Wake-Up Smoothies

Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins

Ingredients
1 cup apple cider, chilled
1 cup fat-free milk
1 8-ounce carton plain low-fat yogurt
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Directions

1. In a blender container combine all ingredients. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour into tall glasses. Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 78, Total Fat 1 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Monounsaturated Fat 0 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 2 mg, Sodium 37 mg, Carbohydrate 16 g, Total Sugar 14 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 3 g. Daily Values: Vitamin A 0%, Vitamin C 7%, Calcium 10%, Iron 2%.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

(source: recipe.com)

10 Surprising Facts About Cholesterol

(Health.com) — Like most people, you probably think of cholesterol — if you think of it at all — and picture fatty foods and heart trouble.

Yes, elevated blood cholesterol is bad news, and 34 million Americans have levels that can increase their risk of all sorts of health problems, including a heart attack.

But if you think you’ve heard everything you need to know about this waxy fat, there may be a few surprises in store.

For one, cholesterol can be so high that it shows up in fatty deposits in the skin. On the other end of the spectrum, cholesterol can even be too low.

High cholesterol inevitable for some

If you have sky-high cholesterol, it may be partly genetic. But for some families, it’s inevitable that LDL, or bad cholesterol, will be in the unhealthy zone. The disease, known as familial hypercholesterolemia, affects about 1 in 500 people and can cause total cholesterol levels from 300 mg/dL to 600 mg/dL, as well as heart attacks early in life.

Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia inherit two defective genes (one from each parent)­, a much rarer condition that affects 1 in 1 million people; they can have total cholesterol over 1000 mg/dL. Such high cholesterol can cause early death, often before age 20.

Clogged arteries look like butter

Even if you can’t see xanthomas on the skin, high cholesterol can still build up in the body.

LDL slowly builds up in artery walls, causing a thick plaque that can narrow arteries, restrict blood flow, and lead to blood clots.

Arteries thicken, become more rigid, and start to take on the yellow color of cholesterol. If you were able to take a look at the inside of cholesterol-clogged arteries, they would look as if they were lined with a thick layer of frozen butter!

You can see high cholesterol

Normally, you only know you have high cholesterol levels if a doctor tells you so. But it is possible for high cholesterol to be as plain as the nose on your face, showing up on the skin as reddish-yellowish bumps known as xanthomas.

The patches vary in size and can be found all over the body, including on the joints, hands, and eyelids (though not all eyelid xanthomas are caused by high cholesterol). They tend to occur in older people and in those with diabetes or other health problems.

Xanthomas are also more likely to be seen in people with familial hypercholesterolemia, who can even have them in infancy.

To continue reading CLICK HERE.
(source: CNN.com)

Most Dangerous Day For Your Heart

December 26 is historically one of the most dangerous days of the year for people vulnerable to cardiac problems, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and heart failure. And many of these so-called Merry Christmas coronaries will hit people who didn’t even realize they were at risk when they unwrapped their gifts the day before.

But the holiday season isn’t good for heart health to begin with. A 2004 study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Tufts University found that heart-related deaths increase by nearly 5% during the holidays, perhaps because patients delay seeking treatment for heart problems or because hospital staffing patterns change. But anecdotally, doctors say that their ERs stay quiet on Christmas Day itself. Then, come December 26, they see a surge of cardiac traffic. A 2008 study found that daily visits to hospitals for heart failure increased by 33% during the four days after Christmas.

“This time of year is notorious for heart attacks, heart failures, and arrhythmias,” says Samin Sharma, MD, director of interventional cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

In fact, 2009 may pose an even greater risk than years past. Added stress over the recession means you’re already putting a lot of pressure on your heart, and that’s before the holiday eating and drinking even begin. Here’s how to steer clear of the hospital.

Keep your ticker ticking
It’s easy to knock back several glasses of wine when you’re sitting around the holiday table for long stretches of time, especially if you tell yourself that wine is good for your heart. But more than one alcoholic drink can have consequences: Excessive drinking can trigger atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat. If it persists, atrial fibrillation ups your odds of suffering a stroke. “There are huge campaigns not to drink and drive during the holidays, but no one talks about the heart dangers,” says Dr. Sharma.

Extra money woes coupled with an already stressful holiday season are like a setup for overindulgence. “It’s probably more dangerous than ever this year,” says Gerald Fletcher, MD, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “People don’t have as much money, but they still need to spend. They’re cutting back, but they’re worried about the credit card bill on the way. With all this in mind, people might be drinking more than ever.”

Normally, a holiday heart arrhythmia isn’t fatal, and in fact it usually fades on its own. Some of the symptoms are the same as a hangover—nausea, weakness, and a pale face—and your heart should be back to normal in 24 hours. But if it isn’t, you may need to see a doctor for medication or electrical cardioversion, which will stabilize your heart beat.

