Spring "Clean" Your Diet: Clean Eating Guidelines and Benefits [Infographic]

Thursday, March 19, 2015 2:59 PM comments (0)

This year, spring clean your diet, too. "Clean" eating means to create a balanced diet of fresh, unprocessed foods with the central focus on fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of clean eating are many, such as possible weight loss and the reduction of one's risk for diabetes and some types of cancer, including colon cancer.

The experts at NorthShore University HealthSystem have created an infographic that illustrates the benefits of clean eating and breaks down the most important clean eating guidelines. Click on the image below to view the full infographic.

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Matters of the Heart: Setting a Heart-Healthy Example for Your Children

Thursday, February 26, 2015 9:21 AM comments (0)

child on bikeParents, it starts with you. You are the first and most important influence on the current and future health of your children. The example you set could put your children on a course for a lifetime of healthy living, especially when it comes to heart health. The health risks posed by a sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and obesity are immediate because heart health matters at any age, even in young children. 

David Najman, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares some easy ways that parents can set a heart-healthy example for their children while also improving their own health:

Healthy diet. If you want your children to eat fruits and vegetables, you need to set the example by eating fruits and vegetables yourself.  Include your children in the decision making and help guide them by discussing the benefits of the delicious fruits, vegetables and whole grains that you will eat together as a family every night.  If children grow up eating healthy foods together with their parents, eating those same foods as young adults and adults won’t feel strange or difficult at all; those same foods will be what they ate growing up. 

Exercise. Show your children that exercise is important by maintaining a regular workout routine. And, as often as you can, get every member of the family involved in a fun, physical activity. Jog together as a family; ride bikes together as a family; go on a brisk evening walk together as a family. Children experience the same health benefits of exercise as adults—strong bones and muscles, maintenance of a healthy weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a regular exercise routine reduces one’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and more. Get your kids moving now and they will likely maintain that active lifestyle later in life. Lead by example!

Smoke-Free. If you quit smoking, your kids are less likely to start. Smoking is more common in teenagers whose parents smoke. If you are still smoking, quit. Secondhand smoke is linked to lung cancer but it also increases the risk of multiple types of cancers, heart disease, diabetes and many other medical issues as well. 

Maintain a healthy weight. Today in the U.S., one child out of three is considered obese or overweight. Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, once common health issues encountered only in adulthood, have developed in children as young as seven.  Obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, increasing their risk of developing heart disease later in life. Don’t focus on weight with children; instead, shift to leading a healthy lifestyle as a family. Lifestyle changes like eating right as a family and exercising can make all the difference. 

What do you do to set a heart-healthy example for your children?

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The Mediterranean Diet and Heart Health

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 10:54 AM comments (0)

Med DietHeart 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. Some heart-healthy changes are easier to make than others, but 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.

Many 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 disease were lower for those living in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, researchers have been 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 plan.

Philip Krause, MD, Interventional Cardiologist at NorthShore, discusses the benefits of a Mediterranean diet plan and what makes it 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 a very beneficial part of your heart healthy diet plan. 

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 plan 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.

#NSHearts the Mediterranean diet! Do you? What are your favorite heart-healthy recipes? 

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The Best and Worst Foods for Your Heart

Wednesday, February 04, 2015 3:36 PM comments (0)

healthy foodNorthShore Hearts (#NSHearts) healthy eating and so should you. The importance of diet on the health of your heart can’t be overstated. A balanced diet contributes to one’s overall health and wellness, including maintaining weight, but certain foods can significantly improve your heart’s health while others can damage it. Know the difference and show your heart some love by eating heart healthy foods.

Jason Robin, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares a few of the best and worst foods for your heart health:

You’re the Best!

  • Go nuts. Tree nuts are best for heart health: almonds, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, walnuts. They are packed with protein and consist of unsaturated fats, which can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and boost your good HDL cholesterol. But, remember, unsaturated fat is still fat so consume tree nuts in moderation—no more than a handful, or about ¼ of a cup per day.
  • Cool beans. Lentils and black, pinto and garbanzo beans are full of soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels. They’re also rich in folate, a heart-healthy vitamin. Plus, they are the perfect substitute for animal proteins that are often high in saturated fats. 
  • Opt for oats. Perfect for cold weather and heart-healthy to boot, oatmeal contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, potassium and fiber, which can all lower those bad LDL cholesterol levels and help prevent artery blockage. Choose your oats wisely—coarse/steel-cut oats are best. 
  • Fish food. Fruit and vegetables should be the foundation of your healthy diet but adding a little heart-healthy fish can do wonders for the old ticker. Salmon is swimming in healthy omega-3s and antioxidants, which can keep blood pressure in check and potentially reduce one’s risk of dying from a heart attack. It also may decrease the risk of cardiac arrhythmias. If keeping wild salmon on hand is hard on your wallet, substitute mackerel, herring and sardines because they provide the same health benefits.
  • Check your oil. It’s the monounsaturated fats that make olive oil a heart-healthy super food. Monounsaturated fats lower cholesterol levels and can reduce overall risk for developing heart disease. If you are watching your weight, it’s still important to use olive oil in moderation (2 tbsp per day) because it’s high in calories. 

