Outstanding School Safety Patrollers

— AAA’s Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education honored 12 elementary school-aged AAA School Safety Patrollers from across Maryland, including four from Baltimore County at their annual awards ceremony, which was held on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel in Pikesville. Family along with school and law enforcement officials attended the event.

Established in 1920, the AAA School Safety Patrol is one of AAA’s oldest programs. More than 600,000 children throughout the country participate in the program by protecting their classmates from traffic hazards on their way to and from school. Over 93,000 patrollers alone are in the mid-Atlantic region, with nearly 30,000 in Maryland.

Nominated by their school, the honorees were selected based on the criteria of exemplary leadership and dependability. Each student received a $100 VISA gift card, a Wegmans gift card and a plaque recognizing their accomplishments.

Inaugural Annapolis Arts Week Showcases depth of Annapolis’ Arts Scene

— Annapolis’ arts scene will be front and center during Annapolis Arts Week, June 3-11, 2017. Kicking off with the June 2-3 Annapolis Irish Festival and culminating with the newly revamped Arts and Wine Festival at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on June 10-11, the nine-day event is a microcosm of the rich and dynamic visual and performing arts scene that’s alive and well in Annapolis.

A collaborative effort of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County (VAAAC), the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, the Annapolis-based Symmetry Agency and members of the destination’s arts community, Annapolis Arts Week makes it easy for area residents and visitors to immerse themselves in the arts. As VAAAC President and CEO Connie Del Signore sees it, “Annapolis Arts Week provides a snapshot in time of depth and breadth of Annapolis’s thriving arts and entertainment scene. Individuals who visit our Annapolis Arts Week website are likely to recognize events they’ve come to know and love over the years. Art lovers visiting Annapolis any time of the year are likely to come up with the same happy conclusion, ‘It’s easy to get an arts’ fix in Annapolis!’”

More than four months in the making, Annapolis Arts Week got its start when VAAAC Chief Marketing Officer Frank DiVenti and Symmetry Agency principal Ben Isenberg brainstormed about ways of generating headlines for the City’s arts scene. Since Isenberg was already working with City Dock Productions’ Jim Barthold to rebrand the Arts and Wine Festival. DiVenti proposed using the veteran event as the anchor for a weeklong celebration of the arts.

The Symmetry Agency is located within the Arts District on West Street. As principals of the company, Ben Isenberg and Darin Gilliam wanted to give back to the community they work in and love. They volunteered their time to bring arts groups and neighborhood associations together to float the idea of an umbrella event. Attendees were invited to take stock of their upcoming events, exhibitions, gallery openings, performance schedules, etc. and submit them for inclusion on the Annapolis Arts Week website.

Visitors to the Annapolis Arts Week website (annapolisartsweek.com) will find a complete listing of the festivals, block parties, live music, performing arts, gallery exhibits, and classes.

Individuals in the mood for a festival, can enjoy three stages of Irish music, food and culture at the June 2-3 Annapolis Irish Festival. The June 4th First Sunday Arts Festival invites arts lovers to browse the works of more than 130 local artists and crafters. The Maryland Federation of Art’s Paint Annapolis takes center stage June 4-11 featuring plein air painters from Annapolis and around the world.

The June 10-11 Arts and Wine Festival at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium features a lot that’s new. For the first time, the grand finale of the Annapolis Arts Week celebration includes two days of interactive painting as well as an Artist Pavilion presented by Arts Council of Anne Arundel County.

Art lovers who also love food can choose from a host of sweet and savory selections provided by 14 food trucks in the festival’s new Food Truck Rodeo. Last-but-not-least, the event will feature selections from 25 Maryland wineries and music by eleven local bands.

VAAAC’s Del Signore says teamwork made the event possible. “Our neighborhood associations and arts community rallied behind the volunteer leadership of Ben Isenberg and Darin Gilliam to showcase the first-class arts scene Annapolis has to offer.”

Heart Disease in Children…Yes, it happens! And Parents Need to Know About It

— As a pediatric cardiologist, I diagnose and treat children with heart conditions. I also assist families and children with implementing strategies to help prevent the onset of heart-related disease.

Dr. Carissa M. Baker-Smith, , MD, MS, MPH Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine Pediatric Cardiologist, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital

Courtesy Photo/UMMS

Dr. Carissa M. Baker-Smith, , MD, MS, MPH Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine Pediatric Cardiologist, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital

Parents, family members and children are counseled regarding the child’s specific heart findings and when necessary, management and treatment strategies are put into action.

News that Jimmy Kimmel’s son was born with a heart defect was on the front page of the news several weeks ago. Knowledge that his newborn son would need to undergo heart surgery at such a young age gripped the family and those hearing this story.

It is important to note that while not all children with defects of the heart will require heart surgery, many will require lifelong follow-up with a cardiologist. Some may require procedures of the heart such as cardiac catheterization or heart surgery.

In the field of pediatric cardiology, we often talk about two types of heart disease: congenital and acquired.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) refers to defects of the heart that occurred when the heart was forming (first three to eight weeks of pregnancy). CHD can present early or later in a child’s life, depending on the severity of the disease. CHD is actually the most common birth defect in the United States, occurring in 40,000 of the four million live births a year, or nearly one percent of U.S. births.

The other type of heart disease that will impact an even larger number of children and adults is acquired heart disease. Approximately 92.1 million people have at least one type of cardiovascular disease.

Known risk factors for cardiovascular disease include:

•Elevated blood pressure and hypertension

•Lack of physical activity

•High cholesterol

•Unhealthy diet

•Unhealthy weight/obesity/morbid obesity

•Smoking/tobacco Use

•Elevated blood glucose/Diabetes

•Poor sleep and obstructive sleep apnea

It is not uncommon for parents, teachers and other providers to assume that a child is “fine.” Many of the conditions that put children at risk for long-term heart-related problems don’t cause symptoms.

For instance, most children with elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol are unaware that they have either of these conditions.

