Photo courtesy of National Archives
Unfortunately there have been shootings and other tragedies in many communities, large and small, in America. Children and teenagers are affected by disasters and tragedies just as are adults.
The most important thing that a parent can do is ask the child or teen his or her understanding of the tragic event, so that the child feels comfortable expressing emotion. Silence suggests to the teen that the subject is too awful to even discuss, even though of course, the teen is thinking and worrying about the event. Start by gently correcting any misconceptions. You don’t have to describe the event in detail, but allowing the child or teen to discuss her feelings is important.
Parents think toddlers don’t understand what they see on television, but toddlers recognize the emotions their parents are feeling. Preschool children may regress in their behavior and become more clingy. They may start sucking their thumbs, or wetting the bed. Other toddlers may act out. Strong emotions bring out strong behavior. When toddlers, preschool, and school age children see the disaster or tragic event on television, they think the event is occurring again and again. Keeping the television off to prevent retraumatization is helpful. Recording television programs and reviewing the broadcasts before the children see it can be helpful. Watching the television with your child so he can ask questions is also helpful.
School age children may also either act out or regress in their behavior. Sleeping in parents bed or skipping chores for a day or two is okay! It allows the child to feel more secure and safe. Security is a huge concern for children. Make sure they know that measures have been taken by law enforcement or the community, or that your family has a safety plan.
With teens, they may feel that life is meaningless and may take more risks than normal. Watch for this type of behavior because risky behavior can affect the adolescent in a significant way. Discussing positive actions carried out by heroes or bystanders can also be helpful. The teen may want to be closer to their parent for a period of time, to feel safe, and that is fine. Trouble sleeping and a decline in grades (transiently) can also occur. Some teenagers may try to avoid the people and situations that occurred at the time of the tragedy because these triggers cause
If your child or teen continues to have negative feelings and depression after 2 weeks, professional consultation with a physician, psychologist, or counselor will be helpful.
Last updated by Dr. Vee on October 22, 2015.
Pumpkin carving safety
Only Adults Should Carve Pumpkins
- Never let children carve pumpkins. Kids can help by drawing a pattern on the pumpkin and removing the pulp and seeds once the pumpkin is cut.
- A sharp knife can become wedged in the thicker part of the pumpkin, requiring force to remove it, causing hand injury when the knife finally dislodges from the thick skin of the pumpkin. Injuries are also sustained when the knife slips and comes out the other side of the pumpkin where your hand may be holding it steady.
Use a Pumpkin Carving Kit
- Special kits are available in stores and include small, serrated pumpkin saws that work better because they are less likely to get stuck in the thick pumpkin tissue.
- When cutting, adults should cut away from themselves in small, controlled strokes.
Help for An Injury
- If you cut your finger or hand, apply direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth. If pressure does not slow or stop the bleeding within15 minutes, be evaluated in the Emergency Room
- Be sure your kids are wearing flame-resistant costumes.
- Never walk near lit candles or luminaries.
- Keep candle-lit Jack O’Lanterns and luminaries away from steps, walkways, sidewalks, landings, and curtains.
- Place Jack O’ Lanterns on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
- For greater visibility attach to costumes reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Halloween bags should also be light colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware and sporting goods stores.
- Children should carry flashlights while trick or treating to see where they are walking and so that cars can see them as they walk
- Costumes should be short enough to prevent children from tripping and falling.
- Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes to prevent trips.
- Apply a natural mask of cosmetics (avoiding the eye area) rather than a loose-fitting mask that might restrict breathing or obscure vision. If wearing a mask make sure keyholes are large enough to allow good vision
- If wearing a mask, use a well-fitting masks to avoid blocked vision
- Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be soft and flexible to avoid injury.
- Test makeup on a small patch of skin before applying to face or body.
- Don’t decorate your face with things that are not intended for skin
- Do not use face paint near the eyes, even if the label has a picture of people wearing it near the eyes.
Trick or Treating Safety
- Young children should always be accompanied by an adult or an older, responsible child.
- All children should walk, not run from house to house and use the sidewalk if available, rather than walk in the street.
- Children should be cautioned against running out from between parked cars, or across lawns and yards where ornaments, furniture, or clotheslines present dangers.
