High protein diets may lead to lower blood pressure

Adults who consume an average of 100 grams (g) of protein per day may be at a lower risk for developing high blood pressure (HBP). A recent study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, found participants consuming the highest amount of protein (an average of 100 g protein/day) had a 40 percent lower risk of having high blood pressure compared to the lowest intake level.

The researchers analyzed protein intakes of healthy participants from the Framingham Offspring Study and followed them for development of high blood pressure over an 11-year period. They found that adults who consumed more protein, whether from animal or plant sources, had statistically significantly lower systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure levels after four years of follow-up. In general, these beneficial effects were evident for both overweight and normal weight individuals. They also found that consuming more dietary protein also was associated with lower long-term risks for HBP (HBP is a risk factor for stroke and can contribute to heart disease). When the diet was also characterized by higher intakes of fiber, higher protein intakes led to 40-60 percent reductions in risk of HBP.

“These results provide no evidence to suggest that individuals concerned about the development of HBP should avoid dietary protein. Rather, ,” explained Lynn Moore, a corresponding author and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine suggests that “protein intake may play a role in the long-term prevention of HBP” and that “this growing body of research on the vascular benefits of protein, including this study, suggest we need to revisit optimal protein intake for optimal heart health”.

There are many factors that play a role in blood pressure regulation such as exercise habits, smoking history, weight control, electrolyte intake, etc. and more research is needed to determine the role that protein plays in blood pressure control.  Since protein plays a vital role in overall health, making sure you are taking in adequate protein is important; everyone has different protein needs (ranging from 0.8g per kg to 1.4+g per kg); ask your Registered Dietitian what your individualized needs are. Here is a sampling of protein sources and estimated protein content per suggested serving. Remember that plant foods can be good sources of protein too!

  • Lean meats such as chicken breast. A serving would be about the size of the palm of your hand or about 3 oz. (about 26 grams protein)
  • Seafood such as shrimp, lobster, flounder, salmon, etc. A serving be about the size of your hand or about 3-4 oz. (about 24-27 grams protein)
  • Eggs and egg whites. A serving would be 2 whole eggs or 6-8 egg whites or 1 whole egg and 4 egg whites. (about 14-20 grams protein)
  • Plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils or tofu. A serving of beans/lentils would be ½-1 cup. Tofu would be about a ½ cup (about 7-16 grams protein).
  • Nuts/nut butter and seeds. A serving is about ¼ cup or 1 oz. for nuts and seeds or 1 Tbsp. Nut butter (about 4-8 grams protein)
  • ¼ cup dry steel oats (5 grams protein)
  • 6 oz. of Greek yogurt = (~15 grams protein)


R. Buendia, M. L. Bradlee, M. R. Singer, L. L. Moore. Diets Higher in Protein Predict Lower High Blood Pressure Risk in Framingham Offspring Study Adults. American Journal of Hypertension, 2014.

Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment

Find Healthy Seafood with this New Guide

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released a Consumer Guide to Seafood with a Seafood Calculator that you can use to get a custom seafood list/recommendations based on your age, weight, and more! This guide is useful, but be sure to review the information the guide suggests for you with your physician and/or Registered Dietitian. A copy of the guide can be found here and you can click here to access EWG’s Seafood Calculator.


Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment

Leisure Time Running Reduces Cardiovascular and ‘All Cause’ Mortality Risk

by John Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC

Cardiovascular risk and mortality are largely related to a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or a stroke – this is about 50% of all causes of death. “All cause” mortality however is a bigger issue as it includes other important causes of death including cancers – which are attributed to almost an additional 40% of deaths.

Researchers at several prominent Medical Schools performed a 15 year follow up of a registry of 55,137 subjects initially between the ages of 18 and 100 [mean age 44 years]. They assessed leisure-time running history through a medical history questionnaire.

The researchers reported {J Am Coll Cardiol 2014;64:472-481} that approximately 24% of adults participated in running in this population. Compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risk of all cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit [i.e. longevity]. Weekly running even <51 minutes, <6 miles, 1 to 2 times, or <6 miles/hour was sufficient to reduce risk of mortality, compared with not running.

They concluded: Running, even 5 to 10 minutes/day at slow speeds <6 miles/hour, is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running given the substantial and attainable mortality and longevity benefits.

Posted in Medical News | Leave a comment

Ratatouille Black Rice & Farro Salad

by Staci O’Connor, RD, CLC, CDN

Black rice is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber, and iron with trace amounts of fat and sodium with a mild, nutty flavor (see our previous blog post). This recipe is perfect for an end of the season salad, enjoy!