Parents should know that even if your child’s heart developed normally, decisions that we make in terms of what and how much we feed our children can also have an impact on their heart health.

Children who are of an unhealthy weight or who are obese (weight for height greater than the 95th percentile) are at a much higher risk for diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, and early heart disease as adults.

We as parents must encourage good nutrition and avoid giving our children excessive calories (children are not little adults). Children need far fewer calories in order to grow normally. Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages is important and avoiding or limiting high fat foods is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.

Simple ways to keep our children healthy, include:

•Try to exercise every day

•Eat the green stuff: spinach, broccoli, green beans

•Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages

•Get a good night’s rest

•Drink water!

Tips to help your child lead a healthier life according to the American Heart Association “Life’s Simple 7”: Questions to Ask Yourself as a Parent”

•One out of every 10 children has elevated blood pressure or hypertension. Do you know your child’s blood pressure? Is it abnormal?

•One out of at least 250 children has high cholesterol. If your child is over the age of 10 years, or there is a family history of high cholesterol and your child is over four years of age, do you know your child’s cholesterol level? Is it abnormal?

•Children 12-to-19 years of age should get one hour of physical activity each day. Does your child exercise for less than one hour per day, each week?

•How much does your child weigh? What is his or her body mass index? Is it greater than the 95th percentile? Check Out: https://nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/Calculator.aspx

•Does your child smoke?

•Does your child snore?

•Does your child ever stop breathing when he or she sleeps? Does he or she find it hard to stay awake during the day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may benefit from lifestyle intervention that could potentially have a positive impact on his or heart long-term cardiovascular health.

The most important information that I can share with families is that while youth is protective, decisions we make or help our children to make at an early age can have a dramatic impact on whether they develop heart disease as an adult. No parent wants their child to suffer a heart attack or stroke as an adult, but it is important to note that the risk factors for heart attack and stroke can develop in early childhood.

No fruit juice for kids under 1, pediatricians advise

— Children should not be given fruit juice before they are 1 year old unless it’s advised by a doctor, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The group had previously advised parents to wait to offer juice until a child reached 6 months old but decided to make the change based on rising rates of obesity and concerns about tooth cavities.

“We couldn’t really see any reason why juice was still part of the potential recommendation for 6- to 12-month-old kids,” said Dr. Steven A. Abrams, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, and co-author of the policy statement. “We recommend breastfeeding or formula in that age group, and there really isn’t any need or beneficial role for juice, so we kind of made that adjustment.”

It is the first change to the academy’s fruit juice recommendations since 2001.

It wasn’t “some magical new science” that inspired the alteration, noted Abrams, but rather “this (guideline) hadn’t been looked at in a long time, so we thought it was time to take a close look.”

‘Not good for the teeth’

Children and teens continue to be the top consumers of juice and juice drinks in the US, the policy statement notes.

“The problem is, parents will stick a bottle or sippy cup in the kid’s mouth and kind of leave it there all day. That’s not good from the calorie-intake perspective, and it’s sure not good for the teeth,” Abrams said. “What happens is, the kid then gets used to all the sugar, and then they won’t drink water.”

Despite this important caveat, the academy is standing by juice. The new guidelines state that 100% fresh or reconstituted fruit juice can be a healthy part of a well-balanced diet for children older than 1.

That said, the academy advises parents to limit juice to 4 ounces daily for toddlers between 1 and 3 years old. Juice should be provided in a cup, not a bottle or a box, both of which make it easy to drink juice all day, it says.

For children between 4 and 6, fruit juice should be restricted to 4 to 6 ounces daily. Children between 7 and 18 years old should have no more than 8 ounces (or 1 cup) of juice a day, making up one of the recommended daily 2 to 2½ cups of fruit.

The academy also strongly discourages unpasteurized juice products and says grapefruit juice should not be served to children taking certain medications — ibuprofen, flurbiprofen, warfarin, phenytoin, fluvastatin and amitriptyline — because it interferes with their effects.

Finally, the group says, fruit juice is not appropriate in the treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhea.

“We primarily are supporting that kids learn how to eat fruit rather than fruit juice,” Abrams said. “I think that comes across more strongly than it has before.”

Atlanta pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu, who says the new recommendations are “great,” agrees with this particular advice.

“Even though it’s natural sweetness, (juice) doesn’t have the same benefits as real fruit, because the fruit has fiber to be more filling, whereas juice is just easy to drink and overdo,” said Shu, who did not contribute to the new recommendations.

Sharon Zarabi, a nutritionist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that “with my experience of working with obese adults, we tend to see that what people eat when they’re younger is what sticks with them as they get older.”

Zarabi, who also did not participate in the recommendations, noted that many people mistakenly believe that juice is loaded with vitamins.

“When you isolate fruit into a liquid form, you’re mostly getting sugar water, and it’s easy to consume excess calories in liquid form, and those calories can add up, and they’re void of any protein or fiber, which is usually what helps keep people satiated,” Zarabi said. She recommends eating whole fruit for vitamins instead.

Occasionally beneficial

Shu, who agrees with limiting juice in children’s diets, said it’s sometimes beneficial.

“In general, the time that I tend to recommend juice is if kids have constipation, and apple juice and prune juice can sometimes help with that,” she said.

“I do think there has been a lot of education in press about juice needing to be consumed in moderation,” Shu said. “We do try to encourage parents to think about juice as a sweet, just as you would soda.”

Though there may be pros and cons for different juices, the pediatric academy does not favor one juice over another.

“Some juices naturally have certain vitamins or minerals in them,” Abrams said, noting that orange juice has lots of vitamin C. “But that doesn’t mean that apple juice doesn’t provide vitamin C, because it’s usually fortified.”

Shu advises, “If you’re going to go for ‘better’ juice, in addition to looking for 100% fruit juice, look for calcium and vitamin D supplementation.”

This is especially good for kids who have a dairy intolerance or don’t like to drink milk.

“In moderation, it’s never ‘there’s just one good food or perfect food or one bad food you have to avoid.’ You have to know juice’s place in the healthy diet,” Shu said.

