follow the cues your body is giving you. If you notice you only get heartburn at night when you eat certain things, try to limit those to earlier in the day. If you notice it happens when you at anything at all in a certain period before bed, see if you can switch up mealtimes so you’re less inclined to snack right before you go to sleep.

4. Prop up the head of your bed.

If heartburn is the bane of your existence, you might find it helpful to keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of it. “This uses gravity as an advantage and should help you sleep better if you struggle with heartburn,” board-certified sleep medicine researcher and neurologist W. Christopher Winter, M.D., of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine and author of the book, The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It, tells SELF.

You can do this by propping up that side of your bed, the Cleveland Clinic says, or simply by placing a mound of pillows under your shoulders.

5. Exercise regularly.

If you’re glaring at this suggestion through a haze of fatigue, we get it. Pregnancy can be tiring enough. But getting even 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, like by walking or cycling, can wear you out enough to help improve the quality of your sleep, The National Sleep Foundation says.

Over time, this can also do your back a solid, Neel Anand, M.D., professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles, tells SELF. “Exercise can be one of the best ways to relieve back pain during pregnancy because it strengthens muscles at the same time as increasing flexibility,” he says.

6. Stretch your legs at night.

There’s nothing like wildly painful leg cramps to jolt you awake in the middle of the night. While it’s thought that pressure from your growing uterus may play a role here, “We don’t really know the exact cause of this in pregnancy,” Dr. Greves says.

To help lower the odds you’ll wake up in agony, Dr. Greves recommends making sure you’re well-hydrated (dehydration can increase your risk of cramping) and stretching your calves before you go to bed. Ask your ob/gyn which stretches in particular they suggest.

7. Pee at the very last second before you get into bed.

We can’t wrap up this list without talking about your pee.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, your blood volume increases, so your kidneys have to process extra fluid, the Mayo Clinic explains. All of this ends up in your bladder as more pee than you’re used to. Then, as a bonus, the baby gets heavier and starts to move down through your pelvis in the third trimester.

Your poor bladder is dealing with a ton of pressure at this point, so you might feel like you have to pee all the freaking time, including in the middle of the night. To try to avoid that annoying bathroom trip, Dr. Shepherd recommends peeing right before you climb into bed. It won’t always do the trick, but it’s worth a try.


Looking to choose a healthy post-workout snack? Decide early, study says

You’ve just exercised for an hour, tracking the burned calories with a sense of satisfaction. Then comes a choice: munch on an apple or indulge in the chocolatey goodness of a brownie?

A post-exercise snack can threaten to undo the gains (or losses) of a workout. But the decision itself may depend on when you make it, according to a new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The takeaway? Avoiding delay can keep temptation at bay.

Nebraska’s Karsten Koehler, Christopher Gustafson and their colleagues conducted an experiment that asked two groups of participants to go about their normal workout routines while wearing motion-tracking accelerometers, supposedly to calibrate them.

Before exercising, members of one group decided whether they wanted an apple, brownie or no snack following the exercise session — an offer framed as a reward for calibrating the accelerometers. Members of the other group were presented with the same choice after they had already exercised.

Roughly 74 percent of participants who were asked prior to the workout session chose an apple, compared with 55 percent of those asked afterward — making the latter about one-third less likely to favor the fruit. And whereas just 14 percent of the pre-exercise group selected the brownie, about 20 percent of the post-workout group decided to indulge.

The findings suggest that simply committing in advance to a post-exercise snack may increase the odds of eating more nutritiously, the researchers said.

“We found that there was very little research on this very tangible thing that I think everyone can relate to,” said Koehler, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences. “If your goal is to lose weight, then I would say our findings support that you’re better off making the choice … not when you’re hungry after your workout, but instead before you go to the gym.”

That recommendation, and the data undergirding it, echoes broader research on the dynamics between timing and food choice. Prior studies have consistently shown that people are more willing to indulge when making immediate dietary decisions than when thinking ahead, said Gustafson, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

“Our study conformed very closely to the ideas in behavioral economics about this present-biased preference (for unhealthier options),” Gustafson said. “Using solely that model, I would’ve predicted that people would be more likely to choose the healthy snack when choosing before they exercise.”