You’re the Worst!

  • Processed “meat”. Filled with sodium, preservatives, nitrates and nitrites, which have both been linked to heart problems, processed meat—bacon, sausage, hot dogs, even deli meats—are just about the worst animal-based protein you can include in your diet. In fact, even red meat is lower in saturated fats and higher in protein. 
  • Seeing red. Red meat might be better than processed meat but it shouldn’t be the foundation of your diet. Moderation is key when it comes to red meat. You don’t have to go without but consider going lean (less than 10 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat per serving), which reduces saturated fats considerably. 
  • French fried. Artificial trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are inexpensive to produce and have a long shelf life, which is why they are found frequently in processed foods and restaurants that specialize in the use of the deep fat fryer. Remember: Fried foods are often fried in shortening, which is a trans fat. Trans fats have been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke. They lower good (HDL) cholesterol and raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Fried foods are also very high in fat. Skip them altogether; however, if something must be fried, opt for a heart-healthy oil like olive oil. 
  • Stop the pop. Fat, cholesterol, high blood pressure are all key words that come to mind when discussing heart health but what about sugar? That’s right, sugar! When it comes to sugar, your favorite pop/soda certainly contains a lot of it. One 20-ounce bottle of pop contains 65 grams of sugar or the equivalent of 16 sugar cubes. Drinking just one can of pop per day has been linked to a possible 20% increase in the risk of heart attack in men and women. 
  • Feeling salty. Americans consume on average 3400 milligrams of sodium a day but the American Health Association recommends only 1500 mg per day. That’s a big difference. Diets high in sodium can increase blood pressure levels, leading to hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. So cut it out!  Set aside the salt shaker and start checking sodium levels in the foods you eat.

Find out what heart healthy tips and stories NorthShore hearts this American Heart Month by following #NSHearts on Facebook and Twitter

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Celebrate a Happy and Healthier New Year: Make a Big Impact with Achievable New Year's Resolutions

Tuesday, December 30, 2014 2:26 PM comments (0)

Make the commitment to improve your health one small step at a time. Big changes can be hard to maintain but small incremental improvements can make a big impact on your overall health.  

Celebrate a healthy New Year throughout the year with the help of these four simple New Year’s resolutions from NorthShore University HealthSystem.

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Fresh Recipe: Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 3:41 PM comments (0)

thanksgivingDon’t let your Thanksgiving favorites leave you feeling guilty the next day. Start things off right with veggie-packed appetizers that are sure to please even holiday food traditionalists. 

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Adult Endocrinology Group, shares one of her favorite Thanksgiving starters:  

Recipe makes 6 servings
Serving size 2/3 cup

Ingredients: 
2 cans artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained (16 oz.)
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (4 oz.)
2/3 cup cooked spinach or frozen spinach that has been thawed (4 oz.)
2/3 cup white extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 oz.)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  • Place 1/2 of the artichoke hearts and the mayonnaise in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Chop the remaining artichoke hearts and the spinach into small pieces.
  • Fold the chopped spinach and artichoke hearts into the pureed artichoke and mayonnaise mixture.
  • Mix 1/2 of the shredded cheese into the dip.
  • Transfer dip into an oven safe 9-inch glass pie plate.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dip with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the top of the dip is golden brown.
  • Serve dip warm with high fiber crackers and/or raw vegetables.

Nutrition Information (per 2/3c serving):

Calories: 149
Total Fat: 10
Total Carbohydrate: 8
Fiber: 2
Protein: 6

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Simple Tips to Avoid Overindulging on Thanksgiving Day

Monday, November 24, 2014 1:18 PM comments (0)

thanksgivingCounting calories isn’t at the top of many to-do lists on Thanksgiving Day, and it still doesn’t have to be. With a little planning and a few substitutions, your Thanksgiving can be a little healthier and every bit as delicious. 

Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at NorthShore, breaks down this decadent day, sharing health tips for before and during the big meal:

Before the Dinner

  • Create a calorie deficit. Add an extra 20-30 minutes to your weekly exercise routine before and after the big day. That’s enough to create a calorie deficit and give you a little leeway at the dinner table. 
  • Eat breakfast! While you may think you should try to save up calories for the big meal, eating breakfast will save you from snacking beforehand and gorging come mealtime.
  • Prioritize. What would you regret not eating on Thanksgiving? What can you do without? The day is filled with rich, delicious foods, but you don’t have to eat them all. Determine what dishes are most important to you and then pass on the rest. 
  • Avoid snacking beforehand. Crackers, nuts and cheese spreads are unnecessary calories compared to the Thanksgiving classics you’ll be served during your meal.

When Cooking

  • Cut back on butter. A little butter goes a long way, and it’s also not the only way to boost flavors. Citrus fruits, like lemon, lime and orange, can add a burst of flavor to gravies and veggies with a fraction of the calories. 
  • Replace cream with milk. In the same vein, avoid using cream if you don’t have to. For creamed onions or mashed potatoes, use low-fat milk. The calories saved will far outweigh the subtle change in flavor.
  • Sweet potatoes are sweet enough. The natural sweetness of sweet potatoes is more than enough to sustain a yam-based dish. Bake them instead of mashing with butter, sugar and cream. 
  • Start from scratch. Making stuffing from scratch is much healthier than prepackaged stuffing mix because it cuts back on sodium and additives. It also means you have control over what goes in, including cutting back on butter and oil as well as swapping wheat bread for white to up fiber content.
  • Keep sampling to a minimum. It can be tempting to keep taste-testing your food, but try to avoid consuming those extra calories before the meal itself.