“We prefer simply to let parents make their own decision about that,” Abrams said, “and just focus on limiting the total amount of juice.”

Is chocolate good or bad for health?

— Who doesn’t love chocolate? Even if it’s not your favorite sweet treat, you can probably agree that the confection conjures thoughts of love, pleasure and reward.

But in case you need one more reason (or 10) to celebrate chocolate, just look to science. Studies of chocolate lovers — and even some self-proclaimed “chocoholics” — suggest that it could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, help control blood sugar and slash stress, and on and on.

Research has even backed up some of the more bizarre health benefits that have been ascribed to cocoa. The Mayans used chocolate powder to relieve the runs, and in the last decade, researchers have identified possible diarrhea-blocking chemicals in chocolate. But as for prescribing cocoa to combat syphilis sores, Victorian-era doctors probably missed the mark.

“(Chocolate) is a good antioxidant. It has a good effect on inflammation. We think most of the beneficial effects are because of this,” said Dr. Owais Khawaja, a cardiology fellow at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio. These benefits might include reducing the risk of cancer and dementia, Khawaja said.

However, not all chocolate is created equal. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of chocolate is thought to come from a class of plant nutrients found in cocoa beans called flavonoids. Dark chocolate has more of these than milk chocolate, and white chocolate — which does not actually contain chocolate — is not a good source of flavonoids.

Even a chocolate bar that is 70% cocoa, generally considered dark chocolate, can have varying levels of flavonoid compounds, depending on how it was processed. For example, chocolate that has gone through a chemical step known as dutching, also known as Dutch chocolate, has essentially lost all traces of these compounds.

Then there is the milk and sugar. “What we get commercially is not just the pure chocolate. … I don’t think the milk and sugar in milk chocolate would be that good for you,” Khawaja said.

That could be bad news for those who hope to harness the power of chocolate when they grab a Hershey’s or Snickers bar. Contrary to what the ads said when milk chocolate was introduced in Europe and the United States in the late 1800s, it may not be a nutritious part of our diet.

But we need more research into the effects of consuming all kinds of chocolate, including milk. “There is not enough data as to what form of chocolate is good” and how much chocolate is good, Khawaja said. Studies tend to ask participants about whether they consume chocolate or dark chocolate, but not what kind. To make matters worse, people often forget or misrepresent how much they really eat.

For now, it is probably safe to say that dark chocolate is good — or at least, not bad. “But until we have more data, don’t eat too much. If you’re having a serving once or twice a day, fine. But don’t start having it six times a day,” Khawaja said.

Here’s a look at what doctors, rulers and businesspeople have thought of chocolate through the ages.

500 B.C.: ‘God food’ for everyone

The word “cocoa” comes from “kakawa,” which meant “God food” to the Olmec people who lived in what is now Central America between 1500 and 500 B.C. The ancient Mayan people in what is now Mexico apparently agreed. Researchers have detected chemicals from chocolate in Mayan ceramic vessels dating as far back as 600 B.C. Chocolate, which was often consumed as a thick, foamy beverage, probably only increased in popularity over the following centuries. By the time Europeans discovered the Mayans, chocolate was not just for the gods and the rich. Everyone was drinking it.

1500: Chocolate is the original energy drink

The chocolate beverage scored a huge endorsement when Aztec Emperor Montezuma II, who reigned from 1502 to 1520, called it “the divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink (cocoa) permits man to walk for a whole day without food.”

1577: Got the runs? Take some chocolate

By the 16th century, chocolate was racking up a reputation both in the Americas and in Europe for treating many medical ails, including fever, cough, and stomach and liver problems. In 1577, Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez wrote about how Mexicans toasted cacao beans and ground them into a medicinal powder that “contained dysentery.” Five centuries later, in 2005, researchers found that flavonoid antioxidants in chocolate can block fluid secretion in intestinal cells, at least in the lab, suggesting that cocoa could provide natural diarrheal relief.

1719: Chocolate, it’s what’s for dinner

In his book “The Natural History of Chocolate,” Frenchman D. De Quelus recounted his 15-year-stay in the Americas and concluded that an ounce of chocolate had “as much nourishment as a pound of beef.” Perhaps as evidence to his point, he described a woman who could not chew because of a jaw injury and had to subsist on a diet of chocolate dissolved in hot water with sugar and cinnamon. She was “more lively and robust than before (her) accident,” De Quelus wrote.

1825: A spoonful of chocolate helps the medicine go down

A French pharmacist by the name of Jean-Antoine Brutus Menier opened a factory that coated less-palatable pills with chocolate. When his sons took over, they dropped the medicinal side and turned it into Menier Chocolate (which was eventually sold to Nestle).

1864: Slather chocolate on your syphilis sores

Chocolate was the most pleasant of the ingredients in a balm given to syphilis patients that also included corrosive materials. Chocolate was also used as an antidote for infections with parasitic worms. For that prescription, it was mixed with sugar, cinnamon, tree oil and an antifungal agent called calomel.

1875: Milk chocolate is born

After nearly a decade of experimentation, Swiss inventor Daniel Peter unveiled the “original” milk chocolate, a combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, condensed milk and sugar. Ads proclaimed the product to be a dietary staple more nutritious than coffee and a luxury that was “as distinct from ordinary eating chocolate as the Alps are from foot-hills.” Switzerland had the corner on milk chocolate until Cadbury hit the scene in England in 1904, promising to make “strong men stronger” and generally to be the superlative milk chocolate in terms of nutrition, sustenance and refreshment.

1900: Hershey brings milk chocolate goodness to American soil

Milton S. Hershey made a name for himself in the 1880s by developing a caramel candy so tasty, it killed all competition. By the turn of the century, the famous confectioner had moved on to chocolate. After a reconnaissance mission to Switzerland, the birthplace of milk chocolate, Hershey introduced the 5-cent bar from — where else? — Pennsylvania. Similar to its European predecessors, the bar was marketed as a daily dietary requirement that was “more sustaining than meat.”

