Tag Archives: diet food

Do I Have to go on Statin Drugs for the Rest of my Life to Fight High Cholesterol?

“Millions more Americans could end up taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs under new recommendations released Tuesday that advocate a dramatic shift in the way doctors assess and treat cardiovascular risk,” according to the Washington Post.

“Roughly a quarter of Americans age 45 and older already take statins, which include familiar brands such as Lipitor and Zocor, to treat high cholesterol. But that number could grow sharply under far-reaching guidelines detailed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.”


The leading cause of death for Americans is heart disease. About one in every four deaths in the United States, or about 600,000 annually, are attributed to heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cholesterol helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, and produce hormones. Normally, the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs. But cholesterol also enters your body from food. Too much cholesterol in your body increases your risk of getting heart disease.

The Mayo Clinic says, “Statins work by slowing your body’s production of cholesterol. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs by digesting food and producing new cells on its own. When this natural production is slowed, your body begins to draw the cholesterol it needs from the food you eat, lowering your total cholesterol.

“Statins may affect not only your liver’s production of cholesterol but also several enzymes in muscle cells that are responsible for muscle growth. The effects of statins on these cells may be the cause of muscle aches.”

While much media attention has been paid to the doctors’ recommendations that more Americans need to take statin drugs, not much has been written about lifestyle changes like simply improving our diet and personal health in the first place so we don’t need the drugs to save us from our reckless habits.

Some good clear-headed recommendations did come from the press conference, however. “Our recommendation is that doctors prescribe a diet to achieve reduced caloric intake as part of a comprehensive lifestyle intervention,” guideline co-author Dr. Donna Ryan, a professor emeritus at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, said during the press conference. The diet should be tailored to patient preferences and any drugs they take, she said. Continue reading

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Filed under cholesterol, Exercise, heart disease, heart problems, statin drugs, Weight

Diet: Snack Sensibly for All-Day Energy

Just don’t use snacking as an excuse to eat junk, and beware the vending machine trap where snacks range from a healthy 150 calories to a gut-busting 350+ calories.

I have posted repeatedly on snacking:

Snacking on seaweed

Snacking on Super Bowl Sunday

Good snacking advice from Weight Watchers

Portion size tips on snacking

Harvard on healthy snacking

Targeted Snacking

How do belVita Biscuits compare with Honey Stinger Waffles for energy


Your Concierge Services

Fruit and Nuts

Good news: snacking is A-OK… if you snack on the right foods, anyway! Check it out:

Skip snacks? Not unless you want to sabotage your weight-loss efforts. Healthy munching keeps blood sugars steady, hunger in check and energy levels soaring. So don’t be afraid to reach for a piece of fruit or container of yogurt if you’re running on empty between meals. 

Just don’t use snacking as an excuse to eat junk, and beware the vending machine trap where snacks range from a healthy 150 calories to a gut-busting 350+ calories. 

If you’re stuck ordering a la carte from the vending machine, skip the saturated fat-filled candy bars and sugar-loaded sweets. Shift your focus over to more wholesome snacks, such as fresh fruits and veggies, dried fruit, nuts, and whole grains. 

Experts agree that a healthy snack should supply between 100-200 calories to meet your body’s energy demands between meals

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Filed under calories, snack foods, Snacking, Uncategorized, Weight

Super Simple High Energy Snack – Mr. Lazy Cook

This is such a simple snack it can only be a Mr.Lazy Cook concoction. I previously wrote about my high energy de-caf coffee drink.

I use it occasionally as my first food of the day before I set out on my morning bike ride before sunrise.

Mr. Lazy Cook has since evolved into the following high energy snack that is instantaneous and utterly delicious – at least to me.

Because I ride my bike first thing in the morning, before I walk my dog, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on food prep. I started taking a heaping tablespoon of Peanut Butter as a mini-meal about a half hour before heading out.

The upgrade that pushed it into a high energy snack is that I now dip the tablespoon of peanut butter into my jar of virgin organic coconut oil. As a peanut butter lover, I find this snack to be fantastic.

Dr. Mercola says that coconut oil is easy on the digestive system and does not produce an insulin spike in your blood stream. It is immediately converted into energy instead of being stored as fat.

Keep in mind that when I get up in the morning, my body has been on at least an eight hour fast, so I need something that sticks to my ribs. I think the peanut butter in coconut oil is just the thing.

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Filed under biking, Exercise, fat, Weight

Test Your Fast Food Smarts – Web MD Quiz

I really enjoy the information available from WebMD. They offer articles, studies and quizzes on healthy subjects.

