When I learned that 90% of all heart disease is preventable I decided to find ways to do just that.
Here are some ideas you can use to take charge of your heart health.
When I learned that 90% of all heart disease is preventable I decided to find ways to do just that.
Here are some ideas you can use to take charge of your heart health.
According to an article published by time.com “one U.S. adult out of every three has high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. But the number of people with elevated blood pressure, not yet in the high range, is much higher. (870 million people worldwide are hypertensive.)
Elevated systolic blood pressure was found to be a leading contributor to preventable death in 2015 and was linked to more than 10 million deaths—1.4 times the number in 1990.
The 2015 results of the clinical SPRINT—short for the systolic blood pressure intervention—trial found that people who kept their systolic blood pressure at 120 had much lower rates of heart-related deaths and early deaths from any cause.
Not everyone needs to take a medication for elevated systolic blood pressure. It’s possible to lower your blood pressure naturally through changes in diet, exercise and weight, Roth says. The important thing is to start paying attention to blood pressure early. “Elevated blood pressure starts contributing to a very large amount of lost health at a relatively young age,” Roth says.
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Four years ago, I posted a story about Lazarus, the cherry tomato plant, affectionately known as “the comeback kid.”
In 2012 I wrote: “The first year I planted the small cherry tomato plant was very disappointing. It bore very few tomatoes and most were unappetizing hard red lumps. When it withered and turned brown at the end of the growing season, I was tempted to pull it out and toss it in the compost heap, but I didn’t. I left it in the pot, neglected it and watched it survive a rainy and very cold winter. The next April, to my astonishment, it sprouted green leaves and started to show early signs of fruiting. It looked weak but showed a warrior spirit so I gave it an unceremonious dose of plant food and watched it go berserk.
That summer my former struggling tomato plant produced 2″ and 3″ spheres of ruby-red fruit. The taste was sweet and garden fresh. I made delicious Greek salads all summer long. Every year thereafter it has continued to grow bigger and better. Given its remarkable history and talent for revivification, we nick-named it Lazarus.“
Fast forward four years, its December 30, 2016 and Lazarus is at it again. Only this time, he truly came back from the dead.
I thought for sure last summer that he had finally given up his ghost after four years of remarkable production and moved on to tomato-plant heaven. By the end of the hot summer season there was no sign of life in him. He was a dry, crispy critter. Since I was in the process of moving from Central California to Ventura, I left his corpse behind in a compost pile at the old house. Bye bye sweet Lazarus. You were fabulous while you lasted.
In the fall I moved about a dozen potted plants with me and hoped they would adapt to the new southern location.
At my new house, I envisioned a chorus of potted purple bougainvillea outlining the decks. I recycled some pots and soil from the former house and planted six new bougainvillea babies. They began to flourish immediately and brighten up my landscape just as I hoped they would. One day I noticed that one of the pots sported an intrusive extra green sprout. I suspected a weed and headed over to it thinking to remove it from spoiling the plan. To my astonishment, I recognized it as the start of a young tomato plant. As I looked closer I realized this had been Lazarus’ pot when I found the buried tag with his name on it. I suddenly realized that what I was seeing must have been produced from the seeds of his offspring.
There was Lazarus, growing right next to the bougainvillea and also flourishing. Hooray and Halleluiah! Lazarus is alive and well and living in Ventura in the same pot as his sister Bougainvillea.
I don’t have the heart to move him into his own pot. He seems so happy. His fruit is once again delicious and popping fresh. I can’t wait to see what he does in the spring when I actually feed him. Say hello to the wonderful Lazarus, now famous for coming back yet again. He’s quite the comeback kid.
Alan Thicke was a very nice man. I worked with him in several occasions and he was always the gentleman, kind, professional and a pleasure to be around. His untimely death was a shock to all of us.
I think the following advice from Dr. Oz is great to know and practice.
We don’t know if following these practices might have saved Alan’s life, but they might have.
Unfortunately we’ll never know and the world has lost a lovely human being.
Photo is from The Showtime Comedy Club All-Stars. I was Producer/Director, Ken Weinstock on right was EP.
A church member (Patrick Milburn) asked me if I knew how to make gluten-free cookies. I told him I’d never done that before, but it set me on a mission. Here are the results and, if I may say so myself, they are scrumptious. Try them anytime for holidays and beyond.
