Sorry, Bankrate: There's More to Culture Than Pine Trees

"I lived there and I can tell you... Maine isn't the cultural capital of America."

That's what one of my researchers said after reading Bankrate's recent ranking of the best and worst states for retirement.

Bankrate rated states based on affordability, crime, culture, weather, wellness, and an overall ranking.

Maine took the No. 1 spot for the culture category. Texas ranked last.

"I love Maine," my researcher explained. "It's a beautiful state and a great place to live, but its culture doesn't compare to states like Texas."

One of the biggest problems my team saw was that Bankrate ranked most of the states in each category based on per capita numbers. This can give sparsely populated states an advantage over more densely populated ones. That's why Maine came out as a better cultural spot than places like New York or California.

And the overall ranking seems just as odd. For example, Hawaii made it in the top 10 best states for retirement... despite the fact that it has one of the highest costs of living. Sure, we'd all want to live in a tropical paradise, but not if we can't afford groceries.

Don't get me wrong – we're fans of Bankrate. It does a great job gathering and analyzing data for financial topics. But in this case, it missed the mark. And Bankrate isn't alone. You can find lots of magazines and news sites that claim to know the best places to retire.

But these are just cursory glances.

Most of these quick-ranking articles lack one important thing... The young, inexperienced reporters spent too much time just looking at numbers and ignored what living in these states is actually like.

That's why my team and I created our own report...

My team spent months crunching the numbers on crime rates... hospital quality... different types of taxes... and much, much more. We pored over research and data on every state to compile our list of the best states for retirement.

But we didn't just look at the data...

I constantly travel around the country, so I have a boots-on-the-ground opinion. And we listened to folks who told us that they don't want to move too far from their families, but they do want to move to a tax-friendlier state to save money or find a state with better weather. We've looked at each region in the U.S. and picked out the state (or states) that fulfilled our long list of requirements.

Whether you're willing to move across the country to make the most of your money, or you want to stay closer to home but find a state that fits your needs better, we've got you covered.

If you're already a Retirement Millionaire subscriber, you can access the report right here. And if not, you can purchase the report for just $19, plus a special bonus – one full year of Retirement Millionaire. Click here to get your copy today.

Which state do you think is the best for retirement? Let us know... [email protected].

Q: Here in Upstate New York we have an ample supply of maple syrup, produced and sold locally. From the side of the container, it seems to contain syrup and nothing else. People here use it as a sugar substitute for coffee. Is this better, worse, or pretty much the same as other sweeteners? I am hopeful for a positive answer, because it's delicious! – M.K.

A: Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar.

So-called "natural and healthy" sugars like honey cause the same reaction and changes in your body as high-fructose corn syrup and white sugars... A study from the Journal of Nutrition showed how similarly our bodies respond to these sugar substitutes.

Researchers tested people's responses to sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and honey. They looked at blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol levels, as well as the chemical markers of inflammation and changes in body weight. They found no difference among the sweeteners.

Mounting evidence shows our bodies treat sugar like sugar. The difference is when you get your sugar fix from fruit. The fiber in fruit helps to slow the absorption of sugar... And you'll get all the health benefits of fruits, too.

Real maple syrup does have benefits cane sugar doesn't, including nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc. But it's still mostly sugar, and there are much healthier food sources for those nutrients.

Maple syrup also ranks lower on the glycemic index, so it won't raise your blood sugar as much as other sweeteners. So it's a slight improvement on white sugar. But make sure, like with all sweeteners, you're limiting how much you use.

Q: Recently, my doc recommended I start a daily aspirin regimen. But I'd rather avoid taking a pill every day. – R.W.

A: If you don't have heart disease already, you don't need an aspirin a day to keep the doctor away.

Earlier this year, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association released new guidelines. One stark change is that the group no longer recommends a daily dose of aspirin for older folks who don't have a history of heart disease and aren't at high risk of developing heart disease.

Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") rejects the old advice that people should take a daily low-dose aspirin for "primary" prevention of heart problems. The agency issued a report last month stating that scientists have failed to provide hard evidence that aspirin therapy has any benefit for those without cardiovascular problems.

The aspirin-a-day advice was based on the idea that aspirin "thins out" the blood – that it actually decreases the stickiness of the platelets. That would help blood pass through narrowed arteries (though not as much as a prescription-strength blood thinner like Warfarin).

But we've known for years this advice is not always useful... It's sometimes harmful. Aspirin-induced blood thinning can cause internal bleeding, particularly in the stomach. Without much proven benefit, taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks may not be worth the risk.

However, aspirin therapy does help some folks. If you have already suffered a heart attack, it means you had a clot or two obstructing part or all of an artery in your heart. Thinning your blood helps in that situation. Likewise, if you have a history of high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease (such as obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity), it may be an option you should discuss with your doctor.

Do what I do... I only take one 325-milligram (mg) aspirin every 10 days or so. The effects last that long, so you don't need to take one daily. If you're looking for a proven and natural way to lower your heart-disease risk, cut the "white killers" (white bread, white sugar, white rice, and potatoes) from your diet, take regular walks, and practice yoga.

Q: How safe would be using an iPhone for trading transactions and what can be done to improve that safety? – T.G.

A: iPhones are pretty darn safe... The real risk of using your iPhone for trading is theft. So as long as you keep your password in a physically secure location, not saved in your phone, you're safe.

But if you want to be extra careful, avoid using for phone for secure things – like placing trades – on public Wi-Fi. If you have to get onto your brokerage or bank account, use your mobile data if you can't be on a trusted Wi-Fi connection.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
July 12, 2019