I want to tell you about this recent one – Test Your Fast Food Smarts.
I have been writing this blog for the best part of four years. As a result of this project, I have taken off 15 pounds from what I had thought was my ideal weight 165 pounds. In addition I have a resting heart rate below 50 beats per minute and my body fat remains under 17 per cent. Before I took the quiz I thought I had a really good fix on fast food even though I don’t eat very much of it. However, of the 16 questions in the quiz I got less than half of them right.

Here are a couple of examples of questions in the quiz. I hope they will whet your appetite for more info on the subject.

How many Americans eat fast food every day?

How many of us guzzle sugary drinks daily?

To burn off an order of medium fries, a 155 pound adult needs to? Ride a stationary bike hard for 30 minutes or do high impact aerobics for 30 minutes or strength train for 60 minutes?

On average a teen will grab a fast food meal that has how many calories? 500 to 800; 800 to 1100; 1100 to 1500 calories?

No, I am not going to spoil your fun by giving you any of the answers. I hope you will take the test and derive the full benefit from it. At the risk of using a cliche – You’ll thank me for it.


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Filed under aerobics, fast food, Mc Donald's, Weight, weight-bearing exercise, weight-training

Coconut Oil – What Is It All About?

“Virgin coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a saturated fat that’s classified as a medium-chain fatty acid; it can raise both “bad” and “good” cholesterol levels. And there’s some evidence — including both animal and human studies — suggesting that coconut oil intake may be associated with a neutral, if not beneficial, effect on cholesterol levels.”

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of coconut oil. Here are previous posts on the subject:

Why should I try coconut oil?

Coconut oil: What is it all about?

Significant health benefits of coconut oil

Why coconut oil is so darn good for you

Coconut oil: Alzheimer’s Treatment

You should try oil-pulling

What to look for in a cholesterol report


Cooking with Kathy Man

Jackie Newgent, a registered dietitian wrote in Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ……

Extra-virgin olive oil consistently tops the list in popularity when it comes to culinary oils. But these days coconut oil seems to be stealing the spotlight. Health claims abound around this tropical oil, but so does controversy. So what is it all about? Here are some facts about coconut oil.

Where Does Coconut Oil Come From?

There are two main types of coconut oil that you can use in cooking and baking: Virgin and refined.

“Virgin” coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals; it’s considered unrefined.

“Refined” coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that’s often chemically bleached and deodorized.

Some food manufacturers may use yet another form of coconut oil that’s further processed: partially hydrogenated coconut oil.

Nutritional Properties of Coconut Oil

The coconut oil…

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Should You Try a Gluten-Free Diet?

A popular diet myth is that everyone can benefit from a gluten-free diet. It can give you more energy and is anti-inflammatory. Sales of gluten-free products increased 16 percent in 2010.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the body can’t digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Less than two percent of the population suffers from celiac disease. So, the odds are that you don’t. Nonetheless, there are hundreds of Gluten-Free products.
The Mayo Clinic says, “A gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease. Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.”

If you don’t have a medical reason for following a gluten-free diet, there is no benefit, according to Erin McCarthy, MS, RD, LDN at theCenter for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The Mayo Clinic also pointed out, “People who follow a gluten-free diet may have low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Many grains are enriched with vitamins. Avoiding grains with a gluten-free diet may mean eating fewer of these enriched products.

So, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. A gluten-free diet is very difficult to adhere to and you will likely get no direct benefit from it for your troubles.



Filed under diet, gluten-free diet, Mayo Clinic, Weight

What are Sunrise Clusters with Greek Yogurt Chips from Costco?

Another trip through Costco, another fun healthy snack food found. I wrote about Sunrise Energy Bars back in November and recounted how much I enjoyed them as an energy boost on bike rides.

Apparently now comes the next chapter from the Sunrise brand. These are not bars, but just about bite size (slightly bigger) clusters of a granola-like substance. The package boasts ALL NATURAL, WHOLE GRAIN, OMEGA 3. As you can see from the photo, they come in a big tub and are not individually wrapped like a lot of energy products.


For folks with little impulse control, here is my early verdict. I have snacked on a couple of them and liked the taste very much. They are very handy for a guy like me who tosses little snacks into a bag and brings them on bike rides for energy pick me ups.

The ingredients include: whole grain rolled oats, whole grain oat flour, cranberries, raisins, dried apples, apricots, almonds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, walnuts, shredded coconut, non-hydrogenated canola oil, unsalted butter, Greek yogurt chips, sugar, palm kernel oil, yogurt powder, whey protein concentrate, nonfat dry milk, yogurt cultures, reduced mineral whey powder, lactic acid, soy lecithin, vanilla, brown sugar, honey, salt, baking powder, baking soda, tapioca syrup, natural flavor and cinnamon.

