Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get Your Zzz's

Late Bedtimes Linked to Heart Disease
Men who Turn In After Midnight Show Early Signs of Atherosclerosis
By Charlene Laino, WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 30, 2009 (Orlando) -- Burning the midnight oil may be hazardous to your health.
Men who go to bed after midnight have significantly more arterial stiffening -- an early stage of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries -- than men who turn in earlier, a new study shows.
Several large studies have linked chronic sleep loss to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems, says Yu Misao, MD, of the Misao Health Clinic in Gifu, Japan.
But whether bedtimes also have an influence on heart health has not been explored, he tells WebMD.

Too Little Sleep Affects Heart Health
So Misao and colleagues put that question to the test in a study of 251 healthy men 60 and younger. They had an annual checkup, during which their blood pressure, body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and lipid levels were measured.

Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity was used to examine the men for evidence of arterial stiffening. This measures how fast blood is rushing between the brachial artery in the arm and the tibial artery in the ankle. When blood pressure is high, blood flow accelerates, and the arterial walls stiffen.

All the participants filled out questionnaires that asked how many hours of sleep they got each night (six hours and 20 minutes, on average) and what time they went to bed (11:30 p.m. on average).

The fewer hours a man slept each night, the higher his BMI, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, the study showed.

“This is consistent with previous reports showing that short sleep duration may negatively affect cardiovascular risk factors, Misao says.
There was no significant relationship between how many hours a man slept and arterial stiffness.

Late Bedtimes Linked to Arterial Stiffness
The men were then divided put into three groups according to the number of hours they reported sleeping at night: less than six hours, six to seven hours, and seven hours or more.
In each of these groups, the men who reported going to bed before midnight had more relaxed arteries, as shown by significantly lower brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity levels, than the men who went to bed after midnight.

The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 58th Annual Scientific Sessions.

“While the study doesn’t tells us why, a previous study suggested that people who go to bed late might eat more at night,” Misao says. Evening snacking may raise the risk of obesity, a risk factor for heart disease, he says.

Other research suggests that turning in after midnight might activate the sympathetic nervous system, which accelerates body functions, including heart rate, and helps control how the body responds to stress, Misao says.

Daniel Jones, MD, past president of the American Heart Association and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, says it’s possible that “there’s some physiological [explanation] for the finding.”

For example, turning in after midnight might throw your internal biological clock out of synch, he says.

“But people who go to bed late are different from people who go to bed early. They may be more likely to smoke. They may be more likely to drink, They may be more likely to overeat. These are all heart disease risk factors that [weren’t taken into account in the analysis],” Jones tells WebMD.

At this point, “I wouldn’t recommend changes in my sleep behavior based on this study,” he says.

Misao agrees that further research is needed.

“From the point of view of preventing cardiovascular disease, we have to focus not only on diet and exercise, but also on how we sleep, including when we go to bed,” he says.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Home sweet home. It's good to be back! I just returned from a week and a half long business trip in Tucson, AZ. Let me just tell you that I thought living in Houston was hot but whoa, Tucson takes it to a whole new level. It was mid-March and it got into the 90's a few days last week!

The terrain in Tucson is like nothing I've ever seen before. While trees are (very) limited, there are beautiful cacti all over the place. Plus, the sun setting over the mountains is like nothing I've ever seen before. Simply stunning.

I've got to go catch up on buckets and buckets of work but I'll be back later this week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Celebrity Chefs Criticized by UK Fat Panel

I am loving this article below! I watch The Food Network constantly and am frequently amazing at how much FAT is in the recipes that celebrity chefs make. I can almost feel my butt getting bigger as I watch the show. There are simple tricks, as this UK Fat Panel recommends, to cut calories such as switching from butter to margarine, using skim milk instead of cream, incorporating fat-free or reduced-fat versions of your favorite products, etc. that can really lighten the caloric load of a recipe. Be sure to check out Gordon Ramsey's "Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding" recipe and ways to make this "fatty recipe" much lighter without skimping on taste.

Read on...

Naughty and not so nice: celebrity chefs in firing line
Recipes by Lawson, Ramsay and others contain too much 'killer' fat, says panel

The popular recipes of celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay are laden with "killer" fats linked to deadly heart disease, strokes and obesity, according to new research.
Recipes of 15 top chefs which have featured in their bestselling cookery books have been scrutinised by a panel of nutritionists and dieticians and found to contain high levels of unhealthy saturated fat by using ingredients such as butter, double cream and cheese.

In some cases one serving contains more than an adult's entire recommended daily limit of saturated fats - 20 grams for women and 30g for men.

The report, The Guilty Secret of Celebrity Chefs, published today by The Fat Panel, analysed the saturated fat content of a variety of starters, main courses, side orders and desserts from popular cookbooks. It warns that people eating these dishes regularly could be putting their lives at serious risk by bumping up their saturated fat intake.

