Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heart Healthy Book Review

I was recently asked to complete a book review of a work designed to provide consumers with practical steps and actions that can be taken to reduce their risk of heart disease. The book is authored by Joseph Piscatella and Barry Franklin and is called 109 Things You Can Do: Prevent, Halt, & Reverse Heart Disease.

When I first started my career as a registered dietitian, I held the position of cardiac dietitian at United Medical Center in Cheyenne, WY. I worked with cardiac patients who either had heart attacks, catheterizations, stents, etc., or who underwent bypass surgery. My job was to assess their nutrition risk and follow them through their hospital stay by monitoring their diet and providing nutrition education. I also worked in the outpatient cardiac rehabilitation center where I provided grocery store tours and conducted cooking classes. In my experience people are overwhelmed when they discover they have heart disease and they find it difficult to take action in the areas of their life that will have the greatest positive impact.

That is where this book can come in handy. The book is divided into four steps: Assess Your Risk, Manage Daily Stress, Make Exercise a Habit, and Balance Your Diet. Each of these steps provides background information that is easy to understand and based on scientific evidence. The sections then include ways to put the advice into action. The sections provide self-assessments as well as recommendations for everything from normal blood pressure to which foods have a high or low glycemic index. I found the book to contain a gold mine of information for anyone interested in lowering their risk for heart disease. The book concludes with a section on medications, treatments, and cardiac rehabilitation programs.

While not a substitute for medical advice or dietary advice from a registered dietitian, this book can serve as a valuable resource and adjunct to someone at high risk for heart disease or someone who has recently had a procedure. I will continue to use it as a reference for my clients as well.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Chi-chi-chi chia seeds

When you think of chia a visual of the novelty planters may come to mind. But instead of just growing the seeds you may want to think about adding them to your diet because they are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chia seeds are an edible seed similar to flax seed, but they come from a desert plant called Salivia hispanica which is a member of the mint family. You might have guessed from the scientific name that the plant grows abundantly in Mexico but historically they were one of the “super foods” that were included in the diet of the Aztec and Mayan’s. Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength.

I’ve noticed that chia seeds are gaining in popularity and are becoming more readily available in health food stores. They are more expensive than flax seeds but they also offer a few advantages over flax:

• 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contains 5000+ mg omega-3 fatty acids versus the 2700 mg in 2 tablespoons of flax.
• Chia seeds are softer than flax seeds so they don’t have to be ground up before using. You may have learned from experience that if you eat whole flax seeds they make a great laxative and come out looking the same way they did when they went in! Okay I know, TMI.
• Chia seeds also have higher levels of antioxidants than flax seeds and because of this they can be stored for longer periods of time without becoming rancid.
• Chia seeds are also an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. Flax is a good source of magnesium.
• Both are great sources of fiber but chia has 6.9 grams in 2 tablespoons and flax has 4 grams.
• Both have a nutty flavor and are very versatile- sprinkle on salads, in smoothies, in oatmeal, in yogurt or cottage cheese.

All in all chia seeds offer a slight edge nutritionally over flax seeds but including either one in your diet is a great way to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by making the blood less likely to clot, lowering bad cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Both can be purchased as oil, meal, flour, and seed. You many even find chia seeds turning up in a new wave of sports drinks. One study found that a beverage containing 50% chia seeds and 50% Gatorade was as effective as the 100% Gatorade in delaying fatigue http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Science-Nutrition/Omega-3-chia-seeds-may-be-carb-loaders-for-athletes-Study What is the advantage? Less refined sugar and more nutrition by way of the omega-3 and vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant content.

If you give chia a try let me know what you think.