Health benefits of dark chocolate

Cocoa can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels

dark Chocolate blogFB

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and boxes of chocolates spilling over in store aisles everywhere, it’s time to set the record straight about the health benefits of chocolate.

Dark chocolate rich in antioxidants

The good news about chocolate pertains to cocoa — the dark chocolate rich in plant compounds called flavonoids — which originates from seeds from the cacao tree. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL levels — all of which protect against heart attack and stroke. And although cocoa is not considered a health food, it certainly can play a role in helping to keep the heart healthy. Continue reading

Top 10 healthy donations

Food items can be dropped off at the U-M Frankel CVC


donation[1]As the holidays approach, many of us become increasingly aware of opportunities to donate household items, especially food, to those in need.

In support of, U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center employees and patients will find a convenient donation cart located at the 3rd floor Frankel CVC entrance. But before you make your donation, consider tips for healthy holiday donations from U-M Registered Dietitian Nutritionists Kathy Rhodes and Sarah Meyers. The two stress the importance of donating food items that will help recipients stay in good health. Continue reading

Five tips for heart-healthy eating

U-M nutritionists share favorite tips on Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Day

fruit veggie heart blogThe theme for this year’s Nutrition Month (throughout March) is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” In honor of this, as well as today’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Day, we asked the U-M Cardiovascular Nutrition Team to share tips for heart-healthy eating. Here’s what they had to say …

1. There’s no one size fits all

“Diets abound, from vegetarian to meat-based, from low carb to ‘the right carb’ — and everything in between. The truth is, the same diet is not right for everyone. When it comes to the best eating pattern, there is no ‘one size fits all.’ Our genetics, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol values and blood sugar are just a few of the measures that can guide us to learn the best eating pattern for each of us individually. Working with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist is one way to learn the best eating pattern for you.” — Kathy Rhodes, PhD, RDN Continue reading

Sea salt vs table salt

"A chip is still a chip"

Sea salt in bowl

While sea salt is unprocessed and carries trace levels of minerals, it has as much sodium as table salt.

When you reach for that bag of chips labeled “sea salt,” you might be surprised to know it’s not a healthier choice than traditional salted chips, even though the discussion about sea salt vs table salt continues.

Sea salt, which comes from the evaporation of seawater, is unprocessed and carries trace levels of minerals such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. However, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), the minute amounts of trace minerals found in sea salt are easily obtained from other healthy foods. And, because particles of sea salt are coarser than table salt, less sea salt may be used.

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Message for men taking calcium supplements: too much may be harmful

Getting nutrients from food is best

Consuming calcium-rich foods better than men taking calcium supplements

Calcium in food is absorbed more slowly throughout the day than that in supplements, which may cause harmful spikes of calcium in the blood.

Men taking calcium supplements totaling more than 1,000 milligrams per day may have an increased risk of death from heart disease, according to researchers with the National Cancer Institute and several other research groups. Calcium from food sources did not increase risk.

While the information is not conclusive, Kathy Rhodes, Ph.D., R.D., cardiovascular dietitian with the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Medicine program, says that it certainly warrants attention.

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How much sodium should you have each day?

Study: Reducing salt intake can prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths over 10-year period

Tipped over salt shaker

If you’re a salt lover, you may want to put down that shaker and read on.

The results of a new study say cutting back on sodium intake could prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths from heart attack and stroke over the next 10 years.

The study presented three computer simulation models estimating the benefits of reducing sodium in the American diet.

  • One model estimated the effects of gradually reducing sodium intake by 40 percent over a 10-year period, from 3,600 milligrams down to 2,200 milligrams (approximately one teaspoon of salt) per day.
  • The second model calculated the impact of instantly reducing sodium intake by 40 percent.
  • The third model estimated the effects of reducing sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (approximately half a teaspoon of salt) a day.

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