On average, people are eating 20% too much saturated fat, the report says, and there is evidence that it can increase levels of LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for causing heart disease, Britain's biggest single killer.

Recipes by Jean-Christophe Novelli and John Burton-Race are singled out for containing a lot of butter and cream. A single portion of Novelli's honey roast pumpkin soup generated 43.2g of saturated fat - well over twice the daily allowance - even before adding the full fat cheese garnish. One portion of Gordon Ramsay's sticky toffee and chocolate pudding contained 23g of saturated fat. Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver are given overall approval, but they are admonished for their frequent use of butter. Burton-Race and Rick Stein are criticised for being "keen to use high saturated fat ingredients constantly", and Nigella Lawson is criticised for using butter instead of margarine in her egg and bacon pie, with a single serving brimming with 36g of fat.

The report says some simple swaps can make a dramatic difference to saturated fat content, without adversely affecting the overall flavour and food experience. The panel - which receives funding from the UK's Margarine and Spreads Association - suggests that consumers use stronger cheese and low-fat polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated spreads instead of butter.

Sian Porter, a registered dietician on The Fat Panel, said: "We are not being the nutrition police here or killjoys, but there are some things that are pure indulgence and should be left as such, to be enjoyed as an occasional treat in all their fat, sugar and calorie-laden glory. We should be cautious of getting into the habit of eating them too frequently."

She said celebrity chefs were hugely influential in the UK but many people did not realise the potential health implications of their "calorie and fat-laden dishes". A spokesman for Novelli said: "Jean-Christophe puts his recipes together for flavour, to give people an exciting eating experience. If people are worried about saturated fat content in any of his recipes, they can easily substitute other ingredients. In the case of the pumpkin soup, for example, by using single cream, creme fraiche or even healthy yoghurt."

The Food Standards Agency has recently launched a multimillion pound advertising campaign featuring TV adverts and cooking tips to encourage consumers to cut down on their saturated fat intake.

The fat factor
Gordon Ramsay's sticky toffee and chocolate pudding
Ingredients for pudding
200g medjool dates
175g muscovado sugar
250ml water
100g lightly salted butter* (use margarine instead!)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp espresso or strong coffee
3 large eggs
150g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
For toffee sauce
100g dark muscovado sugar
75g lightly salted butter * (use margarine instead!)
250ml double cream*

*Replacing the butter with the same quantities of low fat vegetable spread and the double cream with thick single cream reduces the saturated fat content by 65%

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fresh Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I adore cream cheese frosting so this cake is always a staple for me. Happy Monday...ick!

Fresh Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups peeled and chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. 2. Beat sugar, eggs and oil together with a mixer until well blended. Mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in apples and walnuts, mixing well. 3. Pour into baking dish. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool before icing. 4. To prepare the icing, mix butter, sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Spread on cooled cake. Serves 20.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Like to Move it, Move it

Hey there folks. I hope everybody's staying warm out there. If not, have I got a solution for you! MOVE IT!!!

This week is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's MS Awareness Week. According to its Web site, "MS Awareness Week March 2 – 8 is the time for the nation to go orange and Move It to end multiple sclerosis, a disease where someone is newly diagnosed each hour. Supported by a Congressional Resolution, this year MS Awareness Week and the state of MS research aptly coincide: Move It to create a world free of MS."

In recognition of MS Awareness Week, many organizations, individuals and companies have special events planned. These include:

  • Phil Keoghan, host of CBS’s The Amazing Race, will Move It on Thursday, March 5 in Times Square when he sets up a cycle-thon training ride for his upcoming bike ride across America that will raise awareness for the Society’s Bike MS ride series;

  • People across the country are volunteering to help raise funds and awareness to end MS by registering for Walk MS, Bike MS, and joining grass roots activist teams to advocate for health care reform;

  • Crowds of volunteers and staff from the Society are “taking over” high-traffic/high visibility sites such as Rockefeller Plaza across the country for “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t” Move It stunts; a “Join the Movement bus” tour will roll across AL; movement marathons including stair climbs are occurring in Chicago and New York, cycle-thons in MI and CA, and a mud-run in Florida, all designed to bring awareness of the impact of MS;

  • Buildings including the Empire State building and city fountains are going orange; 3,000 orange pinwheels representing the people with MS in Maine will be spread out across a well-known field;
  • Teri Garr recorded Move It PSAs are now playing nationwide;

  • and orange bracelets, bumper stickers, shirts and caps will be the dress du jour throughout the week.

Do your part. I know that times are tough and it's hard to donate a lot of money right now, but ever little bit helps. Or, if you can't donate money then donate your time or just wear orange to support the cause.