Fresh, summer produce makes healthy eating a snap

We’ve waited long enough for these summertime delights!

blueberries blogMichigan farmers markets and roadside stands are open, offering fresh-from-the-farm fruits and vegetables. Right now is the best time to get the following healthy, locally grown summer produce:

  • Basil comes a variety of flavors, including Sweet Genovese, cinnamon, lemon, opal and Thai basil. A small portion of basil (2 chopped tablespoons) has trace amounts of many minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, potassium, folate and Vitamins A and K.
  • Blackberries and blueberries are in season July through August. Enjoy these sweet, ripe, juicy local berries — one of the great treats of summer. Added benefit: They’re naturally low in calories and high in nutrients.
  • Butter lettuce Soft and tender, butter lettuce (also called Boston or Bibb) contains plenty of Vitamin K – along with C and A. Vitamin K in particular promotes good bone health. Lettuce, in general, is also full of folates, a water-soluble version of Vitamin B that helps boost the body’s ability to produce cells.
  • Fresh, sweet corn is in season mid June through August. Besides being a delicious addition to any meal, it is also rich in phytochemicals. According to researchers, corn oil has been shown to have an anti-atherogenic effect on cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
  • Sweet cherries are in season from late spring through early summer. They’re high in fiber and potassium and low in calories: one cup of cherries is about 100 calories. Cherries are full of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical believed to be high in antioxidant activity.
  • Fresh peas such as sugar snap peas, snow peas and green peas are at their peak from April through July. As part of the legume family, peas are low in fat and high in fiber and are a good source of plant protein.
  • Flavorful and low in calories, radishes offer a distinctive flavor and are a good source of vitamin C. Choose radishes that are deep in color with solid roots for the best flavor.
  • Apricots pack beta-carotene, potassium, vitamin C and fiber and are a low-calorie choice to satisfy your sweet tooth. Apricots are in peak season from May to August. Grilling apricots brings out their sweetness.
  • Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is often used as a fruit in pies and jams. In season from April through July, rhubarb stalks area good source of vitamin C, potassium and manganese.

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Discover the health benefits of fresh herbs

Mint infusion: you'll love the flavors

herbs blogIn our ongoing series about ways to enjoy the flavors of fresh herbs, today we’re featuring mint.

As the temperatures start to climb this summer, you might find yourself reaching for an extra beverage throughout the day. Water is one of the best ways to hydrate but if a burst of mouth-tingling flavor would add to the appeal of water, think about using fresh mint.

Mint used alone or in combination with other herbs, sliced fruits or vegetables can boost your enjoyment of water and reduce your sugar intake. If you’re looking for inspiration, try this mint infusion that can be served hot or cold.

  • Start with a handful of clean, fresh mint leaves, tear them up and place in the bottom of a teapot or French press.
  • Cover the leaves with 2 cups of boiling water and let this steep for 3-7 minutes.

Since mint comes in at least 30 varieties, you could “experi-mint” with flavors such as spearmint, pineapple mint or chocolate mint. The pleasing flavors of orange, ginger or cucumber slices combined with mint create several cool, fresh drink choices. Continue reading

It’s time for mitral valve surgery, but which hospital will you choose?

When weighing options, close to home isn't always best choice

women and doc blogOnce a decision is made to have heart surgery, patients tend to favor staying close to home.

But researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed mitral valve surgery to see if patients benefit from going to a center of excellence hospital—one that specializes in the procedure and sees a high volume of patients —as opposed to a nearby community hospital.

They found that going to a center of excellence is the better option for both patients and insurers, even if it’s farther away from the patient and costs more upfront.

Frank Fazzalari, M.D., professor of cardiac surgery, working with experts at the U-M Ross School of Business and cardiac surgeon Steve Bolling, M.D., inspired the look at how decisions are made about heart surgery.

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From Egypt to Ann Arbor for complex aortic aneurysm and valve surgery

Family from Egypt chooses University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center

Matoshaleh_blogWhen Nassef Matoshaleh, and his wife, Wafaa, left Cairo, Egypt, early this year, their two sons weren’t certain their father would return. But George and Michael, both pharmacists like their parents, prayed the trip to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center to treat their father’s ascending aortic arch aneurysm would bring him back home.

And it did.

Nassef and Wafaa explored a handful of hospitals in the world — including in the U.K., Germany, France, Canada and the U.S. — to perform surgery on Nassef’s ascending aortic aneurysm. The two did extensive research and, with the help of family friend and U-M doctor Rafat Rizk (specializing in gastroenterology and internal medicine), decided Dr. Michael Deeb, a renowned specialist in the treatment of ascending aortic aneurysms, was the right doctor for them. Continue reading

Strawberries are in season

Try this Strawberry Avocado Couscous Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

strawberry blog

Enjoy the great taste of fresh, heart-healthy strawberries.

Delicious strawberries are in season, and their color is a great indicator of how nutritious they are. Strawberries are packed with phytonutrients: terpenoids, ellagitannins, anthocyanins, flavonols and phenolic acids.

Try this recipe — featured in Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Sue Ryskamp’s recent U-M CVC Nutritious Is Delicious food demo — and start enjoying this amazing fruit right now! Added bonus: only 46 calories per cup! Continue reading

Discover the benefits of yoga

The U-M Domino's Farms Fitness Center features a top-notch yoga program

yoga blogMary Armstrong loves yoga. It’s something the 67-year-old has practiced over the years as a way of connecting with her grown daughters.

So when she experienced high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat a few years ago, Mary was happy to discover the rehabilitation program at the University of Michigan Preventive Cardiology Fitness Center at Domino’s Farms included a yoga program. It proved to be a perfect fit for her, both physically and emotionally.

“This yoga program is so different from other classes I’ve taken,” says Mary. “The instructors perform each pose slowly and help us do the poses correctly.” She says the class is challenging, but the instructors are happy to demonstrate modifications whenever necessary.

Mary believes her yoga practice has helped lower her blood pressure, which is monitored before and after each class. “I’m now in the normal range,” she says. The four weekly classes Mary fits into her schedule have also increased her strength and flexibility. Continue reading