Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. Genetics, tobacco use, family
history, obesity, an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, stress and diet all contribute to this alarming statistic. And while some heart-healthy changes are easier to make than others, finding a balanced diet that appeals to the entire family, while also possibly
lowering your risk for heart disease, might be easier and more enjoyable than you think.
Studies have shown that the rates of heart disease as well as certain types of cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s were lower for those living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers were able to determine
that diet played a significant role in keeping the community healthy and living longer. The fundamental components of that diet are known as the Mediterranean diet.
Philip Krause, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses what makes the Mediterranean diet so great for your heart:
Focuses on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. On a typical American plate, meat is the star. On a Mediterranean diet plate, meat plays second fiddle to fresh fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains. When the focus on the meal shifts
toward fresh fruits and vegetables, the result is a diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Puts the salt shaker away. Excessive salt consumption can raise your blood pressure, which may damage the arteries leading to your heart. And there’s no doubt about it: Americans consume too much salt. The Mediterranean diet diversifies
the spice rack, favoring spices and herbs over salt.
Cuts down on red meat. Red meat is sidelined in favor of proteins that contain healthy fats like fish, poultry and nuts. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can be very beneficial.
Makes olive oil the main source of fat. Just say no to butter. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and this type of fat may help bring high cholesterol levels in the right direction. It also may help regulate insulin levels in those suffering
from type 2 diabetes.
Allows for a glass of red wine. This is a great perk for the older adherents of the Mediterranean diet. When consumed in moderation (one four-ounce serving per day), red wine can be beneficial to your heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol
levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels.
Limits portion sizes and cuts the carbs. Just because the Mediterranean diet is healthy doesn’t mean recommended foods can be consumed in unlimited quantities. Watch your portion sizes as you would with any diet or dish. If both weight loss
and heart health are goals, limiting portion sizes along with carbohydrate intake—reducing the consumption of bread, potatoes, rice by 50%—can markedly assist in weight loss.
Share your heart-healthy Mediterranean diet recipes with us on Facebook.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 2013 that it plans to label partially hydrogenated oils (PHO’s),
which are the primary dietary source of trans fats, as not generally recognized as safe for use in food. This relabeling of trans fats is just the first move in a process that will likely lead to a ban on trans fats in the U.S. food supply.
Trans fat first entered the American food supply in 1911 in the form of Crisco shortening. Fairly early in its history, preliminary studies show that trans fats could be more harmful than other fats. Later studies confirmed this finding, indicating that
trans fat contributed to heart disease. While their presence has already been greatly reduced in the food supply, trans fats can still be found in many processed foods, like frozen pizzas, microwave popcorn, baked goods, margarine and store-bought icings.
Philip Krause, MD, Director for the Section of Cardiology at NorthShore Skokie Hospital, explains why doctors have long urged their
patients to stay away from trans fats:
Notably, manufacturers have made steps to reduce fat levels in many foods and products. Since 2006, after which food labels reported trans fat content, intake of this substance has dropped significantly.
It is hoped, after the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination, PHO’s would be considered as “food additives” and could only be used with prior authorization. The primary goal and hope is that with better consumer education and these changes in product
and food manufacturing, Americans can look forward to much healthier life ahead.
Do you make a New Year’s resolution every year? How long does this resolution stick around on your to-do
list? Many of us start the year with the best intentions only to fall back into our old, unhealthy habits by February or March. This year, make healthy positive changes instead of resolutions and look forward to a healthier year ahead.
Richard S. Katz, MD, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, shares some healthy changes he would tell all his patients to make this year:
What healthy changes do you plan to make this year?
Protein is an essential element of a healthy, well-balanced diet. In fact, protein makes up a large part of all your body’s cells, which is why it is so important that you get enough each day. And that’s especially true for those following a vegetarian,
nearly vegetarian or vegan diet who don’t get their daily requirement from protein-rich sources like meat. The good news is that reaching your daily protein needs doesn’t mean having to include more meat or even any meat all.
Just how much protein do you need on a daily basis? Women need approximately 46 grams and men 56 grams of protein each day. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need to add additional protein to their diets. On average, it is recommended that they get
70 grams each day. Athletes and active individuals also require more protein based on the length, frequency and intensity of their workouts, which could mean increasing their protein intake by 50% more than a non-active man or woman.
Nearly every food contains some amount of protein but there are plenty of protein-rich, vegetarian-friendly options out there too. It might surprise you just how much protein there is in some of these healthy, meatless foods.
Jennifer Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, shares some of the best veggie-friendly options to maximize daily protein intake:
What are some of your favorite vegetarian protein sources?
As the old adage goes, “You are what you eat.” When it comes to your health, this saying is true — eating healthier foods will make you feel
better, have more energy and help you maintain your weight.
Many of the foods we eat—as tasty as they are—aren’t always the easiest for our system to digest. This is true for highly processed foods, and foods high in sodium, sugar, saturated fats and cholesterol. It’s not to say that, in moderation, we can’t enjoy
some of these foods, but research has proven that a diet high in fresh food, especially green vegetables, may help prevent colon cancer.
Considering colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women, it’s nice to know that a balanced, healthy diet may be the first step toward disease prevention.
Yolandra Johnson, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore, provides easy ways to work more greens and other vegetables into your daily diet:
What are some of your favorite dishes that include vegetables? What are some of your tricks for including veggies in your diet?