The study’s design also put two other theoretical models to the test. One, known as compensatory eating, suggests that people consume more calorie-dense food in the aftermath of exercise to make up for calories expended during a workout. Yet the other model, exercise-induced anorexia, proposes that exercise can suppress appetite-related hormones and consequently lead people to eat less.

“There have been a lot of lab studies that have looked at appetite and hunger,” Koehler said. “Most of these studies have found that right after exercise, you seem to be less hungry. I’ve always looked at these studies and wondered: Does it have such a strong impact that you can use this window after you exercise to say, ‘Because I’m not hungry, I’m going to make a really good choice about what I eat’? But knowing myself and many other exercisers, there’s also the notion that after you exercise, you want to reward yourself.”

Despite the seeming contradiction, the team found indications of both. Though modest, the 6-percent increase in brownie choice between the pre- and post-exercise groups supported the notion of compensatory eating. And the evidence for exercise-induced anorexia was clear: The 12-percent fraction that declined a snack in the pre-exercise condition rose to 25 percent in the post-exercise group.

Plenty of questions remain, the researchers said. Did the rise in brownie choice stem more from the immediacy of the decision-making or the sway of compensatory eating? What differentiates those who exhibit compensatory eating vs. exercise-induced anorexia? Would a larger menu of options — one that better approximates a real scenario — alter the outcomes?

The answers may lie in more detailed experiments that Koehler, Gustafson and their colleagues are already busy conducting.

“We’re from two different academic backgrounds,” Gustafson said, “and I think both of our fields have a perspective on the questions that we’re looking at.”

The team reported its findings in the journal Nutrients. Koehler and Gustafson authored the study with Nebraska’s Ajai Ammachathram, assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences; Nigina Rakhmatullaeva, graduate student in agricultural economics; Safiya Beckford, graduate student in nutrition and exercise physiology; and Alexander Cristobal, senior in nutritional science and dietetics.

The researchers received support from the University of Nebraska’s Food for Health Collaboration Initiative.

Exercise benefits brains, changes blood flow in older adults, study finds

Exercise training alters brain blood flow and improves cognitive performance in older adults, though not in the way you might think. A new study published by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that exercise was associated with improved brain function in a group of adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and a decrease in the blood flow in key brain regions.

“A reduction in blood flow may seem a little contrary to what you would assume happens after going on an exercise program,” explained Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “But after 12-weeks of exercise, adults with MCI experienced decreases in cerebral blood flow. They simultaneously improved significantly in their scores on cognitive tests.”

Dr. Smith explains that for those beginning to experience subtle memory loss, the brain is in “crisis mode” and may try to compensate for the inability to function optimally by increasing cerebral blood flow. While elevated cerebral blood flow is usually considered beneficial to brain function, there is evidence to suggest it may actually be a harbinger of further memory loss in those diagnosed with MCI. The results of the study by Dr. Smith and his team suggest exercise may have the potential to reduce this compensatory blood flow and improve cognitive efficiency in those in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

A control group of cognitively healthy older adults without mild cognitive impairment also underwent the exercise training program, consisting of four 30-minute sessions of moderate-intensity treadmill walking per week. But the program yielded different responses from each group.

Unlike the group with MCI, whose exercise training decreased cerebral blood flow, the exercise training increased cerebral blood flow in the frontal cortex in the healthy group after 12 weeks. Their performance on the cognitive tests also significantly improved, as was observed the MCI group.

For this study, changes in cerebral blood flow were measured in specific brain regions that are known to be involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, including the insula (involved in perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning), the anterior cingulate cortex (involved in decision making , anticipation, impulse control and emotion) and the inferior frontal gyrus (involved in language processing and speech).

Specifically, among those with MCI, the decreased cerebral blood flow in the left insula and in the left anterior cingulate cortex were strongly correlated with improved performance on a word association test used to measure memory and cognitive health.

