Wellness Letter August 2004

By Tanya

This Issue:

Folate Can Decrease Your Risk Of Stroke

More On Weight Training, Aneurysm, And Stroke

Some Grilling Info To Consider 

Walnuts Are Good For You!

Essential Oils

Zinc May Help Kids with ADHD




Folate Can Decrease Your Risk Of Stroke

Can high protein diets put you at greater risk?

Findings from a recent study reveal that an increased folate intake is associated with a decreased risk of ischemic stroke.  This study suggests that getting enough folate in your diet now may help prevent a stroke later in life.  This study concludes that folate was particularly effective in decreasing the risk of ischemic strokes, the most common kind of stroke.

High protein diets may not allow for adequate intakes of folate, because the richest sources of folate are found in plant foods (carbohydrates).  Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food.  The word “folate” means “foliage.”  Rich sources of folate include:  leafy green vegetables, asparagus, artichokes, oranges, apples, strawberries, melons, breads, and cereals. 

Low folate intakes are also correlated to open spine birth defects in babies whose mothers did not get enough folate in their diets.  Getting a total of 700 micrograms of folate per day can help you maintain your health.  For women of child-bearing age, it can also protect the health of your unborn child.

Stroke. 2004 Jan;35(1):169-74.

More On Weight Training, Aneurysm, And Stroke

Weight lifting is a popular form of exercise that has many health benefits.  Studies show that weight lifting can help manage diabetes and arthritis, build bone, lower blood pressure, increase HDL (the good cholesterol), and help alleviate anxiety and depression.  However, a growing number of experts are concerned about lifting heavy weights.  Physicians at Yale and Stanford medical schools say aneurysms are a concern for heavy weight lifters.  Vascular experts throughout the country say stroke and dissection of the aorta are also concerns.  A dissection is where the inner and outer lining of the aorta separate.  While we know that people over age 60 have the greatest risk, many people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s have died from aneurysms while lifting heavy weights. 

The experts are not concerned about light to moderate weight lifting.  They define “light” weight lifting as the amount of weight you can lift in four sets of 15 repetitions.  However, they are concerned with anyone bench pressing more than half their weight.  That means that a 130 pound woman should not bench press more than 65 pounds, and a 180 pound male should not lift more than 90 pounds.  This happens regularly in most gyms.  People over 40 are advised to bench press no more than half their weight.  Anyone with high blood pressure or a family history of stroke, aneurysm, or aortic dissection should always use light to moderate weight when lifting. 

Today, I watched a proud young man who weighs 175 pounds bench press 200 pounds.  I often see young women pressing 90-100 pounds.  I am over 50 and weigh 130 pounds.  I used to bench press 90 pounds 2-3 days a week.  I have a family history of hypertension and stroke.  It certainly made me think about the difference between healthy weight lifting and playing Russian roulette with my life!  


Some Grilling Info To Consider 

Since grilling season is still here (well, maybe!), I decided to include some important things to remember about grilling, such as bacteria in meats, fat grams, and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).


No matter how lean the meat, you want to make sure the burger is properly cooked to kill all the bacteria. That means using a meat thermometer and making sure the internal temperature is 160 ºF for beef and 165 ºF for turkey.

Compare Fat Grams In Ground Beef And Alternatives

3 Ounces Cooked (the size of a deck of cards)         

Calories:       Fat (gm):       % Fat Calories:

Boca Burger (a vegetarian alternative made with soy)     

80               1                           11%

Ground turkey breast, skinless         

111             ..5                          4%

Ground beef (95%)                                                        

146             5.5                        34%

Ground turkey, with skin                                                 

170             9                           47%

Ground beef (90%)                                                        

214             11                         46%

Ground beef (85%)                                                        

228             13                         51%

Ground beef (80%)                                                        

235             15                         57%

Ground beef (73%)                                                        

248             17                         61%

Source: USDA database, manufacturer’s data, www.beef.org

How To Reduce Carcinogens

Grilling meat can produce carcinogens.  A combination of high heat and fat dripping into an open flame cause carcinogens.  High heat reacts with protein in red meat, poultry and fish to create Heterocyclic amines (HCAs).  HCAs are linked to cancer, especially colon and breast cancers.   

