February 2015

The Dietary Basics for Preventing Heart Disease 

Frutas e VegetaisHeart disease is the number one killer disease in the United States. Almost one in every two men and women will die from this disease. More women die from heart disease than the next 16 causes of death combined – including all types of cancers. (500,000 women die each year from heart disease compared to 40,000 from breast cancer.) If that’s not a wake-up call, how about the fact that heart disease often progresses undetected; 63% of women have no signs of heart disease until they have a fatal heart attack! The good news is that for most people this disease is entirely preventable or at least slowed with just a few simple changes in what we eat and how much we move.

What is the most important habit people can adopt to lower their risk for heart disease?
Preventing heart disease is a three-tiered job that includes diet, exercise, and healthy lifestyle practices. All three impact the number one most important thing you can do to save your heart: maintain a healthy weight! Even a few extra pounds, if they are packed around the middle, will increase your heart-disease risk, while losing weight lowers blood cholesterol levels by up to 30 points or more, which equates to a 60% reduction in heart disease risk.

Does it matter how we cut calories or are all calories created equal?
You can slim your waistline AND protect your heart by cutting calories from saturated fat, trans fats, refined grains, and sugar. That means cutting back on red meat, dark poultry meat, cheese, whole dairy products, and anything with trans fats in it from margarine and shortening to anything made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as crackers, cookies, pie crusts, or other processed foods. Also, read labels and steer clear of anything with hydrogenated vegetable oils, palm oil, or coconut oils. As you eliminate butter, margarine, and other fats in your diet, it’s OK to use a little olive oil, which helps lower blood fats. But, don’t go overboard; all fats, whether they are lard or olive oil, contain the same calories or about 100 calories a tablespoon. Too much of any fat will pack on the pounds. Also, cut back on processed grains in crackers, cookies, cereals, etc. When it comes to sugar, again read labels. Anything with sugar in the first three ingredients or with multiple sugars in the ingredient list (such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, corn syrup, etc) should be put back on the shelf. Cut out the sugar in your diet and you could easily lose several pounds a month.
Photo credit: Olearys via Compfight

Just Do This Today

1. Use extra olive oil for salad dressings or to drizzle over cooked vegetables just before serving. Use plain olive oil for sauteing and cooking, and use “light” olive oil for baking. By the way, the word “light” on an olive oil bottle does not mean it contains less calories. It only means it is lighter in taste. All olive oils have the same monounsaturated fats and calories.

2. Try one new colorful fruit and/or vegetable.

3. Develop a plan how you will “just say no” to unhealthy food offers in the future.

Hot Off the Diet Press

_MG_3734 Salmon w CSF cream sauce and thyme1. The New Anti-Cancer Superfood: Wild Alaskan salmon might be the best inclusion in an anti-cancer diet, according to findings from the Mid America Heart Institute at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. The researchers review of recent studies showed that low-dose aspirin decreases the risk for cancer by suppressing the activity of an enzyme important in the initiation and progression of adenocarcinoma, a type of cancer associated with breast, prostate, pancreas, colon, and other tissues. The researchers cite evidence that optimal intake of the omega-3 fats found in fatty fish should do the same thing. People who eat fatty fish (as long as it is not salt cured or fried) at least twice a week compared to those who eat fish less than once a week have a significantly lower number of cancers, including ovarian, endometrial, pharyngeal, esophageal, gastric, colonic, rectal, and pancreatic cancers. High omega-3 intake from diet and supplements is associated with a 23% lower risk for total cancer mortality.
DiNicolantonio J, McCarty M, Chatterjee S, et al: A higher dietary ratio of long-chain omega-3 to total omega-6 fatty acids for prevention of COX-2-dependent adenocarcinomas. Nutrition andCancer 2014;October 30:1-6.

2. Low Vitamin D Deadly?: Low vitamin D levels could increase the risk for early death, according to a study from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. All-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality were compared in a group of 95,766 people genotyped for factors that affected vitamin D status. The subjects were followed for 5.8 to 19.1 years, during which time more than 10,000 of them died. Results showed that genetically low vitamin D levels were linked with early death from any cause, including cancer, but not to heart-related events. This was clear even when other factors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, physical activity levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body mass index (BMI) were taken into account.
Afzal S, Brondum-Jacobsen P, Bojesen S, et al: Genetically low vitamin D concentrations and increased mortality. British Medical Journal 2014;November 18th.