1989: Antidepressant could cure chocoholics

Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, texts piled up describing the everything-under-the-sun medicinal purposes of chocolate. But what if you needed medicine to stop yourself from indulging in chocolate? For the first time in medical literature, doctors reported successfully treating two patients with possible chocolate addiction using the then-new antidepressant bupropion, known as Wellbutrin. One of the patients, a middle-aged woman who also suffered from depression, went from eating 2 pounds of chocolate candy a day to having no interest in chocolate after taking bupropion. (She still had a normal appetite for other foods, though.)

1996: Is chocoholism really an addiction?

Research has concluded what most of us already know: Chocolate is the most craved of all foods. The power of chocolate is probably only boosted by the sweetness and creaminess of most chocolate treats. But could it really be addictive in the same way that drugs and alcohol are? Psychologists argue against this possibility. Although chocolate contains caffeine and substances similar to those found in marijuana, it probably does not contain high enough levels to have long-term effects on brain chemistry.

1998: Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food

Forget pizza and French fries; chocolate may be the ultimate of all comfort foods. A study of 330 adults in the United Kingdom suggests that people tend to crave chocolate when they are feeling down, upset or stressed. Experts speculate that this is because eating chocolate, like all enjoyable foods, gives us a rush of endorphins. These are the same feel-good chemicals that our bodies release when we exercise.

2002: Is chocolate a cancer-fighting food?

Is it too good to be true that chocolate fights cancer? Maybe not, according to some emerging data. An antioxidant found in chocolate called catechin was linked with lower rates of lung cancer in a study of elderly Dutch men. A year later, a study of postmenopausal women in the United States found that those who consumed the highest level of catechin had 45% lower risk of rectal cancer, compared with those who consumed the lowest level. However, the authors of the studies pointed out that other foods and drinks, especially tea, apples and pears, are richer sources of catechin than chocolate, and the lower rates of cancer could have more to do with people consuming them.

2004: Like giving chocolate to a crying baby

Pregnant women might want to give in to their chocolate cravings. Women who report eating chocolate every day during their pregnancy go on to describe their babies as being more active and having a better temperament when they are 6 months old. The researchers who conducted the study suggest that chocolate may help mitigate prenatal stress in moms-to-be.

2005: Dark chocolate may fend off diabetes

It’s hard to imagine that chocolate could keep your blood sugar in check, but dark chocolate might have just that effect. In a small study of healthy adults, those who ate half an ounce of dark chocolate a day for 15 days had better insulin sensitivity, and lower blood pressure to boot, than adults who ate a similar amount of white chocolate.

2006: Chocolate is Indians’ secret to a healthy heart

Researchers from the United States traveled to a remote island in Panama to solve a medical mystery: Why are the Kuna Indians who live there free from high blood pressure and other medical ailments, even though they eat as much salt as Americans? The likely explanation, researchers found, is that this population consumes a lot of cocoa-containing beverages, about 10 times the amount of the less traditional Kuna living in Panama City. Previous research suggested that antioxidants in the cocoa plant called flavanols could cause blood vessels to dilate, reducing blood pressure.

2006: This is your brain on chocolate

If chocolate is a drug, at least it doesn’t seem to have scary effects on your brain like in those 1980s public service announcements. A 2006 study carried out brain imaging of young women and observed increased blood flow to the brain after the women drank a cocoa beverage high in flavanol antioxidants for five days. Studies over the next several years found that young women had faster reaction times after consuming dark chocolate and that older adults performed better on a memory test after drinking high-flavanol cocoa beverages for three months.

2006: Maybe chocolate is not an aphrodisiac after all

The Aztec Emperor Montezuma II is said to have sipped on the “divine drink” of chocolate “before visiting his wives.” However, science has not supported a role for chocolate in the bedroom. A study of women in Northern Italy did find that those who reported eating the most chocolate had higher levels of sexual desire and satisfaction. But these women were also younger than the non-chocolate eaters, and researchers concluded that age rather than chocolate consumption probably explained the sexual differences.

2008: Chocolate takes a bite out of inflammation

A study of adults in Italy found that those who ate small to moderate amounts of dark chocolate — up to 0.3 ounces a day, the equivalent of about one and a half Hershey’s Kisses — had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease. But there was a catch. Those who ate more than one-third of an ounce of chocolate a day did not appear to reap any inflammation-lowering benefit.

2010: Chocolate buzz could help chronic fatigue syndrome sufferers

Montezuma II might have been onto something when he deemed chocolate a remedy for fatigue. A small study found that people with severe chronic fatigue syndrome got relief from their symptoms — and some were even able to return to work — after consuming chocolate rich in polyphenol antioxidants for eight weeks.

2011: To be addicting or not to be, that is the chocolate question

Ever lament how chocolate is the perfect food, except when you want to stop eating it? Don’t worry, science understands. A study implicated both the sugar and the cocoa in chocolate for making adults less able to keep themselves from going back for seconds. Tasting chocolate even triggered feelings of euphoria and well-being in these adults, just as addictive drugs can.

But even though chocolate may trigger loss of control, it is probably not addictive, said Jennifer Nasser, associate professor of nutrition sciences at Drexel University and lead author of the study. For one thing, it takes too long for chemicals from chocolate to enter our bloodstream, she said. However, other researchers say sugar can be addicting and can change brain chemistry in a way that resembles drug addiction.

2012: Chocolate could save your skin

Chocolate could team up with beverages such as coffee, tea and cola to drive down your risk of skin cancer. A study of more than 120,000 nurses in the United States revealed that women and men who guzzled the highest amount of these beverages and ate the most chocolate had an 18% and 13% lower risk of developing skin cancer, respectively, presumably because of the caffeine they contain. But the caffeine in a serving of chocolate is piddly compared with that in a cup of coffee: 7 milligrams vs. 137 milligrams.

2015: Is chocolate good for your heart? Let us count the ways.

