Winter Salad Recipe

The ingredients for this recipe are all readily found during the winter months.  Plus the fruit, nuts and olive oil in the salad make it compliant with the Mediterranean diet.  The olive oil and nuts contribute heart healthy fats and the fruit has soluble fiber and antioxidants.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 tablespoon honey

½ cup dried tart cherries (one 3-ounce package)

6 cups mixed seasonal greens

2 medium Gala apples, cored, thinly sliced

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Instructions:  Whisk first 4 ingredients in small bowl to blend.  Season dressing to taste with salt & pepper.  Stir in dried cherries.  Toss greens and apple slices in large bowl.  Add dressing and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with walnuts and freshly ground pepper and serve.  Serves 6.

Nutrition Information:  Serving size: 1 cup; Calories 200: Fat 13g; Saturated fat 1.5g; Sodium 20mg; Carbohydrate 20g; Fiber 6g; Protein 2g.

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Eat a Mediterranean Diet to Age Well!

By Debbie Jeffery, RDN LD

A study, published in the journal BMJ, suggests a Mediterranean diet may guard women against aging at the cellular level.  Women in the study who ate more Mediterranean foods, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts legumes, unrefined grains, fish and olive oil, and drank moderate amounts of wine had longer telomeres in their blood cells.  Telomeres, a marker of aging, are sequences of DNA that form protective caps at the end of chromosomes.  Telomeres get shorter every time a cell divides, so their length is thought to be a measurer of a cell’s aging.  The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, and it may buffer that shortening, explains the study’s senior author, Immaculata De Vivo, an associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The study included nearly 4,700 women who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-term study following the health of more than 120,000 nurses working in the US.  The researchers scored the women’s diets on a scale from zero to nine, with the higher number indicating greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet.  They learned that women with higher scores tended to have longer telomeres than women with lower scores.  The findings showed that healthy eating in general was linked with longer telomeres but the strongest connection was observed among women who followed the Mediterranean diet.  The diet is based on a high intake of plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes), modest amounts of fish and poultry, and very low consumption of red meat with olive oil as the major source of fat.  Wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts and usually with meals.

The study shows that the Mediterranean diet which is known to reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers is now associated with slower aging.

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Exercise to Eat

With the many holidays and parties coming up, you may find that you are worried about what you are eating and what you would need to do to negate those extra calories. Look below for some common holiday foods, the calorie count and sample work out you can do to offset that extra energy!

Egg Nog: (8oz 300 calories) Run at a moderate pace for 30 minutes

Pumpkin Pie: (1/8 of pie 280 calories) Rake leaves or shovel snow for 2 hours

Apple Pie: (1/8 of pie 290 calories) Ice skate for 45 minutes

White Meat Turkey: (3oz 135 calories) Walk at a brisk pace for 20 minutes

Store Bought Stuffing: (1/2 cup 150 calories) Build a snowman for 30 minutes

Pot Roast: (3 oz 280 calories) Snow Shoe for 40 minutes

Sweet Potato Casserole: (per scoop 250 calories) Ski for 40 minutes

Mulled Wine: (8 oz 180 calories) Bootcamp for 25 minutes

Apple Cider: (8 oz 150 calories) 20 Minutes of Body Weight Exercises — Pushups, sit ups, etc

Gingerbread Cookies: (1 cookie 180 calories) Go shopping for one hour

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Get Through the Holidays Stress Free

The word stress can usually be associated with the holidays and end of the year. Not only does it take a mental toll on you, but it also physically affects the body. When you start to see physical symptoms, it’s usually a sign you should slow down and take a deep breath!

During stressful times, your hormones can create a sense of anxiety which narrow the arteries, making the heart work harder and can even increase your risk of cardiovascular disease over time. Stress also causes tension in multiple parts of the body including the neck and back. Muscles tense up in response which cause spasms, soreness and pain.

Your pants may start to feel increasingly tighter during these high stress times as well as an upset stomach. Stress and anxiety can decrease your metabolism and cause you to reach for more comfort in foods or alcohol. It also causes distress to the GI tract leading to inflammation, pain and a weaker immune system.

That’s a lot of damage that can be caused from worries such as money, gifts and family! Instead, prepare yourself with a plan to help decrease these symptoms and breeze through the holidays.

1. Stay in your regular exercise routine. Exercise is a natural stress reducer and can be a breath of fresh air if taken outside (walks, biking, hikes). Even if you only have 5-10 minutes a day to fit exercise in, studies have shown that higher intensity exercise done during those short intervals can increase your life span and contribute to cardiovascular health.
2. Stay calm. Take a yoga class or take a few minutes to yourself to meditate, even if it’s at your desk or in the kitchen. There are many podcasts, books and articles that will help guide you through a meditation, or just repeating a simple mantra in your head for a few deep breaths can lead to bliss.
3. Eat right. Instead of enjoying every cookie, pie or appetizer, stick with what you normally eat with a few indulgences. High sugar foods will spike your blood sugar, leaving you more tired and hungry sooner. Instead, choose veggies as dippers instead of crackers, lemon water over soda, fresh salsas over creamy dips or mixed nuts over chips for more fiber!
4. Sleep more. Research shows that when you skimp on sleep, you alter parts of the brain associated with cravings or appetite. Sleep will also help you close your mind off and get a fresh start the next day.

Get through the holiday season stress free and don’t ignore your body’s physical cues that it’s time to slow down and take care of yourself.

