Friday, February 26, 2016

Eating Your Way to Heart Health

Good nutrition is essential to wellness. This is especially true when it comes to fighting cardiovascular disease. Along with other choices we make in our daily routine, diet is key to maintaining heart health.

The core message of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020  [] remains consistent with previous editions issued since the effort was launched in 1980. However, note that the ban on cholesterol has been lifted! In general, it is recommended that we eat more fruits and vegetables, choose lean meats and low-fat dairy foods, and limit trans fat.

To optimize your heart health, it’s helpful to eat more whole plant foods and include lean and plant-based proteins, while decreasing refined foods, especially those that contain added sugar and sodium. Also, at least half of all grains in your diet should be whole grains, with a shift toward higher fiber foods.

Eating your way to heart health is only part of the solution to protect your heart. It’s also important to practice weight management, exercise regularly and live a healthy lifestyle. Other suggestions: manage stress, do not smoke, have a positive attitude and do not drink excessive alcohol.

Olive oil, 4 tbsp/dayNuts, 1oz/day
Vegetables, 2 or more servings/day
Fruits, 3 or more servings/day
Legumes, 3 servings/week
Fish, 3 servings/week
Chicken or turkey instead of red meat
Wine, 1 small glass/day (optional)

Consume less:
Red and processed meat
Butter, margarine and cream
Grain-based desserts and pastries

Here’s a great heart-healthy variation on a classic dish, pasta primavera. For more healthy living recipes, go to

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Be Good to Your Heart

With the annual observance of St. Valentine’s Day having just been celebrated on the 14th of this month, it’s appropriate that February is also American Heart Month. This is a good time to start leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA), 80% of heart disease and stroke events are preventable.

The following are risk factors for heart disease and related conditions:
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity

Here are some tips from the AHA:

CHS offers a full range of cardiovascular services. To learn more, call 1-855-CHS-4500 for your free Services Guide booklet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Feeling Blue This Winter?

Shorter days and less natural light make winter trying for many. Some are affected more than others experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression related to seasonal variations of light. It affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January and February. The “Winter Blues” a milder form of SAD, may affect even more people (

Signs of SAD:
  • Change in behavior or feeling depressed when there is less light, during the winter months or in light-deficient locations
  • Sluggishness or inability to function
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • A reduced ability to handle stress
  • Not finding pleasure in otherwise enjoyable events
  • A change in appetite. Either increased or no appetite

 “People who have noticed these symptoms at least twice in their lives should go for a consultation,” commented Ronald Brenner, MD, chief of CHS’s behavioral health services and director of psychiatry at Mercy Medical Center. “Assistance can be fairly simple; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

SAD may be alleviated through:
  • Exercise— not only beneficial in itself but also gets someone with SAD outdoors or into well-lit indoor environments
  • A well-balanced diet to counter cravings for sweets or starches
  • Stress management techniques, including mindfulness—in-the-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations and immediate surroundings—and meditation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressants, including buproprion, may be prescribed before winter begins, for patients with severe depression 
  • Travel to warm, sunny regions
  • Light therapy“Patients respond to light therapy, either from natural outdoor light or using one of the many light boxes available in the marketplace,” explained Dr. Brenner. “White light is believed to be better than blue, and both fluorescent and LED-based light boxes have been found to be effective.”

Mercy’s outpatient clinic in Garden City offers psychotherapy and other expert services to address mood disturbances such as SAD, as well as treatment for a wide range of mental and behavioral health issues. For information on this and other resources or to find a doctor near you, visit or call 1-855-CHS-4500.