- Glow sticks contain a liquid that produces a temporary burning sensation and bad taste in the mouth when tasted. Small amounts that are swallowed are generally not harmful.
Choosing Safe Houses:
- Children should go only to homes where the residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome.
- Children should not enter homes or apartments unless they are accompanied by an adult.
Halloween Candy Safety
- Before kids go trick-or-treating, serve a healthy meal so they’re not hungry when they collect candy.
- To prevent temptation, know how much candy your child has collected and don’t store it in his or her bedroom.
- Consider being somewhat lenient about candy eating on Halloween, within reason, and talk about how the rest of the candy will be handled. Candy and snacks shouldn’t get in the way of kids eating healthy meals.
- If a child is overweight — or you’d just like to reduce the Halloween stash — consider buying back some or all of the remaining Halloween candy. This method acknowledges the candy belongs to the child and provides a treat in the form of a little spending money.
- Be a role model by eating Halloween candy in moderation yourself. To help avoid temptation, buy your candy at the last minute and get rid of any leftovers.
- Encourage your kids to be mindful of the amount of candy and snacks eaten — and to stop before they feel full or sick.
Alternatives to Candy
You also can offer some alternatives to candy to the trick-or-treaters who come to your door. Here are some treats you might give out:
- Non-food treats, like stickers, toys, temporary tattoos, false teeth, little bottles of bubbles and small games, like tiny decks of cards (party-supply stores can be great sources for these)
- Snacks such as small bags of pretzels, sugar-free gum (for older kids), trail mix, small boxes of raisins, and popcorn
- Sugar-free candy
- Small boxes of cereal
- Avoid toys that could pose choking hazards to very young children.
Children Trick-or-treating — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
- Parents should instruct their children not to open their candy until they return home.
- Inspect all candy for tampering before allowing them to start eating.
- Accept only wrapped and packaged candy.
- Do not eat candy that has been unwrapped or opened.
- Never eat fruit or other unwrapped items.
- Prevent a stomach ache by limiting 2- 3 small pieces of candy at a time.
- Throw away any candy or food that is not wrapped tightly by the candy company.
- Accept and give out candy that isn’t easily unwrapped. Candies such as Tootsie Rolls, hard candies and certain bubble gums with twist-type wrappings can be tampered with more easily than those that are sealed.
- When in doubt, throw it out
- Keep small hard candies, gum, peanuts, from children under the age of five because it is a choking hazard.
- Keep chocolate candy, raisins, and macadamia nuts away from dogs. It is toxic to them, even in small amounts.
Last Updated by Dr. Vee on October 14, 2015
Dr. Vee discusses dietary supplements with Prairie Doc Rick Holm on South Dakota Public Television.
Last updated May 24, 2015 by Dr. Vee
The Centers for Disease Control has a new classification of the threat levels of different types of resistant infections. The most serious bacterial infections, which are very hard to treat, are carbapenem resistant enterobactereciae, Clostridium difficile and resistant strains of gonorrhea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 2 million Americans develop antibiotic-resistant infections each year and 23,000 die of the infections.
Doctors and patients can reduce the development of resistant strains of bacteria by limiting antibiotic use to illnesses that truly warrant treatment. Examples of infections that generally do not require antibiotics include upper respiratory infections. Patients should complete the entire course of antibiotics when prescribed. Stopping early or taking someone else’s antibiotic can increase the chance of developing resistant bacteria.
When you take an antibiotic, a certain number of bacteria develop resistance. These can overgrow and spread the resistance to other bacteria. When antibiotics are used, they kill bacteria throughout the body. When the beneficial bacteria in the gut are killed, serious bacterial infections, such as Clostridium difficile, can occur. Talk to your doctor to see if an antibiotic is truly needed for your condition.
Resistant bacteria are in our meat supply, especially when animals are given antibiotics. Handwashing is the single most important measure to prevent ingesting these resistant bacteria. It is vital that you wash your hands before and after preparing raw meat, and don’t allow raw meat to come in contact with other foods. Washing hands after using the bathroom also helps prevent the spread of resistant bacteria.
Mayo Clinic Florida has patient safety and quality initiatives to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria and to decrease the number of hospital acquired infections.