A previous publication from this study led by Dr. Smith focused on how the exercise intervention influenced changes in the brain’s neural networks known to be associated with memory loss and amyloid accumulation, which are both signs of MCI and Alzheimer’s.

“Our findings provide evidence that exercise can improve brain function in people who already have cognitive decline,” Dr. Smith said optimistically. “We have an interest in targeting people who are at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s earlier in the disease process. We are seeing that exercise can impact biomarkers of brain function in a way that might protect people by preventing or postponing the onset of dementia.”

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Materials provided by University of Maryland. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

How Worried Do You Need to Be About Asbestos in Baby Powder and Other Talc Products?

Baby powder. Who would think such a seemingly innocuous product would be the cause of such a large amount of controversy? But several high-profile court cases and multimillion-dollar verdicts later, it seems that the question of whether or not using talc-containing baby powder increases the risk for cancer is becoming only more pressing—and the potential link may be coming into focus.

In December, Reuters released a report alleging that Johnson & Johnson covered up the presence of asbestos in the talc included in their baby powder products for decades, possibly providing a mechanism by which a series of cancer cases could be traced back to the use of the powder. And a New York Times investigation raised similar concerns.

So what do these revelations mean for consumers? And how do they fit in with what we know about the risks of using talc powder?

Here’s what you should know about the new allegations.

The Reuters investigation alleges that Johnson & Johnson knew that some of their talc was contaminated long after they claimed it was asbestos-free. According to the two investigations, testing over the past several decades of Johnson & Johnson’s talc products turned up positive results for small amounts of asbestos as early as 1957. But, the investigations allege, the company never revealed the presence of asbestos in its talc to the public.

However, Johnson & Johnson firmly denies that the powder was contaminated. For example, the company notes that the Reuters article cited asbestos-contaminated talc in samples from 1984, 1985, and 1986, but those samples (sourced from Windsor Minerals) were from “three California talc properties that we sourced for industrial talc use—not cosmetic. WSI and grade TC-700 have never been associated with Vermont, where we sourced our cosmetic talcs in the 1980s,” Ernie W. Knewitz, vice president of media relations at Johnson & Johnson, tells SELF. “Thousands of tests” by the company and others have shown that their talc does not contain asbestos, he said, directing SELF to the company’s information on talc safety and to two statements and two advertisements defending its products.

The company also notes that it has fully cooperated with the FDA and other global regulators when questions have arisen. According to one of the statements from J&J, the New York Times report “ignores independent, peer-reviewed studies of tens of thousands of women and more than 1,000 men by the nation’s foremost research institutions found that our talc does not cause cancer or asbestos-related disease, while instead pointing to studies ‘conducted in the past few years by plaintiffs’ lawyers’ to support their premise.”

Talc isn’t thought to be dangerous, but that could change if it’s contaminated with asbestos.

Scientists have previously been skeptical of the idea that exposure to talc increases the risk for cancer partly because there wasn’t a clear biological mechanism. But the presence of asbestos could change that.

Asbestos occurs naturally as bundles of fibers made up of minerals, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s typically found in soil and rock throughout the world. These fibers can come in curly or straight forms, and they have been used in recent years in insulation, roof shingles, some types of cement, and brake parts, among other products. But through the 20th century, it became clear that dust or liquids containing asbestos can be carcinogenic.

The biggest risk identified is lung cancer, as the asbestos is inhaled and can lead to cancer development, potentially due to a process involving inflammation and cell death. Asbestos exposure is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue covering your internal organs, most often the lungs.

Because the talc that’s in talcum powder is also a mineral, some can be naturally contaminated with asbestos. The talc that is used in human cosmetic products is, in theory, free from asbestos contamination since the 1970s, when stricter testing and monitoring of talc began following a report of asbestos in 10 of 19 tested talc products. (It should be noted that the three Johnson & Johnson products tested in that study did not show evidence of asbestos).

But the claim that all talc products have been asbestos-free since this time has come under scrutiny in the latest Reuters investigation and makes the risk calculus much more complicated. Basically, if it’s true that some cosmetic talc products could have been contaminated with asbestos, it’s possible that they could be more dangerous that we previously thought.

