Friday, November 30, 2007

Let's Talk Frank About Heart Disease, Frank

Most of us know the risks of heart disease and realize that it can cause death. Does knowing about heart disease affect our lifestyle choices such as the way we eat, whether we exercise, take medications, smoke? It appears not. However, a recent study indicates that adults at risk for heart disease are more likely to modify their behavior after having frank discussions with their doctor’s about heart disease than those who did not.

Patients prescribed to cholesterol medications often discontinue use because they do not believe the risk factors of high cholesterol necessarily affect them. Because of this, Dr. Steven A. Grover of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, decided to conduct a study to determine whether increasing patients’ knowledge of their heart disease risk profile might modify behavior in a positive, heart healthy manner.

According to Reuters,

“To find out, they randomly assigned 3,053 adults being treated for cholesterol problems to usual care or to receive a 1-page computer printout displaying their probability of developing heart disease in the next 8 years based on their current lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk indicators.

During the study, reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the printout group also received ongoing feedback on how much they could cut their risk through lifestyle modification and drug therapy.

A total of 2,687 patients completed the 12-month study, and the researchers saw that those in the intervention group who kept track of their heart risk profile had small but significantly greater improvements in their cholesterol profiles.

The patients who were better educated about their heart risk profile were also more likely to reach cholesterol targets, the investigators found.”

Pretty interesting that once the risks are personalized, they become a reality for us. No more of the “that can’t happen to me mentality” because you realize that it can happen to you and will if you don't take care of yourself.

Just some food (heart healthy food of course!) for thought.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Emma's Healthy Holiday Plan" - Step #1

I don’t know about you guys but wow, did I stuff myself over Thanksgiving. Between all the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie I ate, I feel like I gained about 10 pounds this week! My jeans are so tight they barely zip.

In order to combat the holiday weight gain that so many people fall victim to, I’ve decided to start really focusing on maintaining my healthy habits during this binge-filled season. This week I’ll be giving you insight into “Emma’s Healthy Holiday Plan” – my effort to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain.

The first thing I’m going to do is start keeping a food diary. I’ve found that I’m often a mindless eater, munching on calorie-laden snacks when I’m not even hungry. Writing down everything I eat helps me to track my caloric intake and see where the holes are.

I’ll fill you in on step number 2 of Emma’s Healthy Holiday Plan later this week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Margarine as a "Super Food" in Fighting Heart Disease

Okay wow, am I the worst blogger on the face of the universe? I’m really sorry I’ve been such a huge slacker lately. Between business trips, the flu and car problems, every second of every waking hour has been packed.

Anyways, I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles on ways to fight heart disease. Here’s a goodie from the Indianapolis Star. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Some foods pack a particularly powerful punch when it comes to fighting heart disease.
"For some people, they're going to have a larger impact than others, depending on your family history," said Jennifer Jones, registered dietitian with St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

For those with a history of heart disease, eating a diet that includes these foods can at least delay heart disease or help recovery after a cardiac event, she said.

St. Vincent's Healthy Spirit magazine lists these five "super foods" that should be part of your diet:

1. Oatmeal: Oat bran in oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol, helping to remove it from your body and lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Other good fiber sources: kidney beans, apples, pears, citrus fruits, peas and Brussels sprouts.

2. Fish: Fatty types of fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower blood pressure and triglycerides. Good sources: salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring and albacore tuna.

3. Soy: Soybeans are a rich source of protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins and fiber, and contain plant chemicals called isoflavones, which help protect against many diseases.

4. Nuts: Although nuts are high in calories, their unsaturated fatty acids help lower cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. Almonds and walnuts seem to have the most heart benefits.

5. Margarine: Regarding heart health, margarine is better for you than butter, as long as it's fortified with plant substances called sterols or stanols

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Easing the Pain with a Little Cinnamon Toast

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts this week - what a slacker blogger I've been! In my defense though, this is probably the busiest time of year at work for me. Lots of meetings to attend and annual updates to prepare. In addition, I'm coming down with a nasty cold.

When I was a young girl and got sick my mother always used to make me cinnamon toast for breakfast. It's warm, sweet and hits the spot when you're not feeling 100%.

All you need to do to make cinnamon toast is spread some margarine on a piece of bread, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and stick it under the broiler until it's toasted and voila!!

I promise I'll be back with more heart health news later this week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese That Packs Nutritional Bang!

Macaroni and cheese is one of the best comfort foods out there. You just can’t beat it in my book. This recipe (from Good Housekeeping) has a new take on an old classic and it’s just as delicious yet actually provides some nutritional value.



1 package (16 ounces) multigrain or whole wheat rotini or penne pasta
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons margarine
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) or cracker crumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
Salt and ground black pepper
10 ounces reduced-fat (2%) sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

1. Heat large covered saucepot of water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta and cook 2 minutes less than label directs. Drain pasta; transfer to large bowl. Stir in tomatoes; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In microwave-safe small bowl, heat 1 tablespoon margarine in microwave oven on High 20 seconds or until melted. Stir in panko and 1/4 cup grated Romano until blended; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, melt remaining tablespoon margarine over medium heat; add onion and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

4. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk cornstarch into milk until blended. Whisk milk mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into onion mixture in saucepan; heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Boil sauce 1 minute to thicken slightly. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in Cheddar, basil, and remaining Romano until cheeses melt. Stir cheese mixture into pasta mixture.

5. Transfer pasta mixture to six 1 1/2-cup au gratin dishes or one 13" by 9" glass baking dish; top with panko mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until center is hot and top is lightly browned.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (based on individual servings)
Calories: 645
Total Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 11 g
Cholesterol: 56 mg
Sodium: 1055 mg
Carbohydrates: 82 g
Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 34 g