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Weekly tips and advice from your neighborhood Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge providers.
Diets Debunked:
Which Ones Are Best for Heart Health?
A lot of diets claim to be the magic bullet that will make you lose weight, gain energy and look 10 years younger.
But how healthy are these diets, especially when it comes to your heart? We looked into some of the more popular
diets of today and here’s what we discovered.
Paleo Diet
The Paleo diet is based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans, consisting chiefly
of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit while excluding all dairy, grain products and processed food. While this isn’t
bad in and of itself, any diet so restrictive can also have problems.
The good behind the Paleo diet is that it advises avoiding processed foods. However, the avoidance of whole
grains and legumes is concerning due to essential nutrients that can be missed. Also, an increase in meat
consumption has been associated with a higher rate of cardiovascular diseases.
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets
While vegetarians don’t eat meat, vegans don’t use or consume any animal products. According to the American
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets can reduce the risk of some types of
chronic disease, including heart disease – the key words being “well-planned.”
Vegetarian and vegan diets can be healthy for most, but it’s important that vegetarians don’t go overboard with
dairy products, due to concern for allergies and added sugar. Vegans need to be mindful of potential deficiencies
such as vitamin B12, which is absent from a vegan diet.
Mediterranean Diet
As far as heart health goes, Mediterranean diets tend to rank high. You have to be careful, though; the
Mediterranean diet is much more than oils, red wine, pasta and fish. The foundation of a good Mediterranean
diet is plant-based foods with the aforementioned items included in moderation.
Whole Plant Diet
Possibly the best option for patients with cardiovascular diseases. This diet has been shown to help reverse heart
disease, specifically coronary artery disease. It consists mostly of vegetables and fruits, especially green leafy
vegetables, whole grains, and good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
We encourage heart health and education.
To receive more tips like these, visit
Beef Satay
A 2009 study in Fundamentals of Clinical Pharmacology found that compounds in lemongrass slowed
the growth of breast cancer cells and caused them to undergo apoptosis or cell death.
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 2-inch piece of fresh lemongrass (white part only)
2 pounds beef top sirloin, trimmed
4 12-inch long metal skewers
Place ginger, garlic, onion, brown sugar, fish sauce, olive oil, soy sauce, coriander, cumin, turmeric and
cayenne pepper into a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
Bruise lemongrass by hitting it lightly several times with the back of a chef’s knife. Mince the lemongrass
and add to the sauce in the mixing bowl.
Cut sirloin into strips and thoroughly mix them into the sauce. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate
for 2 to 4 hours.
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil the grate. Remove the sirloin from the marinade and
shake off any excess. Thread 1/4 of the meat onto each metal skewer.
Arrange skewers on grill and cook until the meat stops sticking to the grill, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip
skewers over and cook until the meat is browned and shows grill marks, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn
back over and cook until meat is slightly pink, about 2 more minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and let
rest for about 2 more minutes, then serve. Serves: 6
Learning from Weight
Loss Contestants
Silpa Rao, MD
Family Medical Associates
Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge
You are probably aware of the television show,
“The Biggest Loser.” What you may not be
aware of is that almost all of the show’s
contestants go on to regain most, if not all
of the weight they lost while on the reality
show. To some this may seem like a feat
greater than losing all of the weight in the
first place. After all, how can someone work
so hard to lose weight and then just throw
it all away? According to one study, it may
not even be the former contestants’ fault.
Dr. Kevin Hall of the National Institute of
Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
set out to find answers by following
contestants from the show’s eighth season
for six years after their appearance. He
found that the participants had normal
metabolisms for their weight before the
show, but after the show their metabolisms
had slowed down so much their bodies
weren’t able to burn enough calories to
maintain their new weight.
This wasn’t a surprise, because it is very
normal for your metabolism to slow down
when you are trying to lose weight. The
interesting part is that over the next six
years, the contestants’ metabolisms didn’t
recover and in some cases actually slowed
even more. This meant that no matter how
little they ate or how much they exercised,
their body simply would not let them keep
the weight off.
To briefly explain a complicated matter, your
brain and body have an ideal weight “in
mind” and there isn’t a lot known about
what sets it. However, your metabolism is
what helps regulate it. This might be why
when you try to lose weight the first few
pounds are relatively easy to lose. Your
brain eventually catches on to your efforts,
though, and adjusts your metabolism to
make sure you can’t burn more calories than
it wants to let you.
What this means for the contestants on
“The Biggest Loser” is that since they
lost a ton of weight in an extremely short
amount of time (which is not safe to do),
their bodies started working overtime to
get back to that ideal weight. To do this,
their metabolism effectively shut down,
and the supply of a hormone called leptin,
which helps control hunger, was decreased.
As a result, their body was desperately
craving the calories needed to get back to
“normal,” thus sabotaging their previous and
current weight loss efforts.
The lesson to be learned here is that losing
weight can be very difficult. Since you
probably already knew this, you also should
not let the difficulty stop you from trying to
reach a healthier weight. By consulting with
your doctor first and making a plan that
gradually improves your diet and exercise
routine, you can achieve your weight loss
goals. You just can’t expect to do it in a
few days, a few months or maybe even a
few years.
Losing Weight Safely
The recommended goal for weekly weight
loss is one to two pounds. Losing more
than that increases the risk of causing harm
to your body. Be sure to talk to your doctor
before starting a new diet or workout routine. | 828-580-5000