Last updated by Dr. Vee on September 24, 2014
Using footage videotaped on his iPhone, Mayo Clinic Florida’s social media expert Jason Pratt developed a video viewed by all new Mayo Clinic employees about Mayo Clinic’s social media policy.
Video also highlights activities of Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, including their social media residencies (Jacksonville and Scottsdale) and social media summit (Rochester).
Here’s the description of the video on YouTube:
“Mayo Clinic encourages professional and allied health staff to use social media tools appropriately and productively. This video, originally produced for Mayo’s new employee orientation program, provides guidance on behavioral expectations as well as links and information from the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media on additional
training resources available through its Social Media Health Network.”
Last updated on May 17, 2013 by Dr. Vee
I am attending the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media residency in Jacksonville, Florida. Like most physicians, I am passionate about engaging patients in a collaborative dialogue about health and wellness. I work in the Division of Hospital Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic Florida. My goal is to help patients stay healthy enough to stay OUT of the hospital.
There is a dizzying array of health information on the web. It is overwhelming for both patients and physicians. How accurate is all that information? How should patients and physicians find accurate and user-friencly information relevant to their medical conditions? Which patient support group sites are valuable? How many have accurate health information?
I blog about health issues important to adult and children’s health. Unfortunately, I am “technology deficienct” so my goal for doing the social media residency is to learn in greater depth the “tools for social engagement.”
What I learned during the social media residency was best practices in using various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and wordpress blogs. Social media has limitless potential to advance patient and physician knowledge alike, and help them work collaboratively on medical care.
And I want to be part of the #Revolution!
Here is a healthy, low calorie holiday recipe developed by Diane Morgan. Pumpkin is a superfood, packed with vitamin A antioxidants and fiber. Chick peas are also a good source of protein and fiber. Remember to chop the garlic and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding to the dish to maximize its antioxidant properties. Garlic was once called the Russian penicillin due to its antimicrobial properties.
Curry powder contains turmeric, a powerful antioxidant (better yet make your own curry powder). Ginger aids digestion.
Serving size: 2 tbsp, Servings per recipe: 2 3/4 cups
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 1 can (15 oz/430 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (15 oz/430 g) unsweetened pumpkin purée
- 1 1/2 tsp finely minced fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt (I would eliminate this from recipe)
- Optional garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds
1. In a small nonstick frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the garlic and sauté just until beginning to soften, about 30 seconds. Add the curry powder and sauté, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Stir in the honey, remove from the heat, and set aside.
2. In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the chickpeas until finely mashed. Add the pumpkin purée, ginger, salt, and the garlic mixture. Process until the hummus is smooth and puréed. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a serving bowl. Cover and set aside for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, if desired.
Dip Do-Ahead: This dip can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.
PER SERVING: 36 calories; 1.0g total fat (sat 0.1g, mono 0.5g, poly 0.2g); 1g protein; 6g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 0mg cholesterol ; 0.7mg iron; 126mg sodium; 13mg calcium
Last updated on November 27, 2012 by Dr. Vee
Senator George McGovern will be mourned, no matter what your political view. He lived part time in St. Augustine, Florida, the nation’s oldest city. He always returned to his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Senator McGovern kept a busy travel schedule. Three years before his death, at the age of 87, he had a book tour to promote his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Senator McGovern went skydiving for his 88th birthday! He was a tireless advocate of feeding children around the world, travelling to Africa in his later years to promote his cause. He attended the funeral of his vice presidential nominee, Sargeant Shriver.
He supported candidates in the North Florida area. Senator McGovern was a very outgoing man who loved to entertain in his home. He hosted opera singers from Gainesville for an evening of opera in his home. He was quick witted and loved to give speeches at his parties.
George missed his wife Eleanor, who died in 2007. He moved part time to St. Augustine in 2008. He told me his only regret was not spending more time with his children. He wrote about his daughter who died of alcoholism. His other children are successful and well adjusted.
I and many others will miss George’s insights and humor. He has a lasting legacy on America.
