Eating Fresh and Healthy for your Heart

Eating Fresh and Healthy for your Heart


Eating Fresh
and Healthy
for your Heart

How to sneak “good foods” into your daily meals

Eat right. Get exercise. Live healthy. Whether you are watching the morning talk shows, talking with friends, visiting family, or scrolling through your newsfeed; at some point in the day, you come across a new diet, “superfood,” or way of eating that enhances your health and happiness. Why? Nearly 90% of Americans fall below the fruit and vegetable consumption recommendations — we all struggle to find creative ways to make healthy choices every day.

Super foods

Every season, there is a new “superfood” that catches media attention and appears in everything from salads, smoothies, to side dishes. Blueberries, salmon, kale, and acai are just a few examples of foods that have garnered the superfood label. Most nutrition experts disagree with the definition of a superfood, calling it a marketing term. Catrina is the owner of Catrina K Fitness. As a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist with a specialization in Nutrition, she explained how companies created the term to market their products through media hype. “I think if you look at it this way if you ever go to a dietician and ask them, ‘what superfoods do you recommend?’ They will tell you there is no such thing as a superfood. If you go to your doctor and ask, ‘what superfood should I take for heart disease?’ They are never going to tell you that goji berries are the way to go.”

What is essential is to do your research when you come across a new food that has nutritional or health benefits. Blueberries, kale, and sweet potatoes, for example, often get more attention because of the research given to them versus other berries, leafy greens, or squash. Most of the exciting superfoods fit into the exotic category, like acai berry, that might be healthy but are not more nutritional on their own over less exciting or expensive fruits. Another tip is to check the nutrition labels of drinks or products made from superfruits – the added sugar may be the reason you prefer the taste.

Catrina also pointed out that “too much of a good thing is a good thing” when trying to maximize the benefits of superfoods. She advises adding them to snacks and meals instead of making them the primary serving. “Make sure you’re not telling yourself, ‘this is going to cure my illnesses.’ It’s a treat just like anything else, and moderation is key. No one food will cure you, and none of them are superior to other foods. Fruits and vegetables are great and healthy for you, but there is no superfood.”

Healthy foods and picky eaters

“Children aren’t the only picky eaters at the dinner table. There is a fair share of adults who push fruits and veggies to the side in favor of mac and cheese. Some of these adults are even us. If you are trying to change your diet plan, Catrina advises getting ideas on how to sneak healthy foods into some of your favorite dishes. “Let’s say your husband is a huge mac and cheese fan, throw in some broccoli or chop up some peppers and onions and see if they even notice.” The key to successfully eating healthy is to start slow with incremental changes, especially when dealing with picky eaters. “I’m also not a big believer in forcing children to finish the plate. Don’t tell them they have to eat their vegetables to earn dessert. These actions put negative connotations with healthy foods. I’m a big believer in the “test and try method”; put the food on their plate and wait to see what they eat. Alternatively, encourage them to try or taste it. With a little help, your picky eater will soon make good choices on their own,” Catrina said.

The tough part for home cooks is getting new ideas for old dishes. Catrina’s suggestion may come from a surprising source. “I always get ideas from restaurants,” she revealed. “If you get grilled asparagus from somewhere and you really like it then start grilling it at home!” There are a couple of ways to bring that restaurant dish taste to your home kitchen. One, is browsing for healthy copycat takeout recipes online. Love that grab-and-go breakfast burrito? There’s a quick and healthy way to make it that doesn’t require pulling up to the drive-thru window! A change you will notice in “healthy home dishes” is a noticeable reduction for salt, fat, and sugar in the recipes. These ingredients are added to dishes by chefs for flavor, seasoning, or as a preservative. Many store-bought frozen foods, canned, or pre-packaged foods are high in sodium so try to use fresh ingredients when possible.

“Another big tip is seasoning,” adds Catrina. “The reason you like dishes in a restaurant and not at home is because you’re just heating a vegetable and throwing it on a plate. There are other ways to cook vegetables besides microwaving them, like grilling or oven-roasting them. Once you learn how to season, roast, and add olive oil or dressing to your veggies, you will taste the difference. Try different flavors to see if they encourage everyone in the house to eat it or if it makes you want to make it more.”