Still, the last 30 years of research haven’t been conclusive.

If asbestos has remained in talcum powder in recent decades, this could provide an alternative mechanism for carcinogenesis. That said, epidemiological studies from the past 30 years examining talcum powder use and cancer have failed to conclusively demonstrate an increased risk. The research that has linked talcum powder to ovarian cancer was based on “shaky data,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University, previously told SELF.

Looking at the Nurses’ Health Study, over 78,000 women who used talc-containing products were examined for risk of ovarian cancer. A small increased risk was seen for talc users and invasive serous ovarian cancer, but no increase was demonstrated for ovarian cancer overall and no dose-response relationship was found (meaning that those who used talc more frequently were not found to be more likely to develop cancer). A case-control study with fewer women also found a small increased risk only in some cancer types (again, including invasive serous tumors); risk also seemed to vary depending on use of hormone therapy. A study of over 61,000 women in the Women’s Health Study found no increased risk.

There are fewer studies examining mesothelioma risk due to talcum powder. One looked at data from three studies of individuals who were exposed via their occupation as talc miners, and found “no epidemiological evidence to support the hypothesis that exposure to cosmetic talc is associated with the development of pleural mesothelioma.” While this is not the same group who would be using talc cosmetically, presumably miners would be in contact with higher levels of talc over a longer period of time.

Johnson & Johnson is correct that most studies contradict the claims against them. For instance, a recent study examining the presence of asbestos in talcum products from the 1940s to 1970s found no trace of asbestos in the tested products, suggesting that if contamination existed, it was rare. A simulation of exposure to talc products from the 1960s and 1970s found “no appreciable exposure or risk of asbestos-related disease” in their study. And research done by the FDA from 2009-2010 likewise found no asbestos in samples both from talc suppliers nor from talc-containing cosmetics purchased in retail stores. Though several high-profile lawsuits have suggested a link between ovarian cancer and talc use, science is not decided in a court of law.

The FDA did confirm that it’s looking into the allegations. “The FDA takes the possible presence of asbestos in cosmetics very seriously. The FDA will investigate reports related to the presence of asbestos in talcum powder and take appropriate actions to protect consumers,” the agency told SELF in an email.

“We continue to use several means to monitor cosmetic safety generally, including conducting research, to help ensure that cosmetics available to American consumers are safe,” the FDA continued. “We have also formed an interagency working group to reach consensus on the analytical testing methodologies for measuring asbestos in talc samples. Specifically, the work group is focusing its efforts around developing better methods of identification and detection of asbestos as a contaminant in talc. As we move forward in this initiative we will engage with stakeholders and provide opportunities for public input. We look forward to sharing more information in the future.”

One issue is that it’s difficult to tease out the risks associated with talc individually from those associated with asbestos, Daniel Cramer, M.D., an ovarian cancer epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, tells SELF. Many studies examining talc use and cancer development are limited by “poor detail on the degree of exposure,” he says, and this is even worse when trying to determine exposure to not just talc but also possible asbestos contamination (which may have varied in the past between different products). “To be sure, if asbestos can be documented to be in current products then that would raise regulatory issues likely to take the products off the market,” he explains.

“The questions being raised recently are at what point were we sure that there were no further asbestos contamination issues,” Dr. Minkin told SELF when contacted again for this article. “I am still of the opinion in my read of the literature that pure talc is not an issue, and does not raise the risk of ovarian cancer. But we shall see what further information becomes available as far as asbestos questions.”

So, how worried should you be?

For now, if you have concerns about talcum powder, simply don’t use it. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends against the use of talcum powder in the vaginal area, even though they note that “There is no medical consensus that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer.”

Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages use of baby powder, noting that “If inhaled, talcum-containing powders can cause severe lung damage and breathing problems in babies.” Although the AAP doesn’t address inhalational risks of caregivers diapering babies, it seems like an unnecessary risk when diaper cream can be used instead of powder, and products containing cornstarch can be used in lieu of talcum powder.