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Turkey & Greens Wrap

Use your Thanksgiving leftovers in a healthy way with this recipe!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ avocado, mashed

2 tsp. dijon mustard

2 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas

2 cups spinach leaves (rinsed & dried)

4 slices of turkey breast (about 4 ounces)

½ granny smith apple, sliced thin

Directions:

  1. Combine the mashed avocado and dijon mustard; spread the mixture on each wrap
  2. Lay the spinach on the wrap, then the turkey and then the apple slices (splitting the ingredients evenly between the two wraps)
  3. Roll the wraps as tightly as possible & serve

Nutrition Information per wrap: 280 calories, 8g fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 34g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 21g protein

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Princeton Longevity Center!  As you probably realize, if we’re not careful, holidays like Thanksgiving can wreak havoc on our waistlines and can throw us off track with weight-loss/weight control efforts. Keep the commitment you’ve made to yourself, whether it’s healthy eating, weight control, blood glucose management, etc. by developing a survival strategy to help successfully navigate holiday get-togethers. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Avoid Hunger! Skipping meals or going too light with meals the day of a holiday event might not save calories; it might actually increase your caloric intake at the event since being very hungry can cause overeating! Focus on eating small, frequent meals the hours before a holiday event to help keep your energy levels even and make you less likely to give into temptations later on. If you are getting ready to leave for the event and find that you are truly hungry, have a low calorie satisfying snack before you leave. Examples include: raw vegetables (pepper strips, celery stalks, cucumber slices, etc.), a scoop of protein powder mixed into unsweetened almond milk or water, a 100 calorie Greek yogurt, an apple, etc. If you are hosting the event and know you will be very busy preparing with little time to eat beforehand, stock up on a few frozen meal options to use for a quick meal.
  2. Since sitting or standing too close to food can be tempting and lead to overeating, position yourself as far from the food as possible. Keep a glass of water, unsweetened iced tea or seltzer in your dominant hand to prevent “picking” on food.
  3. Volunteer to bring a tray of raw vegetables and hummus; you can use this as your appetizer or to fill your dinner plate if the other vegetable dishes available are high in calories.
  4. Use the smallest plate available to help with portion control. Try to fill at least 1/2 of your Thanksgiving plate with vegetables. Skip second helpings (having second helpings might double your caloric intake!) by passing platters of trigger food to the other end of the table, keeping yourself occupied with conversations, keeping a water glass in your dominant hand, starting an after-meal tradition by going for a quick walk around the block, going into another room to play with/spend time with the kids, etc.
  5. It typically takes the stomach 15-20 minutes to signal the brain that you’ve had enough food. The faster we eat the more likely we are to miss this crucial signal and may then consume too many calories. Try pausing after each bite and engaging in the conversation around you. Savor each bite by eating slowly and allowing yourself to feel and respond to fullness cues.

Also, keep in mind that one slip-up or an occasional indulgence will not ruin your chances of long-term weight control or healthy eating. If you find yourself in the midst of unintended overeating, the best thing to do is get back on track immediately at your next meal.

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Arthritis and Heart Disease

Contributed by John A Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or psoriasis are at an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events when compared with the general population, according to findings from a large cohort study.

All three diseases had statistically similar risks for major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) after adjustment for age, gender, and traditional CV risk factors as recently reported (Ann. Rheum. Dis. 2014 Oct. 30)

The risk of any cardiac related event was higher in patients with PsA not prescribed a DMARD (hazard ratio, 1.24; 95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.49). This risk was elevated in RA patients both with DMARD prescriptions (HR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.46-1.70) and without (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.28-1.50). Patients with severe psoriasis who were prescribed a DMARD had an HR of 1.42 (95% CI, 1.17-1.73), whereas psoriasis patients not prescribed a DMARD had an HR of 1.08 (95% CI, 1.02-1.15).The investigators used data from the Health Improvement Network, a U.K. primary care medical record database, and compared the number of cardiac related events (myocardial infarction, stroke, and sudden cardiac death) that occurred during a mean 5 years of follow-up in 41,752 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 8,706 with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), 138,424 with psoriasis, and 81,573 age and gender matched controls – who did not have any of these conditions. There was significant interaction between disease-modifying anti-rheumatic [anti-inflammatory] drug (DMARD) use and disease group (P < .001 for MACE and two components, CV death and stroke; and P = .01 for MI).

The results highlight a need for improved screening and management of traditional CV risk factors in patients with inflammatory diseases, the researchers said.

Study limitations included not being able to measure disease severity or the use of over-the-counter NSAIDs, as well as having few records on biologic medications and possibly missing DMARD prescriptions.

John A Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC comments:

This observational study is yet another indicator that patients with a variety of auto-immune diseases are at increased risk for heart and vascular related events.  Prior studies have noted the increased risk of vascular disease not only as above with rheumatoid arthritis [not to be confused with degenerative ‘wear and tear’ arthritis] and psoriatic arthritis but also Lupus, Scleroderma, and a variety of inflammatory bowel diseases [such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis].

The underlying factors for the development of heart and vascular plaque in the coronary arteries, the carotid arteries, and the aorta is inflammation mitigated by genetics as well as the interplay of these genetics with other factors such as obesity, smoking, and abnormal cholesterol.  The same is true for the variety of auto-immune diseases that increase inflammation throughout the body and are treated with a variety of anti-inflammatory medications.  Indeed better control of these auto-immune diseases will likely result in further lowering of the overall cardiovascular risks.

My own observations from our clients at The Princeton Longevity Center indicate generally earlier and more diffuse atherosclerotic plaque formation in those with long standing auto-immune disorders, as evidenced from the heart and vascular CT scans.  In such individuals an aggressive program aimed at those ‘modifiable’ cardiovascular risk factors is necessary.

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