Last updated by Dr. Vee on October 23, 2012
Top 5 Mistakes Parents Make with a Picky Eater
- Forcing a child to eat everything put on the table for a meal
- Bargaining with a child to eat healthy items in a meal in order to get a dessert or treat
- Not re-introducing a food item if the child doesn’t like it the first time
- Parents don’t eat healthy food themselves but expect their children to eat healthy food
- Stocking the refrigerator and pantry with junk food but expecting a child to choose healthy items over the non-nutritious snacks
1. Forcing a child to eat everything put on the table for a meal
- A child doesn’t have to eat everything on the table, but should try at least one bite. If after the bite he says, “No, thanks” at least you’ve exposed the child to the new food.
- Don’t force a child to eat an entire serving of something she doesn’t like, but don’t make a separate meal for the child
- Remember, kids will not starve! They will learn to be more flexible with food choices rather than go hungry.
- If a child skips a meal because he doesn’t like anything, the child will be hungry enough at the next meal to be more willing to eat what is served
- Try to include at least one item the child likes at every meal, but don’t avoid all items the child does not like.
- Don’t threaten or punish—this only results in power struggles with your child!
2. Bargaining with a child to eat healthy items in a meal in order to get a dessert or treat
- Bargaining does not work long term to help the child learn to eat and enjoy healthy food such as vegetables.
- It also promotes the false belief that a cookie or cupcake or other dessert item has more value than the healthy food item
3. Not re-introducing a food item if the child doesn’t like it the first time
- The 10-15 Rule: Studies show that it can take up to 10-15 tastes of one kind of food before a child accepts or likes the food. Repetition is important!
4. Parents don’t eat healthy food themselves but expect their children to eat healthy food
- Parents are the best role model for their kids. It helps if they eat the kind of food they want their children to eat. If parents don’t eat vegetables or fruits, chances are, their kids won’t either.
- If kids see their parents ENJOYING vegetables and fruits, they are more likely to choose to eat them as well.
5. Stocking the refrigerator and pantry with junk food but expecting a child to choose healthy items over the non-nutritious snacks
- Don’t stock unhealthy items like candy. If a child is hungry, give her the choice of two healthy snacks to eat instead of giving in to the candy that she requested
- Put healthy foods like cut up fruit where your toddler or teenager can quickly find them when they are hungry.
- Avoid giving milk or juice before a meal to pacify hunger. This prevents kids from eating the rest of the meal
Some ideas to encourage your kids to eat a healthier, wider variety of food:
- It is normal for kids to eat less as they turn one year of age because of slowing of their growth at this age. At age two toddlers want to make their own food choices. Many toddlers appear to be picky eaters to parents because they don’t like to try new foods and prefer to snack.
- It’s normal for kids to like one thing one day and not like it the next, or want the same food three days in a row and then say they are sick of it. In general, try to avoid preparing only the things a child eats—say prepared chicken nuggets, hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, to the exclusion of other food.
- Involve your child in food shopping so that she can choose the vegetables and fruits she wants to try. Kids are more likely to eat a food they picked out. Remember not to bring your kids to the grocery store when they are hungry. Set ground rules in advance of shopping: no candy, no soda, no sugary snacks or cereal. They can choose any fruits and vegetables as long as they are willing to try them when brought home.
- Involve your kids in making meals. They are more likely to eat the food “masterpiece” they made. Making cooking a fun experience will encourage kids to eat the food they cooked.
- Kids are also more likely to eat food they have helped grow, so a having your child involved in a home garden or going to the farmer’s market will encourage them to eat more vegetables.
- Avoid “grazing” all day long, because prevents a child from learning when he is hungry or full. Kids learn to manage their appetites by knowing when meals and snacks will be available.
- Don’t encourage filling up on snacks, especially junk food or sugary snacks, because kids will learn to skip meals and eat only the unhealthy snacks.
- Breastfed or formula fed babies should eat on demand because this is a period of high growth. Toddlers also need three meals and up to three snacks a day, so they should be encouraged to have a healthy snack before meals.
- Let kids as young as 9 months of age feed themselves. Children should be able to use utensils by age 15-18 months. Having this control will help kids learn how much food it takes to fill them up and not overeat.