Ultimately, the decision to use talc is up to you. But if you’re at all concerned, you can talk it through with your doctor and know that you have plenty of other options.


Fasting ramps up human metabolism, study shows

Fasting may help people lose weight, but new research suggests going without food may also boost human metabolic activity, generate antioxidants, and help reverse some effects of aging. Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and Kyoto University identified 30 previously-unreported substances whose quantity increases during fasting and indicate a variety of health benefits.

“We have been researching aging and metabolism for many years and decided to search for unknown health effects in human fasting,” said Dr. Takayuki Teruya, first author of the paper and a technician in the OIST G0 Cell Unit, led by Prof. Mitsuhiro Yanagida. “Contrary to the original expectation, it turned out that fasting induced metabolic activation rather actively.”

The study, published January 29, 2019 in Scientific Reports, presents an analysis of whole human blood, plasma, and red blood cells drawn from four fasting individuals. The researchers monitored changing levels of metabolites — substances formed during the chemical processes that grant organisms energy and allow them to grow. The results revealed 44 metabolites, including 30 that were previously unrecognized, that increased universally among subjects between 1.5- to 60-fold within just 58 hours of fasting.

In previous research, the G0 Cell Unit identified various metabolites whose quantities decline with age, including three known as leucine, isoleucine, and ophthalmic acid. In fasting individuals, these metabolites increase in level, suggesting a mechanism by which fasting could help increase longevity.

“These are very important metabolites for maintenance of muscle and antioxidant activity, respectively,” said Teruya. “This result suggests the possibility of a rejuvenating effect by fasting, which was not known until now.”

Metabolites Give Clues to Mechanism and Health Effects

The human body tends to utilize carbohydrates for quick energy — when they’re available. When starved of carbs, the body begins looting its alternate energy stores. The act of “energy substitution” leaves a trail of evidence, namely metabolites known as butyrates, carnitines, and branched-chain amino acids. These well-known markers of energy substitution have been shown to accumulate during fasting.

But fasting appears to elicit effects far beyond energy substitution. In their comprehensive analysis of human blood, the researchers noted both established fasting markers and many more. For example, they found a global increase in substances produced by the citric acid cycle, a process by which organisms release energy stored in the chemical bonds of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. The marked increase suggests that, during fasting, the tiny powerhouses running every cell are thrown into overdrive.

Fasting also appeared to enhance the metabolism of purine and pyrimidine, chemical substances which play key roles in gene expression and protein synthesis. The finding suggests fasting may reprogram which proteins cells build at what time, thus altering their function. The change may promote homeostasis in cells, or serve to edit their gene expression in response to environmental influences.

When metabolized, purine and pyrimidine also boost the body’s production of antioxidants. Several antioxidants, such as ergothioneine and carnosine, were found to increase significantly over the 58-hour study period. Antioxidants serve to protect cells from free radicals produced during metabolism. Products of a metabolic pathway called the “pentose phosphate pathway” also stay the harmful effects of oxidation, and were similarly seen to increase during fasting, but only in plasma.

Newfound Health Benefits of Fasting?

The authors suggest that these antioxidative effects may stand as the body’s principal response to fasting, as starvation can foster a dangerously oxidative internal environment. Their exploratory study provides the first evidence of antioxidants as a fasting marker. In addition, the study introduces the novel notion that fasting might boost production of several age-related metabolites, abundant in young people, but depleted in old.

“Recent aging studies have shown that caloric restriction and fasting have a prolonging effect on lifespan in model animals…but the detailed mechanism has remained a mystery,” said Teruya. “It might be possible to verify the anti-aging effect from various viewpoints by developing exercise programs or drugs capable of causing the metabolic reaction similar to fasting.”

The findings expand on established ideas of what fasting could do for human health. The next step would be to replicate these results in a larger study, or investigate how the metabolic changes might be triggered by other means.

“People are interested in whether human beings can enjoy the effects of prevention of metabolic diseases and prolonging life span by fasting or caloric restriction, as with model animals,” said Teruya. “Understanding the metabolic changes caused by fasting is expected to give us wisdom for maintaining health.”

