Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Takeaways from Dr. Lundberg’s Heart-Healthy Holiday Eating Chat

heart health holiday eatingThanks to everyone who joined us Tuesday, December 9, for our live online chat on “Heart-Healthy Holiday Eating,” hosted by the Clinical Director of the Emory Women’s Heart Center, Gina Lundberg, MD.

With holiday parties in full swing, many of us are staying busy and eating on the go or overindulging in sweet party treats. Dr. Lundberg discussed heart-healthy tips and recipes, as well as answered your questions on how to make smart food and drink decisions.

See all of Dr. Lundberg’s answers by checking out the chat transcript! Here are just a few highlights from the chat:

Question: What are some entrée or side substitutions I can make without losing the “holiday” touch?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: Turkey and ham are both lean meat, so entrees aren’t usually the problem The side dishes are usually where we run into trouble. Feel free to have your ham, turkey, and even lean pork and beef, but try to avoid the potato-heavy, cheesy side dishes.

 

Question: I crave sweets every day. What can I do to satisfy my cravings without reaching for the chocolate?

Gina Lundberg, MDDr. Lundberg: The more sugar you eat, the more you crave sugar. If you stick to a diet that is higher in protein, you’ll be more satisfied and won’t crave sugar as much. Eating healthier snacks more frequently (fruit, veggies, raw nuts) will stop you from being hungry and eating the wrong things.

 

BONUS: Dr. Lundberg’s Top 10 Tips to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

holiday-health-tips

If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. If you have additional questions for Dr. Lundberg, feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.

 

Can the Right Diet Help Prevent Heart Disease?

Healthy DietThe simple answer is yes. A proper diet is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for heart disease. But changing entrenched eating habits can be difficult, and it can help to have a deeper understanding of the roles various nutritional components play in the function of your heart and circulatory system.

Fats
Fats serve a number of essential roles within your body, such as supporting cell growth, providing energy, helping with nutrient absorption and assisting in the production of certain hormones. But not all fats are the same, and it’s important to choose the right kinds to include in your diet.

In general, saturated fats and trans fats increase the bad type of cholesterol (LDL) in your blood. These fats tend to be solid at room temperature, such as butter. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), on the other hand, can help lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood. These types of fat tend to be liquid at room temperature, such as vegetable oil. LDL cholesterol can contribute to plaque build-up on the inside walls of your arteries (atherosclerosis), thereby reducing or blocking blood flow. In addition, all fats are high in calories and can therefore contribute to overweight and obesity, which put additional strain on your heart muscle. Both overweight/obesity and atherosclerosis increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a type of dietary nutrient that converts to glucose (sugar), which provides energy to cells throughout the body. The two basic types are simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. In general, simple carbohydrates are less healthy because they convert quickly to glucose inside your body, resulting in blood sugar spikes that are associated with heart disease and diabetes, among other health conditions. Simple carbohydrates are found in things like fruit and milk, which contain naturally occurring sugars, but they also find their way into our diets as refined sugars that are added to processed foods.

Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to convert to glucose, and therefore are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. Because your body needs carbohydrates to function, choosing complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain cereals and breads, vegetables, and legumes, instead of simple ones is better for your heart health. However, in large quantities, complex carbohydrates can also cause blood sugar spikes, so it’s important to consume even complex carbohydrates in moderation.

Protein
Protein is a component of every cell in the body. It helps the body produce new cells and repair damaged ones, and it’s essential in the production of vital chemicals in the body such as hormones and enzymes. But too much protein can actually be unhealthy. This is primarily because much of the protein we eat is in the form of meat that’s high in saturated fat , which is associated with atherosclerosis and heart disease. Also, too much protein in the diet often means that we eat smaller amounts of other important nutrients. The good news is that there are plenty of protein sources that aren’t high in saturated fat, such as lean meats, low-fat dairy products, peas and beans.

Sodium
Salt makes the body retain fluid. This, in turn, can lead to increased blood pressure and added burden on your heart muscle. One of the simplest ways to reduce your intake of sodium is to cut back on packaged and processed foods, which tend to be high in added salt.

It’s important to remember that maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean you have to compromise on taste. Just take a look at some of Emory’s delicious HeartWise℠ recipes.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care.

About Susmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS, FACC, FAHA

Susmita Parashar, MDSusmita Parashar, MD, MPH, MS, FACC, FAHA is a board-certified cardiologist at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center and an associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Emory University School of Medicine. Prior to joining the faculty of the Division of Cardiology, Dr. Parashar was an assistant professor of medicine in Emory’s Division of General Medicine for eight years. She applies her experience as a board-certified internist in providing a holistic approach to patient care.

Dr. Parashar was awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) Trudy Bush Fellowship for Cardiovascular Research in Women’s Health, which recognizes outstanding work in the area of women’s health and cardiovascular disease, and the Emory Department of Medicine Early Career Faculty Research Award for Clinical Research.

Dr. Parashar completed her residency in internal medicine at the Medical College of Georgia and a cardiology fellowship at Emory University. She completed her master’s of public health and a master’s of science at Emory University in 2005.

A passionate clinician-researcher and educator, Dr. Parashar trains medical students, residents and cardiology fellows. In addition, she conducts clinical research. Dr. Parashar’s clinical and research focus is in preventive cardiology, with an emphasis on women and cardiovascular diseases. She has received several grants and awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the AHA to conduct research on women and heart disease and has authored or coauthored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications. Her work has been published in such prestigious journals as The New England Journal of Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine and Circulation and highlighted by national media organizations such as CNN, CBS and NPR.

She believes in family-career balance and applies her experience as a wife and the mother of two young children to her work.

Related Resources

10 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Veggie Heart HealthyA healthy diet is one of the best ways to combat heart disease. And including healthier choices in your diet isn’t hard, since there are lots of delicious heart-healthy foods available, including whole grain breads, fruit, vegetables, fish, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and even chocolate. There are also some things you should avoid—or avoid too much of. Below are 10 tips to help you get on the path to a more heart-healthy diet.

  1. Eat Fish Regularly 
    Omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) that are found naturally in fish can provide numerous cardiovascular benefits, including reducing blood triglycerides, reducing blood clotting and regulating heart rhythms.
  2. Include Lycopene-Rich Foods in Your Diet
    Lycopene is a plant nutrient that has been associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. There is lots of lycopene in tomato products (particularly cooked ones), pink grapefruit and watermelon.
  3. Eat the Right Kinds of Fat
    Aim for a balance of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Research indicates that both types have benefits, including reducing the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood. Try choosing extra virgin olive oil or canola oil instead of butter or margarine, and natural peanut butter rather than the kind with hydrogenated fat added. Also, almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts are good sources of healthy fat and make for easy snacks.
  4. Eat Plenty of Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
    In general, richly colored fruits and vegetables contain lots of helpful plant nutrients, and many have been shown to help protect against heart disease, among other health conditions.
  5. Include Plenty of Fiber in Your Diet
    A diet high in both soluble and insoluble fiber can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber, in particular, helps lower cholesterol levels. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, fruits (such as apples, pears, citrus fruits and berries), vegetables, (like carrots, cabbage and sweet potatoes) and legumes. Insoluble fiber is found in grain products like whole-grain breads, cereals and pastas.
  6. Eat Chocolate—in Moderation
    Milk chocolate, dark chocolate and bittersweet chocolate all contain a unique kind of saturated fat — stearic acid — that doesn’t raise blood cholesterol levels, and dark chocolate is also a good source of substances called antioxidants that are helpful in combating heart disease and other health problems. But chocolate also contains added sugars and caffeine , which should be consumed in limited portions (see below), so don’t eat too much.
  7. Try the DASH Eating Plan
    “DASH” stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.” The DASH diet is low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. In addition to helping with hypertension, the DASH diet may also help lower cholesterol. Learn more about the DASH Eating Plan.
  8. Reduce Salt
    Salt makes the body retain fluid, which can strain the heart. This can lead to increased blood pressure and added burden on your heart muscle. Try replacing added salt in your diet with fresh or dried herbs, lemon, onion or no-salt seasonings. Get ideas for other tasty salt substitutes.
  9. Limit Caffeine
    While there isn’t a consensus on the effects coffee can have on your heart, many experts recommend limiting caffeine intake to the equivalent of no more than three or four cups of coffee a day. But remember that other foods and drinks, such as tea, chocolate and many soft drinks, also contain caffeine and factor these into your daily total as well.
  10. Curb Added Sugars
    More than sugars found naturally in fruit and dairy products, added sugars are associated with elevated bad cholesterol and triglycerides and low good cholesterol, which increase the risk of heart disease.

