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Yoga or Tai Chi to relieve heart problems!

By Ann C Wooledge
on December 12, 2013
1 comment

 

 

Atrial fibrillation - afib for short, an irregular heart beat. A problem we saw often when I worked in the Critical Care Unit. It wasn't one of those issues that caused your adrenaline to spike when you saw it on your patient's EKG, but it was nonetheless concerning and required a call to their doctor and medical - pharmaceutical - intervention. Usually chronic administration of a medication -or two. Afib can cause symptoms that reduce a person's quality of life and it can sometimes progress to something more acute.

Surprisingly for the doctors I think, but not really so surprising to me and possibly you, is a recent article in MedPageToday.com. They found evidence (enough to convince them to review the research and write about it) that yoga actually improves the burden on the heart caused by afib, and also improved heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and depression! Now think about it - how many different medications would one have to take to do all of that!? Exactly! Not to mention all of the side effects from EACH of those medications. It took only three months of yoga training to improve "quality of life parameters, including physical functioning, general health, vitality, social function and mental health" - and this is not the first study to evaluate the effects of yoga for improvement in cardiac problems. Not to be taken lightly, atrial fibrillation can still cause disabling and bothersome symptoms that adversely affect a patient’s quality of life. These doctors agreed that: "One way to help manage the disease and improve quality of life may be to add adjunctive complementary and alternative therapies, such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, therapeutic hypnosis, or tai chi into routine care." That in and of itself is pretty amazing!

If you or a family member, friend or co-worker suffer from ANY cardiac disease, please show them this article for more information including the impressive benefits of practicing Tai Chi. Do I do either of these? Well, actually I don't. I've often considered it, but after reading this and the research studies they provided - and many other articles I've read confirming the benefits, I am going to check out yoga. Well, maybe an at-home video first. At one time I actually thought yoga was a sort of religion and therefore not something a good conservative Christian girl would do. I was so totally wrong about that and I wish I had considered this sooner. And - you don't have to be fit, slender and young as depicted in almost every picture I searched to find something to post here! Do you practice yoga or tai chi? I'd love to know what you think. I'm having coffee with a couple of very dear friends of mine tomorrow morning - both of their husbands have undergone cardiac catheterizations and are on medications. I am copying the article and will take a couple copies with me tomorrow. Maybe we can all start a yoga or tai chi class together - that would be a good way to start the new year!

Below are direct quotes from the article in MedPageToday.com's article. Take a few minutes to read it in more detail here.

  • The regular practice of yoga improves symptoms, arrhythmia burden, heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and depression scores, and several domains of quality of life among patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.
  • Twelve weeks of tai chi training can significantly improve heart failure-related quality of life and exercise tolerance, as well as reduce blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein.

Tell me this isn't so much better than taking a lot of pills!! Seriously, I'm just very excited that this totally allopathic website has chosen to publish this article and giving credence to what most of you probably already knew. Show it to your doctor and as with any new exercise program start out slow and do keep in touch with your physician. Hopefully, you can regulate those medications downward and to the point of not taking them at all.

Thanks for listening!

 

Ann

Ann's mission statement truly is to provide health and wellness information to you and your family that you may not find in your every-day newspapers or Prevention magazines. Her college studies, certifications and passionate self-study have provided her with a huge spectrum of understanding of the intricate issues and debates concerning health and nutrition. Ann is a Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Professional, and has been studying nutrition, aromatherapy, skin care health and medicinal herbalism for at least 13 years. Not so surprisingly, all of these interact for health and wellness at a level we all want to achieve. She is an ardent pursuer of verified research and information and spends huge amounts of time searching for information that is relevant and evidence based. We sincerely hope you benefit from her efforts.

References provided by MedPageToday.com:

  1. Lakkireddy D, Atkins D, Pillarisetti J, et al. Effect of yoga on arrhythmia burden, anxiety, depression, and quality of life in paroxysmal atrial fibrillation: The YOGA My Heart Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2013 Jan 25. [Epub ahead of print]
  2. Schneider RH, Grim CE, Rainforth MV, et al. Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in blacks. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2012;5:750-758.
  3. Lombardi F, Belletti S, Battezzati PM, et al. Acupuncture for paroxysmal and persistent atrial fibrillation: an effective non-pharmacological tool? World J Cardiol. 2012;4:60-65.
  4. Novoa R, Hammonds T. Clinical hypnosis for reduction of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Cleve Clin J Med. 2008;75(suppl 2):S44-S47.
  5. Yeh GY, Wood MJ, Lorell BH, et al. Effects of tai chi mind-body movement therapy on functional status and exercise capacity in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Med. 2004;117:541-548.
  6. Caminiti G, Volterrani M, Marazzi G, et al. Tai chi enhances the effects of endurance training in the rehabilitation of elderly patients with chronic heart failure. Rehabil Res Pract. 2011;2011:761958.

