Who says we have to suffer...to live a healthy happy vibrant life?

Red wine and dark chocolate... might seem decadent...but these guilty pleasures also might help us live longer...and healthier lives. Red wine and dark chocolate definitely improve an evening..but they also contain resveratrol..which lowers blood sugar. Red wine is a great source of catechins..which boost protective HDL cholesterol. Green tea? Protects your brain..helps you live longer..and soothes your spirit.

Food for Thought, the blog, is about living the good life...a life we create with our thoughts and our choices...and having fun the whole while!

I say lets make the thoughts good ones..and let the choices be healthy...exciting...and delicious! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taking a little break...at the shore

We're off to the wedding...here's our view


Through the dunes and to the sand...
Sunset on the shore of the Gulf of Mexico

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Power of Your Plate...

Biologists Show How Veggies Work in Cancer-Fighting Diet

Did you know: vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage are filled with compounds that could help reverse or prevent cancers and other aging-related diseases? It's called "epigenetics"...and some amazing things have emerged from this work...such as...

Compounds in some veggies and foods suppress gene aberrations that over time cause fatal diseases.
and...these foods actually reverse harmful genetic developments...
for instance...sipping tea compounds called polyphenols in daily amounts that are equivalent to approximately three cups of green tea has been shown to reverse breast cancer in laboratory mice by suppressing the gene that triggers the disease. 

Similarly, a daily cup of broccoli sprouts, which has sulforaphane as an active compound, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing many different cancers. You can get broccoli sprouts at places like Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market, among others...

So have more of these: soybeans, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. Broccoli sprouts...Green tea, fava beans, kale, grapes and the spice turmeric.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Protecting against a second heart attack...

Have you or has a loved one had a heart attack? Would you like to know some tried and true steps for slashing the chance of a second one? Here are some steps…and there is a book on the subject. See the link at the bottom of this post.

For starters, if you are under the care of a doctor, fill your prescriptions and take your medications! Studies show that patients who fail to fill any of their prescriptions have an 80 % greater chance of dying in the year following their heart attack, compared to people who faithfully take their meds. Patients who pick and choose,  filling only some of their prescriptions have a 40 % increase in risk of death in the year following their heart attack. This is huge and easy to remedy. Take your meds…

Know about and avoid the plaque-building, heart stopping foods. Stop eating, or cut way back on foods from the western pattern diet—red meat, cream and cheese, and trans fats from margarines, spreads, chips and snack foods. Fried foods are particularly dangerous. Refined sugars are culprits too. These are the “heart attack on a plate” foods that explain the comparatively high rates of heart disease in western cultures. These foods hasten plaque buildup, increase inflammation, make you gain weight which burdens the heart and thus raise your risk of another heart attack. 

Instead, build a diet of foods that heal the arteries, reduce inflammation and strengthen your heart. The most well studied and scientifically endorsed diet for cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment is the Mediterranean Diet. In this diet, extra virgin olive oil is the primary source of fat. Fresh dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens, and vegetables of all types figure prominently. You’ll enjoy fresh fruits such as figs, apples and pears. Instead of refined “white flour” breads and cereals, you’ll have heart healthy and slimming whole grains such as oatmeal. You’ll eat the cholesterol lowering legumes such as lentils. In addition, your primary protein will be Omega 3 rich fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. Snacks might be walnuts or macadamia nuts, and you will enjoy a relaxing glass of antioxidant rich red wine with meals. And as the name of this blog hints… a daily treat of rich and decadent deep, dark chocolate has been proven to help treat and reverse heart disease.

Walk. Every step counts. A daily exercise regimen  is integral to reversing heart disease. Walking is one of the simplest, safest and least expensive heart-health-promoting strategies. Walking longer distances frequently has been proven to be the best exercise prescription for heart patients. Exercise improves your tendency to gain weight, raises protective HDL cholesterol, normalizes blood pressure levels, helps to open and clear clogged blood vessels, and boosts mood.