It is ok to disguise healthy foods in your kids’ favorite dishes:
- Kids generally love pizza. Kids will eat vegetables like broccoli or spinach if it is on a pizza
- Add a healthy vegetable like cauliflower to a kid pleaser like macaroni and cheese.
- Add fruits or even vegetables to “milk shakes” Adding pre-frozen fruit to smoothies gives them a creamier texture similar to a milkshake.
- Combine dried fruits, unsalted nuts and unsweetened cereal for a healthy snack mix
- Make yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola. Even kids who won’t eat yogurt, fruit or granola separately tend to like them when they are served up as an appealing parfait.
- Kids love peanut butter and jelly. Add peanut butter to celery sticks or apples for a healthy snack.
- Add pureed vegetables like spinach to homemade hamburgers or turkey burgers
- Add vegetables like squash or zucchini to spaghetti sauce. Kids tend to like pasta, so adding any vegetable to a pasta dish makes it more palatable to kids.
- Add pureed cauliflower to mashed potatoes
- Substitute sweet potatoes for French fries, and bake in the oven instead of deep frying.
- Make baked vegetable “fries” or “fingers” by coating zucchini, eggplant or squash with egg substitute and bread crumbs
- Make homemade baked chicken fingers coated with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs instead of the fast food variety.
Carrots and corn are vegetables with high natural sugar content, so these are good vegetables to make in a pinch for picky eaters
Pay attention to the texture of foods or the way it is prepared. For example, some kids love applesauce but not raw apples.
Some kids will only eat vegetables if it is with a sauce, and others will eat only if there isn’t any sauce
Kids often prefer stir fried veggies (use a small amount of canola or olive oil) to steamed
- Add vegetables like broccoli to a baked potato
- Sometimes kids don’t like “mushy” foods. Cooking vegetables so they are tender-crisp may be more appealing to these children.
- Yes, it is ok to add a small amount of ketchup or barbecue sauce to any food item including broccoli if it will encourage your child to eat the food item.
- Make healthy whole grain waffle “sandwiches” (no syrup) containing lunch meat or vegetables inside. Use hummus or salad dressing as a spread inside the waffle.
Last Updated by Dr. Vee on October 22, 2012
Dr. Vee appeared on the WJXT Jacksonville Morning Show to discuss the Top Ten Items for Your Medicine Cabinet.
Last Updated on June 19, 2012 by Dr. Vee
Dr. Vandana Bhide speaks about possible benefit of hyperbaric oxygen in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Dr. Vandana Bhide of the Mayo Clinic appears on the WJXT-TV news4jax.com Jacksonville, Florida 10:30 PM News show to discuss some of the warning signs of depression. Anyone, especially someone who has recently experienced a serious trauma such as an accident, illness, divorce, death, is at risk for depression. Sometimes people are afraid to ask if a person is depressed or has suicidal thoughts. Studies show that people who are questioned about their depressive or suicidal thoughts are often relieved to be able to finally discuss their feelings. This show of support may actually prevent someone’s suicide. Another telltale sign of depression is when someone is no longer interested in his or her usual activities. Too much or too little sleep, weight loss or weight gain can all be seen in depressed people. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if he or she is depressed, and urge the person to seek help from a health professional.
Updated by Dr. Vee on May 20, 2012
Last updated by Dr. Vee on May 21, 2012
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A recent study evaluated six different clinical trials involving 2650 overweight and obese patients around the world. The Mediterranean Diet was found to be more effective in reducing weight, body mass index, blood pressure, fasting sugar and total cholesterol than a low fat diet.
The Mediterranean Diet is known as a moderate fat diet, because a higher percentage of calories comes from fat than in a standard heart healthy diet where less than 30% of calories are from fat. However, the secret of the Mediterranean diet is not the percentage of fat but the type of fat consumed. Olive, canola, sunflower, safflower, soybean and peanut oil commonly eaten in the Mediterranean regions are all mono and poly unsaturated oils, which are healthier than saturated and trans (partially hydrogenated vegetable oils). Monounsaturated fatty acids (commonly abbreviated MUFA) are healthier than saturated fats, which are found in animal fat products such as butter and tropical oils. Avocados are another source of MUFA.
Nuts, another integral food consumed in Mediterranean countries, provide heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.
