Heart Healthy Diets Linked to Lower Risk of Dementia

For years the Mediterranean Diet has been linked to lower risks of heart disease, cancer and mortality; and now, research suggests that this diet, as well as other similar heart healthy diets, may contribute to lower risk of developing dementia in healthy older adults.

New research being presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London this week found healthy older adults who followed the Mediterranean Diet or the similar MIND Diet ( Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) lowered their risk of dementia by a third.

The research, which included 6,000 adults with an average age of 68 years, found that those who consistently followed a diet known to improve cardiovascular health, such as the Mediterranean Diet or Dash Diet (Dietary Approached to Stop Hypertension), were more likely to maintain cognitive health in the later stage of life. The study also cited the MIND Diet, which is a relatively new diet that is quickly gaining recognition for its potential to  reduce dementia risk in older adults by preserving cognitive function.

The Mind Diet was created by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. This diet encourages eating from 10 healthy food groups, while rejecting foods from five unhealthy food groups, including red meats, cheese, butter and margarine, fried or fast food, and sweets. Instead, Mind Dieters eat at least six servings of green leafy vegetables (think kale, chard, spinach, etc.) per week, along with at least three servings of beans, two or more servings of berries, two servings of chicken or turkey, and one serving of fish each week. 3 servings of whole grains are also included daily (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc.), along with an additional vegetable serving of the dieter’s choice. Olive oil is a recipe staple and a glass of red wine per day is highly encouraged.

Similarly,  the Mediterranean Diet  focuses on plant-based eating with the majority of meals comprised of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts & extra virgin olive oil. Eggs, poultry & dairy are included, but in smaller portions than in the traditional Western Diet. Meat is used sparingly, mostly to flavor dishes; and refined sugars and fats other than olive oil, such as butter and margarine, are limited if used at all. Fish is a staple in this diet.

Researchers found that those participants strictly adhering to the MIND Diet or Mediterranean Diet had a 30-35% lower risk of developing cognitive deficits in older healthy adults.  So while you may be feeling a bit disappointed about some of the foods on the “unhealthy list,” it’s important to note that those who only marginally followed the diet also benefited, and were 18% less likely to develop cognitive impairment.

While this research is fairly new, experts agree that there is no harm in implementing heart healthy diet changes that may improve cognitive function later in life. So pop open the bottle of red and enjoy the rest of your Friday night.


By: Mallory Spinelli, RD

*Sources: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/health/mediterranean-style-diet-prevents-dementia/index.html



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Fill in the Blank…It’s the Most __________ Time of the Year.

If your answer was “wonderful,” I like your positivity, but we’re not singing a song today. We’re talking about stress! With the holidays approaching the answer is “stressful.”

Do you have Stress in your Life?

If you answered no, that’s great! However, I think you need to dig a little deeper. Do you drive to work? Do you sit in traffic? Has anyone ever cut you off while driving? How is your home life? How many hours do you sleep at night? How’s work? There are so many ways we feel stress and sometimes don’t even realize it.

What is Stress?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to pressure or a threat. When you are stressed you may feel tense, worried, overloaded or nervous. If stress becomes chronic, it can be very harmful to your health. But don’t get me wrong not all stress is bad! Let’s look at the different types of stress.

  • Types of Stress
    • Acute– Short-term stress that gets your heart beating and palms sweating. This could be a rollercoaster ride, meeting a deadline, giving a presentation or getting in a car accident.
    • Episodic– Feeling acute stress on a regular basis and finding it difficult to find relief.
    • Chronic– Stress that’s not exciting or thrilling, this can be dangerous and unhealthy. Examples of chronic stress include an unwanted career, an unhappy marriage, a chronic illness in you or a family member, etc. If the stress isn’t identified and treated it can lead to serious illnesses like a heart attack, stroke, cancer and psychological problems.

Identifying Stress

Stress affects each person differently. Some people may notice physical symptoms right away and some people may not realize it until it becomes a chronic issue. It’s important to identify where your stress originates in order for you to take action.

Take this quiz from Psychology Today to identify your stress triggers. This quiz will give you some direct tips for managing your stress.

Quiz: What are your stress triggers?

