Maanvi Singh | KERA News

Maanvi Singh

Americans are starting to pay more attention to moringa these days. Some are touting this tropical tree as the newest and greatest superfood. And all the excitement is understandable: Moringa leaves and seed pods are packed with protein and vitamins. Its nutritional value rivals that of milk, yogurt and eggs.

Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my first American friend. Ours was an unlikely friendship: a shy Indian kid, fresh off the boat, with big glasses and a thick accent, and a high school b-ball player from West Philadelphia, chillin' out maxin' and relaxin' all cool. And yet, I was with Will all the way, unnerved when he accidentally gave Carlton speed, shaken when he got shot in Season 5, and deeply embarrassed every time he wiped out in front of Veronica.

Walk along one of the many streams and rivers in the West Nile region of Uganda, and you'll notice something funny. All along the riverbanks, you'll see small pieces of blue cloth, attached to wooden stakes in the ground. There's one every 50 yards or so.

No, this isn't some half-baked public art project. These dinky contraptions are actually flytraps, designed to lure and kill tsetse flies, whose bites transmit a parasitic disease called sleeping sickness, which, like rabies, drives victims mad before it kills them.

You're probably at least a little bit racist and sexist and homophobic. Most of us are.

On Tuesday evening, flames engulfed the 100-year-old Mount Zion AME, a historically black church in Greeleyville, S.C. Authorities are still investigating the cause.

Teenagers aren't exactly known for their responsible decision making.

But some young people are especially prone to making rash, risky decisions about sex, drugs and alcohol. Individual differences in the brain's working memory — which allows people to draw on and use information to make decisions — could help explain why some adolescents are especially impulsive when it comes to sex, according to a study published Wednesday in Child Development.

Coinsurance? Premium tax credit? HMO and PPO?

Swimming through the health insurance word soup can be frustrating for anyone. Even though I cover health, I couldn't define "cost-sharing reduction plan" until I Googled it just now.

Babies tend to wear their hearts on their tiny little sleeves. They cry because you took away that thing they picked up off the floor and then put in their mouths. They cry because they're tired. Sometimes, they cry just because.

Lots of factors may affect a child's odds of ending up with autism. Researchers around the world have been striving to fully understand how biology, genetics and environment play roles.

A huge study that includes data from more than 5.7 million children in five countries might shed some light on how autism develops — but it also raises new questions.

Researchers looked at autism rates among children born between 1985 and 2004 in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Australia.

Lots of people say they have trouble sleeping. And 1 in 10 Americans has chronic insomnia.

Most often, sleep disorders are treated with medication. Between 6 and 10 percent of adults in the U.S. use sleeping pills.

But a review of the medical evidence has found that therapy might help people with chronic sleep troubles just as much — or even more — than pills.

Six of the largest school districts in the country have banded together to revamp school lunches — and they're starting from the plate up.

School administrators in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orlando in 2012 formed the Urban School Food Alliance. And in May, they announced that they were ditching polystyrene lunch trays and replacing them with compostable lunch plates. It's a significant move since all together, the schools in the Alliance serve up 2.5 million meals a day.

Photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman's portraits feature friends and acquaintances, activists and poets, Americans and immigrants — some naturalized, some undocumented.

All of them are queer people of color.

"I wanted to specifically focus on this community because queer and trans people of color are so rarely represented in the art world," says Roman, who is Mexican-American and also identifies as queer.

Feeling anxious? A bit panicky? Fear not — cartoonist and self-proclaimed World Champion Overthinker Gemma Correll is here to help you laugh about it.

In A Worrier's Guide to Life, Correll dishes out her dubious and droll advice on everything from health and hypochondria to attaboy stickers for grownups. (Sample: "I did the laundry.")

Like lots of little kids, Jeremiah Nebula — the main character of a children's book called Large Fears — has big dreams. He wants to go to Mars.

But Jeremiah is also pretty different from the characters that Myles Johnson, the author of the Kickstarter-backed book, met in the stories he read when he was growing up. Jeremiah is black, and he really, really likes the color pink.

In his New York Times column this week, Charles Blow discussed bikers and thugs in the aftermath of the Waco shootout on Sunday.

The biker gang shootout this weekend in Waco, Texas, that left nine people dead, 18 wounded, and as many as 192 facing organized crime charges has sparked a lot of scrutiny over how police and media are treating this incident compared with how they approached the protests in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.