 

 

 

Are those Omega 3's really worth it?

By Ann C Wooledge
on March 22, 2013

 

 

Omega 3's - are they worth those dollars? Are they really working?

I don't know about you, but we spend a good deal of money every month purchasing my omega-3 fatty acid capsules. I've read a lot about mercury and lead contamination and possible rancidity in the different capsules. So I was very excited and pleased to see that Consumer Lab has done a large analysis of all the potential benefits and whether or not they are real or just perceived. Are we just spending too much money on something that doesn't work? For that reason I wanted to share this information with you. I would, however, highly recommend that you purchase a very reasonably priced subscription from consumerlab.com because the extensive report they published covers far more than what I am able to cover in this blog. 

What are Omega 3's?:

EPA and DHA are two principal fatty acids found primarily in fatty fish, krill and calamari. You are probably very familiar with the term omega-3 fatty acids. DHA can also be obtained from other sources such as algae. The body can only manufacture limited amounts of EPA and DHA from food as well as alpha linolenic acid (ALA) from plant foods such as flaxseed and walnuts. Consumer lab.com recently did an extensive analysis of the research concerning the benefits, which are many, of supplementing or consuming omega-3 fatty acids. Below you will find a list of the proposed benefits as well as the research that supports these benefits or has shown a lack of substantial justification for taking the supplement. 

Heart attack and stroke: 

The FDA has approved the labeling of supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids to state that research shows "supportive but not conclusive evidence that consuming DHA and EPA may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." There is also an approved pharmaceutical prescription of a high-dose highly concentrated EPA/DHA product derived from fish oil. Heart healthy benefits attributed to omega-3 fatty acids include:

1.  Reducing triglyceride levels
2.  Raising levels of the good cholesterol (HDL),
3.  Possibly thinning the blood
4.  Reducing homocystine levels
5.  And also reducing blood pressure. 

Conclusion:

After a review of 14 studies Consumers Lab found no significant difference in outcomes between those who did from those who didn't take fish oil supplements.(1) Prior research has suggested a benefit for individuals with a history of cardiac disease. Clinical trials since 2010 now cast doubt on the benefit for both healthy individuals or those with prior cardiovascular vascular disease. However it was also stated that these studies may have been too short or small to detect small or modest benefit.(2) An additional review of twenty studies published from 1989 to 2012 also concluded that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids was not associated with a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiac death, sudden-death for all forms of death among people. It should be said that most of these participants in the studies were at increased cardiovascular risk and were probably taking cardiovascular medicatio.(3) However, one study looked specifically at cerebrovascular disease (strokes) and found benefit from fish oil supplementation as well as eating fish. Another analysis of thirty-eight studies found that eating two to four servings per week of fish resulted in a 6% lower risk of stroke compared to eating one or fewer servings per week.(4) It was believed that the decreased risk of stroke was seen with fatty fish types and not whitefish types and that the beneficial effects of eating fish could very well be due to a wide range of nutrients that are found in fish. So in conclusion, although it has been widely believed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids was beneficial in reducing cardiovascular events it does seem to remain generally not substantiated following the review of these studies. However, eating fish at least twice a week may be beneficial as long as it is not fried or deep fried. 

Arthritis and other inflammatory diseases: 

It is known that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish alters the body's production of prostaglandins and therefore reduces some forms of inflammation. Because of this fact, supplementation with EPA and DHA has been used for symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and does seem to work in the early stages of the disease. However it was believed that fish oil probably doesn't slow progression of the disease. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties there have been other diseases with inflammatory components that have been studied and in one large study it was shown that people with the highest consumption of DHA had a 77% reduction in the risk of developing ulcerative colitis. (5) 

Cancer: 

After looking at studies regarding the prevention of cancer of the prostate, colon/rectum, and breast, it appeared that current use but not past use of fish oil supplements was associated with a 32% reduction in the risk of breast cancer. The risk reduction was more effective for ductal carcinoma of the breast than lobular carcinoma. It was suggested that the anticancer effects may be due to the anti-inflammatory property of fish oil because chronic inflammation is associated with cancer risk and progression. It was noted, however, that researchers felt fish oil cannot be recommended for breast cancer prevention without further study. An additional study did find fish consumption to be associated with a large reduction in late stage or fatal prostate cancer.(6) 

Chemotherapy: 

It was found fish oil could be helpful to prevent weight loss during cancer chemotherapy. Although not all studies did show this benefit a recent study showed significant benefit.(7) 

Eye disease: 

And analysis of the use of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids did show that those with the highest intake of EPA and DHA were 30% less likely to develop diseases of the retina. Decreased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration was also shown in a study of over 30,000 female health professionals. Those who ate fish at least once a week had a 42% reduction in developing AMD compared to those eating less than one serving per month. It appeared that the greatest benefit was with consumption of canned tuna or other dark meat fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines.(7) 

Psychiatric and mental disorders: 

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to help mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia although there have only been a limited number of double-blind trials. 