If you are a woman who thinks you may be at a higher risk of developing heart disease, call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment with an Emory Women’s Heart Center specialist.

About Dr. Cutchins

Alexis Cutchins, MDAlexis Cutchins, MD is an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Cutchins completed medical school at Emory University School of Medicine before going to New York Presbyterian Hospital for her internship and residency in internal medicine. She completed an NIH-supported research fellowship in vascular biology and a clinical fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at the University of Virginia in 2012. She has a special interest in heart disease in women, in addition to heart disease prevention and risk reduction in cardiology patients.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening for, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Price Lundberg, MD , provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessments and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease, as well as a full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease. Call 404-778-7777 to schedule a comprehensive cardiac screening and find out if you are at risk for heart disease.

Related Links

Are You Looking to Get Your Heart and Diet into Shape for Summer Swim Season?

Apple HeartIf so, Emory Women’s Heart Center nurse practitioner, Christine Nell – Dybdahl NP-C, MPH, MSN, has some recommendations to help you shape up your heart for the summer and for life. Chris recommends patients follow the 2011 Heart Disease Prevention Guidelines for Women and follow a Mediterranean style heart healthy lifestyle habits. Chris notes that many of her female clients are unaware of the specific dietary intake recommendations for women.

Suggestions based on a 2000 calorie diet per day.

  • Load up on Fruits and vegetables!
  • Fruits and vegetables should visually take up half of your plate.
  • You should aim for at least 4 ½ cups a day of nonstarchy, fruits and vegetables.
  • When possible, make the veggie to fruit ratio be greater than two to one.
  • Examples of serving size are:

½ cup juice
1 small fruit
¼ cup dried no sugar added fruit
1 cup raw veggie
½ cup cooked veggie

Make sure to consume foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids!

  • We recommend women should consume (preferably fatty fish), at least two times a week.
  • Daily average intake of omega 3’s should be approximately 1,000 mg.
  • Examples of serving size is:

A single serving of fish is 3 ½ ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.

  • One serving of salmon has between 1,000 to 1,800mg of omega 3 fatty acids.

Nuts, legumes, and seeds should be eaten at least four times a week.

  • Examples of servings size:

1 ½ ounces nuts (A combo of walnuts and almonds is great)
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
½ cup legumes or beans
½ ounce of seeds

Eat your Fiber!

  • Fiber should be around 30 grams per day.
  • Consumer soluble fibers to help with lowering blood cholesterol.
  • Example:

One cup of cooked winter squash or pinto beans equals 4 grams of soluble fiber.

Don’t forget your whole grains!

  • Avoid refined grain products.
  • Consume approximately 3 whole grain servings per day.
  • Examples:

Two slices of whole wheat bread equals 2 grams of soluble fiber.
½ cup of brown rice

Limit sugar, alcohol, sodium, fat, and cholesterol intake.

  • Added sugars should be limited to six teaspoons or 24 grams per day.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than one serving per day.
  • Examples:

4 ounces of wine
12 ounce beer
1.5 ounce of 80-proof spirits

  • Limit sodium to fewer than 1,500mg daily.

Remember that a teaspoon is equal to about 2400mg/day.
Did you know that most of the sodium consumed in the American diet comes from breads?

  • Limit saturated fat to fewer than 7% of your total energy intake.

This is estimated to be less than 15 grams per day.
This should be lowered to 5% if you have high blood cholesterol.

  • Limit cholesterol intake to under 150mg/day.

The average egg yolk has about 180mg of cholesterol.

  • Avoid trans-fatty acids.

Avoid any foods that have the ingredient “hydrogenated”.

Make time during the busy summer season to exercise! In addition to these heart healthy dietary recommendations, be sure to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. This can be accomplished in at least 10 minute increments such as with brisk walking during a break at work.