Makes: 10 servings, 1 1/4 cups each


  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 2 cups water plus 1 1/3 cups, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2/3 cup Forbidden black rice, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons port or water

Grilled Vegetables

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 small eggplant (about 1 pound)
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 medium red bell peppers
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. To prepare grains: Combine farro, 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the farro is tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine rice, 1 1/3 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 30 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain any remaining liquid from the farro and rice; fluff with a fork. Spread out on a large baking sheet to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion, thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is browned in spots, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes more. Add port (or water), increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until the liquid sizzles away, 15 to 30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  5. To prepare vegetables: Preheat grill to medium-high.
  6. Whisk 1/2 cup oil, red-wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, garlic, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and fennel seeds in a large bowl.
  7. Slice zucchini and eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices; cut onion into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut bell peppers lengthwise in quarters; remove seeds and stem. Core tomatoes and cut in half. Brush all the vegetables generously on both sides with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette, leaving the remaining vinaigrette in the bowl.
  8. Place about half the vegetables on the grill. Grill, turning once or twice, until softened and charred in spots, 5 to 10 minutes total. Remove to a large plate as they are done and grill the remaining vegetables.
  9. To assemble: When cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and add to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Crush them with a spoon or your hand into a chunky sauce. Chop the other vegetables into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl; gently stir to combine. Add the farro, rice and onion mixture and gently stir to combine.

Nutrition Per serving: 292 calories; 14 g fat (2 g sat, 10 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 38 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 7 g fiber; 480 mg sodium; 547 mg potassium. Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (135% daily value), Vitamin A (45% dv), Potassium (16% dv)

Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 2 1/2 vegetable, 2 1/2 fat

Resource: www.eatingwell.com

Posted in Medical News | Leave a comment

Add Black Rice to your Grocery List!

by Staci O’Connor, RD, CLC, CDN

According to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it and now you can find it in a grocery store near you. Black rice (also known as “forbidden rice” or “purple rice”) is a whole grain that is high in protein, fiber, and iron with trace amounts of fat and sodium (black rice is also gluten-free for those of you that need to follow a gluten-free diet).

The dark color of the grain comes from its health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidant content. New research from Louisiana State University has found that black rice contains health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants that are similar to those that are found in blackberries and blueberries. A spoonful of black rice bran or 10 spoonfuls of cooked black rice contain the same amount of anthocyanin as a spoonful of fresh blueberries but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E.

For those of you that are interested in trying black rice, expect a mild and nutty taste. If you are or your family are unsure of adding it into your meal, try to add it in gradually (cook half white rice and half black rice, mix it together after they are both cooked and gradually increase the amount of black rice used in cooking). There are also many ways to use black rice besides just eating it as a side dish, you can make black-rice powder by putting the dried kernels into a coffee grinder and add a dusting of the powder on fish or chicken. Black rice is also a healthy substitute for noodles in a pasta salad and you can use it instead of white rice in a rice dish. You can even add black rice to stuffing or use it to make a dessert such as rice pudding. Enjoy!

Posted in Nutrition | Tagged | Leave a comment

Recommendations for Cancer Prevention

Contributed by Debbie Jeffery, RD

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has 8 recommendations for cancer prevention:

  1. Be as lean as possible without being underweight. Having a healthy weight is one of the most significant things you can do to reduce your cancer risk. Carrying excess fat around our waists releases estrogen into the blood stream and increases the levels of other hormones as well. This is strongly linked to colon cancer and probably to cancers of the pancreas and breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Regular exercise helps keep hormone levels in a healthy range which is important because high levels of certain hormones can increase cancer risk. Physical activity may also help to strengthen the immune system.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks and limit consumption of energy dense food to prevent excess weight gain.
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans. These foods are packed with vitamins, mineral, phytochemicals and fiber which help to protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer.
  5. Limit consumption of red meat and avoid processed meat. To reduce cancer risk, limit red meat consumption to no more than 18 ounces cooked weight per week.
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.
  7. Limit consumption of salty food and foods processed with salt. Studies have shown that a high salt intake can damage the lining of the stomach and probably increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.
  8. Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. In general, the best source of nutrients is food, not diet supplements.

To read more, go to the AICR website, www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/

Posted in Medical News | Leave a comment

Cancer Risk and Processed Meat

by Debbie Jeffery, RD

For many, the return to school means packing lunches. A staple of the packed lunch is generally a cold cut sandwich to provide protein and satiety. However, guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) indicate that it’s time to provide other alternatives. One of the 10 recommendations for cancer prevention from the AICR and World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is to limit consumption of red meats and to avoid processed meats. Processed meat is defined as meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives. Therefore, ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and, yes, deli meats are all considered processed meats. The most recent analysis of global research concluded that eating even small amounts of deli meats or other processed meats on a regular basis increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Studies show that compared to eating no processed meat, eating just 3.5 ounces every day increase colorectal cancer risk by 36% which is why the AICR recommends avoiding these foods except for special occasions.
Why processed meats increase the risk for cancer is not clearly understood. Researchers are exploring some possibilities which include the addition of nitrates/nitrites, smoking and cooking at high temperatures. All of these processes result in the formation of carcinogens. Nitrate/nitrite-free deli meats are relatively new products that are available. However, more research is needed to determine if these products eliminate the cancer risk. Sausage and other processed meats made from turkey or chicken is still smoked, salted or cured and should be carefully limited.
The occasional hot dog at the ballpark or ham at a holiday dinner is unlikely to increase your health risk. Some suggestions to decrease your overall risk are: replace deli meats with fresh chicken or fish; instead of bacon, chorizo or salami, try spicy vegetarian sausages; replace sausage in chili and sauces with beans; and try different sources of protein like eggs, cottage cheese, beans and hummus.
For more information refer to the AICR website at www.aicr.org

Posted in Medical News | Leave a comment