Four simple steps to clean eating

green smoothie

Maybe you’ve read about Katy Perry or Gwyneth Paltrow being fans. Eating “clean” has gained popularity not only with celebrities, but also with mainstream America. And it’s rejuvenating and inspiring a new generation of healthy eaters.

Clean eating is a rather simple concept. Instead of focusing on ingesting more or less specific things, such as fewer calories or more protein, the focus is on being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or foods that are minimally processed, refined and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible. Continue reading

Tips to manage holiday stress


holiday stress blog

Stressed? Overwhelmed? Welcome to the holiday season! If you’re besieged with unending to-do lists, remember, you’re not alone. It’s normal to experience holiday stress. It’s how you deal with the stress that counts. Long-term stress, often exacerbated by the holidays, can result in conditions such as increased blood pressure and blood glucose levels as well as damaged blood vessels — all of which can lead to heart issues. Try these tips to help you manage holiday stress.

To deal with stress during the holidays — and throughout the year — it’s important to establish a stress-reducing routine now, and carry that throughout the winter, spring, summer, fall …  Continue reading

Celebrate green!

Get in the St. Patrick’s Day mood with spinach pesto dip

green recipe blogToday is St. Patrick’s Day, so why not add a touch of green to your day — whether you’re Irish or not! U-M Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Susan Ryskamp suggests this tasty, heart-healthy spinach pesto dip to help you celebrate “green.”


  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ cup all natural, low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted until browned (optional)
  • ¼ cup carrot, grated and firmly packed
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped and firmly packed (add more spinach for a thicker dip)

Continue reading

Five tips to help control holiday food cravings

Don’t sabotage your diet this holiday season

holiday 320x320Splurging on your favorite foods is part of the holiday program, right? Well, to an extent. Here are five tips to help control your holiday cravings and reduce the likelihood of overeating at your next soirée.

  1. Eat slowly and select three healthy food items (vegetables, fruits, high-fiber dishes) before digging into a comfort food. I call this the “3-to-1” strategy.
  2. Don’t starve yourself or skip a meal in preparation for a party that night. You’ll be more likely to overeat.
  3. Learn to recognize your hunger level, with 1 being extremely hungry and 10 being beyond full. The goal is to stop eating when you’ve reached a level of 6.
  4. Find an alternative to eating, such as exercising, connecting with friends or taking a warm bath.
  5. Get your sleep. When you’re tired, you have less resolve. I tell my patients to be aware of “HALT” feelings that often lead to overeating, which include times when you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

Pay attention. Eat mindfully. And stop before you’re completely full. There are a lot of temptations this time of year: appetizers, dinner rolls, alcohol, rich entrées, dessert, eggnog. Choose one or two of those foods or drinks to indulge in during your special occasion. And remember, “You just can’t have it all!”

SusanRyskampSusan Ryskamp, MS, RDN, is a senior dietitian and cardiovascular nutritionist with the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. She is also a trained health coach in behavior change, including stress management and quitting smoking. She is currently working toward certification in Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy. She provides individualized, patient-centered nutrition care plans to help people reduce disease risk to restore and maintain optimal health.


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at

Is red meat unhealthy for your heart?

U-M healthcare providers weigh in on study showing connection between red meat and heart failure

meat blogA study out of Cleveland Clinic, recently reported in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, seems to answer the question “Is red meat unhealthy for your heart?”–until you look a little more closely. The study found a strong association between TMAO (trimethylamine oxidase) and severity of heart failure, including an increased risk of death in patients with high TMAO levels. TMAO is a digestion byproduct of bacteria that can live in peoples’ intestines, and has previously been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Foods such as red meat and eggs are the most common sources of TMAO in the diet.

A look at the study

Some who read this study might be quick to say that heart failure patients should eat less red meat and eggs. However, since the authors did not look at food intake, it is difficult say for sure how TMAO levels in this study related to the dietary patterns of the patients. Some researchers believe that the walls of the intestine become ‘leaky’ when severe heart failure causes fluid congestion there. These leaky walls could let bacteria or their byproducts, like TMAO, into the bloodstream to cause problems. While patients with high TMAO levels in this study were on average older and sicker, most did not appear to have truly severe heart failure. Continue reading

Celebrate spring with healthy smoothie recipes

Metabolism-boosting and green smoothies: quick and fresh

The thermometer may not register spring temperatures yet, but that shouldn’t stop you from indulging in some cool, refreshing smoothies. Sue Ryskamp, MS, RD, a senior dietitian and cardiovascular nutritionist with the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, whipped up two healthy smoothie recipes that taste great and are heart-healthy, too. Just in time to jump-start spring!

Green Smoothie for BeginnersGreen Smoothie 320x320


  • 8 ounces of liquid (water, skim or soy milk)
  • 1 large banana
  • 4-5 large strawberries
  • 2 packed cups (or small handfuls) of fresh baby spinach or kale


  1. Add all ingredients to blender in order
  2. Pour into glass and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings. Approximately 176 calories per serving, 33 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 2 grams fat. Continue reading