To continue reading CLICK HERE.

Older Adults Increasingly Turn To Yoga For Health

The idea that older adults are involved in yoga shouldn’t really come as a surprise. After all, while it may sound as trendy as Twitter, as new and shiny as your next laptop, this form of mind-body exercise has been around, by some estimates, for 5,000 years. What’s more, many of the most influential Indian yogis are nonagenarians, notably 90-year-old B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of an eponymous style of yoga that is practiced worldwide.

And let’s not forget that it was the boomer generation that helped import yoga to America in the first place: Forty years ago, Swami Satchidananda, another influential yogi, gave the invocation at Woodstock. (“The future of the whole world is in your hands,” he told the crowd of 500,000 young people.)

Yoga as practiced in America today, however, is different from what it was in the peace, love, consciousness-expanding days of the ’60s. The emphasis for most devotees now is on the physical, as opposed to spiritual, aspects of the practice. According to “Yoga in America,” a 2008 study by Yoga Journal, 49 percent of those who practice say they are doing it to improve their overall health. Most of these people tend to be younger: The study also found that among the estimated 15.8 million Americans who currently practice yoga, 40.6 percent are ages 18 to 34.

But more older adults are now taking their place on the mats alongside them. According to the study, 18.4 percent of practitioners are now over 55.

Health Benefits of Yoga

One reason that a great number of older adults are showing up at yoga studios is because their doctors have recommended it. A striking finding in the Yoga Journal study was the rise of the “yoga as medicine” trend: 14 million Americans say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga to them. With good reason. “The health benefits of yoga are well documented,” says Christine Geithner, professor of human physiology at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. “It’s a good entry-level activity for older adults.”

Those benefits have been reported in numerous studies, most of them done in the past few years, involving “yoga interventions” with older adults here and abroad. Researchers have found that regular practice led to reduced incidence of chronic back pain; improved sleep quality and mood; a better sense of well-being and quality of life; improvement in heart health, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes; and greater overall physical fitness.

Also, because a typical class includes balance exercises, yoga seems almost tailor-made for older adults, for whom balance is an issue. But there are also risks—the greatest of which might be a lack of understanding of yoga and the wrong kind of instruction. “My general recommendation is that yoga can be a tremendous addition to a well-rounded fitness program,” says Dixie Stanforth, a lecturer in exercise science at the University of Texas at Austin and a spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine. That said, “whether you’re already active or sedentary, you need to be extremely careful in choosing the type of yoga you become involved in.”

To Continue Reading Click Here.

Low-Fat Holiday Treats

All the things that make holiday desserts delicious—butter, cream, and milk chocolate—are also the ingredients that are high in artery-clogging saturated fat. Instead of completely passing up the dessert tray, bring these tempting but guilt-free desserts.

Linzer Thumbprints

Raspberry jam and toasted hazelnuts make this cookie recipe hard to resist, and for 87 calories, you don’t have to.

Ginger-Molasses Cookies
These cookies rely on spices—nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger—to add a holiday flavor. And each cookie weighs in at 61 calories and just 2 grams of fat. Now that’s something to celebrate.

Honey-Roasted Bosc Pears
Combining balsamic vinegar with honey allows for a tangy-sweet flavor, which is finished off perfectly with low-fat ice cream. The entire dessert contains less than 200 calories, and it has 3 grams of heart-healthy fiber.

Chocolate Chip Pavlovas With Raspberries and Apricots
The egg whites and fat-free yogurt in this recipe keep the cholesterol low, but small amounts of cream of tartar and chocolate chips give this dessert a decadent quality. Topped with apricots and raspberries, you’ll have a sweet yet slightly tart finish to your holiday meal.

Whole-Wheat Sugar Cookies
Help keep Santa’s heart healthy this year with a plate of these festive sugar cookies topped with a sweet, lemony glaze. Using egg whites and a minimum of butter keeps saturated fat and cholesterol low, while a touch of whole-wheat flour adds a boost of fiber.

Buttermilk Pralines
Though this recipe seems rich, it won’t actually do much damage to your diet. It relies on buttermilk, not butter, to create a mildly sweet flavor. And with a base of pecans, you’ll get plenty of monounsaturated (good) fat.

White Chocolate Holiday Bark
Sweet and crunchy, every bite of this festive candy is loaded with heart-healthy dried cranberries and antioxidant-rich almonds. Using unsweetened coconut and rice cereal saves a few calories while adding delicious flavor. Try replacing the cranberries with dried cherries—which are high in beta-carotene and help protect against heart disease—for a tasty variation your guests will love.

Banana Pudding
This recipe is a shining example of how you can make comfort food work for your diet. Get the creamy texture of banana pudding without excess saturated fat by using low-fat milk, fat-free condensed milk, and plenty of vanilla extract. Bananas also add a naturally sweet flavor, plus vitamin B6. And using egg whites will keep cholesterol levels in check.