Learning new vocabulary during deep sleep

Sleeping time is sometimes considered unproductive time. This raises the question whether the time spent asleep could be used more productively — e.g. for learning a new language? To date sleep research focused on the stabilization and strengthening (consolidation) of memories that had been formed during preceding wakefulness. However, learning during sleep has rarely been examined. There is considerable evidence for wake-learned information undergoing a recapitulation by replay in the sleeping brain. The replay during sleep strengthens the still fragile memory traces und embeds the newly acquired information in the preexisting store of knowledge.

If re-play during sleep improves the storage of wake-learned information, then first-play — i.e., the initial processing of new information — should also be feasible during sleep, potentially carving out a memory trace that lasts into wakefulness. This was the research question of Katharina Henke, Marc Züst und Simon Ruch of the Institute of Psychology and of the Interfaculty Research Cooperation “Decoding Sleep” at the University of Bern, Switzerland. These investigators now showed for the first time that new foreign words and their translation words could be associated during a midday nap with associations stored into wakefulness. Following waking, participants could reactivate the sleep-formed associations to access word meanings when represented with the formerly sleep-played foreign words. The hippocampus, a brain structure essential for wake associative learning, also supported the retrieval of sleep-formed associations. The results of this experiment are published open access in the scientific journal Current Biology.

The brain cells’ active states are central for sleep-learning

The research group of Katharina Henke examined whether a sleeping person is able to form new semantic associations between played foreign words and translation words during the brain cells’ active states, the so-called “Up-states.” When we reach deep sleep stages, our brain cells progressively coordinate their activity. During deep sleep, the brain cells are commonly active for a brief period of time before they jointly enter into a state of brief inactivity. The active state is called “Up-state” and the inactive state “Down-state.” The two states alternate about every half-second.

Semantic associations between sleep-played words of an artificial language and their German translations words were only encoded and stored, if the second word of a pair was repeatedly (2, 3 or 4 times) played during an Up-state. E.g., when a sleeping person heard the word pairs “tofer = key” and “guga = elephant,” then after waking they were able to categorize with a better-than-chance accuracy whether the sleep-played foreign words denominated something large (“Guga”) or small (“Tofer”). “It was interesting that language areas of the brain and the hippocampus — the brain’s essential memory hub — were activated during the wake retrieval of sleep-learned vocabulary because these brain structures normally mediate wake learning of new vocabulary,” says Marc Züst, co-first-author of this paper. “These brain structures appear to mediate memory formation independently of the prevailing state of consciousness — unconscious during deep sleep, conscious during wakefulness.”

Memory formation does not require consciousness

Besides its practical relevance, this new evidence for sleep-learning challenges current theories of sleep and theories of memory. The notion of sleep as an encapsulated mental state, in which we are detached from the physical environment is no longer tenable. “We could disprove that sophisticated learning be impossible during deep sleep,” says Simon Ruch, co-first-author. The current results underscore a new theoretical notion of the relationship between memory and consciousness that Katharina Henke published in 2010 (Nature Reviews Neuroscience). “In how far and with what consequences deep sleep can be utilized for the acquisition of new information will be a topic of research in upcoming years,” says Katharina Henke.

Decoding sleep

The research group of Katharina Henke is part of the Interfaculty Research Cooperation “Decoding Sleep: From Neurons to Health & Mind” (IRC). Decoding Sleep is a large, interdisciplinary research project that is financed by the University of Bern, Switzerland. Thirteen research groups in medicine, biology, psychology, and informatics are part of the IRC. The aim of these research groups is to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in sleep, consciousness, and cognition.

The reported study was carried out in collaboration with Roland Wiest who is affiliated with the Support Center for Advanced Neuroimaging (SCAN) at the Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology, Inselspital, University of Bern. Both research groups also belong to the BENESCO consortium, which consists of 22 interdisciplinary research groups specialized in sleep medicine, epilepsy and research on altered states of consciousness.

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Risk aversion rises with violent crime

Fear in the wake of violent conflicts causes people to take fewer risks, which may come at the expense of bettering their lives and the economy.