You don’t need to char burgers in order to kill the bacteria.  The longer you cook meat at high temperatures the more HCAs you produce.  This applies in grilling, broiling and frying meats as well.  If you cook a steak well done as opposed to medium-well, you double HCAs.

What can you do?

    • Use a pan or some foil to catch the fat drippings help prevent HCAs from forming. 
    • Flip burgers often.  By turning burgers once a minute and cooking them over a low heat you reduce HCAs and kill E. coli bacteria.  Use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat reaches 160-degrees.  This is the temperature needed to kill E. coli.  Don’t be fooled by color.  Just because meat is brown, it does not necessarily mean it is thoroughly cooked.
    • Use tongs or a spatula to turn foods instead of a fork.  Piercing meat with a fork allows fats and juices to drip down onto the hot coals which causes flame-ups
    • Use the right marinade.  Marinate raw meat in a thin, liquid sauce for at least ten minutes. Using commercial sauces can triple the amount of  HCAs.  Always dilute thick sauces.  Marinate meats in a sauce that contains anti-oxidants such as: vinegar, citrus juices, herbs, spices, and olive oil.  Research suggests that this may help inhibit the formation of carcinogens on grilled meat.  (See the end of my recipe section for some tasty marinades!). 
    • Cook burgers, poultry, ribs and fish in a microwave oven for at least ten minutes before grilling.  Be sure you drain the juices when you are done.  By practicing this procedure, you eliminate 90-percent of HCAs.

Source:  Tanya’s nutrition handout

Walnuts Are Good For You!

According to a randomized study published in the April 6 issue of Circulation, walnuts improve endothelial function.

"This is the first time a whole food, not its isolated components, has shown this beneficial effect on vascular health," says lead author and physician Emilio Ros.  Dr. Ros says that walnuts differ from all other nuts because of their high content of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, which may help prevent hardening of the arteries.  Other beneficial components in walnuts include folic acid, fiber, vitamin E, and other antioxidants that further help prevent atherosclerosis.

In this crossover-design trial, 21 men and women, aged 25 to 75 years with high cholesterol, received a cholesterol-lowering Mediterranean diet for four weeks, followed or preceded by a four-week diet of similar energy and fat content in which walnuts replaced roughly 32% of the energy from monounsaturated fat.  Based on each subject's total caloric intake, the daily intake of walnuts was approximately 8-13 walnuts.

Compared with the Mediterranean diet, the walnut diet decreased total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol).  "The encouraging results of this study provide physicians and patients with a powerful, yet simple, nutritional tool in their fight against heart disease," Dr. Ros concludes.

Why not add some walnuts to your diet as insurance?  However, be sure to compensate for the extra calories and fat grams by reducing calories and fat from other sources in your diet -- or you may find yourself gaining weight!

Hint:  If walnuts smell old, throw them away.  An “off order” means they have begun to oxidize and that you will be taking in free radicals instead of protecting yourself against them.

Source:  Circulation. 2004; 109:1609-161

Essential Oils

In past issues of Wellness News, I shared with you the importance of including good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet.  You may be wondering why suddenly there is so much in the news about these essential oils?  These oils have been found to be a vital nutrient and defense against a long list of health problems such as heart disease, stroke, depression, memory loss due to aging, and bone disease.


Omega-3s and omega-6s are called "essential fatty acids."  The term “essential” means they are critical for good health and the body cannot make them on its own.  We must get them from our diet or through supplements. Omega-6 oils come primarily from vegetable oils, whereas omega-3s come primarily from cold-water fish.  Omega-3s are harder for most Americans to get.  It is much easier to get, because omega-6 is found in salad dressings, processed foods, and oils used for frying.  This abundance upsets the ratio that should exist between omega-6 and omega-3.  The ratio should not be greater than 4:1.  So few people get enough omega-3s that the ratio sometimes gets as high as 20:1.  An imbalance can create too much arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation in the body and may lead to swollen joints, various forms of cancer, and impaired arteries (heart disease).


