Health Tips: Here’s an often-neglected part of becoming a good dad


When the Pew Research Center asked more than 2,200 childless men ages 18 to 49 about their future dreams, almost half said they hope to have kids at some time. And 57% of men who have children say their kids are extremely important to their sense of self and identity -- almost tied with the 58% of moms who say that they feel the same way.

If you’re going to be a good dad and reap all the rewards, you need to start before the baby is born. When researchers recently looked at the drinking habits of around 165,000 couples, they found that if guys were drinking around the time their child was conceived, that greatly upped the risk for birth defects such as cleft palate.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, was done in China where only 3% of moms-to-be drink alcohol, as opposed to around 30% of women in Western countries. That gave the researchers a pretty clear picture of the impact of dads’ imbibing: Among babies born with birth defects, 40% of their fathers were drinkers -- and that damaged their sperm, say the researchers.

Since older men are also at risk of having offspring with birth defects or who develop autism, it’s especially important that they refrain from drinking for a good while before trying to conceive. Bottom line: Whatever your age, you and your lady love can share a celebratory toast once she has stopped breastfeeding your healthy, happy child -- but not before.

Bean there? Done that? Probably not

Joe Bean, Colter Bean and Billy Bean were baseball players in 1902, 1980-1990s, and the 2000s. Their careers were a mixed bag from almost-made-it to much-traded and, in the case of Billy Bean, Major League Baseball’s first Ambassador for Inclusion.

Beans are a mixed bag, on and off the field. Ranging from adzuki to black, cannellini, cranberry, great northern, kidney, mung, navy and pinto beans, they contribute protein, fiber, a range of B (folate, B6, thiamine) and other vitamins, plus magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc and potassium.

Most folks dish up canned beans. But if you prepare dried beans, you get a better texture and more nutrients, and dodge excess sodium and hormone disruptors in the linings of canned foods.

Three easy steps to cooking dried beans. 1. Pick through and clean up dried beans; rinse in cold water. 2. Soak in cold water overnight or boil in water, remove from heat and soak for two hours. Drain. 3. Put beans in a pan of cold water, covered plus 2 inches. Simmer, stir occasionally for one to two hours or more.

The rewards. A serving of boiled beans has 58% of the daily value of folate vs. canned beans’ 23% and 19% of the DV for vitamin K vs. 13% canned. A 1 cup serving of boiled kidney beans has 22% DV for iron, 19% DV for magnesium and 12% DV for zinc vs. 17% DV for iron and magnesium and 8% zinc for canned beans. Check out the Pegan 365 Dried Beans recipe at