Depression: 

In a study comparing depressed older women in a nursing home showed significant improvement and remission of 40.9% compared to 16.7% of those taking placebo.(8). The same study also showed a significant improvement in their self assessed quality-of life. 

Suicide: 

A study was done on military personnel who had committed suicide. Prior to suicide they had a significantly lower blood level of DHA than personnel who did not commit suicide.(9) It was found that in this mostly male population the risk of suicide was 62% greater among those with low serum levels of DHA compared to those with higher levels. As a side note the researchers found that omega-3 fatty acid levels were generally lower in the military personnel who participated in the study, in fact much lower, than in the general population.

Anxiety: 

Using medical students in the United States for comparison, researchers found that those who received the high-dose omega-3 fatty acid showed a 20% reduction of anxiety symptoms compared to those receiving placebo treatment. They also noted that the students treated also had a 14% decrease in a marker of inflammation.(10) It should be noted however that the study used a very concentrated fish oil which was high in EPA because evidence points to EPA as having a relatively stronger anti-inflammatory and antidepressant effects than DHA. 

Alzheimer's disease: 

It has been shown in previous population studies the consumption of DHA is associated with reduced incidents of Alzheimer's disease. Animal studies also have demonstrated that DHA consumption reduces Alzheimer-like brain disease. It should be noted however that DHA from algae has not shown these same benefits even though plasma levels of DHA tripled and the amount of DHA in cerebrospinal fluid increased by 38%, meaning the DHA was absorbed. There was, however, no significant change from those taking placebo. 

Age-related cognitive decline: 

In contrast to Alzheimer's disease, age-related cognitive disease is not actually considered a disease but is more of a gradual declining of mental capacity and perhaps a normal consequence of aging. One study involving a small population of those 65 and over with mild cognitive impairment showed that those receiving a large amount of DHA with EPA had improved scores on verbal fluency, although not on any other memory or cognition test compared to those in a control group. The researchers rightfully noted that depression is a risk factor for progression to dementia so if there is a reduction in depressive symptoms this may also reduce the risk of dementia. 

Memory enhancement in healthy individuals: 

In one small study of healthy young adults, improved working memory performance was found to result with higher levels of DHA but not EPA. Participants were then asked to take higher concentrations of fish oil containing EPA and DHA daily for six months and they were tested again and scores improved.(10) 

Strength training in older women

Considering the fact that omega-3's have been shown to play a role in the plasma membrane and cell function of muscles, studies were done on mostly sedentary women in their mid 60s who were given supplements of fish oil containing both EPA and DHA. After 12 weeks of supervised lower body resistance training three times a week, the strength of those taking the fish oil had improved more than those who did not take the fish oil. It was also noted that what is referred to as functional capacity, assessing the speed of rising from a chair for instance, also increased more among those who took the fish oil. However simply taking fish oil without strength training did not show any benefit.(11)

Quality Control:

It's perhaps important to note that neither the FDA nor any other federal or state agency is responsible for or actually does routine tests on fish oil supplements for quality prior to being placed on the market. For this reason consumerlab.com chose to independently evaluate omega-3 products on the market today that claim to contain EPA and or DHA. They proceeded to test them for the levels of omega-3 fatty acids as indicated on their labels (EPA, DHA and, if listed, ALA), mercury, lead, PCBs, and signs of decomposition. An abbreviated list of the quality concerns and the issues that consumer lab tested for follows below: 

Contamination: 

Contamination has always been an issue because fish can accumulate toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and PCBs. Mercury is also a well-known element that can damage the nervous system and is particularly dangerous in a fetus. Dioxins and PCBs may be carcinogenic even at low levels of exposure over time and may also have other harmful effects. 