In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Colorado Denver used longitudinal survey data taken before and after the onset of the Mexican war on drugs to find a causal link between the fear of violence and its impact on the risk-taking attitudes of individuals living in affected communities.

Previous research on risk preferences has relied on data gathered only after a violent event, and found insecure environments made residents either more risk tolerant or had no effect at all.

But this new study, “Impact of Violent Crime on Risk Aversion: Evidence from the Mexican Drug War,” published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, found the opposite is true. By also using data collected before the rise in crime, it found that fear had a profound effect on the residents, leading them to express more cautious attitudes toward risk. This change has the potential to have a widespread and long-lasting impact on the economy, as risk tolerance is associated with opening a business, investing in education and migrating to greater opportunities.

“We wondered if risk attitudes determined the environment in which someone lives, or if the environment determined their risk attitudes,” said Ryan Brown, assistant professor of economics in CU Denver’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “When you’re only looking at people after an event, some have moved away, others stop answering their door or won’t fill out your survey. This was our chance to study people before and after an event that caught everyone unaware. If you don’t look across time to see the whole picture, you’re going to miss a lot of that.”

Brown and his team found the whole picture in the Mexican Family Life Survey, a longitudinal survey of more than 35,000 people living in more than 8,400 households in 16 states across the country. The initial survey, conducted in 2002, explored how people’s economic behavior changed over time. To assess risk attitudes, the survey asked respondents to choose between hypothetical gambles with different payoffs, in which options that offered a higher expected payoff also involved greater risk.

The first follow-up was conducted from 2005 to 2006, a time of relatively stable levels of violent crime. The second follow-up was conducted after a major escalation in violence, from 2009 to 2012, shortly after President Felipe Calderón declared a war on drugs in 2006. The policy change splintered cartels, and homicide rates across the country soared. As a result, some communities that were never exposed to drug violence were overwhelmed.

The researchers discovered that an increase of one homicide per 10,000 people increased the likelihood of being in the longitudinal study’s most risk-averse category by 5 percent. Uniquely, the researchers provided evidence that this relationship was predominately caused by an increase in feelings of fear.

“We understood why being in an insecure environment would change your risk preferences, but until now, we didn’t know the mechanisms behind it,” said Brown. “This study allows us to rule out the policy mechanism; that improving access to health care, the economic environment or mental health will make a difference.

Instead, we’re left with a much more difficult question: How do you fix fear?”

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Should You Get an Air Fryer? Here’s What Food Bloggers and a Registered Dietitian Say

Since I first heard about air fryers, I’ve frequently wondered if I should get one for myself. Like many, I’m a fan of fried food, and I’m always looking for fun and useful kitchen tools to add to my collection. But as often as I’ve thought about investing in an air fryer, I’ve also questioned whether it’s worth purchasing at all. After all, I’ve never personally tried food from an air fryer, so I have no way of knowing whether or not it actually makes uncanny “fried” food, or if that’s all just a bunch of hype.

I could definitely see an air fryer being a worthwhile purchase if the claims were in fact true. Making authentic fried food at home is virtually impossible without a deep-fryer, a piece of machinery that’s hard to set up, harder to clean, and a massive space hog. Not to mention, just one deep-frying session can leave your place smelling and feeling as greasy as fast food kitchen—I’m speaking from experience.

So instead of continuing to wonder, I asked experts with prior air fryer-cooking experience for their honest opinion of the tool. I also asked a registered dietitian if the air-fried food is as healthy as it claims to be. Whatever your reservations may be, their answers may be just the convincing you needed.

First of all, an air fryer is an appliance that uses hot air and a bit of oil to “fry” food.

“At the most basic level, an air fryer is just an extremely efficient countertop convection oven,” Mike Le, co-creator of I Am a Food Blog, tells SELF. Unlike a conventional oven—which is heated by a stationary source that’s usually at the bottom of the oven—convection ovens use fans to circulate hot air all around so that food cooks more evenly. So an air fryer is basically a mini version of a convection oven that he explains “can heat up in minutes and blasts more direct air than a regular convection oven could ever do.”

