Heart Healthy Beats

Tidbits to keep your heart healthy

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How safe is our food?

Earlier this week, while finishing a lesson plan on MyPlate, I realized I could no longer access the website due to the government shutdown. This got me thinking, what else is affected by the shutdown? 

The Food and Drug Administration will have to cease most of its food safety operations. The FDA regulates 80 percent of the food supply and the administration will be unable to continue the majority of its food safety, nutrition and cosmetics activity.

“While the FDA will continue manning all meat production facilities with full-time inspectors, routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring notification programs (food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision making will cease.”

Epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control will not be able to do microbial testing needed to track outbreaks back to their source.

WIC, Headstart and senior nutrition programs will not receive funding during the shutdown.

It is possible that nothing goes wrong with our food supply during this time but who can take that chance.

This weekend while I’m out and about, I will be looking for more than my usual crop from the farmer’s market and local farmers. Eating local makes even more sense to me during this time.






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Mediterranean diet and the heart

This was my threaded discussion topic for Intro to Vitamin and Mineral Metabolism:

Years ago, everyone spoke about the benefits of vitamin E and the heart. It was called the love vitamin by many. Other than functioning as an antioxidant, what would you tell consumers about vitamin E and cardiovascular health? What did you find in the literature that you want to share to support your argument?

After researching the benefits of vitamin E and finding that no studies support supplementing with vitamin E but all state a diet full of fruits, vegetables, fortified grains, nuts and seeds, my professor decided I should elaborate on the Mediterranean Diet since one of my studies mentioned it briefly. I thought you guys would get something out of this.

Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the European Office of the World Health Organization introduced the classic Mediterranean Diet in 1993 at a conference in Cambridge, MA, along with a Mediterranean Diet Pyramid graphic to represent it visually.


Parts of the Mediterranean region that has shown the lowest recorded rates of coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and other diet related chronic diseases along with the highest adult life expectancy are proven to eat a similar diet as the one displayed below. (Willett, et al., 1995) The healthfulness of this pattern is corroborated by more than 50 years of epidemiological and experimental nutrition research. The frequency and amounts suggested are in most cases intentionally nonspecific, since variation was considerable. The historical pattern includes the following (several parenthetical notes add a contemporary public health perspective):

  • An abundance of food from plant sources, including fruits and vegetables, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Emphasis on a variety of minimally processed and, wherever possible, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods (which often maximizes the health-promoting micronutrient and antioxidant content of these foods).
  • Olive oil as the principal fat, replacing other fats and oils (including butter and margarine).
  • Total fat ranging from less than 25 percent to over 35 percent of energy, with saturated fat no more than 7 to 8 percent of energy (calories).
  • Daily consumption of low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt (low-fat and non-fat versions may be preferable).
  • Twice-weekly consumption of low to moderate amounts of fish and poultry (recent research suggests that fish be somewhat favored over poultry); up to 7 eggs per week (including those used in cooking and baking).
  • Fresh fruit as the typical daily dessert; sweets with a significant amount of sugar (often as honey) and saturated fat consumed not more than a few times per week.
  • Red meat a few times per month (recent research suggests that if red meat is eaten, its consumption should be limited to a maximum of 12 to 16 ounces [340 to 450 grams] per month; where the flavor is acceptable, lean versions may be preferable).
  • Regular physical activity at a level which promotes a healthy weight, fitness and well-being.

Moderate consumption of wine, normally with meals; about one to two glasses per day for men and one glass per day for women. From a contemporary public health perspective, wine should be considered optional and avoided when consumption would put the individual or others at risk.

A randomized trial of the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular risk revealed that persons at high cardiovascular risk, eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts reduced the incidence of major cardiovascular events. 7447 patients were assigned to one of three groups. One group ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil. Another group ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts. The last group ate a controlled diet. Participants were followed for a median of 4.8 years. Participants from all groups reported similar adherence to the diet at baseline. In this trial, an energy-unrestricted Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil or nuts resulted in an absolute risk reduction of approximately 3 major cardiovascular events per 1000 person-years, for a relative risk reduction of approximately 30%, among high-risk persons who were initially free of cardiovascular disease. These results support the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular risk reduction. (Estruch, et al., 2013)

Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Covas, M., Corella, D., Arós, F., et al. (2013). Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1279-1290.