Take these heart smart supplements. Not all supplements are created equally when it comes to treating and reversing plaque build-up. A few stand out among the crowd and should be in every heart attack survivor’s medicine chest:

Niacin, the B vitamin available over the counter or as a prescription drug, has been proven to possess the greatest capacity to increase your blood level of “good” cholesterol, HDL—compared to other drugs.
With over thirty years of research supporting its safety and effectiveness, you and your doctor should discuss adding this vitamin as a second agent on top of your statin to boost your fight against plaque. Please note that a normal effect of Niacin is the “ Niacin Flush” which demonstrates the vitamin’s efficacy as a vasodilator. The flush makes your face, neck, chest and arms turn bright red and itch..it isn’t harmful, but you should know that it might happen. Drinking a glass of cold water or taking an aspirin with your niacin can reduce the severity of the flush, and it usually passes in about 30 minutes. There is a no-flush version of niacin called Enduracin which you can find via the internet.
Omega 3’s from the Sea. Did you know that taking the right Omega 3s actually slashes your risk of a first or second heart attack?
Lovaza is the Omega 3 prescription fish oil supplement, recommended by many doctors today, and guaranteed by the Food and Drug Administration to be free of contaminants and impurities. One Lovaza capsule provides approximately 900 milligrams of mixed EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

But! You don’t have to involve your insurance in order to afford Lovaza, however. There are high quality, Omega 3 supplements sold in natural food stores and online, that supply the American Heart Association’s suggested amount of 1000 mg of EPA and DHA combined in two capsules or in a teaspoon full of liquid, and they cost far less than the prescription form does. Not to mention reducing the burden of the cost of health care, for all of us…just be sure the product label states that it has been tested by an FDA registered lab and found to be fresh, fully potent and free of detrimental levels of major contaminants such as mercury lead and PCB’s.

The American Heart Association says all heart patients should be taking 1000 to 4000 mg of EPA and DHA daily—under their doctor’s supervision. Note: the higher dose is for patients who need to reduce their triglyceride levels.
Vitamin D.  Inadequate dietary intake of this essential nutrient results in vitamin D deficiency, and studies are accumulating suggesting that a low vitamin D status negatively affects cardiovascular health. In fact major studies show that being deficient can double your risk of heart attack! I suggest that at your next check-up ask your doctor to test your vitamin D level and to consider taking a daily supplement of vitamin D, to boost your level, if it is indeed low. Scroll down for a separate post on new reasons to take higher doses of vitamin D.

CoEnzyme Q-10. Some of the medications that heart patients take deplete this important heart strengthening nutrient. Some researchers suggest that the depletion of COQ10 could account for some side effects associated with statin drugs such as muscle pain and elevated liver enzymes which suggest liver damage. I suggest 100 mg daily.

Some of the points above were adapted from an article promoting the book you see here...

it's on Amazon.com


Sunday, March 6, 2011

What's cooking?

I've been in a "heartsick for the south" kind of mood the last few days...probably because I am headed home at the end of the week to watch my nephew Coy marry his best friend Shena (yay!) so when this morning on Food Network I saw Pat and Gina Neely make this rice dish...I knew what was on the menu tonight! Here it is...I followed their recipe exactly...but next time I think I might add shrimp...I have to say...it was so easy and it really is delicious...do try it!

Smoked Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced into circles
1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 cups long grain white rice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Browning the chicken...
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the Dutch oven and brown on each side, about 8 minutes total. Remove to a plate and reserve.
Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and thyme and saute until translucent and sausage is browned, about 8 minutes. Don't worry about the little browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pot after this step...the vegetables will give off some steam and the broth will allow you to scrape them up into the dish..those little brown bits are loaded with flavor...
Stir in rice, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, and reserved chicken, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook on low, covered, for 20 minutes.
Let's eat!

Turn off heat and let rice stand, covered, 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Fluff rice with fork and stir in green onions and parsley.