Fish, a leaner protein than red meat, is a major component of the Mediterranean Diet. Fatty fish like salmon, halibut, herring, black cod and sardines have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, which support healthy memory and aging, and prevent heart disease. Interestingly, omega 3 fatty acids modestly increase LDL ( bad cholesterol), but they are beneficial in preventing heart disease and stroke because they prevent platelet stickiness and help lower blood triglyceride levels. Omega 3 fatty acids also reduce the risk of sudden death by preventing heart dangerous types of heart rhythm abnormalities.
The Standard American Diet or SAD (pun intended) has large amounts of red meat, fried foods, processed grains, cured meats, and sugary sweets and beverages. In contrast, the Mediterranean Diet is plant-based, with up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Whole grains are another important feature of the Mediterranean Diet. Bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil. Avoid butter, which has saturated fat, and margerine, which contains trans fat made by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils. Whole grains take longer to digest so they prevent sharp increases in blood sugar after meals.
Americans more commonly eat processed grains, which have the outer covering of the grain removed. Remember that whole wheat bread is not made of whole grain; instead it is made out of processed wheat flour (but still has more fiber than white bread). Whole grains have more fiber and are healthier for the colon than processed grains. A high fiber diet can reduce the risk of diverticulosis and colon cancer. It takes more calories to digest whole grains than to digest processed grains. A diet high in fiber can also lower blood cholesterol levels. The Mediterranean Diet have high amounts of soluble (beans, legumes, cracked wheat) and insoluble (fruits, vegetables, oat bran) fiber.
Substitute a whole wheat version of your favorite pasta, and remember to cook it al dente (not soft) in order to prevent increases in blood sugar after eating.
Red wine in moderation is acceptable in the Mediterranean Diet. However, if more than 5 ounces per day in women or 10 ounces a day in men is consumed, the benefits of the red wine are lost. Women at risk for breast cancer or breast cancer
recurrence should consider restricting alcohol intake since this factor has been associated with breast cancer occurrence. It is believed that the benefits of red wine to the heart are through the antioxidant action of the phytonutrient resveratrol, which is found in the skins of grapes. So the same benefits of wine can be achieved by eating red grapes or drinking pure red grape juice.
Dr. Ancel Keyes and his colleagues (including Dr. Paul Dudley White, who later served as President Eisenhower’s heart doctor) developed the Seven Countries Study after World War II to evaluate the health of almost thirteen thousand middle-aged men in the United States, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Yugoslavia and Japan. They discovered that people who ate a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, lentils), fish and whole grains were the healthiest. The healthiest men were the residents of Crete, who lived longer and had less heart disease than Americans in the post World War II era. Dr. Keyes and his associates hypothesized that it was the Mediterranean diet that the Cretans ate which contributed to their longevity and good health. The residents of Crete ate up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily!
Studies have shown that the Mediterranean Diet decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and death from all causes. Although there have not been any prospective randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trials (the gold standard for evidence based medicine) comparing the Mediterranean diet to the standard American diet or weight loss programs, a number of studies have shown that people who follow the Mediterranean diet are leaner than people who follow other diets.
Cruciferous vegetables (shaped like a cross when cut) such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts have antioxidants which prevent several kinds of cancer including breast and prostate. Tomatoes have lycopene, an antioxidant similar to vitamin A, which reduces the risk of cancers such as breast and prostate. Cooking tomatoes or cooking with olive oil, such as in tomato sauce, increases the lycopene content.
The low sodium Mediterranean diet combined with the high potassium content of fruits and vegetables such as various greens, legumes, potatoes and squash helps lower blood pressure. Spinach, almonds, lentils, broccoli, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good sources of magnesium, another element essential to maintain good blood pressure.
The high fiber content of fruits, vegetables and whole grains stabilizes blood sugar and prevents diabetes. Another benefit of fiber in the diet is that it keeps maintains a feeling of fullness, decreasing the temptation for eating unhealthy snacks when ravished! Mono unsaturated fats from foods such as avocados, olive oil and nuts increase the body’s ability to use insulin, which also decreases the risk of diabetes.