The best way to balance these fatty acids is to reduce all fried foods and eliminate fast foods from your diet.  This will sharply decrease the amount of omega-6s you are consuming.  Then add at least one gram (1,000 mg) of omega-3s a day.  You can find omega-3s in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna and trout.  Another good source of omega-3s is ground flax seeds (and flaxseed oil).

With the recent controversy over eating too much fish containing PCBs and mercury (salmon and tuna), some individuals may simply prefer to take supplements.  It's important that the supplements you take are fresh.  Look for evidence of cold-processing on the label.  A method known as “cold-processing” will help keep the oils from turning rancid.  Store your supplements in the refrigerator and be sure to sniff them occasionally.  They should continue to smell fresh.  When they no longer smell fresh, throw them away!  An “off order” means they have begun to oxidize and that you will be taking in free radicals instead of protecting yourself against them.

Adding a supplement of omega-3 and omega-6 oils to your daily regimen is one of the easiest and safest things you can do to help keep your body healthy by curbing inflammation.  The best way to get your omegas is to use plain olive oil or canola oil on salads, avoid all fried and fast foods, and use supplements of omega-3s and omega-6s together to ensure the proper balance.  Be sure your omega sources are fresh

Warning:  You may want to discuss adding these essential oils to your diet with your physician.  These oils may thin your blood.  If you are going to have elective surgery (even minor surgery, dental work, or tattoos!), make sure you go off all supplements of omega-3 and omega-6 oils for at least 10 days before surgery.  Don’t forget, these supplements have an “anti-inflammatory” component to them, just like aspirin, ibuprophen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), chondroitin (found in supplements with glucosamine), and vitamin E.


Zinc May Help Kids with ADHD

According to a new study, zinc supplements may possibly enhance treatment for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Forty-four children took part in the study.  The children were treated with the stimulant drug, Ritalin.  Half also took 55 mg of zinc sulfate while the other half took a placebo.  After six weeks of treatment, the researchers found greater improvement among the children who took the zinc.  The researchers said that zinc is needed for the production of melatonin, which regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine.  Dopamine is believed to play an important role in ADHD.  The findings support those of a previous study on the effects of taking zinc supplements in connection with ADHD treatment. 

Source:  BMC Psychiatry, April 2004 

Do Adults Need More Zinc Too! 

Some experts think that the typical American diet leaves some of us mildly deficient in zinc.  It is believed that supplements can correct deficiencies and may help prevent or treat a variety of conditions ranging from macular degeneration to acne.  Some studies show that zinc lozenges may reduce the duration of a cold. 

Zinc is an essential mineral and is believed to be one mildly deficient in some individuals.  Zinc deficiency is especially common in adolescents, infants, seniors and women in general.  Certain drugs and nutrients can inhibit zinc absorption or increase its excretion.  Thus, for many people, increasing the intake of zinc-containing foods or taking a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement may be a form of nutritional insurance.

Some individuals take zinc supplements in higher than recommended levels.  Zinc can be toxic in high doses and can have adverse effects.  No government agency is responsible for routinely testing dietary supplements for their contents or quality.  In other words, anything goes!  ConsumerLab.com evaluated zinc supplements to determine whether they contained the amounts stated on their labels.  These products were also tested for contaminants such as lead. 

What Experts At ConsumerLab.com Found…


All seven lozenges contained their claimed amount of zinc and were not contaminated with lead.  However, there was a significant difference in the amount of zinc in each lozenge and their recommended dose.  Daily doses ranged from as little as 5 mg per day to as much as 80 mg.  

Pills and Liquids

Three out of the nine zinc products (pills or liquids) contained less zinc than claimed.  The amounts ranged from 73% to 86%.  Some of the products that tested the lowest fell under the category of "Good Manufacturing Practices."  None of the products were contaminated with unacceptable amounts of lead. 