At schools that offer comprehensive sex education, students tend to get the biology and the basics — they'll learn about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, how to put a condom on a banana and the like.

But some public health researchers and educators are saying that's not enough. They're making the case that sex ed should include discussion about relationships, gender and power dynamics.

They switched diets.

Twenty South Africans gave up their corn porridge and vegetable stews for burgers and fries.

And 20 Pittsburghians sacrificed fast food staples for the low-fat, high-fiber fare that South Africans traditionally eat.

Dr. Stephen O'Keefe, a professor of nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was eager to find out what would happen next.

O'Keefe knew that South Africans tend to have much lower rates of colon cancer than Americans. And he wanted to find out if food might be a factor.

When Jeff Brown opened his first grocery store in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia back in 2004, it seemed like a long shot.

Most people thought he was crazy to even attempt to make money in a food desert like Southwest Philly, he says. Other grocers had tried and quickly gone out of business.

Missing out on sleep pretty much guarantees feeling crummy the next day. But it can also lead to dangerous or even disastrous decision-making. Sleep-deprived operators failed to prevent the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

And during the Civil War, some historians think that Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson's confused command during the battles of June 1862 was due to sleep deprivation.

Will a kids' meal sans fries and soda still tempt the youngest diners at restaurants?

Chef Ype Von Hengst certainly thinks so. He's the co-founder of Silver Diner — a chain of fast-casual restaurants in Virginia and Maryland.

Customers want healthier options for their kids, Hengst says. "We tempt them with the stuff they like, but we make sure it's also good for them," he says.

A version of this story was first published on April 5, 2014. It has been updated.

The majority of Americans now live in cities and have very little to do with the production of their food.

We've all heard that an aspirin a day can keep heart disease at bay. But lots of Americans seem to be taking it as a preventive measure, when many probably shouldn't.

In a recent national survey, more than half the adults who were middle age or older reported taking an aspirin regularly to prevent a heart attack or stroke. The Food and Drug Administration only recommends the drug for people wh have already experienced such an event or are at extremely high risk.

Danny Kou, the executive chef at La Mar, an upscale Peruvian restaurant in San Francisco, says it's a good time to be him.

Kou moved from Lima to the United States when he was 21. It was 2001, and back then, Peruvian cuisine was still unfamiliar in North America.

Think back to the last time you got negative feedback — like when your doctor suggested you lay off the cigarettes or when your mother advised you to get rid of that ridiculous goatee.

Though we all understand the value of constructive criticism, we don't like hearing that we've done something wrong. And the knee-jerk reaction is to act defensive.

But if you focus on the big picture and future goals, you may be able to trick your mind into being a bit more receptive.

The transition to adulthood marks a big turning point in life for everyone, but for young people on the autism spectrum that transition can be really tough.

Young adults with autism had lower employment rates and higher rates of complete social isolation than people with other disabilities, according to a report published Tuesday by the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.

"If aliens beamed onto Earth and read our school textbooks, they wouldn't have a clue about what women contribute to our society," says Rae Blumberg, a sociologist at the University of Virginia.

Blumberg has spent years looking at textbooks from all over the world. In almost every country she has studied, women are either completely written out of texts — or they're portrayed in stereotypical, often subservient roles.

We donate to charities for lots of reasons: because we're generally magnanimous people, because we care deeply about certain issues or because it's the only way to get Meg to stop talking about the plight of the endangered proboscis monkey.

And for men, there may be another force at play: a subconscious desire to impress the ladies.

Dana Lam was insured under her parent's health plan until the end of 2014, thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on family health insurance until they turn 26.

The arrangement worked out well until she needed treatment for depression. Lam knew that if she used her parents' health plan to see a psychotherapist or psychiatrist, her visit would show up on their insurance statements.

She wasn't ready to talk to them about her mental health issues. "I was just so afraid of having that conversation with them," she says.

Christina Costanzo was 32 when she had her first heart attack. It all started on a Friday.

"I had chest pain. I had pain in my jaw, pain going down my left arm. I had some shortness of breath," Costanzo recalls.

But Costanzo who is a nurse practitioner in New Haven, Conn., didn't realize right away that these were symptoms of a heart attack. She figured this was just her body reacting to stress, and she didn't want to overreact.

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