Willett, W., Sacks, F., Trichopoulou, A., Drescher, G., Ferro-Luzzi, A., Helsing, E., et al. (1995). Mediterranean diet pyramid: a cultural model for healthy eating. The American Journal of Clinical Nutriton, 1402-1406.












Have you tried the Mediterranean diet? What do you like most about it.

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Tuesday Tidbit – Salmon

You should be eating more fish, hell, we all should be eating more fish. There are so many benefits we are missing out on by not creating more meals containing fish. Tonight, in a rush after work, I threw together salmon patties and it brought me to this Tuesday’s tidbit.

Studies have shown that consumption of the fatty acid rich salmon can help you live longer and be healthier while you do it.

Salmon helps lower total cholesterol by lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and raising good cholesterol (HDL). Consuming a diet rich is omega-3 fatty acids can help repair heart damage and strengthen the heart muscles. It also helps lower blood pressure and even prevent hardening of your arteries which lessens your chances of having a heart attack. Two servings of salmon each week may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 17 percent and your risk of having a heart attack by 27 percent.

Keeping all this in mind, I hope this recipe will give you an idea of how to incorporate more fish into your meals.

  • Canned Salmon
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 egg
  • canola or vegetable oil, a drizzle

In a pan, add a drizzle of oil and swirl pan. Heat oil on medium.

Drain juice off salmon and empty in bowl. Add pepper, dried parsley, bread crumbs and cornmeal. Mix well. Add egg and mix well.

Patty with hands and add to pan when oil is hot. Brown both sides. Enjoy!!!

Served mine with left over pasta and tomatoes, and vinegar cucumbers.

Clean Eating

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It’s what’s for dinner, in pictures:

This salad was full of flavor, but next time I will cut down on the amount of red onion. I indulged in this recipe twice this week. It also saved nicely for lunch the next day.

Pork Roast

Pork Roast

Pork roast in the crockpot with cream of mushroom soup, vegetable broth, parsley, salt and pepper. Cooked on low for 6 hours. Served with smashed red potatoes, buffalo cauliflower, carrots and celery.


Terrible picture, but frankly these were so good I almost forgot to picture one. I used a homemade pasta sauce I made and canned a few weeks ago with tomatoes from my mother in laws garden. I was afraid the hubby would not try these shells because of the spinach but he went back for seconds!!

Tuna on pita with giardiniera

Tuna on pita with giardiniera

I cannot explain how absolutely delicious this blend of marinated vegetables are. I paired it with a mixture of tuna, celery, a little mayo & mustard and pickles in a pita. I have seriously downed an entire jar of the veggies this week. It’s a good thing I made three jars. Another batch will be made this weekend!!

Tomorrow as this week ends I plan to make mini lasagna cups. Stayed tuned to see how that turns out.

Have a great night.


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Where does your food come from?

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I work in a retail pharmacy. It’s not my ideal job, I’d rather be working out in the community, but it pays the bills and offers benefits. It will do for now. This month we are having a school drive to collect supplies for “local” schools. This is a wonderful idea and I support helping children in my community 100% but I had to ask what their definition of local was. No one could answer me.

This got me thinking about the local food movement. 

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of hearing Cassie Parsons, owner and chef at Harvest Moon Grille, speak at the annual Charlotte Dietetic Association meeting. And her big message was knowing where your food comes from. She pointed out that the food industry does not tell us what is in our food. “It’s criminal to not know where your food is coming from.” Cassie’s goal is to get more sustainable food on the streets of Charlotte. 100% of her restaurant’s food is sourced within 100 miles of Charlotte.

If you want to make changes toward better health, choosing local foods that are not pumped full of pesticides and antibiotics is where to turn. Support local farms and local ranches and know where your food is from.

farmers market