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Is your blood better tasting to mosquitos than others?

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Horror movies, books and fan-fics are always trying to claim that vampires gravitate towards a specific flavor of blood- that they can sense it even before one crimson drop hits their tongue.

Some of it’s milky, some sweet.

Even the fake blood used on set has a specific taste. In a Vanity Fair interviewTrue Blood’s Kristin Bauer admitted the prop is “really sweet, like sugar water.”

“I turned the bottle around once and read the ingredients,” she said. “It’s corn syrup, red dye, and gelatin. It’s amazing some of the things the special-effects people on True Blood can cook up.”

But the lore associated with vampire’s taste buds might not be too far off from the truth.

Mosquitos are attracted to a certain type of blood also.

Metabolism and body chemistry play a huge roll in the aroma and flavors of your blood.

Yahoo! Health explores some more interesting factors in what distinguishes your blood as a top shelf beverage or a stale leftover dish.

You’re their type

Mosquitoes are nearly twice as likely to land on people with type 0 blood than those with type A, according to a Japanese study. Most people secrete substances that allow mosquitoes to identify blood type before they bite.

Drunk on you

According to a study published in Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, beer also increases your likeliness of being biten. The researchers reported that, “Mosquito landing on volunteers significantly increased after beer ingestion compared with before ingestion.”

It must be the moon

The tiny bloodsuckers are 500 times more active when the moon is full, reports the American Mosquito Control Association. Overall, the highest risk times for mosquito bites are dusk and dawn, with the females of some species migrating up to 40 miles in pursuit of a meal. Male mosquitoes don’t bite.

Stinky feet

Scientist Bart Knols used his own body as a guinea pig to see which parts mosquitos bite most. Sitting in his underwear, he found that 75 percent of the bugs homed in on his feet. But after he washed them with deodorant soap, the mosquitos bit randomly. His team also reported that stinky cheeses, such as Limburger—which has the same odoriferous compound responsible for foot odor—also draws mosquitoes.

Of mosquitos and mothers

Expectant mothers get bitten about twice as often as women who aren’t pregnant, increasing their risk for bug-borne diseases, according to a study conducted in Gambia. The researchers hypothesized that since women in the later stages of pregnancy exhale 21 percent more volume, mosquitos were drawn in by the moisture and carbon dioxide in their breath. They also found that pregnant women’s abdomens are nearly 1 degree warmer, which may cause more volatile substances—released in sweat and attractive to mosquitos—to be present on their skin.

You can run, but you can’t hide

Both the carbon dioxide we exhale and substances in sweat, such as lactic acid, help mosquitoes home in on their prey. As a result, Dr. Koehler reports. “You’re more likely to be bitten if you’re running or exercising than when you’re at rest, since you’re breathing harder and sweating more.” In fact, physical activity ups risk for bites by as much as 50 percent, according to AMCA.

Dark and devious

Many insects, like bees, are attracted to bright colors resembling a flower. Not mosquitos. Dark-colored clothing can increase your risk of being bitten, compared to lighter-colored garments. In one study comparing the appeal of various hues to mosquitoes, the researchers reported  the following results:  black (most attractive); red (very attractive); grey and blue (neutral); khaki, green, light khaki, and yellow (less attractive).

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Olive oil; Good for you, but don’t cook with it

When you think of the Mediterranean you think of beautiful beaches, rocky coastline, exotic locals with tan skin and healthy appetites. The Mediterranean diet has long been thought to promote a healthy lifestyle and long life. And one of the major components of this diet if olive oil.

Drizzle it over a salad or infuse it with herbs to make a dipping sauce for bread, olive oil is thought to have many heath benefits. In fact, a 2003 study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “participants who had the highest consumption of olive oil consumed less cereal and baked goods but more eggs and vegetables, and had a higher vitamin intake than those who consumed the least amount of olive oil.”  The oleic acid found in olive oil has also been the subject of expanding research when it comes to insulin resistance, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. “Oleic acid can directly alter the activity of certain cancer genes and appears to have anti-cancer effects that may be part of the Mediterranean diet’s health benefits. This primary MUFA in extra virgin olive oil may also help to lower a person’s risk of insulin resistance as well as favorably altering some of the blood fat patterns that can be associated with risk of cardiovascular disease,” according to World’s Healthiest Foods. Health and olive oil seem to go hand in hand.

When I first got on the Paleo Diet in January, I noticed that many guides and recipes warned me repeatedly not to cook with olive oil. I blindly followed, always saying I would research it later. As a student of journalism, it is unnatural for me to just blindly follow anything without investigating it further and double checking against different sources, especially since I am no food expert and merely an experimenter. So the thought continued ragging on me until today when I did looked into the matter further.

So why shouldn’t we cook with olive oil?

Each oil has a certain smoke point. A smoke point is the temperature at which visible gaseous vapor from the heating of oil becomes evident. Basically it’s a sign when the decomposition of oil begins to take place. Decomposition changes the  chemical makeup of the oil and can reduced flavor and nutritional value and also cause harmful cancer causing compounds, called oxygen radicals.

So what’s the smoke point of olive oil?

Interestingly enough, there are different smoke points for different types of olive oil. Ever wonder what the difference between extra virgin olive oil and refined oil is? So did I. According to WHF:

  • Extra-virgin: derived from the first pressing of the olives (has the most delicate flavor).
  • Fine virgin: created from the second pressing of the olives.
  • Refined oil: unlike extra-virgin and fine virgin olive oils, which only use mechanical means to press the oil, refined oil is created by using chemicals to extract the oil from the olives.
  • Pure oil: a bit of a misnomer, it indicates oil that is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils.

It’s important to know which kind you are working with because each have different smoke points. Refine oil has a higher smoke point. Unfortunately, companies list different smoke points on their labels, which range from 220F to437F.

I buy the Filippo Berio brand Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They recommend 82F is the perfect temperature to taste. Furthermore, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not exposed to any damaging heat or chemicals from refining and it has no artificial preservatives or flavors.

So what are the alternatives?

Instead of cooking with olive oil, try cooking with butter. A spray or just a plain stick will work. Also, coconut oil is another good, natural cooking solution. Still love the taste of olive oil? Try drizzling you sautéed vegetables with olive oil after you’ve prepared them. Or create a salad dressing or sauce with herbs to flavor your food.

And remember the closer you get to virgin, the purer it’ll be 😉

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Could eating magic mushrooms become the new medical marijuana?

“Drugs are bad, mkay.”

Those are famous words coined by Mr. Mackey, South Park’s school counselor. Children and young adults often hear those words (minus the “mkay”) from their own teachers, school speakers and parents throughout their young lives.

 But more and more studies are attempting to prove that a drug is actually good. They say that eating magic mushrooms may help people with  depression and other health issues.

Hmmm, is this going to turn into another medical marijuana epidemic?

Photo Credit: creepydrawings.blogspot.com

The  hallucinogenic chemical compound in the mushroom, psilocybin, helps ” turn off the parts of the brain that integrate sensations – seeing, hearing, feeling – with thinking,” according to an article on The Chart.

Wait…what? It’s going to turn off seeing, hearing, feeling? Wouldn’t that make me some kind of mindless zombie?

The study also found “that the more psilocybin shuts off the brain, the greater the feeling of being in an altered state of consciousness. [] It’s not the same as dreaming, because you’re fully conscious and aware.” Yea…this is also known as tripping.

Obviously, being in an altered state of consciousness can make one less depressed. Why do people drink after a stressful or bad event? Why do people abuse pills? To feel good.

Getting someone high is not a cure. It’s a cover-up.

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