With a fraction of the oil, cooking experts say it can “fry” certain foods as well as a deep-fryer. Convection ovens are the only other device with similar capabilities.

With hot air, an air-fryer doesn’t need to rely on a lot of oil to make food taste fried, and Le, who has a number of air fryer recipes on his blog, says that’s true for the most part. “We’ve loved everything we’ve fried so far for the same reasons,” he says, “all the nooks and crannies get super crispy and delicious.”

Heidi Larsen, creator of Foodie Crush agrees that air-fried food is as tasty as it’s advertised to be. “The air fryer quickly cooks the food and does so quite evenly, so chicken and other proteins come out juicy on the inside while crisp out,” she tells SELF.

And dietitians say it can be a lower-fat alternative to fried foods, if that’s something you’re looking for, but it’s not necessarily as “healthy” as it’s touted to be.

Maxine Yeung, M.S., R.D., tells SELF that air-fried food definitely has a lower fat content than actual fried food, which is great if that’s something you’re interested in, but that doesn’t mean the food it makes is healthier per se. She says that it comes down to how you prepare your food before you put it in the air fryer and what you serve it with. For example, if you air-fry chicken with a thick, bread-y coating or pair it with a bunch of sugary dipping sauces, your meal your meal will have a different nutrition content than if you ate that chicken with, say, a bunch of roasted vegetables.

In any case, Yeung recommends it as an exciting tool for adventurous cooks.

And kitchen professionals think that it can be a worthwhile purchase, too.

“An air fryer is fun!” says Le, “in the same way that you experiment when you first get a deep fryer, we find ourselves asking, ‘can this be air-fried?” He also likes it because it’s a lot more economical than deep-frying, which requires a lot of (expensive) oil.

There are a couple things you’ll want to take into consideration, like an air fryer’s high price.

Air fryers range in price anywhere from $60 to $300, which can feel like a lot if you’re not super into fried food (or even if you are TBH). But you don’t need to spend a lot for one that works well. Larsen uses a NuWave Air Fryer, which she says works great and will only put you back about $100—compared to full-size convection ovens, which can cost up to thousands of dollars, that’s a steal.

And its large size—if you don’t have a lot of free counter space, you might want to skip this one.

If you barely have enough counter space for a slow-cooker, an air fryer might not be the best fit for you at the moment. But if you have plenty of room, and you don’t want to invest in a convection oven, it will open up a world of cooking possibilities for you.

It’s not as easy to set up as other appliances.

Using an air fryer isn’t as intuitive as something like a slow-cooker, which is why Yeung says you might want to avoid it if you don’t enjoy complicated recipes. “[Using] an air fryer isn’t as simple as dipping food into a vat of oil and waiting a few minutes,” she explains.

But what it lacks in simplicity it makes up for in efficiency.

“I love how fast it comes to temp and the lack of cleanup,” says Le. He also likes that the temperature and timer functions are similar to an Instant Pot set-up, in that you can easily set them and forget them.

If you have decided to invest in an air fryer, there are a couple of things you should never try to cook in it.

“Anything very wet or battered will probably just stay very wet,” says Le. “Anything that needs that instant hit of heat to work (like donuts) will probably not work at all.”

Every other food is fair game, but these are the ones that experts have found turn out the best.

“We love air frying tofu, broccoli, and Taiwanese chicken nuggets,” says Le, “[and] we’ve even air-fried bread to make croutons.”

So, should you get one?

If you love making fried food without also making a huge mess, and you have a decent amount of space in your kitchen, the answer is yes. If you’re lukewarm on fried food or your kitchen is tiny, skip it for now.

Try these amazing recipes if or when you add an air fryer to your kitchen.

Crispy Parmesan Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Parmesan and chicken tenders are pretty much my dream come true. Get the recipe here.

Roasted Broccoli

Perfectly roasted broccoli that you didn’t even have to turn the oven on for. Get the recipe here.

Air Fryer Tofu

Get super crispy tofu, without the hassle of using a deep-fryer.