Freshness: 

The freshness of an oil is always an important consideration because fish oil can go rancid resulting in an unpleasant odor and taste. More importantly than odor or taste is the fact that rancid fish oils can produce a variety of compounds, some of which could cause health concerns. A study by the government of Norway concluded that there would be some health concerns related to the regular consumption of rancid fish/marine oils particularly in regards to the gastrointestinal tract. However there's not enough data to determine the amount of risk.(12) 

In conclusion:

Whew! I know this has been a long blog, but an important one I think. Consumer Lab found that of the 35 products they selected for review only 24 passed quality testing for meeting requirements for freshness, purity, and if they contained the declared amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. If the supplement had any enteric coatings they tested to see if they were properly absorbed. Considering all the various and important potential benefits of supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and or eating fatty fish, it seems to me that it would be advantageous to read the full report that Consumer Lab published. There was in this report detailed discussion of all the varieties and ways you may be spending your money on a product that is not effective and even potentially harmful. In this report they also talk individually about each of the products they tested and why they were or were not approved. It is an extensive list of specific brand names and shows an analysis of prices, some of which are ridiculously expensive with "very low concentration" of Omega 3's. This list also shows what you are actually getting for those diminishing dollars in terms of the actual concentration of DHA and EPA. This is an important discussion because there is much confusion in this area. My husband and I have spent many hours looking at the various labels with our calculators in hand. This is no longer necessary with this excellent comparison done for you. Obviously, I'm not going to list the brands they analyzed, but just as an example, Dr. Mercola's very expensive Krill Oil was analyzed as containing a "very low" concentration of Omega 3's and at a very high cost. As a matter of fact, most of the krill oil supplements showed low to moderate levels of concentration, and these are usually more expensive. So, if you don't take Omega 3 fish oil or eat fatty fish on a regular basis, I suggest that you do. If you want to be sure that you are purchasing the best for the dollar, then spend that $33 for a one-year subscription to Consumerlab.com. No - they aren't paying me for this recommendation. They have no idea I exist other than perhaps in their record keeping as I purchase their subscription every year. 

Do you take Omega 3's? If you are a vegetarian, do you find that the ALA in plant-based foods is sufficient? How much do you spend on your supplements and where do you purchase them? Can you tell a difference when you don't take them. I can - both from an inflammatory and vascular standpoint. I can also tell from one brand to another. Trader Joe's didn't work - for me anyway.

Thanks for listening!

 

1.   Kwak S, Myung S, Lee Y, Seo H, Korean Meta-analysis Study Group f. Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements (Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid) in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-analysis of Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(9):686-694. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.262. 

2.   Hu FB, Manson JE. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease—Is It Just a Fish Tale?: Comment on “Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements (Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid) in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease”. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(9):694-696. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.463. 

3.   Rizos EC, Ntzani EE, Bika E, Kostapanos MS, Elisaf MS. Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2012;308(10):1024-1033. doi:10.1001/2012.jama.11374. 

4.  Chowdhury R, Stevens S, et al, Association between fish consumption,  long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and risk of cerebrovascular disease: systemic review and meta-analysis: BMJ 2012;345:e6698.

5.  Hart 2009.

6.  Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA.Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis:
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1223-33. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29530. Epub 2010 Sep 15.

7.  Christen WG, Schaumberg DA, Glynn RJ, Buring JE. Dietary ω-3 Fatty Acid and Fish Intake and Incident Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Women. Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(7):921-929. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.34. 

8.  Rondanelli M, Giacosa A, Opizzi A, et al. Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms and on Health-Related Quality of Life in the Treatment of Elderly Women with Depression: J Am Coll Nutr vol. 29 no. 1 55-64.

9.  Lewis M, Hibbeln J, Johnson J, et al. Suicide Deaths of Active-Duty US Military and Omega-3 Fatty-Acid Status: A Case-Control Compariso: J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72(12):1585-1590

10. Narendran R, Frankle WG, Mason NS, et al. Improved working memory but no effect on striatal vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 after omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation: PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46832. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046832. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

11.  Rodacki C, Rodacki A, Pereira G, et al. Fish oil supplementation enhances the effects of strength training in elderly women:  Am J Clin Nutr ajcn.021915.

12.  Torkildsen Ø, Wergeland S, Bakke S, et al. ω-3 Fatty Acid Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis (OFAMS Study): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Arch Neurol. 2012;69(8):1044-1051. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2012.283.