3. Minerals for Mood: Optimal iron and zinc intake might be necessary for mood, mind, and memory in pre-menopausal women. Researchers at Deaken University in Melbourne, Australia reviewed the research on intake of these minerals from ten randomized controlled trials and one non-randomized trial. Results showed that seven studies found improvements in mood and cognition after iron supplementation. Women taking iron supplements showed improved memory and intellectual ability. Zinc supplementation, both as an adjunct to traditional antidepressant therapy and as a therapy on its own, improved symptoms of depression in three trials. Improving zinc status also appeared to enhance cognitive and emotional functioning, according to the researchers.
Lomagno K, Hu F, Riddell L, et al: Increasing iron and zinc in pre-menopausal women and its effects on mood and cognition. Nutrients 2014;6:5117-5141.
Photo credit: Cedar Summit Farm via Compfight

Food & Mood Tip – 

Fish Really Is Brain Food
Your brain needs fat, but the right kind. While saturated fats in red meats and fatty dairy products, and trans fats in processed foods made with hydrogenated oils muddle your mind, the omega-3 fats in fatty fish and moderate amounts of the monounsaturated fats in olive and canola oils are essential building blocks for brain cell membranes. They allow electrical messages to pass from one cell to another, thus speeding thought processes. They also help protect the brain from damage and heal damage when it occurs. Fish oils are so important to brain function that preliminary research shows that people who include the most fatty fish, such as salmon or herring, in their weekly diets have the lowest risk for memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease. The old adage “fish is brain food” is really true!

Mood-Boosting Recipe of the month

Zucchini-Tomato Lasagna with Fresh Thyme and Caramelized Onions (From The Food & Mood Cookbook by Elizabeth Somer and Jeanette Williams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onions (about 6 cups), peeled and thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
3 large tomatoes, halved and cut into 1/4″ slices
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut into 1/4″ diagonal slices
1 1/2 pounds yellow squash, cut into 1/4″ diagonal slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups low-fat Parmesan cheese, grated
     and divided into two portions
salt to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
1) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and continue to stir and saute for another 10 minutes or until onions are limp and golden. Spread onion-garlic mixture evenly in bottom of a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ glass baking dish. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons thyme. Set aside.
2) Place tomatoes on paper towel to remove any excess liquid.
3) Toss zucchini, yellow squash, 2 tablespoons olive oil, rest of thyme, and salt and pepper in a large bowl.
4) Set aside half of cheese to use as topping. Start at one end of the baking dish, press an overlapping layer of tomato slices, laid upright across end of dish. Sprinkle lightly with cheese. Overlap with a dense layer of zucchini, again positioned upright, followed by a dense layer of yellow squash. Repeat tomato, cheese, zucchini, and yellow squash and finish with a layer of tomatoes. Push the rows back to make more room for additional rows and to firmly pack the vegetables. Any remaining pieces can be fit into the layers so that the red, green, and yellow layers are packed firmly. Sprinkle remaining half of cheese evenly over top.
5) Bake for 75 minutes or until top is golden brown and a fork easily moves through squash. Liquid should be bubbling and have reduced considerably. Let stand for a few minutes before serving. Makes 10 servings as a side dish and 6 to 8 servings as a main dish.
Nutritional Analysis per side dish serving: 183 Calories; 39 percent fat (8 grams); <1 gram saturated fat; 12 percent protein; 49 percent carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber.

Answers to “Do you know?” from last issue:

1. Do carbohydrates make you fat?
When it comes to advice on carbohydrates, do you feel like a ping pong ball? First, grains are good for you. Then they’re bad. Let’s set the record straight once and or all. Grains are good for you. The trick is choosing the right ones, in the right amounts.

Granted, the claim that carbohydrates make you fat is partly right. In the past few decades, our appetites have dramatically increased for thousands of highly-refined, calorie-dense grain-based foods, including doughnuts, cookies, white pasta, sweetened cereals, white bread and bagels, sports bars, and snack foods. Along with our increasingly sedentary lives, these carbs have packed on the weight, especially with the super-sized portions we’ve so grown accustom. Along with the pounds have come an escalating risk for disease. Studies show, however, that people lose about the same amount of weight long-term on a low-carb diet as they do on a low-fat diet, so there must be something else going on besides just basic carbs.

The main paradox in the controversy over grains is that refined grains cause the same diseases that whole grains help to prevent. Fiber-rich whole grains lower our risks for everything from heart disease and cancer to diabetes, and they fill us up without filling us out, so they help keep us svelte. Unlike processed refined grains, whole grains are low-fat, high- fiber, and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant phytochemicals. In short, making sure at least half, if not all, the grains you eat every day are whole grains, along with loading the plate with tons of colorful vegetables and fruit, is the smartest thing a person can do for his or her health and waistline.