The nutritional breakdown is as follows:
Serving size 3 pieces (28 grams) which amounts to one ounce.
Calories 140
Total fat 8 grams
Saturated fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 75 mg
Total carbohydrates 15 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Protein 3 grams

Nutritionally, the Clusters are almost identical with the Sunrise Energy Bars:
Here is the nutritional breakdown for a single Sunrise Energy Bar of 28 grams:
Calories 130
Total fat 6 grams
Saturated fat 3 grams
Cholesterol 10 mg
Sodium 75 mg
Total carbohydrates 17 grams
Fiber 3 grams
Protein 2 grams

They don’t taste very different, either. So, it may come down to what shape you like your energy snacks in, bite-sized cluster, or slightly larger snack bar.

As far as function goes, I ride my bike almost daily here in Chicago. I take along snacks to boost my energy. When I take a break for a snack I try to limit my intake to about 50 calories so my body doesn’t get hung up in digestion. So, the slightly lower in calorie Clusters appeal to me.

As always, your comments are welcome.



Filed under biking, calories, energy, energy bars, Exercise, food labels, portion control, portion size, snack foods, Snacking, Weight

How to Handle Arthritis Through Natural Healing

Regular readers know that I have been doing home study from The Great Courses since I retired over 12 years ago. So far, I have studied, nutrition, neuroscience, the brain and increasing longevity to name a few. Also, I have shared what I learned on the blog. So, I am pleased to announce that I have just commenced with The Science of Natural Healing.

At this point I have listened to several of the lectures and am very impressed with Dr. Guarneri’s expertise. She came from regular medicine where she was surgically implanting over 700 stents a year in patient’s arteries. Through natural healing Dr. Guarneri has found what she considers to be a better way to prevent heart disease as well as myriad other diseases.

In lecture six, she talks about inflammation, nature’s way of protecting our bodies and how it is the root of many of our health problems. Inflammation is our body’s normal response to injury, infection, stress, foreign substances and irritations. Inflammation in our body presents itself in swelling, warmth, redness, pain. That is the body’s defense mechanism going to work so that healing can take place. However, in a situation where our body is under chronic attack, inflammation becomes damaging. Continue reading


Filed under aging, arthritis, cancer, fast food, heart, heart disease, inflammation, nutrition, omega 3s, stress, sugar

Baby Boomers Aging Badly

I always thought that boomers were busy running triathlons and skiing down the slopes these days. They are reported to have the longest life expectancy of any previous generation and exploit the latest medical technology, so why wouldn’t they be? I am talking about that 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964.

JAMA researchers found otherwise.

Alice Park writing in Time.com reports that boomers have “higher rates of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol than members of the previous generation.

Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.

Junk foods like these are part of the reason boomers are failing the most important test of all.

“The revelation comes from data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a national snapshot of health measures and behaviors conducted by the U.S. government. Dr. Dana King, a professor in family medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine and his colleagues compared baby boomers aged 46 years to 64 years between 2007 and 2010 to similar aged Americans in 1988 to 1994. Overall, only 13% of baby boomers rated their health as ‘excellent’ while nearly three times as many, 32%, of those in the previous generation considered themselves in excellent health.” Continue reading

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Filed under aging, arterial plaque, arteries, baby boomers, blood pressure, body fat, calories, cancer, cardiovascular risk, childhood obesity, diabetes, Exercise, fast food, health, healthy eating, healthy living, heart, heart disease, heart problems, junk food, life challenges, living longer, Weight

Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid – Infographic


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February 14, 2013 · 5:33 pm

Is There a Good Chocolate Granola? Yes, Love Crunch

I have recently been in the market for a new granola. For years I used the Kashi GoLean Crunch, but when I learned that Kashi used GMO ingredients, I stopped using Kashi products. I make a parfait every day with a granola product and strawberries yogurt, soy milk , etc. You can read about my High Fiber Parfait.

Dark chocolate 0066
My search included Costco, of course, as I have had such success there on the entire spectrum of foods. Sure enough I found “Love Crunch” – Premium Organic Granola. An interesting aspect is that it is “Made with Organic Cocoa, Flax and Coconut.” The package also says, “Dark Chocolate & Red Berries.” It also states on the package back “Non-GMO Verified,” obviously a big selling point for me.