1 ½ cup gluten free rolled oats. (I used quick cooking)
1 cup gluten free Oat Flour
½ Cup Reddi Egg or egg substitute
½ cup authentic maple syrup (not flavored and colored corn syrup)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
4 T. organic brown sugar
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried cranberries (orange flavored are fabulous.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine the dry ingredients into one bowl and mix together.
Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl.
Add wet to dry and mix well.
Fold in the raisins and cranberries.
Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes.
Drop cookies onto a line baking sheet. (Parchment paper is excellent)
Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from paper.
There are two kinds of fats: Good and Bad.
The good guys are unsaturated fats: monounsaturateds (MUFAs), found in foods like olive oil and avocados, and polyunsaturateds (PUFAs), found in sunflower and corn oils, among others, and in the omega-3s in salmon and walnuts. Both types the “good ” title because they’ve been shown to lower blood cholesterol and the risk for heart disease.
The villain, we’ve long been told, is saturated fat. The conventional wisdom, which dates to the 1950s, is that saturated fat, which is present in meat, dairy, and some plant products, increases our total cholesterol and chance for heart disease and stroke.
Bad Saturated Fats are: butter, milk fat, beef fat (tallow, suet) chicken fat, cream, pork fat (lard)stick margarine, shortening ,hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, coconut oil, palm and palm kernel oils.
Trans fat, the staple fat that dominates packaged goods and fast food, is another very bad guy: It not only gooses up our LDL cholesterol but also lowers our HDL cholesterol (the kind that helps sweep bad cholesterol out of the body). The American Heart Association recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your total calories (if you eat 2,000 calories a day, that’s 16 grams, roughly the amount in a chocolate milk shake) and of trans fats to no more than two grams a day. Safest idea is to have NO trans fats per day.
What you can do immediately is swap animal fats for vegetable oils — for instance, using soybean oil or olive oil instead of butter because studies have shown these lower LDL cholesterol levels and disease risk. “Be careful not to replace saturated fats with refined carbs or your triglycerides can go up and your good HDL cholesterol can go down,” explains Alice H. Lichtenstein, the director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University. High triglycerides and low HDL are risk factors for cardiovascular disease and criteria of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Across the world, the excessive consumption of sodium–hiding in breads, soups and snack foods and beckoning from salt shakers everywhere–is the cause of some 1.65 million deaths by heart disease and strokes yearly, including roughly 667,000 “premature” deaths–those before the age of 70–says a comprehensive new study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state: “We all need a small amount (e.g., between about 180 mg and 500 mg per day) of sodium to keep our bodies working properly. But the average daily sodium intake for Americans age 2 years and older is 3,436 mg.”
High sodium consumption raises blood pressure and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the nation’s first and third leading causes of death, respectively.
Research shows when salt intake is reduced, blood pressure begins decreasing for most people within a few days to weeks. Populations who consume diets low in salt do not experience the increase in blood pressure with age that is seen in most Western countries.
You can reduce your sodium intake if you:
1. Cook at home from scratch and reduce the amount of salt you add to dishes.
2. Check labels for sodium in all its forms. Table salt is mainly sodium chloride, but canned or packaged foods can contain other forms of sodium.
3. In the kitchen and at the dinner table, substitute spices, herbs, and salt-free blends for salt.
4. When you do opt for packaged foods, choose products that are sodium free or low in sodium. A typical cup of miso soup, for instance, contains 700 to 900 milligrams of sodium, so look for canned soups with “low sodium” or “reduced sodium” on the label. Bread and cereals carry loads of sodium. Buy the lowest sodium kind you can find and avoid white flour brands.
5. Watch out for salad dressings, ready- made pasta sauces, cup-o-soup products, canned vegetables, frozen pizzas, sausages, pepperoni, canned tuna, and pretty much any food that requires preservation or shelf life.
6. In a restaurant, ask your waiter which dishes are the lowest in sodium and ask of the chef can prepare yours without adding salt.
The overall best approach is to scan the ingredient list before eating or drinking anything. Any ingredient with “sodium” or “Na” — the chemical name for sodium — in its name contains the substance. Sodium might also be labeled as baking soda, baking powder, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate or salt.