Healthy eating for the whole family

The goal for every busy home cook is to make one meal that everyone can enjoy. A simple tip to encourage interest in meals is inviting your children to help make them. Studies show that children are more excited about eating healthy foods when they are involved. Give them age-appropriate tasks and keep a step-stool handy. Not only does prepping one meal saves time in the kitchen, but it also saves money for the household. The average American household spends over $4,350 on food every year. When you add dining out, we pay another $3,000 at restaurants, take-out/delivery, and quick-service vendors.

The other challenge with healthy eating is that eating healthy is often more expensive. Catrina acknowledged the difficult choice parents make when trying to balance their time, budget, and nutrition needs. “This is a difficult socio-economic topic. It is hard to tell a family that is not making much money, ‘you need to cook everything at home.’ Unfortunately, in our society, fast food or convenience foods are the less expensive alternative. This is a fact that no one fully addresses. However, it is just about managing your time, managing your money, finding what your family likes, maybe learning how to bulk shop for those items, and also not demonizing food. If you can only afford a few cans of tuna for your protein that week, or less expensive cuts of meat, that’s fine. Make the smart choices that are best for your family’s health and get creative in making healthy dishes. Eggs are a great source of protein. Serving them with breakfast, let’s children know that there are other foods on the plate, not just the sugary, sweet, or carb options.”

Written by Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator, Capital Cardiology Associates
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month


‘Heart Healthy’ Starts With What’s On Your Plate

What is good for your heart is good for your body

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during March, focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Over the years, we have been educated on how to eat a balanced diet and how to read nutrition facts labels.

Over the years, many “fad diets” have arrived, each with a promise to improve health through some ingredient or process. One truth has emerged, a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, and fish that also limits saturated and trans fats, sodium, red meat, and sugars offers long-term benefits to your health and your heart. Dr. Kevin Woods is a cardiologist with a passion for nutrition. He pointed out the popularity of ‘heart healthy’ diets. “Heart-healthy eating does more than reduce your blood pressure or cholesterol, lower your weight or sugar levels; at the end of the day what we are trying to accomplish is lowering your risk of heart disease. It turns out that what is good for your heart is good for the rest of your body too!”

This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is promoting cutting down the fat in our meals while savoring the flavor. The propose the following tips:

• Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
• Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese
• Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar
• Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins
• Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.

We are what we eat

Dr. Woods noted the challenge in changing how we eat. “If you look at population studies that eat what we call the ‘Standard American Diet’ or SAD Diet, they are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If you start taking items away from that, like red meat or meat in general, and you take away meat and dairy there are progressively lower levels of reported heart disease,” he stated.

Canada recently updated its Food Guide to offer advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and how to eat. “Half of the plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of whole grains, the other quarter is protein. They specifically state that plant-based protein is preferred to animal-based proteins. They have also removed dairy as a food group. Instead of having a glass of milk on the side of their plate, there is a glass of water which is certainly the most healthy beverage for a meal,” said Dr. Woods. Canada has also removed the traditional four food groups into three key food groupings: vegetables and fruits; whole grains; and protein foods — foods that should be a regular part of your diet. The photo also represents the proportion of how much of each grouping should be consumed with more fruits and veggies, fewer grains and proteins.

Whether you are looking at the Food Guide Pyramid or Canada’s Food Guide, you will notice that processed foods are not included as part of a heart-healthy or well-balanced meal. Not all processed foods are unhealthy, but some processed foods may contain high levels of salt, sugar, and fat. “Processed foods, in general, are not good for you,” says Dr. Woods. “Whether you are talking about meat or dairy, even processed sugars. They contribute to build up of plaque in your arteries, increase your risk of diabetes, and if you look at cold cuts, bacon, sausage, hot dogs, those are the worst of the worst. When it comes to cancer risk, researchers lump processed meats as cigarette smoke.”

Exercise snacking

Two controllable risk factors in your health are diet and exercise. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of physical activity per week. That breaks down to about 20 minutes of activity or exercise PER DAY. For those struggling to find time for a walk on your lunch break, exercise before or after work, or any heart-pumping activity during the day, there is a new trend you can follow, “exercise snacking.”