I have eaten granola on and off over the years since the 1960s, but this was the first time I had encountered chocolate. While I love chocolate per se, I don’t often like chocolate-flavored things, like ice cream. They just taste like watered down chocolate to me. Totally not satisfying. So, I had some misgivings about trying this.

I made up a batch with soy milk and strawberries and was amazed at how good the chocolate taste came out. I actually felt like I was eating real chocolate, not something with chocolate flavoring. Very impressive.

Later that evening I was drawn back to the package and weighed out another serving and simply snacked on it while reading. Excellent! A wonderful snack discovery! I could snack on this very healthy CHOCOLATE FLAVORED whole grain food. All good. Talk about win-win!

Here is the nutritional breakdown for a single 30 gram serving which comes to about 1/4 of a cup.

Calories 140
Total Fat 6 grams
Saturated Fat 1 gram
No Cholesterol
Sodium 55 mg
Carbohydrates 20 grams
Fiber 2 grams
Sugar 6 grams
Protein 2 grams

I recommend this for a lovely parfait dessert, plain for breakfast or as a healthy snack finger food.

For a health boost, I include a tablespoon of chia seeds and a tablespoon of hemp seeds. I just like to push the nutritive value up.

You can read about Are Chia Seeds Good For You? or How Good is Hemp Seed?

March 2, 2013 update. I have eliminated my nightly Hershey’s with almonds snack and substituted a bowl of Love Crunch. I get the same chocolate taste with none of the saturated fats and less calories. Keep in mind this kind of substitution can break some unhealthy eating habits.

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Filed under calories, chia seeds, granola, healthy eating, healthy living, hemp seeds, portion control, portion size, protein, sodium, Weight

Some Facts About Weight Loss That Work

Since eating temptations abound around Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share these observations on weight.

“…. There are facts about obesity of which we may be reasonably certain — facts that are useful today,” says researcher Krista Casazza, PhD, RD, from the department of nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in a prepared statement, WebMD reported.

Here they are:

1. “Your genes are not your destiny. Moderate environmental changes can promote as much weight loss as even the best weight-loss drugs.”

I love this one. So often people use ‘bad genes’ as an excuse for their weight problems, ignoring completely their own bad eating habits.

2.”Even without weight loss, physical activity improves health.”

Another winner. I have reiterated this statement in at least 25 different posts on this blog. Eat less; move more; live longer.

3. “Physical activity or exercise in the right amounts does help people lose weight.”

Amen. Listen to Uncle Sam.

4. “Continuation of conditions that promote weight loss helps people keep the weight off. Think of obesity as a chronic condition.”

Likewise, I think of good eating and exercise habits as chronic, too.

5. “For overweight children, involving the family and home environment in weight-loss efforts is ideal.”

6. “Providing actual meals or meal replacements works better for weight loss than does general advice about food choices.”

Both 5 and 6 sound like first rate advice.

7. “Weight-loss drugs can help some people lose weight.”

I am not going to argue with the experts here, but I sincerely doubt that the weight stays off if they don’t change their eating and exercise habits. I repeat my recommendation to pay attention to what you eat and exercise regularly. That will melt the pounds away. You won’t need drugs.

8. “Bariatric surgery can help achieve long-term weight loss in some people.”

The study was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health. Our tax dollars at work.

I would like to say for the record that I don’t believe losing weight works. It is only temporary at best. If, instead, you get your head on straight and aim to live a healthy life by eating intelligently and exercising regularly, I can promise that you will never have a weight problem.



Filed under bariatric surgery, calories, diet food, Exercise, weight loss drugs

Anti-Sugary Drinks Video Winners Announced

As regular readers know, I don’t drink sugary or diet soft drinks and consider them some of the most damaging junk foods available.

A Nashville family’s rap video is the winner of a contest aimed aimed at raising awareness of the harmful health effects of overconsumption of sugary drinks.  The winning video “Just Pour One Out” features an original rap song from the Sullivan family, inspired by 41-year-old stay-at-home dad Peter Sullivan’s personal struggle with soda consumption.

“I was surprised by how much the process changed my drinking habits,” Sullivan said of making the film.

Announced by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest in October 2012, the Pour One Out video contest invited the public to produce short videos demonstrating the pouring out of sugary drinks in a creative way.  Advertising pioneer Alex Bogusky joined CSPI staff in judging contest entries based on creativity, originality, and effectiveness of the health message.  CSPI offered a $1,000 prize for the winning film, and $500 and $250 prizes for the second- and third-place films.

