Report card: my month of eating Mediterranean

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

May, as you may recall, was National Mediterranean Diet Month, celebrated at our house with a helpful Oldways calendar posted on the fridge with 31 daily suggestions on how to introduce more heart-healthy Med Month changes into our regular routine. As threatened promised, here’s how I did:  Continue reading “Report card: my month of eating Mediterranean”

Here’s your basic heart-smart grocery shopping list


Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days! Drop One Dress Size a Day!

Rapid weight loss can be so quick and easy – if you believe all those fad diet advertising claims. A fellow heart attack survivor, for example, tells of losing nine pounds in the past five days. She has accomplished this feat, she explains, thanks to a miracle diet she heard about while watching the Dr. Phil show on television.

Phil is always a font of reliable evidence-based health information. (I’m kidding about that last part, my heart sisters).

She was so inspired by this TV interview with a telegenic, fit and very convincing young author of yet another miracle diet book that she went out and bought the expensive best-seller, and says she is now “thrilled” with her resulting nine-pound weight loss results. She does confess, however, that she’s already had to “cheat” on the strict diet a few times in the past five days, and is “struggling” to stay on it so far, but she still seems thrilled nonetheless.

Trouble is, strict weight loss diets typically result in regaining that lost weight – and more.  Continue reading “Here’s your basic heart-smart grocery shopping list”

“The Winter I Lived On Potatoes – And Loved It!”

Is there any veggie better than the humble and versatile potato? It is and always has been my very favourite comfort food. Potato pancakes with those crispy brown edges, twice-baked stuffed potatoes oozing with cottage-cheesey goodness, those exquisite first-of-the-season new potatoes tossed in my mother’s incomparable dill sauce, creamy garlic mashed at Sunday dinner – heaven, absolute heaven, every single forkful!

But potatoes sometimes get a bad rap for being fattening (especially given all the goop we like to scoop or pour or melt over them) and not quite as healthy as, say, the boring broccoli floret. Not so for Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission. Chris ate nothing but potatoes throughout October and November of 2010 (that’s about 20 5-ounce potatoes a day for 60 days) to help publicize the nutritional value of potatoes. He varied his clinically-supervised menu by eating things like potato pickles and even (seriously!) potato ice cream. (Read on for some of my favourite – and more conventional! – heart-healthy potato recipes!)   Continue reading ““The Winter I Lived On Potatoes – And Loved It!””

Vegetarian-friendly religions

by Carolyn Thomas 

The well-known Mediterranean Diet recommended for optimal heart health calls for eating very little meat. Here in Canada, although our meat consumption is steadily decreasing according to Statistics Canada, we still average about 23.4 kilograms (about 52 pounds) of red meat per person per year. That puts us well behind the United States, Hungary, and Australia in total meat consumption.

But if you break it down into types of meat, people in Denmark eat more pork than anybody else in the world, Hong Kong leads chicken consumption, and, to nobody’s surprise, the Argentinians eat more beef.

So a heart-smart vegetarian in Buenos Aires might feel quite outnumbered, but elsewhere on earth would be among the majority.  An Apple A Day recently took a unique look at international vegetarianism and came up with some widespread religion-based connections.  Continue reading “Vegetarian-friendly religions”

Thirty heart-healthy ways to love your veggies (and fruit!)

by Carolyn Thomas

We’re supposed to eat 2-4 servings of fruit plus 3-5 servings of vegetables every day. It’s a full-time job, especially for those of us raised in Ukrainian families where dill pickles were considered an ideal veggie serving. Fewer than one third of us eat even those lower limits.

And we’re fussy eaters.

Potatoes, for example, represent 44% of our fresh vegetable diet here in Canada. That doesn’t includes a significant increase, according to Statistics Canada, in our consumption of processed potatoes in the form of potato chips and frozen potato products. But carrots, lettuce, onions and tomatoes represent just 27% of the Canadian diet of fresh vegetables, a decrease of 9% compared to 2005 numbers. On the other hand, we’re apparently eating three times more sweet potatoes now compared to 20 years ago. Wonder if that’s entirely due to the growing popularity of sweet potato fries . . .

The editors of Consumer Reports Healthasked:How exactly are you supposed to get healthy produce servings into your life?” and then came up with these 30 great tips.   Continue reading “Thirty heart-healthy ways to love your veggies (and fruit!)”

Why a good breakfast is good for your brain – and your heart

breakfast bowl

“Breakfast is your brain meal!” claims Vancouver educator Terry Small, aka the Brain Guy. He once did a small and very unscientific two-week experiment on himself, just to test his theory that – as your mother always told you – breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you still need convincing, you might want to try this experiment, too.

smart choices compared to whatFor Week #1, eat your normal low-fibre, low-protein, highly-processed breakfast every morning – like a gooey Maple Dip from Tim Hortons, for example. Or how about a nice big bowl of Froot Loops (the ones with that now-moribund Smart Choices healthy food symbol on the box)? The symbol apparently recommended this junk cereal to health-conscious American consumers until the entire program was yanked last month.

Dr. Eileen Kennedy, the Dean of Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, in a stupefyingly bizarre statement to the New York Times, defended the Smart Choices logo on Froot Loops because it was “based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards”.  (Widely accepted on what planet, Dr. Kennedy?)  Continue reading “Why a good breakfast is good for your brain – and your heart”