At the Table

  • Serve up a colorful plate. Vegetables add the color, so try to craft a plate that is packed with veggies, approximately half the plate and then divide the rest evenly between turkey and stuffing or rolls. 
  • Downsize dinnerware. Studies show that people serve themselves portions on scale with the size of the plate they’re given. In other words, smaller plates mean small portions. 
  • Slow down. It can take around 20 minutes for your brain to recognize that your body is full. Before you serve up seconds, take a breather and drink a little water to make sure your body isn’t confusing thirst for hunger. Or, have a basic salad on hand—dark lettuce leaves and a light dressing—and eat that to see if your hunger holds out. 
  • Less can look like more. If it’s too difficult to stick to ‘just a sliver’ of all your favorite pies, ditch the standard 9-inch diameter pie pan for something smaller. The piece will look big but be significantly smaller.

What do you do to keep holiday eating in check? 

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Fresh Recipe: Hearty Pumpkin Soup

Friday, October 31, 2014 9:00 AM comments (0)

pumpkin soupPumpkins aren’t just for decoration. They can and should be eaten too! Pumpkins are high in fiber and vitamin A, which can protect your vision, and full of flavor but still low in calories. So, when you head to the store or patch to grab one or two to meet your Halloween needs, don’t forget to snatch up one more for a healthy, tummy-warming fall recipe. 

Nothing says, "It's autumn!" quite like a warm, hearty bowl of soup. Katrina Herrejon, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, Adult Endocrinology Group, shares her favorite recipe for pumpkin soup:

Recipe makes 4 servings
Serving size 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 small pumpkin (pick a pumpkin that will yield 3 cups or 15 oz. of baked pumpkin “flesh”)*
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion (9.4 oz.)
  • 1 medium red pepper (4.8 oz.)
  • 1 large carrot (4.8 oz.)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (32 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup natural honey peanut butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove the stem of the pumpkin, cut in half and remove the pulp and seeds.  
  3. Cut pumpkin into uniform pieces and bake for approximately 1 hour or until fork tender.
  4. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the pumpkin “flesh.” Set aside approximately 3 cups.
  5. Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the onion, pepper and carrot for about 5 minutes. 
  6. Add the pumpkin and broth to the pot and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  7. Puree the soup using an immersion blender.
  8. Add the peanut butter to the soup and stir until well incorporated.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve warm. 

*Store bought 100% pumpkin puree can be substituted if fresh pumpkin is unavailable.  If using pre-made pumpkin puree skip to step five on the instructions.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 
Calories: 266
Fat: 13g
Carbohydrate: 30g
Fiber: 7g
Protein: 7g

Do you have a healthy, yet delicious pumpkin recipe you traditionally make this time of year? 

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Veg Out! The Best Protein Sources & Benefits of the Vegetarian Diet [Infographic]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 4:00 PM comments (0)

There are many health benefits of a vegetarian diet, from lowering one’s risk of heart disease and some cancers to weight loss and weight maintenance. Whether you're already a full-time vegetarian or thinking about making a switch on a part-time or permanent basis, it’s important to focus on whole, unprocessed foods and ensure you are getting your recommended daily intake of protein.

In our latest infographic, we highlight the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and assemble a list of the best vegetarian-friendly protein options. Click the image below for our full vegetarian infographic

 veggie infographic

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Meet Your Protein Needs Without Meat

Monday, September 29, 2014 11:33 AM comments (0)

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.Vegetarian-Protein

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:

  • Lentils. These pack a serious protein punch with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup. 
  • Greek yogurt. All dairy products are good sources of protein but Greek yogurt kicks it up a notch with approximately 20 grams per 6-ounce serving.
  • Chickpeas. There are 8 grams of protein per serving of chickpeas. Chickpeas also happen to be the main ingredient in hummus. Put it on crackers or veggies for a high-protein snack.
  • Beans. This one won’t surprise you. Most beans—black, pinto, soy—are heavy hitters when it comes to protein, with approximately 7 to 10 grams per serving. They’re also lower in calories than meat-based proteins and have lots of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Fruits and vegetables. That’s right! They are great sources of protein as well. Avocados have about 5 grams of protein per serving and a cup of spinach has 5 grams too.
  • Eggs. Many vegetarians won’t eat eggs but for lacto-ovo vegetarians (consume dairy and eggs), they are a great source with 6 grams per egg.
  • Tempeh and Tofu. These whole soy alternatives are great sources of protein with 8-12 grams per 3-ounce serving.
  • Quinoa. This grain is a complete protein, meaning it has the same protein content and quality of an egg! This super grain packs 8 grams of protein in 1 cooked cup.

What are some of your favorite vegetarian protein sources?

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