Astonishingly, Americans consume an estimated 130 pounds of added sugar per capita annually. That’s about 22 teaspoons daily for adults; roughly 32 teaspoons children (almost three-fourths of a cup). Topping the added-sugar intake list are soft drinks, accounting for 33 percent of added sugar consumed daily.
Overconsumption of added sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates (like those found in breads, pizza, cold cereals and other baked goods) has been linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
One of the most effective things you can do to improve your health is to cut back radically on sugar consumption; in particular, avoid sugared beverages entirely. If this seems overwhelming, taper off slowly – add slightly less sugar to your coffee or tea every day and start by drinking fewer soft drinks per week, etc. You will quickly discover that the craving for sugar dissipates. Foods that once seemed pleasantly sweet begin to taste sickly sweet .
Steer clear of artificial sweeteners – they have chemical components and adverse long term health consequences and the best solution is to choose natural sweeteners like organic raw sugar, maple syrup, or fruit sauces (apple or pear) and cut way back on quantity and portion size.
If you reduce your consumption of Bad saturated fats, salt and sugar you will be on your way to a healthier body, a leaner frame, more energy and you will reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
 conducted by an international team led by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, was published Aug. 13, 2014 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Certainly proper nutrition is key to good and sustainable health. We achieve that by eating fruits, vegetables, only a light touch of meat and we seek our proteins and carbohydrates from sources that are low in saturated fats, salt and sugar. If we use color as a guide and make sure our plate is filled with wildly colorful fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, we are already on the path to solid nutrition and a wholesome diet for our bodies.
Exercise is an equally important component. The body is made up of organs and muscles. To be in prime working condition those parts must be exercised and challenged. If you don’t use it, you may lose it, especially where the heart muscle is concerned. But that doesn’t mean you have to run long distances or work out for hours in the gym. You can easily incorporate a program of Tai Chi into your life which provides the stretching, extension, discipline and the aerobic components you need for physical health and bodily strength.
The last component to staying healthy is, believe it or not, relaxation. When you relax and get away from the stressors of your life, you foster good mental health. Take the time to breathe. Maybe incorporating a few yoga poses, or just sitting by yourself for an hour will do wonders for your mind. Use a few minutes of your time to focus on the good things in your life. Those areas that are working and that you are grateful for. If you find relaxation hard, try an acupuncture session or get a Shiatsu massage to relieve those knotted pressure points.
If you start today to incorporate good nutrition, proper exercise and relaxation you will find that your life improves and doesn’t feel so bad after all.
Garlic truly is a superfood—it lowers blood pressure and triglycerides…enhances the immune system…and has potent antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer and antioxidant properties. Researchers decided to see whether “old” garlic that has sprouted would show any changes in its nutritional powers, so they allowed ordinary garlic to sprout. Then the garlic and sprouts were minced, ground and turned into an extract. For comparison, a similar extract was prepared using unsprouted garlic.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry  sprouted garlic actually has stronger health benefits than unsprouted ones. They conjecture that the pod, when sprouted for five days, showed the maximum ability to help the human body.
The researchers aren’t sure which of the compounds in sprouted garlic are responsible for the increased antioxidant activity. However, they did find that sprouted garlic contains compounds that don’t exist in unsprouted garlic. This makes sense when you think about the fact that nature is meticulously protective of its species. By amping up antioxidant activity and creating protective new compounds, the immature plant—meaning the sprout—may be better able to protect itself from harmful pathogens.
Garlic has been used since ancient times as a medicinal remedy. It is a member of the allium family of plants, which also includes onions, chives and leeks. Garlic’s medicinal powers are attributed to its sulfur compounds, including a substance called allicin, which is formed when garlic is crushed or chopped. Besides fresh cloves, garlic is available in supplement form made from fresh, dried, or freeze-dried garlic, garlic oil and aged garlic extracts.
Garlic is a great friend to our bodies.
It has cancer-fighting properties: The process of sprouting garlic stimulates the production of phytochemicals, which has the ability to block and inhibit the activity of carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) in the body. Garlic also produces a large amount of anti-oxidants that have preventative qualities for scavenging free oxygen radicals – one of the fertile soils for cancer growth.
It protects your heart: Phytochemicals boost enzyme activity and block the cholesterol deposits that lead to plaque formation – an important factor in heart and artery disease.