The blood pressure-lowering power of chocolate could be just the beginning. Researchers uncovered other heart benefits in a large analysis of more than 150,000 men and women in the United States, Europe and Australia who reported eating up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day. Chocolate consumption was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke, a 29% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of dying of heart disease.

Even better news for some, the study found that consuming milk chocolate, often regarded as less healthy than dark chocolate, was also associated with lower risk of heart disease. The authors speculate that ingredients such as calcium in milk chocolate may contribute to this beneficial effect.

Although the authors say the benefits they observed could be due to other foods in the participants’ diets, they do at least take the findings to mean that there “does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.”

2017: Heart flutter study reminds us why chocolate can be complicated

Investigations into whether chocolate could have any other ties to the heart were taken a step further in May.

A study published in the journal Heart, part of the BMJ group, suggested that moderate consumption of chocolate might be tied to a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.

Yet the controversial study came with some serious limitations, and it pinpointed only an association, not a casual relationship.

The study was based on 55,502 adults in Denmark and included self-reported data on how much chocolate each person ate, on average. A serving of chocolate was defined in the study as 1 ounce.

The adults were separated into five groups: those who consumed less than one serving a month; one to three servings a month; one serving a week; two to six servings a week; and one serving or more a day.

Compared with those who said that they ate less than one serving a month on average, the rate of atrial fibrillation was lower for all other groups, the researchers found.

Among women, the strongest inverse association between chocolate and atrial fibrillation was among those who said that they had one serving of chocolate a week, the researchers found. Among men, the strongest was among those who said they had two to six servings a week.

However, the study found only a correlation between a chocolatey diet and heart flutters, not a cause-and-effect relationship. Because of this, even the researchers noted in the study that there’s no way to rule out that something other than chocolate could be driving the study findings.

For instance, there was a smaller percentage of diabetes cases among the study subjects who said they ate more chocolate on average. People with certain chronic conditions, including diabetes, have an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“The chocolate consumers were healthier as they had less hypertension, less diabetes, and lower blood pressure. The chocolate consumers also had higher levels of education,” wrote Duke University Medical Center’s Drs. Jonathan Piccini and Sean Pokorney in an editorial that accompanied the new study.

“Moreover, although the study characterized education level, other socioeconomic factors, such as income, were not accounted for,” they wrote. “Regardless of the limitations of the Danish chocolate study, the findings are interesting and warrant further consideration.”

A Bermuda triangle: Where to eat, stay and play

— The 35th America’s Cup sailing competition begins on May 26 and runs through June 27, and it’s Bermuda’s moment in the sun, though Bermuda is almost always sunny. One step on this island, and it’s impossible not to be moved by its beauty, history, simplicity and charm.

Bermuda is a fish hook-shaped 20.6-square-mile subtropical island in the middle of the North Atlantic, about 700 miles east of New York City and 1,000 miles north of the Caribbean.

Its infamous coral reefs are responsible for pink sand beaches as well as more than 300 shipwrecks. And because of its isolated geographical position, Bermuda’s mix of turquoise and deep blue waters boggles the mind — it’s an oasis from a dark and stormy sea.

A quick history lesson

Years after a Spanish captain first discovered Bermuda in the early 1500s, a fleet of British ships departed Plymouth to sail to the then-colony of Virginia in 1602.

Several weeks into the crossing, a storm felled one of the ships, Sea Venture, separating it from the rest of the fleet. The ship ran aground on one of the reefs near Bermuda’s eastern coast.

All 150 passengers survived and made it to land, and thus Bermuda became inhabited. (Fun note: this shipwreck is believed to be the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” and there’s even a cave at Grotto Bay named for Prospero.)

Wet and wild

The best way to experience Bermuda is on or near the water. Whether you sunbathe and swim, there’s a beach for everyone — from the famous pink sand beach at Horseshoe Bay to the tiny snorkeler’s haven, Tobacco Bay.

If you wish to avoid crowds, there are so many options, sometimes only found on foot or by asking a local. Or seek out Jobson’s Cove or any of the beaches around the border between Southampton and Warwick Parish.

Get on a boat (we recommend Rising Son catamaran for a snorkel day trip); and if you’re feeling super spendy, opt for a private charter. Bermudian captains know their stuff and expertly navigate the treacherous waters to take swimmers, snorkelers, scuba divers and stand-up paddle boarders to the loveliest and glassiest, clearest spots.

Bermudians love cliff diving from Admiralty House Park (you can access via Deep Bay Beach), and wandering through the manmade tunnels and caves in the cove. It’s also a favorite for rock climbing.

There’s no better way to cap off a day of sun and surf than sipping a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Bermuda’s unofficial drink made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum, ginger beer and lime.


As Bermuda was a British military stronghold for centuries, there are several forts to explore on the island that offer historic context, as well as breathtaking views.

Fort St. Catherine, located in St. George (itself a UNESCO World Heritage site worth a deep wander), has a proper exhibit, offers tours and displays artifacts such as crown jewels and artillery, but you can easily wander around yourself.

Other forts worth visiting are Fort Scaur in Sandy’s Parish with its disappearing cannon, Gunpoint and Fort Hamilton.


The Bermuda Railway was only in use for a few years (1931-1948), but is now one of the best ways to see hidden parts of the island. The railway trail covers about 22 miles, from St. George in the east, all the way to Somerset in the west.

Whether you are a walker, hiker or cyclist, any section of the trail provides adventures, scenic vistas and occasionally, total solitude.

If you like to do the classic sightseeing stuff (which we do), make sure to stop by the Unfinished Church as well as St. Peter’s, which at over 400 years old is the oldest Anglican church outside the British Isles.

Good scents

Another must-visit in St. George is Lili Bermuda, a perfumery that has operated since 1928.

Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone purchased the perfumery in 2004 and moved the operation to one of the parish’s historic 18th-century homes, Stewart House, and she is both custodian and creator.