A study by Canadian researchers found that climbing stairs at short intervals throughout the day can improve cardiovascular health and may even add years to your life. They call it “exercise snacking,” the technical term is sprint interval training (SIT), which can be effective when done as a single session with a few minutes of recovery between each intense burst of exercise, only requiring about 10 minutes of exercise total. “I like this term ‘exercise snacking,’ it’s certainly better than the other snacking we know!”, exclaimed Dr. Woods. “I do encourage my patients to embrace physical activity. One of the things I bring up is that if you don’t have time to exercise or be active in the traditional sense of workouts in the gym if you break it up, time adds up. I encourage them to get a pedometer to count your steps during the day. Every hour you should stand up, walk for a minute, even stretch your legs; do something even if it is just for a few minutes every hour it will add up at the end of the day. Set a goal to reach 10,000 steps a day, it will take some effort but being able to break it up throughout the day and tracking your progress will help motivate you to hit your goal.”

Written by: Michael Arce, Marketing Coordinator, Capital Cardiology Associates
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Fish Oil: Friend or Foe?

Fish Oil: Friend or Foe?

Heart News

Fish Oil: Friend or Foe

What are the health benefits for heart patients taking fish oil?

The American Heart Association recommends adults consume fish twice a week to gain omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac arrest, and ischemic stroke, though it also advises against supplements with the oil because of a lack of health benefits. In July, the London-based Cochrane Heart Group published a study that found that scientists believe there actually may be little to no benefit taking these additives.

For this article, Courtney Kelly an Albany College of Pharmacy intern in our Clinical Pharmacy department outlines the pros and cons of fish oil supplements.

Heart health benefits

Fish oils are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. The most common omega-3 fatty acids are called DHA and EPA. Our bodies can’t make omega-3 so it must come from our diet. It is unknown how much omega-3 fatty acids you should take daily. For healthy adults, a minimum of 250-500mg of the DHA and EPA combination is recommended but higher amounts are often recommended for certain health conditions. Patients with coronary artery disease should take at least 1,000mg per day. Patients with high triglycerides may benefit from 2,000-4,000mg per day.

Fatty fish (like salmon or tuna) and shellfish (such as oysters or crabs) are full of these omega-3’s. Some plants contain other omega-3 fatty acids that our body can convert to DHA and EPA. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week. Below is a table containing the amount of DHA/EPA in foods known to be rich in these omega-3 fatty acids. In general, it is better to get these fatty acids from our diets, rather than a supplement.


Serving Size

Amount of DHA/EPA


1 piece of salted mackerel

4,107 mg


½ fillet

4,023 mg


6 raw oysters

565 mg

Flaxseeds (whole seeds)

1 tablespoon

2,338 mg

Flaxseed Oil

1 tablespoon

7,196 mg

Chia Seeds

1 ounce

4,915 mg


1 ounce (about 7 walnuts)

2,542 mg

Soybeans (Dry Roasted)

½ cup

1,241 mg

Why do we need these fatty acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain function, growth and development, and inflammation. They even lower your triglycerides, a component of cholesterol. Deficiencies are associated with a variety of health problems, like cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, and arthritis.

Supplements: Over-The-Counter or prescription?
If you can’t get enough fish oil from your diet, supplements can be purchased over-the-counter or through the pharmacy with a prescription from your doctor. The over-the-counter products contain the same omega-3 fatty acids as the prescription options. The main difference is the concentration in the prescription-only fish oils is higher. This means you will get the same dose in fewer capsules. Additionally, the prescription versions are regulated by the FDA. Over-the-counter products are not regulated by the FDA. If you buy one of these products make sure to look for the USP seal. These medications are of higher quality than over-the-counter medications that do not have the seal.

Fish Oils: Friend

One benefit of consuming supplements over fish is knowing how many omega-3s you’re getting — that information is listed in the supplement facts label, and it’s useful when using fish oil to help with disease prevention.

Heart disease – fish oils have been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, heart-related events (like heart attacks), and death in people who are at high risk of heart disease. The risk of congestive heart failure is lower in older adults with higher EPA levels.
High blood pressure – Fish oil may help lower your blood pressure. If you suffer from high blood pressure, this may be an additional benefit to you! The reduction in blood pressure seen is very small, however, and should not be used instead of your regular blood pressure lowering medications.
High triglycerides and cholesterol – Fish oils can significantly lower your triglyceride level. DHA may also increase your HDL or “good” cholesterol.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Fish oils may help reduce pain and inflammation, improve morning stiffness, and relieve joint tenderness, in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Fish Oil: Foe

Fish oil supplements are highly unstable and become rancid easily, making this one of the major drawbacks of taking fish oil supplements. What’s more, damaging free radicals form when fish oil becomes spoiled. This means rancid fish oil supplements may cause more harm than good. Common side effects of fish oils include some mild stomach upset, including indigestion or diarrhea, unpleasant taste, and bad breath.

