There's the "French Paradox" in which residents of France eat a lot of meat and other fatty food but have a lower heart attack rate than other developed countries; the explanation is that they also sip wine with their meals, relax and often eat components of the "Mediterranean diet" of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and fish. Much of Israel is located right on the edge of the Mediterranean, but the "Israel Paradox" is that our disease rates are quite similar to those in the US and other developed countries that do not have an abundance of such healthful foods. Dr. Rali Abel and Ruthi Leter, clinical dietitians at Clalit Health Services, offer an explanation in the Hebrew-language Israel Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Israel is a young country, and a large proportion of its citizens are still immigrants from Europe, Asia and Africa. They have not been here long enough to fully adopt a Mediterranean diet, they suggest, even though olive oil, fruits, vegetables and other such foods are easily available. A study of a representative sample of Jews living in the Negev found that their consumption of healthful olive oil is relatively lower than that recommended in the Mediterranean diet, with only 19 percent of the women and 17% of the women closely adopting this diet, which has been proven to reduce atherosclerosis, cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and other major disorders. They conclude that the Mediterranean diet is "the best in the world" - although not cheap - and should be observed by as many people as possible to preserve and improve health. A TIGHT SPOT Check the rings on your fingers. If they are too solid and tight, they may reduce the blood supply, damage the nerves and ligaments and even end in necrosis that ends in amputation. An 18-year-old Ashdod girl recently arrived at Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot with a very swollen, painful and red finger. She was unable to remove a stainless steel ring she bought in the open-air market. When it swelled, she tried to remove the ring by soaping her finger and even trying to cut the metal with a saw, but she didn't succeed. Kaplan doctors Amir Oron and Ali Yanai used a special saw to remove the durable ring. They advised the public to beware of rings made of stainless steel or platinum that are very dense and difficult to remove. "It is recommended to buy rings from a jeweller and not from unknown sources, especially rings that are very sturdy," they said. TRANSPARENT INSURANCE New regulations that will empower people who hold private health insurance policies as members of a group - such as a workplace - were approved recently by the Treasury. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz called them "a vital step in the protection of the rights of the insured and ensuring their insurance coverage." The new regulations, which go into effect on July 1, 2010, will require private insurance companies to send comprehensive information on the policies to each new customer when he joins and when it is renewed every year. According to rules, which were formulated by the Treasury's commissioner of insurance Yadin Antebi, each customer is entitled to see the contract signed by the employer or other group head and the insurance company. Everyone included in the policy by the group must give his explicit permission to join, even if he does not pay all the premiums. Antebi explained that conditions of group insurance policies are often kept hidden from customers, as they are not involved in determining benefits and may be completely unaware of them. Publication of the regulations increases transparency, he said. The customer must be given enough information to decide whether he wants to continue as a member of the group or choose another insurance policy. More information is available (in Hebrew) on the Treasury's Web site at www.mof.gov.il. LOOKING FOR ARAB BONE-MARROW TYPES Due to the low representation of Arab tissue types in the Hadassah University Medical Center's bone-marrow data bank, the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) has taken upon itself to collect blood samples from Arabs to find potential donors for those who suffer from leukemia, other cancers and certain genetic diseases that can be treated with compatible bone marrow. The Hadassah project is headed by Dr. Amal Bashara of the hospital's tissue-typing unit. The medical center in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem has a national bone-marrow transplant center that serves patients from all over the country. Two-fifths of Israeli Arabs who need bone marrow transplants cannot find a compatible donor because too few sample are stored in Israeli data banks compared to the share of Jewish samples. The proportion of Arabs who have given blood samples to bone marrow databanks abroad is very small. As ethnic origin is important in finding compatible donors, few "Jewish types" can save Arab patients. Recently, samples were taken in the Al-Nur Medical Center in Um-el-Fahm in the Galilee Triangle and Rahat, the Beduin city in the Negev. Muslim clergymen explained the importance of bone marrow donations and encourage Arabs to give blood samples whose types will be registered in the data bank.