4 things you should know about the FDA ban on trans fats

What does it really mean for you?

trans fat blogAfter years of debate in the medical community and the media, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to put its proverbial foot down, announcing in June that partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), the major dietary source of trans fats in processed foods, must be eliminated from all food products by the year 2018. This comes on the heels of a 2006 FDA mandate to include trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label, and a 2013 decision that deemed PHOs no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).

Here are 4 things you should know relating to the FDA ban on trans fats:

What Are PHOs?

So what is this stuff anyway? PHOs are artificial trans fats that are widespread in processed foods like refrigerated dough products, fast food, crackers, microwave popcorn, cakes, cookies, pies, coffee creamers and stick margarines. They are attractive to food manufacturers because they prolong shelf life and give a desirable consistency Continue reading

Two-time aortic aneurysm survivor shares her experience

One woman's story of hope

Lori Eslick is a two-time aortic aneurysm survivor. Her heart issues began as a newborn when she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and bicuspid aortic valve disease (a congenital abnormality).

Years later, at age 49, a routine EKG led to the diagnosis of an ascending aortic aneurysm.

An ascending aortic aneurysm (also known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm) occurs in the part of the aorta in the chest, situated above the diaphragm, a muscle that helps you breathe. Approximately 25 percent of aortic aneurysms are thoracic, with the rest occurring in the abdomen. Thoracic aortic aneurysms can rupture and lead to severe internal bleeding, resulting in death. They don’t always cause symptoms, even when they’re large. Only half of all people who have thoracic aortic aneurysms notice any symptoms. Continue reading

Blueberries and heart health

Michigan's blueberries are bursting with flavor

blueberries blogBlueberries are in season in Michigan, so now is a great time to indulge. Whether you take a trip to Southeast Michigan (where a majority of the state’s blueberries are grown), visit your local farmers market or pick up a basket at your neighborhood grocery store, you’ll be doing your tastebuds — and your heart — a favor.

Color me healthy

Blueberries contain high amounts of brightly colored pigments called anthocyanins, which deliver a number of benefits for heart health. While other berries such as strawberries and cranberries contain anthocyanins as well, blueberries contain an especially high amount. These powerhouse pigments may help to reduce blood pressure, lower “bad” cholesterol and keep arteries healthy. Eating berries has even been shown to decrease the risk of death from heart disease.

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8 ways to control high blood pressure

Watching fish swim has proved to reduce stress and lower blood pressure

lower BP Blog

A new study has shown that watching fish swim in an aquarium can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a worldwide problem and the leading risk factor for death. With an estimated one billion people diagnosed with high blood pressure throughout the world, it is truly a global problem, on par with tobacco use as a risk for dying. But, there are techniques to help control high blood pressure.

In fact, the blood pressure control rate has improved over the last decade in the United States. Approximately 50 percent of those diagnosed with hypertension are controlling it, and that number could go as high as 85 percent if people followed steps to control their blood pressure. Here are eight effective methods:

  1. Maintain an active lifestyle and healthy weight.
  2. Limit salt and sodium consumption.
  3. Eat a healthy diet.
  4. Restrict alcohol consumption.
  5. Avoid smoking.
  6. Reduce consumption of caffeine.
  7. Limit stress.
  8. Take medications as directed. Continue reading

Add this fresh herb to your favorite summertime dishes

Dill and summer go hand in hand

herbs blogIn our ongoing series about ways to add a fresh herb to your meals, today we’re featuring dill.

Dill lends its sweet-and-sour flavor to a variety of foods from several European countries, as well as to Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. It provides a hint of summery flavor to a lemon sauce for fish, in yogurt-based dips, on vegetables such as carrots and spinach, in egg dishes or with legumes.

Dill leaves are used fresh or dried and are sometimes referred to as dill weed. The seeds of dill also have culinary uses, most commonly in creating pickled vegetables. While cucumbers create the well-known dill pickle, other vegetables that can be pickled with dill include green beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and okra. This Easy and Delicious Dill Pickle recipe uses fresh dill instead of the seeds.

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Do you know your risk for an aortic aneurysm?

There are often no symptoms associated with an aortic aneurysm, so it's important to know your health history

Abdominal aortic aneurysmAn aortic aneurysm generally doesn’t cause symptoms until a patient has a significant problem. Most aortic aneurysms are detected by chance — for example, through an imaging test that was ordered to rule out other health concerns.

This is why it’s so important to know your health history. Does someone in your family have an aneurysm? Has a family member died from an aneurysm or experienced a catastrophic event due to an aneurysm? If so, these are indications that you and members of your family should be tested. The key is to know your risk(s) for an aortic aneurysm to reduce your chances of stroke or sudden death. Continue reading