2. Do calories count if you are eating healthy foods?
This one seems obvious, but I hear people all the time excuse away eating too many calories from food they bought at the health food store, yet being dumbfounded at the cause of their weight gain. Eating more calories from any food causes weight gain, even if that food is organic, free-range, pesticide-free, or all natural. We all need to make wise food choices AND reign in the calories to fit how active we are. Remember: The #1 cause of disease, disability, and premature death is being overweight!

Do You Know?

1. Do raw foods contain enzymes that aid in digestion?
2. Can some diets help you lose 10 pounds or more in just 2 weeks?

Check next week for the answers….

 Label Lingo –

“Free” and “Low” on a Label
What do the words “free” or “low” mean when splashed across the front of a box of crackers or cookies? Here’s the criteria that allows a food company to use that claim. Free: An amount so small it won’t have any effect on your body (less than 0.5 grams per serving), that is as long as you eat the recommended serving as listed on the label. Low: An amount specifically defined for certain terms:
     Low Fat: 3 grams of fat or less per serving
     Low Calorie: Less than 40 calories per serving
     Low Cholesterol: Less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol and less than 2 grams saturated fat per serving
     Low Fat: 3 grams of fat or less per serving
     Low Calorie: Less than 40 calories per serving
     Low Cholesterol: Less than 20 milligrams of cholesterol and less than 2 grams saturated fat per serving

Food Finds/Food Fails:

Food Finds:
Rosarita Traditional Fat-Free Refried Beans1. Rosarita No-Fat Traditional Refried Beans: Have your favorite food and keep your waistline by paring down the fat and calories in most traditional Mexican dishes. You keep all the taste and texture, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but drop the calories by almost 20% when you choose these no-fat beans instead of regular beans (which often are made with saturated fat-laden lard).
2. Dole Wildly Nutritious Mandarin Sunshine Blend: You’ll find these gems in the freezer case. Nothing is added other than mandarin oranges, sliced strawberries, and pineapple. Perfect for recipes, smoothies, or to top plain yogurt. Other healthy options from Dole include Chef-Ready Cuts of Diced Pineapple and Mango or their Ready-Cut Strawberries, Peaches, and Banana.

Food Fails:
1. Near East Multigrain Chips: They contain couscous, quinoa, and lentils. They must be good, right? Only if you’ve run six miles today and can afford the 140 calories and a teaspoon and a half of fat for every 10 chips (which is more than regular potato chips). The “sea salt” gives these chips a phoney health halo. Don’t be fooled, you’re amping up your blood pressure with every chip.
2. SoBe Elixir Strawberry Banana: The label on this bottled junk says it is flavored with natural flavors and contains vitamin C, ginseng, and yerba matte. The small print on the back shows that right after plain old water comes sugar, 15 ½ teaspoons of it per serving.

The Daily Menu

Put know how into practice with this simple, nutritious meal plan. Eliminate the snacks if you want to cut additional calories. And, with all the menus in my newsletter, feel free to tweak to your food preferences and choices.

1 medium poached egg
2 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
1 medium tomato, chopped or sliced
1 cup pink grapefruit juice

Mid-Morning Snack:
1/2 cantaloupe filled with 6 ounces low-fat lemon yogurt and topped with 1 Tbsp. lemon zest

Chicken sandwich: 3 ounces broiled chicken breast, 2 Tbsp. canned and drained roasted red peppers,
     dash of red pepper flakes, 1 Romaine lettuce leaf, 2 slices whole wheat bread
Cole slaw:1 cup pre-shredded cabbage; 1/4 cup pineapple chunks, canned in own juice and drained;
     1 Tbsp. lemon juice; 2 Tbsp. low-calorie mayonnaise; and salt and pepper to taste
1 medium apple
1 cup nonfat milk

Mid-Afternoon Snack:
2 cup frozen blueberries

3 ounces broiled salmon
1 cup couscous, prepared according to package
1 serving Zucchini-Tomato Lasagna with Fresh Thyme and Caramelized Onions
Tossed salad: 1 cup mixed baby greens, 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion, 3 Tbsp. grated carrot,
     1/2 medium pear, chopped, 2 Tbsp. oil-based dressing
Nutritional Information: 2030 Calories, 58.6 grams fat (26 percent), 264 grams carbohydrate, 112 grams protein, 1,825 mg sodium, 953 mg calcium, 37 grams fiber.

What Has Elizabeth Been Up To?

January 19th: She was on AMNorthWest (KATU, Channel 2 in Portland, OR) talking about the pros and cons of 2015’s diet trends.