Ramsay-Brackstone describes her perfumes as “the beautiful sensory experience of Bermuda.” All the fragrances sold at Lili Bermuda are made on the island and only available on the island (or via their website). Visitors can also arrange to attend a perfumery workshop or enjoy afternoon tea in the garden.

Isle of sandwich

The signature dish of Bermuda is the fish sandwich, and if you want to start an argument, then declare one better than the other.

The recipe varies from place to place, but it is fairly straightforward: fried fish (sometimes fresh, sometimes not — if you care, just ask) served on raisin bread with coleslaw, tartar sauce and sometimes cheese.

After a very scientific survey (we just kept asking any Bermudian we met), Art Mel’s was the one mentioned most often — perhaps because it’s one of the most substantial (OK, it’s huge).

Marcus Samuelsson is a fan, and the famed chef’s restaurant Marcus’ at the Hamilton Princess has a tasty version on its lunch menu. Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio in St. George serves up another great one, and bonus points for its harbor-front outdoor dining area.

Woody’s in Somerset, while not quite as picturesque, serves up an incredibly yummy albeit smaller fish sandwich, made yummier with Grace hot sauce and Barritt’s Ginger Beer.

Finally, Tribe Road Kitchen has another knock-out sammy, served with sweet potato fries, and perhaps a quick visit with Bocuse, the French bulldog who was tromping around the restaurant’s backyard.

Sleepy time

Trite, but true, there is something for everyone as far as Bermuda accommodations are concerned.

The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is the island’s grande dame, situated near the harbor. This pink palace recently underwent a $100 million renovation, and rivals most contemporary art museums with its owners’ estimated half a billion dollar collection, including a mammoth outdoor Kaws sculpture facing the harbor, works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Alexander Calder.

A half-hourly shuttle takes guests to their beach club, about 20 minutes from the property.

Grotto Bay Beach Resort and Spa is another solid option, the island’s only all-inclusive. And whether or not you stay, book a massage in their spa, in a cave that’s about 500,000 years old.

The newest property is The Loren at Pink Beach, which has a more modern feel and some of the best seasonal dining on the island.

In Southampton Parish, all of the homey rooms at The Reefs Resort and Club face the Atlantic ocean, and Elbow Beach balances a family-friendly atmosphere with bustling nightlife — it’s got a Dirty Dancing-esque feel, but with a private beach.

And if you have the means, the Rosewood at Tucker’s Point does luxury like nobody’s business, and its beach club is hands down the most posh experience on the island (and not just because they have cubbies to store your shoes so they don’t get all sandy).

Travel tips

Sometimes the passport control line at BDA can be long, so do a little recon before you choose your flight. Also, there are no rental cars on the island, just taxis, and it’s wise to prearrange your airport pickup, because who likes to wait?

You’ll see a lot of tourists riding around on rental scooters along Bermuda’s winding and steep roads — and as a British territory they drive on the left side of the road. And while they (and likely you) look fabulous whizzing around in bare legs sans helmet, Bermudians are wont to refer to these mopeds as “organ donors.” So take care and safety first!

Bermuda doesn’t get cold, but it is not hot year-round, so if you want fun in the sun, go from May through October. Note that Bermudians don’t jump in the water until late May, but it can warm up earlier than that.

Finally, Bermudian dollars are basically equivalent to American dollars, and most folks accept both, as well as most credit cards.

What you need to know about ticks

— As summer heat descends, replacing balmy spring breezes, ticks are becoming active in many regions of the United States. In the coming months, some experts predict that ticks and the diseases they cause will be more abundant due to warmer winter temperatures. Worry, though, is unnecessary since prevention is possible.

Here’s a simple guide to all things tick:

What are ticks?

Ticks are not insects, said Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. They are arachnids, and like their relative the spider, they have eight legs when they reach adulthood. Life begins as an egg, and then ticks develop through larval and nymphal stages before reaching maturity.

“People should realize that ticks do not jump. They do not fly, and they do not drop from trees,” Molaei said.

To survive, ticks must eat the blood of mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians. If infected with bacteria, viruses or parasites, a biting tick poses a risk to human health.

According to Durland Fish, professor emeritus of epidemiology (microbial diseases) at the Yale School of Public Health, ticks have three feeding stages. The larval black-legged tick, recently hatched from an egg, is “about the size of a period at the end of the sentence.” These tend to feed on birds and rodents.

Nymphs, which are “about the size of a poppy seed,” and adults, which are “about the size of apple seed,” also feed. Only infected ticks in either of these two stages pose a risk to humans, according to Molaei.

Lone star ticks are the exception. They sometimes bite humans in the larval stage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Where are ticks found?

Ticks can be found in our backyards, under leaves, on ground cover, around walls and near structures and woodpiles where rodents and other small mammals are active, Molaei said.

“They are mainly active outdoors in wooded areas amongst shrubs, trees and tall grasses,” he said.

There are several tick species in the United States, though three are most plentiful. Black-legged ticks (also called deer ticks) make their home throughout the Northeast and upper Midwest.

“Nearly 90% of ticks in the Northeast and upper Midwestern US are black-legged ticks,” Molaei said. A related tick, the Western black-legged tick, can be found in the Pacific and Western regions of the country.

Dog ticks are common in the Midwest and Eastern US, with limited numbers on the Pacific Coast. This tick also inhabits the Northeast, but “it’s not very common,” said Molaei.

Finally, there’s the lone star tick, which can be found throughout Southeastern and Eastern states.

What Illnesses are caused by infected tick bites?

“Illness depends on where you are and what kind of tick is biting you,” Fish said. “And what kind of tick is biting you depends on where you are and what time of year it is.”

According to Molaei, just three species — black-legged (deer), dog and lone star ticks — can transmit up to 15 diseases.

“However, the most important of these ticks is the black-legged tick,” he said, explaining that it “is involved in transmission of at least five important disease agents”: babesiosis, anaplasmosis, Borrelia miyamotoi infection, Powassan virus and Lyme disease.

Babesiosis is rare and does not usually have symptoms, though some people develop fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anaplasmosis is similarly rare and causes similar symptoms.