For weight loss, this recommendation should be increased to 60-90 minutes per day. Additionally, for weight loss, many women should consider reducing their calorie intake to about 1,200-1,500 calories per day. It is also helpful to do at least 2 days per week of muscle strengthening activities.

Take the heart disease risk assessment quiz to determine if you are at risk for heart disease!

To get a full assessment of your heart health, schedule your heart screening today:

Heart Disease Screening

References

  • Mosca, et al. AHA Guidelines for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women. JACC 2011:57; 1404-1423.

About the Emory Women’s Heart Center

Emory Women’s Heart Center is a unique program dedicated to screening, preventing and treating heart disease in women. The Center, led by nationally renowned cardiologist Gina Lundberg, MD provides comprehensive cardiac risk assessment and screenings for patients at risk for heart disease as well as full range of treatment options for women already diagnosed with heart disease care.

Christine Nell – Dybdahl, NP – C, MPH, MSN has been a registered nurse since 1994 and a nurse practitioner since 1998. She brings to the practice over 20 years of cardiology experience. She is the clinical nurse director for Emory’s Center for Heart Disease Prevention and is active with the Emory’s Women’s Heart Program. She received her BSN from Kent State University and her dual
master degrees from Emory University in nursing (board certified family nurse practitioner) and public health (health education and promotion). Her interests include cardiovascular disease prevention, heart healthy life style changes, cholesterol abnormalities, women’s heart care, and family-involved chronic heart disease management. Chris is a member of the American College of Cardiology, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She makes it a priority to connect interested patients and researchers at Emory. She is the founder and clinical leader of the Women Living with Angina Support Group. She has co-authored several journal articles and has spoken at many conferences on a wide variety of topics

Related Links

Emory Women’s Heart Center
Quiz – Are you at risk for heart disease?
Top Symptoms of Heart Attacks in Women
Eat Heart Healthy – Mediterranean Salmon Recipe via Dr. Cutchins

Eat Heart Healthy! Mediterranean Salmon Recipe via Dr. Cutchins!

Heart Healthy Salmon RecipeWe are proud to welcome a new female cardiologist, Alexis Cutchins, MD, to the Emory Heart & Vascular Center. Dr. Cutchins has provided a great recipe for us to use to eat healthier for our heart! This light, low calorie meal fits well into a Mediterranean diet which highlights the use of olive oil, lots of vegetables, legumes, fresh fruits, unrefined cereals, moderate consumption of dairy (mostly cheese and yogurt), moderate fish, and low amounts of chicken and red meat. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve cholesterol levels and contribute to weight loss when combined with daily physical activity. Dr. Cutchins often recommends the Mediterranean diet to her patients with obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and elevated blood pressure and cholesterol.

Salmon with Tomato, Capers and Feta (approx. 450 calories per serving)

Ingredients (for two people):

  • 10 oz of salmon filet (with or without skin, can be divided in two portions before or after cooking)
  • ½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • One shallot (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 tablespoon capers
  • Crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Feta cheese (approx. 2 oz)

Steps:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice tomatoes and place in a bowl with garlic, shallots and capers. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, mix thoroughly. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and allow enough foil hanging over the sides to wrap the salmon up after preparing. Drizzle the olive oil on top of the foil at the bottom of the pan and place the salmon in the center. Season the salmon with some freshly ground black pepper then add the tomato mixture to the top of the salmon. Either crumble feta or use slices of feta on top of tomato mixture. Package salmon and tomato mixture up in the foil and place in oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Serve with a side of baby arugula salad with strawberries, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette (1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2/3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste).

Dr. Alexis Cutchins

Dr. Alexis Cutchins

 

About Dr. Cutchins
Dr. Cutchins recently completed her cardiology fellowship at the University of Virginia Medical Center and specializes in general cardiology, heart disease prevention and has a passion for caring for women with heart disease. She sees patients at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Perimeter – 875 Johnson Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA, 30342, 404-778-6070 as well as at Emory Heart & Vascular Center at Midtown, 550 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30308, 404-686-7878.

 

Related Resources:

Attend a May HeartWise Event & Improve Your Heart Health!