Gluten-free, Sugar-free Raspberry Muffins

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on November 29, 2012
5 comments

RASPBERRY GLUTEN-FREE SUGAR-FREE MUFFINS:

 

We’ve been experimenting with quite a few sugar free, gluten-free, yeast-free breads and desserts. We have had some victories and a few disappointments, but I wanted to share them with you. This is an adaptation to our Blueberry Muffin recipe posted last week – see here. For anyone with yeast overgrowth or even just some yeast issues, these will help starve that yeast and get it eliminated from your body. Often times we don’t even realize we have yeast and the possibility that they might have taken control of our intestinal flora. Do you have lots of bloating after eating? Probably yeast. Can’t lose weight even though you’re starving yourself? Probably yeast. We have to starve it by eliminating ALL sugar and yeast from our diets. Other things need to be eliminated too, but these are the main culprits. To say it's difficult to find a sugar-free, gluten-free, and YEAST-free bread is an understatement. Let me know if you do. We've experimented with a few recipes and found some we really liked. I will be posting those recipes very soon.

Now, just a short note about these recipes. They are adapted from a book called "The Joy of Gluten-free, Sugar-free Baking" and I highly recommend the book. However, I suddenly realized with my last two recipe attempts, the authors are WEIGHING their dry ingredients. For instance, one recipe says 1 cup (4 oz/113 grams)! Well, I've been baking since I was a kid and one cup to me is 8 ounces in a dry measuring cup - so totally NOT 4 oz! So I decided to actually weigh the flour this time at 85 grams and I think they turned out better than the last batch. Which, really if you think about it, each "flour" has a different weight - it's a bit different than using all purpose flour which stays the same. The almond flour I purchased and is available in most grocery stores, but for the pecan flour, I simply ground up raw organic pecans in the spice grinder. And seriously? If you don't have yeast issues or aren't worried about the glycemic load, you could use sugar in these recipes. Hmmm - and did you notice? There are NO oils or fats added? The fats are naturally derived from the nuts - and they are the healthy fats!

Ingredients:

¾ cups (3 oz/85 grams) pecan flour
¾ cup (3 oz/85 grams almond flour
½ cup Stevia in the Raw Extract (we were able to find this at Russ's! One of our least health-oriented grocery stores.)
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/3 cup organic dried coconut
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs (approximately 3.5 oz/99 grams)
½ cup (4 oz/113 grams) unsweetened coconut milk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 packet NuStevia
½ to 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (I put them in still frozen)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 9 to 10 muffin cups with paper liners. I like to spray them with olive oil spray (optional). Mix the pecan flour, almond flour, Stevia in the Raw, hemp seeds, coconut, baking powder and salt until well blended. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and NuStevia until well blended.  Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon for 1 to 2 minutes. I’ve found that this is an important step to get the correct consistency of the batter. I even set my timer for 2 minutes after I pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture but I’m a little OCD-ish. Fold the raspberries into the batter – gently of course. Again, no need to thaw them out first - easy and fast.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and the cups should be just about full. They don’t rise much if at all.  Place the muffin pan on a cookie sheet and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. Test them with a toothpick and if it comes out clean, they’re ready. I like to then set them out on a wire rack for cooling. Well, truthfully, I like to pull a really hot one out and slather it with butter and eat it right then - my reward.

We liked these a lot and Warren took a few to work with him today.  I will do a nutritional analysis, but just knowing that I’m using nut “flour” (and we use organic raw nuts), NO sugar, and coconut milk – the amount of fiber and protein has to be high. The raspberries of course were not sweetened – so more goodness for you.

Let me know if you try these and how they turned out. If you have any questions, let me know!

Thanks for listening!

Ann McIntire Wooledge, RN, CCAP

Spring Vegetable Stew

By Recipes for a Healthier You Vegetarian Entrees
on April 17, 2012

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew Recipe

Still putting the finishing touches on the blog about the extremely powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of clove, both as an essential oil and a spice/herb. In the meantime, I came across this recipe and with AICR's permission I'm posting it for you. They are our information site for all things pertaining to cancer and nutrition. If you visit, take a minute to donate a little (or a lot) if you can. They are really making a difference in the world of cancer research and information. The original article is here.


Picture by permission from American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)


Satisfying Spring Stew

This hearty one-pot is full of cancer-fighting vegetables and flavorful herbs and spices. Best of all each serving weighs in at only 300 calories and 6 grams of fat, making it a great dish to help you maintain a healthy weight. Butternut squash and carrots contain cancer-fighting carotenoids while onions and garlic pack quercetin and allixin —compounds that show the ability to slow tumor growth in the lab. Serve with hearty brown rice or whole-wheat couscous for the perfect New American Plate meal.

 Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (low-sodium chicken broth may be substituted for a non-vegetarian dish)
1/2 tsp. chili powder, or to taste
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground paprika
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (or substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp. curry powder for spices from chili powder through cardamom)
1 lb. (2 cups diced) small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 cup raisins
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4" slices
1 (15-oz) can garbanzos, drained
1/4 cup pitted black olives, halved
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white or black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
3 cups cooked brown rice (whole-wheat couscous may be substituted)

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion. Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.