The runner up video

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Filed under aging, body fat, calories, childhood obesity, diet soda, healthy eating, healthy living, hydration, junk food, men's health, obesity, Oleda Baker, sugary soft drinks, Weight

What Foods Hide High Sodium ?

Make no mistake about it. We need salt (Sodium) to live. It is important for fluid balance, muscle strength and for our nerves to work. On the other hand, most of us suffer from too much of a good thing – salt. We need around 2000 milligrams a day and medical experts say that many of us should cut it to 1500. So, how do we get ourselves to consume too much salt? The answer for most of us is – unwittingly.

Much of the salt we consume is hidden in other foods, it doesn’t come from the salt shaker on our table at all.

WebMD gives a list of offenders starting with frozen dinners.

" a five ounce turkey and gravy dinner can pack 787 mg of Sodium."

” … a five ounce turkey and gravy dinner can pack 787 mg of Sodium.”

Some ready to eat cereals are big offenders, like raisin bran, but puffed rice and puffed wheat are sodium free, says WebMD.

Raisin bran can have as much as 250 mg per cup.

Raisin bran can have as much as 250 mg per cup.

One that surprised me was canned and bottled vegetable juices which seem like the essence of healthy eating. One cup of vegetable juice cocktail has 479 mg of Sodium.

Veggie drinks can be big offenders.

Veggie drinks can be big offenders.

WebMD goes on to list canned vegetables, packaged deli meats, canned soups, marinades and flavorings, spaghetti sauce, salty peanuts, pretzels, potato chips, ketchup, sweet relish. You can read them all at the WebMD link above.

The bottom line is that you really have to read food labels. That gives you a running start on protecting your health and controlling your weight. Also, you have to pay attention to serving size. A label may give an attractive-looking number, but if there are several servings in a package, you may be consuming more salt than you planned.



Filed under calories, food labels, portion control, portion size, salt, snack foods, Snacking, sodium, Weight

How Many Calories in McDonald’s Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Wrap?

I have had problems with a number of offerings from McDonald’s over the past couple of years of blogging, so I am very happy to be able to recommend one of their latest offerings.

Their Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Wrap qualifies as a ‘Best Bet’ on WebMD’s
slideshow of fast food sandwiches.

McDonald's Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap

McDonald’s Honey Mustard Chicken Wrap

WebMD says the Wrap “pleases the palate without plumping the waistline. Each flour tortilla contains grilled chicken, shredded cheese, and lettuce for 250 calories, 8 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, and 650 mg sodium. Ranch or chipotle versions have just a few more calories. Add a fruit and walnut salad, chock full of apples, for 210 calories and a meal under 500 calories.”

Bravo, McDonald’s! Encore!


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Filed under calories, cholesterol, diet food, fast food, healthy eating, healthy living, McDonald's, portion control, portion size, Weight

Oleda Baker Gives Some Tips on Losing Weight: Guest Post

As you can see from her photo, Senior Supermodel Oleda Baker is aging magnificently . I interviewed Oleda last month. She is a treasure trove of information on everything this blog stands for, namely healthy living and healthy aging, so I asked her if she would share some of her ideas with us. She has written 10 books on beauty and health. Her latest, written at the age of 75, Breaking the Age Barrier – Great Looks and Health at Every Age – was released in November 2010 and is available from Amazon or from her website www.oleda.com where she also sells her own line of health and beauty aids.

Septuagenarian Oleda Baker

Septuagenarian Oleda Baker

Here are some of Oleda’s thoughts on losing weight:

So often an “expert” will tell you what you MUST do … I only explain why it’s best for your long range healthy life … and tell you also that you most certainly can lose weight IF it’s most important to you.

First of all, forget about diet books and structured diets. If you find one that works, you’re lucky. More often than not they merely serve as a temporary crutch that people revert from. The high recidivism rate among dieters is well documented. Fad diets are a waste of time and money.

Next, you must realize this is a job for you and you alone … no diet book, or person, can be responsible for YOUR weight loss. 
If you’re not serious about it, read no further, but, if you are, consider what I’m about to say; it could change your life for the better.

You KNOW that you’re gaining weight or eating too much when your clothes begin to tighten up a little. At that point, you have two choices … Cut back on your food intake so you can fit into that favorite garment again OR go out and buy the next size up. We all have the same choices …. Of course, the correct one is just eat less. That’s all I do. I check the fit whenever I put my favorite jeans on, and then do what I have to do.

What does it mean Just Eat Less … less than what?

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Filed under body fat, brain, diet food, fat, healthy eating, Oleda Baker, portion control, portion size, Snacking, Weight