A recent meta-analysis in China looked at 26 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials—the “gold standard” in scientific research. In that meta-analysis, researchers concluded that garlic reduces total cholesterol by 5.4% and triglyceride levels by 6.5% compared with a placebo. Garlic powder and aged garlic extract were found to be the most effective at lowering total cholesterol, while garlic oil had a greater effect on lowering triglyceride levels.
It can prevent strokes: Garlic on its own is a rich source of anjoene , an antithrombotic (anti-clotting) agent which helps prevent platelets in the blood from forming blood clots, and is packed with nitrites – a compound that helps dilate (or widen) the arteries. Both of these nutrients can help prevent the onset of a stroke (a condition caused by the formation of a blood clot in the blood vessels of the brain).
It can delay wrinkles and premature ageing: Antioxidants help prevent premature ageing by scavenging free radicals in our body – the leading cause of ageing. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study, garlic pods sprouted for five days have the highest antioxidant activity – making them a youth elixir for your body.
It does boost your immune system: If you suffer from frequent colds, coughs or infections you might also benefit from sprouted garlic. Sprouted garlic provides your body with a strong boost of antioxidants. Antioxidants strengthen your immune system which help you ward off infections. Historically, garlic has received attention as a potent antibacterial agent. In 1858, Louis Pasteur touted garlic as an antibiotic. Garlic was later used in World War I and World War II as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene.
How to sprout your own garlic:
Garlic normally sprouts on its own if left out in the open. But if you want to sprout them yourself, here is a way to hasten the process:
Place a pod of unpeeled garlic and gently poke in three tooth picks on three sides of the garlic. Make sure you place the toothpicks in the fleshy part of the pod. Fill up a small glass with clean water (tap water is fine.). Balance the garlic pod on the rim of the glass using the toothpicks as braces to partially submerge the root section in the water.
Allow the glass to stay on the windowsill for five days, making sure the bottom is always submerged in the water. Once it is sprouted, wash it well and add to foods for the nutritional benefits it provides.
If you have a personal or family history of heart disease, ask your doctor about using garlic (in food or supplements) as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Be sure to consult your doctor first if you take a blood pressure or statin drug.
Because garlic may also interact with certain prescription drugs, such as warfarin(Coumadin), consult your doctor before significantly increasing your intake of the herb if you take any medication or have a chronic medical condition.
 Ellen Tattelman, MD, director of the faculty development fellowship at the Residency Program in Social Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
Grapes are rich in:
Whether you eat the fruit, seeds or skin; drink the juice; or sip on red wine, grapes can help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also can help to:
All that goodness in such tiny fruits!
There are basically three categories of grapes: the greens, the reds, and the blue/blacks. Good color is the key to good flavor. The sweetest green grapes are yellow-green in color; red varieties that are predominantly crimson/red will have the best flavor; and blue/black varieties taste best if their color is deep and rich, almost black. If you object to seeds, look for seedless varieties.
For the most nutritional benefits select the darker colored varieties of grapes to obtain the most polyphenol benefits and be sure you eat the fruit or skins over juice when able.
A great summer treat is frozen grapes. Remove the grapes from the stem. Wash and at dry them and place them on a cookies sheet. Allow them to freeze for 4-5 hours and then remove from the cookie sheet and store them in a Ziploc or airtight container in the freezer. Frozen grapes make great ice cubes for summer drinks and also as handy snacks replacing sugary popsicles, frozen candy bars or fat-laden ice cream.
Have a grape summer!
4 ripe avocados
3 medium ripe tomatoes
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 cup chopped sweet onion
2 teas. fresh lemon juice
1 teas. white wine vinegar (or regular white vinegar if you prefer)
1/2 teas. Kosher salt (add salt to taste- but remember to use sparingly)
1/4 teas. fresh ground pepper
Remove skin and pits from avocados. Dice avocadoes into small pieces.
Finely mince one medium size clove of fresh garlic.
Dice the tomatoes into small pieces.
Dice the onion into small pieces.
Combine onion, avocadoes, and tomatoes with the salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, sriracha and lemon juice.
Mix well. Taste.
You can also add a little more lemon juice if you prefer a tarter taste.
Serve with just about anything you want. Veggies, home-baked tortilla chips, home-baked whole wheat pita triangles or top a chicken taco salad. Yum.