Borrelia miyamotoi “was discovered 10 to 15 years ago in the US, and it causes relapsing fever,” according to Molaei.

Powassan virus, which was discovered in Ontario in 1958, is also rare, with the CDC reporting only 75 cases over the past decade in the northeastern states, the Great Lakes region and Canada.

Dr. Jennifer Lyons, chief of the Division of Neurological Infections and Inflammatory Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said most infected people will never show symptoms, but some develop fever and headache.

“About 15% of patients who are infected and have symptoms are not going survive,” she said. “Of the survivors, at least 50% will have long-term neurological damage that is not going to resolve.”

“You basically feel nonspecific flu-like stuff,” Lyons said, including “muscle aches and pains; maybe you have a little rash on your skin.”

And then there’s Lyme disease.

According to Fish, Lyme is the most common tick-borne disease by far. Each year, the CDC receives reports of nearly 30,000 cases of this illness, which can cause fever, headache, fatigue and a bulls-eye rash known as erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Northeast and the upper Midwest, with “probably 95% of the cases” occurring in these regions, though California sees some cases as well.

What about dog ticks and lone star ticks?

Dog ticks cause illnesses including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which at 500 cases per year is probably the next most common disease spread by ticks, Fish said. Symptoms include fever, malaise and a rash.

It can be fatal and, of all the tick-borne infections, is most frequently so.

“All of those fatalities are really needless, because it’s easily treatable with antibiotics,” Fish said. The issue is that physicians don’t always recognize it, and people don’t always get treatment.

Most prevalent in the Appalachians, the Carolinas and Georgia, this fever was discovered in Montana, hence the name.

“If you get symptoms of fever, malaise after a tick bite, and with Rocky Mountain spotted fever you see rashes on your body, then you should seek immediate treatment.”

An emerging illness transmitted by the lone star tick is Southern tick-associated rash illness, or STARI. Symptoms include fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pains and a rash similar to that of Lyme disease. It is important to remember that the lone star tick bites people at all three of its life stages; the smaller the bug, the less likely it will be noticed and felt.

Can you feel a tick bite? Where might it bite?

Dr. Sunil Sood, an infectious disease specialist and chairman of pediatrics at Northwell Health’s Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, said tick bites are usually painless.

“Generally, people cannot feel the tick bite, but after a day or two, they sense a mild itching,” he said.

Although ticks can bite anywhere, they tend to migrate to moist, “warmer parts of the body,” including the groin, armpits and scalp, which are the “three major areas where we find them attached.”

Ticks are also often found behind the ears, behind the knees and around the waist.

Geoffrey Wall, an expert in tick-borne illness and professor of clinical sciences at the Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Science, said ticks are often found in the hair, on their way to the scalp.

“Especially in men or women with long hair, you’ve got to really look carefully on the whole scalp. It’s hard to see. You’ve got to be thorough,” he said.

“If, at the end of the day, you bathe or shower with a washcloth, you pretty much dislodge any tick that is not yet attached,” Sood said, explaining that “it takes a bit of a while” for a tick that has settled on the skin to “set up shop.”

It may take a full day or even 36 hours before they burrow into your skin and begin sucking blood, according to Sood.

What do I do when a tick bites?

First things first: Remove the tick.

As Wall noted, “there’s all sorts of different means and methods that people have been taught.”

Some recommend poking an attached tick with a hot match, while others say to immerse it in alcohol or put Vaseline on it to smother it.

“Some of this stuff may or may not work,” Wall said, adding that the CDC’s recommendation is to use fine-tipped tweezers and pull the tick straight out with steady pressure. “Do not jerk it up,” he said, work slowly, and then “thoroughly clean the bite area with alcohol and then soap and water.”

There’s no need to visit a doctor immediately.

“Don’t visit your doctor until symptoms appear,” Wall said, noting that it can take days, weeks or even several weeks. “Fever and a rash, in particular, if you have either or both of those, it’s time to go see your doctor.”

If you do visit a doctor after pulling off a tick, Sood said, “don’t flush it down the toilet or squish it with your foot.” He explained that a doctor would want to identify send it off to a lab for identification. “Save the tick.”

A doctor will not necessarily test for Lyme disease. A false negative or false positive is possible, and even if the tick is infected with Lyme disease, that “doesn’t mean it transferred to you,” Sood said, noting that even having lots of tick bites doesn’t necessarily mean a person would be more likely to get a disease.

“Don’t panic. Don’t destroy the tick; don’t think you have to go on antibiotics right away,” Sood said. “People overreact a lot.”

When and where are people likely to get bit by ticks?

“There’s a definite peak season for Lyme disease,” Fish said, adding that 95% of cases are acquired in June, July and August.

Three-quarters of people get bit on their own property, he said. Even though “there are certainly more ticks in the woods than there are in the lawn,” people spend more time on their lawns.

As Wall observed, “as we move into the woods more and we’re putting more houses in and farther and farther out, I think we’re probably likely to see more tick-borne illnesses becoming common.”

“Studies have shown that 75% of the cases of Lyme disease, people don’t recall having been bitten by a tick,” Fish said, adding that’s possibly the most important thing to know: In most cases, you won’t know.

“The adult stage of the tick can theoretically cause Lyme disease, but it’s big, and people usually find it and remove it before they get sick,” Fish said. “But if you don’t find it, you cannot remove it.”

How do I defend myself?

“We say use tick repellents,” Sood advised.

Deet, recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, is the primary ingredient to look for in skin repellent products (often labeled “insect repellents”).

“You don’t need to go 200%, and 5% won’t last long,” Sood said; within the range of 25% to 50% works well.

“And the underutilized second repellent for people who are outdoors a lot” is another EPA-recommended chemical, permethrin, which is used on clothing, outerwear and gear.

“It’s highly effective against ticks and mosquitoes,” Sood said, so you’d be protecting yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses as well.