While broth is simmering, combine spices in a mixing bowl then stir them into pot. Add butternut squash, raisins, carrots and garlic. Cover and continue simmering until vegetables are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Let me know if you try it!

 


 

Raw Thai Peanut Ginger Butternut Squash

By Recipes for a Healthier You Raw Live Food Main Meals
on June 09, 2011

Easy, fast raw food dish - Raw Thai Peanut Ginger Butternut Squash:

People are always asking me how they can possibly find time to "cook" raw food dishes. I will admit the initial switch in mind set takes some time and some pre-planning. Mostly you need to remember to soak your nuts and seeds the day before, dehydrate for sometimes 3 days before eating and starting sprouts up to 3 days in advance. Sounds a little daunting? It does - at first. Once you start your regimen of soaking and sprouting, you'll always have a ready supply for whatever recipe you want to make.

However, this meal that I prepared today took possibly less than 3 minutes, but I did cheat and used a bottled "simmer sauce" made by Robert Rothschiild Farm readily available at most health food stores and even in a lot of the main stream grocery stores. Warren paid (yep, he does the grocery shopping!!) $6.50 for an 8 oz bottle. There are various flavors and they are all really good. One serving is only 2 Tbsp. and I used probably less than that. YES! I want to make it from scratch myself using my own spices, but today was a quick fix and that's just what we all need some times. Warren was working hard on canning salsa, the sun was shining and the flowers beds were calling to me - so I just needed something that would give me quick but lasting energy - this was it.

Butternut squash raw noodles (fresh from our garden)  - probably about 4 oz piece peeled and spiralized. See note below.
Thai Peanut Ginger Simmer Sauce - 2 tablespoons
Sunflower Seeds (raw) (use could use any variety of raw seeds or nuts here and preferably soaked overnight - mine weren't)
Chopped fresh cilantro (luckily Warren was already chopping some for his salsa - so I stole about 1 tbsp.)

That's it! I filled my plate with the raw noodles, dribbled on the Thai Peanut Ginger Sauce and sprinkled on the seeds and Cilantro. It really was amazingly good, filling, full of vitamins and phytonutrients plus staying power. Meaning that it didn't spike my blood sugar requiring my body to release a lot of insulin and give only a short period of energy - which is what happens when you eat enriched flour type noodles. I love the chewing too - they say it's good for the neck and jaw muscles and actually helps sagging skin - who knows - I don't, but I do love the crunch and the fiber.

Spiralizing is so much fun. We did some research prior to purchasing the model that we did finally decide to purchase. The brand is Benriner and I think we purchased it from Amazon. Picture below - wish I'd thought to take a picture of the final dish! Take a look at all the various You Tube demonstrations before deciding on which type would be best for you.

These are fun, easy, cheap and fast.


Thanks for listening!


Foods That Fight Cancer!

By Healthy Planet Blog Cancer Counsel
on June 07, 2011

Do you know which foods fight cancer? 

 

I know most of us have heard that turmeric is a very good choice to include in your diet to fight cancer, but actually getting enough into your diet is fairly difficult unless you eat a lot of Indian curry-type dishes and/or take supplements. I'm always looking for ways to easily fit foods into my diet that have been proven to increase my body's ability to fight off cancer. I came across this article just after admiring my swiss chard and kale growing in flower boxes on the deck. I have plans to grow larger amounts in the garden but never quite got the chance. The farmers' market, of course, is a great place to find foods that fight cancer. I will put out my seeds soon for my fall crop.

According to recent research funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research, dark green leafy vegetables are a great way to incorporate cancer-fighting components into your diet. Included are spinach, kale, romaine lettuce (not so dark, but full of the properties you're looking for), leaf lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens (love this coming from a Southern girl), chicory and swiss chard. They didn't mention bok choy, parsley, cilantro or basil, but I'm thinking those would be included but will check.

These particular foods are excellent sources of fiber, folate and lots of carotenoids including lutein, zeaxanthin, saponins and flavonoids. According to AICR's report, "Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective", these foods can protect us against cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx. I know we've all read that research has shown that carotenoids in particular are very good antioxidants that fight the free radicals we are bombarded with every day. Additional research has shown that these dark green leafy vegetables can also help stop the growth of some breast, skin, lung and stomach cancer. Folate was identified as decreasing the risk of pancreatic cancer. Most nutrition experts will also tell you to "shop the rainbow" - meaning the darker the color, the more antioxidants are included. An easy example is that red peppers are a better choice than green peppers; however, both are very good choices. In our green leafy choices, the dark purple kale would be better than green kale - although, again, both are very good choices. We prefer red cabbage over green cabbage for that reason as well.