Orange-Walnut Tassies
Take a step away from the chocolates in your stocking and plates of cookies to enjoy this refreshing alternative to holiday desserts. The crust uses low-fat dairy products, which maintain a slightly buttery flavor. However, the real treat is the mix of walnuts, brown sugar, and orange juice to create a savory-sweet combination with just the right amount of citrus.

For recipes CLICK HERE
Source: http://www.health.com

Eating To Beat The Breast Cancer Odds

By Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., from EatingWell.com

I need two hands to count the number of my friends and colleagues who learned in the past year or so they have breast cancer. I shouldn’t be surprised; after skin cancer, it’s the most common cancer women face.

Even women with extensive health knowledge, who seem to get everything right, get cancer. We know there are some things we can’t control. We can’t change risk factors like our family history; scientists predict that just over one-quarter of breast cancer risk is due to inherited factors. But it’s clear that eating well is part of doing everything you can to tip the odds in your favor.

So what can we do (or not do) to lower our risk? For perspective, I checked in with colleagues who are experts in cancer and nutrition.

Drink moderately, if at all

Much of the research connecting breast cancer prevention and diet is inconclusive, according to Laurence Kolonel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the epidemiology program at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and co-author of a forthcoming major review of diet and cancer. However, one of the areas where consensus is strongest is the role of alcoholic drinks. “Even as little as one drink a day increases breast cancer risk,” he says. While we know consuming alcohol in moderation has benefits for the heart—and heart disease kills far more women than cancer does—you’ll need to weigh your decisions about drinking if you have other risk factors for breast cancer. Consider limiting yourself to one drink a day; more won’t provide additional heart benefits. If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may want to avoid alcohol altogether.

Stay lean, move more

A recent review article in the journal Cancer found that one of the most important ways to reduce risk of breast cancer is to avoid gaining weight. That means balancing a healthy diet with plenty of exercise. Research also suggests that if you’re overweight, losing those extra pounds before age 45 can reduce your risk of breast cancer after menopause. Even if you’re past your forties, managing your weight through physical activity helps. A study of over 100,000 women reported that those who got regular, strenuous exercise had a lower risk of developing breast cancer than others who didn’t. Exercise may help lower levels of hormones that are involved in breast cancer. Commit to regular exercise, if you haven’t already.

Enjoy fats in moderation

The Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS), a major clinical trial of postmenopausal women with early-stage breast cancer, found that those who followed a low-fat diet significantly reduced their risk of cancer coming back. They also lost an average of 4.6 pounds after the first year of the trial, while those in the control group gained a half-pound. Because weight gain is linked with breast cancer recurrence and lower survival rates, perhaps the key benefit of a lower-fat diet is the weight loss it encourages. Watching your fat intake can help prevent you from gaining weight and may thus be a cancer-fighting strategy.

Eat soyfoods, not supplements

In countries like China and Japan where soyfoods are commonly eaten, breast cancer rates are among the lowest in the world—and one analysis of 18 studies found that eating soyfoods, such as tofu and soy nuts, slightly lowered breast cancer risk. But don’t be tempted to pop a soy supplement, warns Kolonel: the high doses of soy phytoestrogens found in supplements can behave like estrogen in the body, causing breast-cell changes that could potentially lead to cancer. Breast cancer survivors and women at high risk for the disease should avoid soy supplements.

Boost vegetables and fruits?

Research to assess whether fruits and vegetables can fight breast cancer has been disappointing, but “a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables tends to be lower in calories,” says Kolonel, “and that can help you maintain a [cancer-fighting] healthy weight.” Cheryl Rock, Ph.D., R.D., who coordinates the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study (WHEL) at the University of California, San Diego, found that women who ate at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day (along with taking a brisk 30-minute daily walk) cut their risk of dying from breast cancer by half. “A healthy weight is what matters most,” she says, “but if women aren’t able to lose weight but eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercise, they can still lower their risk of cancer recurrence.” Eating more fruits and vegetables certainly couldn’t hurt and may help.

These simple strategies could lower your cancer risk—and give you a healthier heart too. But I think the best benefit is knowing you’re doing everything in your power to stay healthy.

Rachel Johnson, EatingWell’s senior nutrition advisor, is dean of the University of Vermont College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.

Source: http://www.aarp.com

Chocolate Chip Apple Cake

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups apples – peeled, cored and finely diced
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
1.Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9 or 10 inch tube pan.
2.In a large bowl cream the butter or margarine with the sugar. Beat in the eggs then add the water and the vanilla.
3.Stir the flour, cocoa, baking soda, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg together. Beat this mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir in the chopped apples and the semisweet chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
4.Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center. Transfer to a rack to cool. Makes about 16 servings.

Source: allrecipes.com