You can soak clothes in permethrin, which stays in the fabric for four to six weeks, even withstanding multiple laundry cycles, he said.

This combination skin and clothing repellent strategy is your best defense.

Another preventative measure: Once you’ve returned from a jaunt outside, inspect yourself and your clothing for ticks. Wall suggests carefully going through your hair; thoroughness is key.

“Drying clothes in a dryer is very effective for killing ticks,” Sood said, noting that the dehydration kills them. Do all you can to keep ticks out of your household. Though they cannot survive long there, they pose a danger, especially to children.

What about pets?

“Pets, in particular dogs, can carry some of the same ticks humans can carry,” Wall said. A tick collar can help with some ticks, but it will probably not destroy all of them.

“The Lyme disease tick actually can be carried by dogs,” he said, though animals don’t get the disease. “The dog doesn’t transmit the disease to humans.”

Because animals have their own set of tick-borne illnesses, they should see a veterinarian for vaccinations or treatment.

Former Obama photographer hits ‘campaign trail’ with ‘House of Cards’ president

— A former White House photographer is back on presidential duty thanks to Netflix.

Pete Souza, the former chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, has been enlisted by the company to chronicle “House of Cards” president Frank Underwood’s visit to Washington D.C. on Monday.

Kevin Spacey, who portrays the character, will make stops at iconic D.C. landmarks throughout the day as Underwood as part of the campaign.

The first photo in the series features Spacey as Underwood on his way to Union Station, sitting alongside his on-screen chief of staff Doug Stamper, who is played by Michael Kelly.

Souza first started following presidents during the Ronald Reagan administration.

In the days since Obama’s White House departure, he has become known on Instagram for using his vast archives for timely and topical posts. Publisher Little, Brown and Company announced last month that Souza will be publishing a book with over 300 of the thousands of photos he took during Obama’s presidency.

Monday’s tour of D.C. is not the first time Netflix has brought the world of “House of Cards” to the nation’s capital.

Last year, the company staged an event at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to unveil a painting of the fictional POTUS by British artist Jonathan Yeo.

Spacey appeared in character and members of the actual White House press corps attended.

“House of Cards” Season 5 delves right back into the complicated lives of the Underwoods, with Frank and Claire (Robin Wright) fighting harder than ever to keep their spot in the White House.

The entire 13-episode season will be available for streaming on Netflix on Tuesday, May 30.

Jazzy Summer Nights Returns to Hopkins Plaza


WHAT: JAZZY SUMMER NIGHTS | “Jazzy Summer Nights,” is a monthly mid-week concert series (June -September) that features national and regional artists, food, sponsor activations, and VIP Cabanas. Jazzy Summer Nights has become the signature summer destination event for Baltimore City.

JAZZY SUMMER NIGHTS HISTORY | Jazzy Summer Nights has enjoyed a historic run as Baltimore’s premier monthly professional event from 2001-2016. With its downtown location at Hopkins Plaza, Jazzy Summer Nights attracts 2,500-3,000 tastemakers and influencers. Attendees come from as far north as New York and as far south as Richmond.

Past artists have included music pioneers Maysa Leak, Kim Waters, Ledisi, Raheem DeVaughn, Bilal, Fertile Ground, Chuck Brown, Miri Bin Ari, Leela James, Pieces of a Dream, Boney James, Spur of the Moment, and Mike Phillips.

The first night of Jazzy Summer Nights 2017 takes place on Thursday, June 1st.


6:00 p.m. – DJ TANZ + APRIL SAMPE

7:00 p.m. – WE THE FIX BAND

8:30 p.m. – JEFF BRADSHAW

10:00 p.m. – EVENT ENDS

WHERE: HOPKINS PLAZA, 2 Hopkins Plaza, Baltimore, MD 21201

ONSITE: Food vendors, Shareef’s food truck, water, wine, and spirits. No open containers or coolers allowed. Sponsor activations and exhibits.

CONTACT: Matisa Jones, 443-415-3877, jazzy@thefinngroup.net

SPONSORS: Absolut Lime, Avion, Martell Blue Swift, Wells Fargo, Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, 2 Hopkins, Lord Baltimore Hotel, Go Live Entertainment, The Finn Group, and Stand Up Baltimore


July 6th – EU with Sugar Bear, Why Lie Band, DJ Tanz

August 10th – Panama Band, Black Alley Band, DJ Tanz

August 31st – CrossRhodes f/Raheem DeVaughn + Wes Felton, DJ Tanz

POWERED BY: The Finn Group, LLC | Log onto www.thefinngroup.net for complete schedule and participants.


Rihanna and Lupita movie a dream come true

— Who needs a Hollywood pitch meeting when you’ve got the internet?

A film that fans literally willed to happen is coming to fruition.

A source close to the production confirmed to CNN there’s a forthcoming film starring Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o, helmed by “Selma” director Ava DuVernay and written by “Insecure” star Issa Rae.

Things are still in the early stages, but here’s why we can thank Twitter for this bit of #BlackGirlMagic.

It all began in April, when a photo of Rihanna and Nyong’o taken at a 2014 fashion show started making the rounds with the caption, “They look like they’re in a heist movie with Rihanna as the tough-as-nails leader/master thief and Lupita as the genius computer hacker.”

Soon Twitter users were running with the idea, suggesting DuVernay to direct and Rae to write.

Nyong’o, an Oscar-winning actress, caught wind of the chatter and counted herself in via tweet, reaching out to Rihanna to see if she was down.

Three days later, the Grammy-winning singer tweeted that she was indeed willing to join.

That left DuVernay and Rae, who quickly agreed.

“Lights set. Camera’s up,” DuVernay tweeted. “Ready to call action for these #queens.”

Rae simply let a gif of a cat frantically typing speak for her.

Rihanna retweeted Rae saying, “Issa possibility.”

On Monday, DuVernay tweeted a link to a story saying Netflix had picked up the heist film.

“We deserve nice things,” the director wrote in her tweet with an emoji of fingers making the peace sign.

No word yet on when production is set to start.