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Cherry, Cinnamon and Seeds Oatmeal

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This recipe spotlights delicious Morello sour cherries that are packed with nutrition.

Beta carotene, linked with cancer prevention particularly lung cancer and reduction in the risk of heart disease. Beta carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A, a vitamin that prevents night blindness, needed for growth and cell development, maintains healthy skin, hair, and nails as well as gums, glands, bones, and teeth. May prevent lung cancer.

Pectin, a soluble fiber makes you feel full which may lessen appetite. Also, it lowers LDL cholesterol which helps reduce the risk of heart disease, regulates blood sugar which may reduce the onset risk or symptoms of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and may cut the risk of colorectal cancer.

Quercetin, a flavonoid and antioxidant that may help avoid heart disease, lessen risk of cancer and coronary artery disease.

Potassium, which gives a helpful effect in lowering blood pressure. Also helps maintain fluid balance, and helps proper metabolism.

Vitamin C, vitamin that fortifies blood vessel walls, encourages wound curing, promotes iron absorption, helps avoid atherosclerosis, defends against cell damage by free radicals, may diminish risk of certain cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases. The anthocyanidins found in the cherries have anti-inflammatory properties.

Cinnamon is also featured in this recipe.  I recommend eating a teaspoon a day of the true cinnamon, Ceylon cinnamon, since it so health promoting, and has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumor, cardiovascular-friendly, cholesterol-lowering, blood sugar regulating effects. If cinnamon isn’t labeled Ceylon you’re most likely eating a cheaper, less liver-safe cinnamon variety called cassia. It can be hard to find so I buy this one from Amazon.  

WARNING to those who are taking blood thinners. Cassia cinnamon contains high levels (0.45%) of natural chemicals called coumarin. When taking anti-coagulants, its important to avoid any products with coumarin. This interacts with blood thinners – especially warfarin (Coumadin) and increases the risk of bleeding. 

 ½ cup raw oats

1 cup milk or water

½ tbsp. Ceylon Cinnamon

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp hemp seeds

1 Tbs. pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup Morella Cherries (from Trader Joe’s)

cherriPrepare oatmeal as per package instructions. I like to do mine in a large glass microwave-safe bowl in the microwave. I use a too-large because cooking oats in the microwave in a too-small bowl can create the dreaded “volcano effect”.

Top with cinnamon, brown sugar, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and cherries and enjoy!

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Are You at Risk For Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular Risk Self-Assessment

You can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Start by becoming aware of your risk factors – the personal characteristics and habits that may increase your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Some you can’t change or control; some you can, by making a few changes in your diet, daily habits or taking medicine as prescribed.

The following factors may increase your risk. Check all boxes in the quiz that apply to you. Leave blank if you do not know the answers. If you indicate 3 or more YES, see a physician for a complete assessment of your risks!

1. Do you have a family history of early heart disease (Heart attack, angioplasty, coronary artery stenting or coronary bypass surgery)?
Yes if: Your father or brother had heart problems before age 55 or your mother or sister had heart problems before age 65

2. Do you have a family history of early stroke?
Yes if: Your father or brother had a stroke before age 55 or Your mother or sister had a stroke before age 65

3. Do you have a family history of other forms of CVD? Other CVD disorders include high blood pressure, Heart Failure, Sudden Death, Arrhythmia, Aortic aneurysms or “bad circulation” to the legs.
Yes if: A family member had heart disease or stroke older than age 55 for men and age 65 for women

4. Are you African-American?
Approximately 40% of African-American women have some form of CVD and may not know it.

5. Do you have high cholesterol or are you taking medicine to control it?
You should know your “ideal” cholesterol goal. The goal depends on what your other risk factors are and whether or not you have CVD now.

6. Do you have diabetes or are you taking medications to lower blood sugar?
Diabetes is a greater risk factor for CVD in women than men.

7. Do you have hypertension, high blood pressure or are you taking medicine to control it?
o Normal blood pressure = below 120/80
o Pre-hypertension = between 120/80 and 139/89
o Hypertension = above 140/90

8. Do you smoke or are you exposed to second hand smoke every day?

9. Are you overweight or obese?

10. Are you over age 44 or have gone through menopause (natural or surgical)?

11. Do you exercise fewer than 3 days a week for less than 30 minutes each time?

12. Do you lead a high stress lifestyle?

13. Are you over age 35 and take birth control pills?

14. Do you have chronic kidney problems or receive dialysis?

15. Do you have metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is having at least 3 of the following:
a. High blood sugar after fasting (>100 mg/dl)
b. High triglycerides (>150 mg/dl)
c. Low “good cholesterol” or HDL (<45 mg/dl in women, < 40 men)
d. Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher
e. Waist measurement of 35 inches or more Men – 40 inches or more

16. Do you get < 30 minutes of physical activity on most days?

SCORING: Answering “Yes” to ANY question indicates that you have an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. If you answered “Yes” to MORE THAN 3 of these questions, you are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and it is recommended that you consult your physician.

There are risk factors for CVD that you can have influence over.

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Is Sea Salt Better for You?

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A client’s elderly father who has high blood pressure wrote to me and said, “the woman who teaches an exercise class at my assisted living facility told me that I should eat sea salt because sea salt is healthier than regular salt and that I shouldn’t worry about reducing my sodium intake even though my doctor told me to reduce sodium. I looked it up on the internet and I see differing opinions. Is sea salt a healthy choice?

My answer to him:

Both pieces of advice are very incorrect and that advice can be very harmful for your health. She probably means well but she is obviously misinformed. She shouldn’t be giving any dietary advice to the residents. Only a Registered Dietitian is qualified to do so.  In fact, in some states it’s illegal for any persons other than a Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LDN), Medical Doctor, Dentist, Osteopath, Registered Nurse, Pharmacist or Chiropractor to give out specific dietary instructions to treat an illness. In addition, be careful when researching nutrition on the internet to only stick with credible sources of information from reputable websites or professionals. In general you can trust an website that has a URL that ends in .gov or .edu and for nutrition advice, a Registered Dietitian (RD).

The statement that “sea salt is a healthier version of regular salt” is incorrect. Table salt comes from a mine and contains roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon. Sea salt comes from evaporated seawater, and it also contains roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That makes them roughly identical in sodium content.

Advocates of sea salt point to the fact that sea salt also contains other compounds like magnesium and iron, but in truth, these minerals exist in tiny, trace amounts. To obtain a meaningful dose, you’d have to take in extremely high and potentially dangerous levels of sodium.

What’s more, traditional table salt is regularly fortified with iodine, which plays an important role in regulating the hormones in your body. We do not get enough unless we eat iodized salt. Sea salt, on the other hand, gives you virtually zero iodine.

Most Americans consume too much salt, or sodium. Too much sodium in your system causes your body to retain (hold onto) water. This puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. This is especially troublesome for the elderly. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. So it is important to reduce sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends a daily intake of less than 1500 mg.

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