Other Tips for Decreasing your Stress Levels include:

  1. Exercise! Exercise is the best medicine! If you can get out and exercise for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week, you’ll get those endorphins flowing. Are you meeting the minimum?
  2. Meet the recommendations for sleep. Aim to sleep between 7-9 hours per night.
  3. Eat a well-balanced diet. Healthy foods fuel our bodies and minds. Focus on increasing your intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins. Try cutting back the sugar.
  4. Say no! We all put too much on our plates when it comes to work and social lives. You have to learn how to find time for yourself so you can relax.
  5. Plan ahead. Whether it’s meals for the week, your tasks for the day, setting up your clothes the night before, etc. Make lists and try not to push everything to the last minute.
  6. Take a break. It’s important to realize when you need to step out and take a deep breath throughout the day. Just walking outside for 5 minutes will help clear your head.
  7. Mediation/yoga. Don’t have time for a class? There are many YouTube videos for yoga or try the HeadSpace app for meditation!
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Take a mid-week break! by Jessica Dean, RD

The week is half over and it’s time for a mid-week break! How about a quick one pot stir-fry?!  Use one of the bean noodles mentioned in the previous PLC post pasta-pasta-pasta and whip up this delicious dish in minutes!


  • 4 flat mung bean noodle cakes (about 8 oz/230g)Vegetable-Stir-Fry-Mung-Bean-Noodles-2
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 TBS minced ginger
  • 2 Thai chilis, sliced (optional)
  • 1 pound (455g) Chinese broccoli, stemmed and stalks sliced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1/2 large red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 scallion/green onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) low-sodium tamari (or soy sauce, if not gluten free)
  • 2 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame for topping (optional)


  • Fill a large saucepan with 3 to 4 inches of water and bring it to boil. Drop the noodle cakes into the boiling water, and let it cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the noodles look translucent. Drain the liquid and run the noodles under cold water.
  • Heat a large stir fry pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the onions and let it cook for a minute. Add the celery, garlic, ginger, chili and stir until the onions start to brown.
  • Add the Chinese broccoli and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the carrots, pepper, and green onions. Once the Chinese broccoli turns into a bright green, add the noodles and stir.
  • Mix the soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil in a small bowl, and pour into the noodles and vegetables. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, and serve immediately.

Recipe and photo credit: https://healthynibblesandbits.com/v

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Deborah Jeffery, RDN, LD

Statistics show that approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some time in her life, and worldwide, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. While some risk factors are out of our control, like genetics and aging, there are preventative measures that can be done to lower your breast cancer risk. The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can prevent 38% of US breast cancer occurrences. Below are diet and lifestyle tips to help you fight breast cancer:

Manage your weight: Being overweight or obese increases your breast cancer risk. For women who gain weight as adults and after menopause, this is especially true. What contributes to the increased risk is that estrogen is produced in the fatty tissue. The good news is that evidence shows that weight loss can lower the risk. Reduce lifetime weight gain by limiting calories and getting regular physical activity.
Limit alcohol: Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have 2 or more alcoholic beverages a day have about 1 1/2 times the risk of breast cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than 1 drink daily for women. One drink can be considered as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of hard liquor.
Breastfeed for as long as possible. The protective effect is probably a result of the balance of hormones due to the breastfeeding process. In addition, when breastfeeding is stopped, the body rids the breast of many cells, some of which may have DNA damage. Breastfeeding for 2 years may reduce breast cancer risk by half.
Increase fruit and vegetable intake. Research has found a positive correlation between a decrease in breast cancer risk and an increase in certain vitamins, such as Vitamin C, A, and E. Fruits and vegetables are high in these vitamins and other antioxidants. Also because fruits and vegetables are low in calories & fat and high in fiber, they are helpful for weight control.
Exercise regularly. Exercise is a breast-healthy habit supported by many studies. Having a regular physical activity routine can help decrease estrogen levels which can decrease risk for breast cancer.

For more information, visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website, NBCAM.org

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Pasta Pasta Pasta!

If you’re a fan of pasta, you’ve probably noticed an abundance of different versions of pasta on your grocery store shelf. From pasta made with quinoa to lentils and chickpeas to spinach pasta or zucchini “noodles”…the options seem to grow every week!  Here is a quick run-down of some pastas you may see at the store.

Pastas made from chickpeas, lentils or black beans have more protein and fiber than regular pasta which is a positive! These pastas tend to be “stickier” and may have a pasty/slightly mushy texture after they’re cooked. Definitely try them out! Banza, Ancient Harvest and Explore Cuisine are a few brands to look for.

