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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Preparation

  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

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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!

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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/

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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

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Trick Your Mind Get and Stay Motivated in the Gym

Exercise makes you feel and look great. It releases endorphins and dopamine which give you a sense of accomplishment and reward when it is over. So why is it so hard to take that first step and get moving? Your head has a lot to do with that. When you don’t work out and your body is used to saving energy and resisting fat loss, your brain will also believe that exercise is not needed and you cannot fully involve yourself in the activity.

If it is easy to subconsciously allow your body and brain to think that way, it is just as easy to reverse those thoughts. Cues throughout your day such as your sneakers, gym bag or even a short walk at lunch can help remind you that your workout is waiting.

Another great way to start and stay motivated is having to be held accountable. Checking in or logging your workouts to a website, diary or blog will give you motivation as well as reminders when you do or do not workout. Exercising with a partner who is at your same fitness level will help you set realistic goals, maintain motivation and give a little competition.

Changing up your workout is always beneficial to beating boredom but doing something like high intensity interval training will also give you a quick blast of energy and feel good hormones while being done in a shorter amount of time. A workout like this may include sprints or hills to help spike the heart rate, and then give you a natural recovery.

Once you become acquainted with the gym and your exercise habits, teach someone else a few moves, skills or workouts. This will help to push you harder while also allowing you to feel proud and accomplished with your hard work!

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5 Minutes May Be All That Is Needed

We all struggle to find the time to exercise.  Life is busier now than it has ever been and with this strain on time one of the first things to go is exercise.  But what if I told you that it doesn’t always have to be a minimum of 30 minutes, or even 15 minutes.  What if an effective exercise session could be as little as 5 minutes?  Certainly, we could all find 5 minutes somewhere in our busy day.  Even those of you who say that you already wake up to early and adding more time to your day is not possible.  Well it’s time to put the excuses away and get down to business.

A new study published in the The Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that as little as 5 minutes a day of running lowers an individuals mortality rate.  This held true regardless of the actual running pace that was achieved, although those individuals running at an increased speed seemed to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

While further research is still needed to see if this holds true for other forms of exercise, the study indicates that running had better mortality benefits versus moderate activities such as walking.  Time to put down the excuses, lace up the shoes, and hit the road…at least for 5 minutes.

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