Atrial Fibrillation – Fish oils are sometimes thought to help with diseases such as Atrial Fibrillation. Fish oils have shown to have no benefit in treating atrial fibrillation and should not be used if that is the only reason.
Cholesterol – Fish oils will not lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol. In fact, it may raise your bad cholesterol slightly. If you have a high LDL, you need another medication, such as a statin, to help lower this.
Cognitive Decline – A common myth is that fish oils may help prevent cognitive decline in elderly patients. Research has found that fish oil does not slow cognitive decline.
Diabetes – Fish oils will not reduce your fasting glucose or A1c levels. If you have diabetes, fish oils may still be recommended to you by your doctor if your triglycerides are also elevated.

Fish oils are generally pretty safe, however too much can increase your risk of bleeding and may suppress your immune system. You should refrain from using doses greater than 3-4 grams per day. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking a medication like fish oils, especially if you are on a blood thinning medication.

Written by: Courtney Kelly, Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, Pharmacy Intern. Courtney is currently in her last year of pharmacy school at Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences and currently works at Kinney Drugs. She plans to pursue a clinical pharmacy residency after graduation.

Gut Bacteria and Your Heart Health

Gut Bacteria and Your Heart Health

Capital Cardiology Associates

Gut Bacteria and Your Heart Health

How trillions of bacteria in your gut impact your cardiovascular health

Inside your body right now are about 300 to 500 different types of gut bacteria. Most live in your intestines and colon, helping with your digestive functions. But there are a quite a few of these microbes that do much more than breakdown food. Gut bacteria plays a role in your immune function, weight gain, thyroid function, and brain health. An innovative study found a link between our heart health and the health of our gut, highlighting the importance of physical exercise, a heart healthy diet, and limiting antibiotics for keeping both at optimal levels. Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio are focusing on one of the trillions of “good” bacteria called atrimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which gut bacteria produce. Their goal: to better understand how these bacteria are helpful in our body. Previous studies on this gut bacteria chemical have been powerful indicators of a patient’s risk of future cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.

Think of your body as your own solar system with all of your major organs servings as planets. Your heart for example would be Earth, the sun your brain. If you looked at your blood stream as the night sky, the trillions of stars would be the nutrients, oxygen, and bacteria that travel in your blood. Your vascular system is what fuels and provides life to the rest of your body. “This is something that we have missed out on so many aspects of medical care, cardiology is one of them, your heart and your vascular system,” states Dr. Robert Benton, Director of Clinical Research at Capital Cardiology Associates. “There is so much evidence that the gut bacteria, the flora, that we live with, we think they are a pest in our stomach but we need that flora in our gut.”

There are around 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are in your intestines. Collectively, they are known as your gut microbiota, and they are hugely important for your health. Dr. Benton expanded on their role, “gut bacteria helps process certain chemicals, just as they provide us with certain chemicals. Just like a tree that grows has bacteria in its roots, the bacteria will supply the tree with minerals and the tree supplies the bacteria with sugars, this same thing occurs in our gut.” Gut bacteria in your digestive system has the capability of affecting your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response, and ability to eliminate toxins, not to mention your overall mental health.

The research team at the Cleveland Clinic worked on a drug therapy that lowered clot formations following an arterial injury that did not kill gut bacteria. The science is difficult, targeting specific parts of the gut bacteria without damaging the “good” microbes. Dr. Benton commented on the importance of this research. “You’re going to find this to be a rage of important information over the next few years in so many specialties. You can find evidence that change in the gut flora can lead to depression because of the changing of the active chemicals that are processed by the gut bacteria. There are so many different places in and on your body where this is important.”

One concern from the onset with the research team was avoiding antibiotics that indiscriminately destroy potentially useful gut bacteria. “I think people are aware that these antibiotics don’t just go attack the bad bacteria that cause the problem, but they attack ALL of the bacteria in your body,” noted Dr. Benton. “We should not be just handing out antibiotics to the average person with a common cold or cough. We need to allow those healthier bodies time to mount an immune response to fight simple, bad bacteria infections on their own. Many illnesses are caused by viruses which antibiotics don’t act against anyway. Especially children. Parents want to bring their kids to the pediatrician and expect antibiotics all of the time. I think it’s not necessary, and I think you might be hurting yourself. You’re changing the entire flora that is affecting the herd of humans. We now have these very dangerous ‘superbugs’ in the hospital. They are resistant to multiple antibiotics. These superbugs act like the king of the hospital, in that, they do so much damage to hospitals but in reality they are really weaklings when you get them out in the community. If we get your flora up, your body can overwhelm these ‘superbugs’.”