AICR is our chosen choice for donations and if you take a look at their website and what they offer, I think you can see why. They, like us, believe that health begins and ends with good nutrition. Finding the correct and reliable information about that is not always easy. We believe that AICR provides a very good balance and evidence for all that they report. They have funded additional research on the subject of dark green leafy vegetables and why they fight cancer. Also read the full list of their recommendations for cancer prevention. You will see as you click the subjects we've mentioned such as fiber, folate, carotenoids and flavonoids, you will be taken to a page full of research showing why they are making these recommendations. And for those of you who think you can't or won't eat collards or mustard greens, you'd be pleasantly surprised at some recipes. AICR has provided one in particular for this subject and it can be found here. We will also post this recipe on our blog section under healthy recipes - and I'm going to try it out this week. I personally love them just raw, steamed or lightly sauteed - add a little balsamic vinegar.

So - let me know what you think about dark green leafy vegetables. Take a stroll down the tables at your local farmer's markets and see the vast array of vegetables that are available.

Thanks for listening!








Organic, Gluten-Free Granola

By Recipes for a Healthier You Appetite Control Snacks
on May 25, 2011
2 comments

Looking for a healthy breakfast or snack?

 

I am SO not good about eating breakfast! I usually don't want to eat anything until I've been up for about two hours. Now, I know this isn't a good practice because I then get hungry mid morning and it's too close to lunchtime - what to do? I just attended a 4-day class on a healthy eating program especially attuned to heart health. One of the main things they emphasized was a fairly big breakfast without animal protein, but full of protein-laden grains. Hot 7-grain cereal was one of the choices and although Warren loves this, it's just not my thing and especially not in the summertime. I also have gluten intolerance, not yet a full-fledged allergy, but I don't do well with most grains, which is why breakfast is a problem for me. 

Not any more! I came across this recipe from our friends at Organic Soul. They are Facebook Friends and we receive their very informative newsletter. This was their featured recipe today and I can't wait to try it. I may try to make it more "raw" by dehydrating instead of baking the granola, but either way, this looks like a winner to me. 

To quote from their website: "Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I feel it is the most important meal to get your day started right. It is essential to provide your body with the necessary nutrients to get you energized and motivated for everything that comes your way. Here is a simple and fun, gluten-free organic granola recipe you can enjoy as a breakfast cereal or as a healthy snack during your lunch time break."

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned, organic, and gluten- free oats (yes, all oats are naturally gluten free, but read here why you need to check)
  • 1 cup of raw, soaked organic almonds, coarsely chopped *Note: Soaking requires 8-12 hours prep!
  • ½ cup of shredded organic coconut
  • 3 tablespoons of packed organic brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of raw organic cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon of ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup raw organic honey
  • 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil
  • 1 cup organic raisins (or dried organic blueberries!) (I'm going to try Trader Joe's dried cherries or their blend of dried fruits!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine oats, almonds, coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, raw cocoa, ginger and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Stir together honey and oil in a small pan over low heat until combined. Pour honey and oil mixture into the large bowl with oat mixture and stir well.
  5. Spread granola mixture into an even layer onto lined baking sheet. Bake granola mixture for about 40 minutes. Be sure to check every 10 minutes to stir and rotate pan. When granola turns golden brown, remove from over and let cool.
  6. Pour granola back into large bowl and stir in raisins until combined.
  7. Now your organic gluten-free granola is ready to be eaten as a healthy breakfast or delicious afternoon snack!

This recipe was contributed by Jake Webster, chef and food aficionado.

Thanks to our friends at Organic Soul for allowing me to share this recipe. Check in with them and sign up for their newsletter and "Like"  them on Facebook.

Thanks for listening! Let me know if you try this and how it turns out.

 


Why are nuts a healthy snack?

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutritional Niblits
on May 24, 2011

Looking for a healthy snack?

 

Well, look no more. Following a large study investigating ways to prevent or reduce metabolic syndrome, it was found that adding 30 grams of nuts per day decreased the incidence of this increasingly prevalent syndrome approximately 14% after one year. Whereas adding olive oil and no nuts, the incidence decreased 6.7%. Either way - it's a decrease and the research is showing that the Mediterranean diet is effective for dealing with this problem.