May Heart Disease Prevention EventsThe HeartWiseSM Risk Reduction Program Lecture Series aims to reduce people’s risk of heart disease through education and interaction. In addition to serving patients who currently suffer from heart disease, we also provide help to individuals who could be at risk for heart complications in the future including those who smoke, do not exercise or have high blood pressure.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome! Call 404-778-2850 to reserve your seat, or you can sign up for a HeartWise lecture online.

♥ ABCs of Vitamins
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, May 7, 2012
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

♥ Heart Healthy Cooking Demo
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Thursday, May 17, 2012
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM

♥ Nutrition Myths
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, May 21, 2012
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM

Admission to HeartWise events is free and everyone is welcome! Call 404-778-2850 to reserve your seat, or you can sign up for one of our May HeartWise lectures online!

Heart Healthy Cornbread for Your Spring Picnic!

Heart Healthy Cornbread RecipeUse this yummy “Good for you Cornbread” recipe to add a heart healthy option to your spring picnic basket.  It will not only taste great but also provides a heart healthy carbohydrate option.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup low-fat (1%) buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup soft tub margarine
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil (to grease pan)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 OF. Mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, and baking powder. In another bowl, combine buttermilk and egg. Beat lightly. Slowly add buttermilk and egg mixture to dry ingredients. Add margarine and mix by hand or with mixer for 1 minute. Bake for 20-25 minutes in an 8- by 8-inch, greased baking dish. Cool. Cut into 10 squares.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutritional Information Per Serving (1 square)

  • Calories: 178
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Cholesterol: 22 milligrams
  • Sodium: 94 milligrams

Source: National Institutes of Health – www.nih.gov/ Keep the Beat: Heart Healthy Recipes

Enjoy this recipes and find other heart healthy recipes at  Emory Healthcare’s Recipe’s for Wellness site.

Emory Healthcare is a proud partner of the American Heart Association in the My Heart. My Life campaign that helps consumers learn the 7 simple steps to a healthy lifestyle.

Spring Your Heart into Health – HeartWise Healthy Eating Event

HeartWise Lecture Series AprilThe HeartWiseSM Risk Reduction Program Lecture Series aims to reduce people’s risk of heart disease through education and interaction. In addition to serving patients who currently suffer from heart disease, we also provide help to individuals who could be at risk for heart complications in the future including those who smoke, do not exercise or have high blood pressure.

Admission to HeartWise events is free and everyone is welcome! Call 404-778-2850 to reserve your seat, or you can sign up for one of our March HeartWise lectures online!

♥ Chemicals in Food Packaging, What’s the Harm?
Hannah Clark (Kennesaw State University Exercise Specialist Intern)
Friday, April 6, 2012
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

♥ Healthy Eating Made Easy
Cheryl Williams, RD/LD
Monday, April 6, 2012
11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

AND

Thursday, April 26, 2012
8:45 AM – 9:15 AM

Admission to HeartWise events is free and everyone is welcome! Call 404-778-2850 to reserve your seat, or you can sign up for one of our April HeartWise lectures online!

Celebrate Heart Month with this Tasty Pasta Salad Recipe!

Thank you to those who attended our  live web chat on Nutrition for the Heart! We had an excellent discussion and thank Emory Heart & Vascular Center Registered Dietician Cheryl A. Williams, RD, LD (pictured below) for her insight on this important topic!   If you were not able to attend the live chat, you can view the transcript from this chat and others using the “Past Web Chats” link in the top navigation bar.

Cheryl Williams

We would like to clarify a question posed in the chat regarding the amount of fish that is healthy for your heart.  The guidelines for fish consumption are 2 servings of fatty fish, salmon, trout, mackerel etc.,  per week for heart health. There are no separate guidelines for white-flesh fish  such a tilapia.  For people who do not like fatty fish they can have white-flesh fish instead (if not fried), as it generally has less saturated fat then red meat and poultry.

Eating fish is healthy and tasty too!  Cheryl provided us with this delicious Salmon Pasta Salad recipe.  Try it! I am sure you will like it and your heart will too!