A Healthy Diet Helps

The best way to maintain healthy gut bacteria is to eat a range of fresh, whole foods, mainly from plant sources like fruits, veggies, legumes, beans and whole grains. The problem is, the average American diet is loaded with processed sugars, fatty foods, and preservatives (chemicals) that all upset bacteria levels. “What I do tell patients is, and I think this is very important, is to eat foods that are as unprocessed as possible,” advises Dr. Benton. “When you get to the point of eating whole grain foods, ingredients that have not been through the chemical factory. I joke with patients that there are certain types of margarine where one molecule is from plastic. That can’t be good for you, right?”

Written by: Michael Arce, Media Specialist
Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

The Mediterranean Diet Plan

The Mediterranean Diet Plan

The Mediterranean Diet Plan

Make The Lifestyle Change This Summer

Heart-Healthy Living

The Diet for Heart Patients

Earlier this month during a taping of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates, Dr. James O’Brien mentioned the Mediterranean diet. He said it was a diet that he strongly recommend for patients with heart disease. Now, being a health and fitness enthusiast and a 40-year old man with a family history of diabetes and heart disease, I am always open to ways to improve my heart health.

The Mediterranean Diet

Eating Fresh

Dr. O’Brien proclaimed that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet as a push away from using animals as a protein source, introducing more fruits and vegetables in meals, while also cutting out butter in favor of using oils cooking. It seemed simple which made me skeptical. I know that in dieting nothing good is easy. When I got back to office I started my research and was surprised to learn that the Mediterranean diet was endorsed by the American Heart Association and Mayo Clinic.

And this before that I discovered that you could have a glass or two of wine with dinner on the Mediterranean diet! We’ll get into why wine is good for you a little later in the article.

The following weekend I was looking for a book on this diet at Barnes & Noble in Colonie Center. A title caught my eye, “The Mediterranean Diet Plan,” written by Susan Zogheib. After reading the book’s introduction I quickly skimmed through the background of the diet and stopped at the diet plans. I smiled. I thought to myself, “I could totally do this!” I skipped ahead to the recipes. At that moment I knew I had found my diet plan! The book has four, four-week diet plans complete with recipes for every meal that are structured on the level of comfort you have with making the switch. One month of meals AND recipes, I couldn’t wait!
I read the book while sitting by the pool that Sunday afternoon and informed my girlfriend that we were going to be starting a new diet on Monday. “Oh really,” she asked. “What is so good about this diet?” I told her about the salads, fresh fruit and vegetable dishes, and her favorite part, how we would be replacing steak night with chicken and much more fish. “This is the perfect diet for summer!”
Recently, I had the chance to speak with the author of “The Mediterranean Diet Plan,” Susan Zogheib, a registered dietician about her diet plan. Susan will be joining me for an upcoming episode of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates this month (Sunday, June 24th). I wanted to share the highlights of conversation before YOU grocery shop this week so that you can discover the join of healthy eating this summer.

Discover The Health Benefits

What Makes The Summer The Best Time To Make The Switch

Whole Grain Bread
“I think the Paleo, Atkins, there are so many diets out there that really deprive people of the absolute nutrients that they need,” says Zogheib. “The Mediterranean diet has a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and not necessarily a lot of beef because beef is more fatty, so it incorporates fish and poultry.”
Honey Garlic Chicken
A majority of the meal planning for the Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables. A sample days meal menu consists of: a pumpkin-gingerbread smoothie for breakfast, Macaroni with Milk (Macoroni oil-Hali) for lunch, and Trout with Wilted Greens for dinner. Your suggested snacks during the day: Mango-Pear Smoothie, cashews and raisins, low-fat ricotta cheese with peaches, hummus, and seed and nut snack bars.

Tell me the last time you ever ate like that.

While reading the weekly meal plans I could close my eyes and picture enjoying the tastes of these dishes while soaking in the awesome summer weather on the patio with my girlfriend, with a glass of my favorite California red wine. “The diet also recommends four ounces of red wine in the evening with your meal. Red wine contains flavonoid which helps reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. That’s my favorite part,” shared Susan.

The wine part, that’s my favorite too.