Approved Products

These are some of the approved products that contain what the label says they contain:

Puritan's Pride Chelated Zinc Lozenges  23-46 mg/day

Puritan's Pride Vitamin C and Zinc Lozenges  14 mg/day

Vitamin World Chelated Zinc Lozenges  23-46 mg/day

Vitamin World Naturally Inspired Vitamin C and Zinc Lozenges  23-46 mg/day

Puritan's Pride Chelated Zinc  50mg/day

Puritan's Pride Chelated Zinc  25mg/day

Sundown Benefits Zinc Dietary Supplements High Potency  50 mg/day

Vitamin World Naturally Inspired Zinc Picolinate  25mg/day

Source:  ConsumerLab.com (member site)

 Zinc From Food Sources May Be Better

Since zinc is highly toxic in high supplement doses, food sources of zinc may be a safer alternative for most people.  Some excellent food sources of zinc include:












Whole grain breads

Whole grain pastas

Whole grain cereals

Nutrition Concepts and Controversies Textbook

,,, Recipes  ,,,

From The Fitschen Kitchen 

Jamaican Seafood Medley

From DeVonne

(Delicious on the grill!  Get your zinc and omega-3 fatty acids with this recipe)


2 tbs packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tbs orange juice

1 1/2 tbs lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2  tsp minced ginger

1  tsp grated orange peel

1  tsp grated lime peel

1  tsp salt

1/2  tsp black pepper

1/8 tsp cinnamon and a dash  cloves

1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce

1 1/2 pounds of orange roughy (or your favorite fish)


Combine all ingredients; mix well.  Pour over fish, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Follow the instructions for reducing HCAs above.  Bake or grill. 

Grandma's Sweet Slaw

Very Quick and Easy

This 4 ingredient low-fat, low-carb slaw is very quick and simple, and guaranteed to be a success at potlucks and barbeques!  Prep Time: approx. 15 Minutes.   Ready in: approx. 15 Minutes.  Makes 8 servings.


1/4 cup Splenda (you may replace with sugar)
1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat (or fat-free) mayonnaise                                                                                                     4 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium-large head cabbage, cored and shredded

In a large bowl, stir together the sugar and mayonnaise. Add the carrots and cabbage, and mix until well coated. Serve chilled.

Healthy Vegetarian Fajitas

Delicious and high in omega-3 fatty acids and a good source of zinc!

(try grilling the veggies and tofu for a delicious change)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced in long strips
1 green pepper, sliced in long strips
1 hot pepper (jalapeno or other)
1 cup sliced mushrooms, (Portobello work very well)
2 cups sliced tofu
Fajita seasoning (your favorite brand – I prefer
Fajita Dust sold at the Seafood section at Albertsons)
6 non-fat whole-wheat tortillas (or low-carb variety)

Low-fat or fat-free sour cream, your favorite salsa, chopped fresh tomatoes, avocado and onions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions. Sauté and stir until the onions are translucent. Stir in the peppers and mushrooms and sauté only until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes or so. Add the tofu and fajita seasoning and stir-fry for 5 minutes more.

Top the fajitas with your choice of sour cream, salsa, chopped fresh tomatoes, avocado, and onions.

Nutrients Per Serving:
Calories 303
Fat 10.5g
Saturated Fat 1g

Protein 23g
Carbohydrate 32g (unless you use a low-carb tortilla)
Cholesterol 0mg
Fiber 8g (approximately 12-16 with low-carb tortillas)

Grilling Marinades

Turmeric Garlic Marinade:
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup orange juice
Mix all.  Pour over meat, fish or poultry and marinate at least ten minutes

Teriyaki Sauce:
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
Mix all.  Pour over meat, fish or poultry. Marinate at least ten minutes

Rosemary Tea Marinade:
1/2 cup concentrated tea (two bags brewed in 1/2 cup hot water for five minutes)
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Add rosemary, garlic, honey and soy sauce to hot tea.  Cool slightly.  Pour over steaks, ribs, burgers, chicken or fish and marinate ten minutes.

Hint:  Using citrus juices such as orange, lemon, and lime with roasted garlic and olive oil is a quick and easy way to marinate meats and reduce HCAs.