Quinoa pasta, like bean based pastas, is a great choice as it is higher in protein and fiber than regular pasta and is considered to be a whole grain. Once cooked, quinoa pasta isn’t as mushy/sticky as bean based pasta. Ancient Harvest and Tinkyada are some brands using quinoa that you may see.

You can skip the healthier looking/healthier sounding pastas like green spinach pasta as these are usually just regular pasta made with a tiny bit of dried spinach (or whatever vegetable they claim is used).

Fresh vegetable “noodles” like zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash noodles are a great choice! You can buy these already in the noodle form (in the produce section) or you can make them at home by “spiralizing” the zucchini into noodles or baking spaghetti squash and then shredding it with a fork. You then cook these by boiling or sautéing them. You get lots of nutrients and fiber from these “noodles” and very little carbohydrate. The drawback is that they won’t provide the same texture as regular pasta, but once you combine them with your favorite sauce or olive oil and herbs/spices, you may not mind! You can also mix these “noodles” with a smaller portion of your favorite pasta if you want a more authentic pasta texture.

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Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

A great alternative to chicken based buffalo wings, these cauliflower buffalo wings are packed with flavor and will be a new favorite on football Sunday!

Serves 6; Ready in 30 minutes


¾ cup brown rice flour

1 cup water

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp garlic powder

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces

½ cup cayenne hot sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine brown rice flour, water, paprika & garlic powder. Whisk to get all the lumps out. Add more water if need to thin out batter. Batter should just thinly coat cauliflowers.
  3. Dip cauliflower into batter and allow excess batter to drip off. Place cauliflower on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping once, or until batter is hardened and cauliflower is cooked through.
  5. Whisk together cayenne hot sauce and olive oil until combined. Toss cooked cauliflower in sauce and serve.

Nutrition Information per serving: 120 calories, 3.5g fat, 0g saturated fat, 20g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein

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Functional Training: Truly functional or just a trend?

Every year new fitness trends arrive such as Plyo, Zumba, High Intensity Interval Training (i.e. P90x or Insanity), but functional training isn’t only trendy. When you look up functional training it is typically defined as an exercise program that promotes improvements in activities of daily living. These activities including moving from sitting to standing, climbing stairs, opening the refrigerator, walking, reaching over head, and the list goes on and on. Makes sense right? But! You know what is trendy? Using various pieces of equipment to make up hard yet useless exercises (i.e. balancing on one leg on a Bosu ball while flinging around a resistance band). These exercises will not increase your strength, balance, or improve normal function if you can not perform the main movement patterns of everyday life efficiently and without injury/pain. There are 6 movement patterns that should be covered in everyone’s workout program:

  • Push: push ups (wall, railing/bar, bench, floor), chest press
  • Pull: pull ups (TRX suspended row), DB/KB/Cable row variation
  • Squat: box/chair squat, goblet squat, safety bar, barbell
  • Hinge: DB/KB from a box, conventional/sumo dead lift, good morning
  • Lunge: split squat, walking lunges
  • Carry: farmers walk, suitcase carry, waiters carry

Functional training is very important and should be the basis for most training programs. The foundation of an exercise program, especially for those that are just starting out, should incorporate exercises that support each of these movements. I recommend incorporating a variation of each of the above mentioned exercises to help with tasks of every day life. You can start with the assisted variations and progress to the full body movements and heavy loads. Try to stay away from machines, unless your are using them to support your main movements (i.e. hamstring curls to improve stability as you squat). While you can increase your strength using machines, they may not translate to improvements in every day activities. So do not depend on the leg press machine to increase lower body strength. Using body weight, dumbbells/barbells/kettle bells, TRX, or any other free standing movement will be best. Below is an example total body workout that incorporates all 6 movements:

  1. Farmers Carry – 3×20 steps
  2. Incline or Smith Machine Push Ups – 4×12
  3. Goblet Box/Bench Squat – 4×10
  4. TRX Suspended Row – 3×15
  5. Medicine Ball Good morning – 3×12
  6. Split Squat – 3×8 each side

Create your own workouts with variations of each of these exercises. Perform exercises as super sets, in a circuit, or each on its own. To improve each of these movements you will need supplemental exercises that focus on your individual “weak” spots. Turn to your local experienced and educated trainer for a fitness evaluations, movements screen, and exercise program.


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