This is why I recommend that if you are looking to change your diet or just something new this summer, pick up a copy of the book and try a dish. If you do, I’d love to hear which one you made and how it was received!
Mirassou Wine Bottle

Why Is This Diet Right For Heart Patients?

How many times have you heard a doctor specifically name a diet that fights heart disease and helps you lose weight? By name? We’re always told to eat healthy, maybe you are given a list of foods to add or avoid but from that point it’s on you to bring the meal plan together. Not with the Mediterranean diet. “This diet is for anyone but specifically for those with high blood pressure,” says Susan. “This is a low sodium, low fat, low cholesterol diet. It’s also ideal for those that are at risk for developing cardiovascular disease. It’s also great for weight loss or management, so if you are looking to shed a few pounds this is a great diet to embrace.”

You start each day with a heart healthy breakfast. Your vegetable intake is increased. You find yourself making trips to the farmers market to get a better variety of fresh fruits and veggies. You stop eating processed food. And that’s a big one. Let’s talk about bread for example. Besides price and taste, what is the difference between white and whole grain bread?

Susan answered, “White bread is so refined that the nutrients are stripped down, again it’s a simple carbohydrate where when a diabetic eats something, there blood sugar will rise and you get a boost of energy. This is the difference between a whole grain and a white-refined bread, once you consume that bread your blood sugar will rise for a little while and you’ll feel energized but the whole grain has better effect on your blood sugar, sustaining that energy over a longer period of time, avoiding the ‘crash and burn’ some feel when eating white bread. Keep in mind that in white bread all of the nutrients have been processed out of the food.” The other difference, you can literally, “Taste the difference when you eat one over the other.”

This diet also works for every type of eater who wants variety in their meals. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had Pistachio-Crusted Sole much less would I know how to make it. But in the “Mediterranean Diet Plan,” everything I need to know is on page 175 along with substitution tips in case I can’t find pistachios or want to try pecans or cashews instead. I also can see the health breakdown too. “The Mediterranean diet incorporates as lot of nuts, like walnuts, pistachios, and cashews which have a lot of fiber,” adds Zogheib. “Also tuna fish, king mackerel, salmon, all have omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. There’s are whole grains, bananas, and one of the best oils to bake with — canola and olive oils. You can replace fatty butter with these oils when baking.”

Putting The Focus Back On Food

In her book, Susan highlights one of the major problems with dinner time today: quality time. Does everyone else remember when dinner time was family time? When we would all sit down together, share our day, talk, laugh, and leave when the meal was done? Susan and I shared our childhood dinning experiences when we discussed her call for embracing the the Mediterranean lifestyle — incorporating exercise, relaxation, and family meals back into our daily routines. This book is looking for someone who is looking to make a lifestyle choice. The way that you eat, sitting down with your families at the dinner table. No more meals on the go, no more meals with the TV. I wanted to bring back the importance of food in our households,” noted Susan.

She recommends eating outdoors, using our lunch hour to incorporate a half-hour walk with a friend, turning off electronics at meals, and stepping outside for walk after meals. I have to tell you, I felt like I was 12 when we put the “no electronics” rule back into play at my home. Dessert used to be my thing after dinner, now it’s taking a walk around the neighborhood with my son or girlfriend.

Meal planning also causes you to look at your calendar and consider everyones schedule. Grocery shopping can again become part of the family routine with everyone contributing to the meal. You’ll also notice a change in your weekly food budget. Susan pointed out that she had, “Given a presentation on the cost of buying food and cooking meals at home saved $1,200 a year versus eating out. Eating out on average costs people about $2,000 a year. Yes, there are some up front costs when buying the spices or equipment you may need but the second time you go to use them, you are saving instead of spending.”

In my food shopping we save about $40 a week even though we eat seafood twice a week. A fillet of salmon or swordfish that feeds two is about the same price of the cut of steak that I would grill for myself. Preparing snacks on Sunday night also means no more trips to the office vending machine for that late-day snack. “I joked around with a couple of colleagues last week in my presentation,” Susan mentioned. “I said, ‘You know, we’re paying for diabetes, we’re paying for high blood pressure. Why not invest your money and diet in food sources that are good for you body?'”

To hear my full conversation with Susan Zogheib listen to HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates on Sunday, June 24th at 2PM on NewsRadio WGY or the iHeartRadio app.

Written by: Michael Arce, Host of HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates

Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

HeartTalk presented by Capital Cardiology Associates