Fresh Veggie & Salmon Whole Wheat Pasta Salad

Makes 16 servings (servings size: 1 cup)

Healthy Pasta Salad Recipe♥ 16 ounces whole wheat pasta (penne, bowtie, etc.)
♥ Three 6-7 ounce cans of Wild Alaska Pink Salmon (sockeye salmon) flaked
♥ 8 cups fresh whole spinach leaf (10 ounce bag)
♥ 2 cups halved grape/cherry tomatoes 1 cup chopped walnuts

Raspberry Citrus Vinaigrette

♥ 1/3 cup canola oil
♥ 1/2 cup orange juice (about 1 orange)
♥ 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
♥ 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
♥ 4 tbsp fresh oregano or basil or  4 tsp dried oregano or basil leaves
♥ 2 garlic minced garlic cloves
♥ ½ tsp salt
♥ 2 tbsp ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package; drain pasta and set aside in strainer
  2. Open cans of salmon, cover with can lid and run under water faucet for 1 minute
  3. In large salad bowl combine pasta, salmon, tomatoes, spinach & chopped walnuts
  4. Prepare vinaigrette:In blender or food processor combine citrus juices, raspberries, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, whirl until well blended; add canola oil slowly until well blended
  5. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss.
  6. Refrigerate salad for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Analysis (per serving)

  • 252 Calories
  • 12 gramsTotal Fat
  • 1 grams Saturated Fat
  • 0 grams Trans Fat
  • 23 milligrams Cholesterol
  • 235 milligrams Sodium
  • 25 grams Carbohydrates
  • 4 grams Fiber
  • Sugars 1 gram
  • Protein 15
  • Dietary Exchanges: 1.5 starches, 1/2 vegetable, 2 meats, 2 fats\

Related Resources:

Dark Chocolate: The Heart Healthy Gift for Your Valentine

Dark Chocolate ValentineAs Valentine’s Day approaches, Saint Joseph’s cardiologist Jason Reingold, MD, says go ahead and give your sweetheart some dark chocolate this year – to consume in moderation.

In the past year, more research has suggested a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular events. In one study, participants with the highest levels of chocolate intake had a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke compared with participants who consumed the lowest levels of chocolate.

The secret behind chocolate’s beneficial effects on the heart is the effect of powerful micronutrients – flavonoids and phenols found naturally in the cocoa bean. These compounds function like antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables where free radicals are neutralized and destroyed, helping the body resist damage to cells. For example, flavanols help keep LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized and clogging up coronary artery walls.

Studies also suggest that the phenols found in dark chocolate may help lower blood pressure by an average of 5 points for systolic and an average of 2 points for diastolic blood pressure. Improvement in blood pressure has been found in people who consumed as little as 3 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate every day for 15 days. But, the effect may be short lived as one study found that after only two days without chocolate blood pressure returned to previous higher levels.

Finally, researchers believe that dark chocolate can help improve endothelial function. This refers to the cells that line the blood vessels to help keep them dilated and elastic. Coupled with reducing inflammation, normal endothelial function promotes free flowing blood and prevents platelets from sticking together and forming a clot which can lead to stroke and heart attack.

Unfortunately, there can be a down side to the chocolate we eat every day. First, as chocolate is processed to eliminate the natural bitter flavor, the beneficial flavonoids and phenols are also removed. Second, the chocolate we consume is usually processed with excess fat and sugar. These extra calories can lead to obesity and diabetes, which can reverse any positive effects that chocolate may have on the heart.

So, like all things in life, the best solution is to eat dark chocolate in moderation:

  • Look for a cocoa content of at least 65 percent and remember the higher the better in terms of flavonoids and phenols. Milk chocolate has lower levels of cocoa, and white chocolate does not contain any cocoa. Even worse, both have more fat and sugar than dark chocolate.
  • Limit yourself to no more than 3 ounces (85 grams) a day
  • Balance the extra calories from chocolate by eliminating calories from your diet
  • Don’t wash down your chocolate with milk, as it may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate
  • Don’t forget about other sources of flavonoids and phenols like fruits, vegetables and red wine

About Dr. Reingold—Dr. Reingold is a board certified cardiologist who specializes in preventive cardiology at Saint Joseph’s Heart and Vascular Institute. He is the chairmen of research for the Womens Heart Center and active investigator within the Saint Joseph’s Research Institute.  Dr. Reingold has been featured on CNN’s health program Sanjay Gupta, MD, and is well published in medical literature.