Although nuts have healthy omega 3 fatty acids, they are composed of fat, so no more than a handful a day is recommended. Avoid salted or honey roasted nuts. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, cashews and pistachios can be eaten as part of the Mediterranean diet.
Lean protein in the form of chicken and other poultry and fish (healthy portion is checkbook cover size) are important components of the Mediterranean diet, and are consumed weekly. Red meat and pork is rarely eaten, no more than a few times a month, and in small portions (about the size of a deck of cards). Food is prepared simply, using fresh ingredients, without sauces or gravies. Rosemary, garlic, thyme, basil and parsley are herbs commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, and have been shown to have beneficial health effects.
Studies show that garlic decreases blood pressure and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Remember to allow cut garlic to sit out for at least 5 minutes before cooking, in order to retain its health benefits.
In the Mediterranean region, sweets are consumed infrequently (no more than twice weekly), and are usually made of natural sugars such as honey. Aiming for a 75 calorie dessert is ideal. Sorbets, fruit and dark chocolate are the best dessert choices.
Low fat Greek yogurt, feta cheese, sardines, beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach and kale are good sources of calcium.
Lentils, spinach, almonds, and poultry are good sources of iron. Eating citrus fruit or peppers provides vitamin C, which helps the absorption of iron in a meal. Lentils and beans are also good sources of potassium, magnesium, folic acid and soluble fiber. Soak beans and change the soaking water several times in order to decrease the gas producing substances in beans. Remember that beans are not a complete protein, meaning they lack some essential amino acids that the body must get through the diet; adding lean poultry and eggs provides these essential amino acids. Egg yolks should be eaten no more than once a week due to the saturated fat content, but there is no limit to the amount of egg whites that can be consumed.
At least 30 minutes daily exercise or movement is a recommended part of the Mediterranean diet.
Finally, a very important component of the Mediterranean lifestyle is sharing food with friends and family. Enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle, have a zest for life and improve health all at the same time!
Allain J. Nordmann, Katja Suter-Zimmerman, Heiner C. Bucher, Iris Shai, Katherine R. Tuttle, Ramon Estruch, Matthias Briel. Meta-Analysis Comparing Mediterranean to Low-Fat Diets for Modification of Cardiovascular Risk Factors. The American Journal of Medicine Volume 124, Issue 9, Pages 841-851.e2, September 2011.
Last updated on January 18, 2012 by Dr. Vee Photograph courtesy of epSos.de
To help busy people and families shop for, prepare, and serve healthy meals, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of NIH created and published Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Dinners. The new cookbook features 75 simple and delicious recipes influenced by Asian, Latino, Mediterranean, and American cuisine that are good for your heart and taste great, too.
Chicken and Mushroom Fricassee
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 carton (10 oz) white button mushrooms, rinsed and quartered
1 Cup leeks, split into quarters, then sliced into small squares and rinsed well
1 Cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Cup celery, rinsed and diced
1 Cup pearl onions, raw or frozen
3 Cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb skinless chicken legs or thighs (4 whole legs, split, or 8 thighs)
2 Tbsp each fresh herbs (such as parsley and chives), rinsed, dried, and minced (or 2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Heat olive oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottom roasting or braising pan (a large sauté pan with a metal handle will work as well).
- Add mushrooms to pan, and cook until golden brown, about 3–5 minutes. Add leeks, potatoes, celery, and pearl onions, and continue to cook until the vegetables become soft, about 3–5 additional minutes.
- Add chicken broth to the pan, and bring to a boil. Add chicken legs to the pan, cover, and place in the heated oven for about 20 minutes or until the chicken legs are tender when pierced with a fork (to a minimum internal temperature of 165° F).
- When chicken legs are tender, remove legs from the pan, return the pan to the stovetop, and bring the liquid to a boil. Add herbs and lemon juice.
- In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with the sour cream, and add to the pan. Bring back to a boil and then remove from the heat.
- Season with salt and pepper, and pour 1 cup of vegetables and sauce over chicken.
Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 242, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 42 mg, Sodium 430 mg, Fiber 3 g, Protein 20 g, Carbohydrates 24 g , Potassium 807 mg
* Recipe taken from Keep the Beat Recipes: Deliciously Healthy Dinners, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Last Updated January 16, 2012 by Dr. Vee