Research now gives us reason to believe that those people with this syndrome characterized by multiple health issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol,  high blood sugar, and with the easiest to diagnose - an expanding waistline due to excess belly fat.  I'll talk more about why belly fat is so dangerous in another blog. But it is helpful that this study shows that these symptoms can be reduced just by adding about one ounce of mixed nuts per day. Now don't overdo it, because although the fat in nuts is "good" fat, too much of any fat is just that - too much. I also would add that the nuts should not be the roasted kind that contain large amounts of salt which is obviously counterproductive. I recommend raw nuts only - soaked overnight if possible and then dehydrated at temperatures below 106 degrees. You can season them easily this way according to your own preferences. I realize not everyone has a dehydrator or the time to do it this way, so please at least eat raw nuts easily found in bulk at your local health food store. Researchers believe the fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids in the nuts helped regulate insulin, blood pressure, and inflammation - all of which can result in metabolic syndrome.

Participants in the study ate about five walnuts, five hazelnuts, and five almonds daily. Kathy McManus, RD, director of the department of nutrition at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, recommends eating the same amount (approximately 1 ounce) when you have a snack attack.

The link below provides the results of a large meta study on this subject.

 

Thanks for listening!



Why you should trade your Lipitor for an avocado!

By Healthy Planet Blog Nutrition and Natural Health
on January 22, 2011

When I was around 42 years old, 100 pounds, and still barely 5 feet tall, for the first time ever I had my cholesterol levels tested in a routine annual exam. Well - they came back VERY bad and at that time I was eating your normal meat, cheese, and veggie diet and staying at the same weight for about 20 years and a size 4. I knew I had to stay away from sugar, potatoes, bread and white rice as much as possible because I always gained weight if I ate those things. No advanced nutritional science here - I just knew my body and my body told me it couldn't metabolize those things and every ounce I ate would end up as pounds on my hips and thighs. Well, to be honest, I didn't really know anything about the word "metabolize" at that time - I just simply gained weight - enough said.

 

The doctor at that time was amazed that not only was my LDL (bad stuff) very high, my triglycerides were also very high (very not good). But my HDL's  (the good guys) at that time were quite high and probably because I walked every day. He decided and I agreed I didn't need to take any medicine for it - yet. Of course, the statins such as Lipitor weren't quite as routinely given back then.  The point I want to get across is at that time they were teaching low-fat, low calorie diets to lower cholesterol. I was in nursing school and needed to do a teaching presentation for my speech class and decided to make that my subject. So, I studied everything I could find to teach others what they should eat to keep their cholesterol down. All of my research from your routine medical research journals to the registered dietitions' comments told me I could and should eat bagels because they are "low fat", and yes, I could eat those low-fat cookies even though they had an amazing amount of grams of sugar in them. Hey, I was excited - I could now eat things I thought I couldn't!! Everything I read said as long as the fat content (ANY fat) was low, regardless of the sugar or starch content, would be okay and, in fact, good. 

Follow me here a year later as I gained 30 pounds (that's a lot on a 5' frame), probably in less than a year and my cholesterol, of course, didn't go down at all. I continued this way for many years (about 20 years) until I realized on my own that this wasn't working (apparently I'm not such a quick learner.) That's when I started looking at less meat, no white stuff, more veggies and fruits and I slowly transitioned into mostly raw for one summer (which I blogged about here) and I quickly lost those 20 pounds, easily and I certainly didn't eat any less. We ate huge salads almost every day. 

Well, now the prevailing wisdom and recommendations have turned their course and the medical establishment has decided that maybe those weren't such good recommendations. They still haven't learned or are convinced that proper nutrition can in fact heal the body without pharmaceutical medications, but studies such as the one here will help convince them. Now the rest of us who knew it already can sit back and just say "we told ya' so!"  I routinely eat one avocado a day if I can find them for less than $1.50 each and I can now - thank you Trader Joe's!! Mainly because I just love them, and I knew the fat in them was good fat so I wasn't counting fat calories. Luckily Warren doesn't like avocado's - I don't like to share and besides we can only afford one avocado addict in this family.

Thank you Canadian Medical Association! Take a copy of the abstract from the original study linked to below the next time you go to your doctor - or better yet before getting that prescription refilled. Absolutely don't, of course, go off any medications without first discussing it with your doctor - but now you have something he or she might actually listen to.

ADDENDUM: October 29, 2012:

I ate an avocado for breakfast this morning - totally filling, satisfying and good. I decided to look once again at the nutritional values in eating just one. Here is a link where all of that is broken down quite extensively and clearly. The article that is linked below is about the incredible value of increasing "monounsaturated" fats into your diet to increase the good cholesterol (HDL). Avocado's are FULL of monosaturated fats.

And below is the clinical study proving that including monounsaturated fats into your diet is a very good thing.



Thanks for listening!

 

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