Merry Wellness News!

by Tanya

 Wishing You All A Very Happy And Healthy Holiday!

 Vitamin E:

Good For You Or Bad For You?


Recently, the news about vitamin E has not been good.  For those of you taking vitamin E supplements, it may have even frightened you into discontinuing the use of your supplements.  However, there are several flaws with the news about vitamin E, and not everything you heard is 100% accurate.  Let’s take a closer look…

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University recently published a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine claiming that high-doses of vitamin E may increase the risk for mortality.  The researchers drew conclusions based on 19 different studies.  What they didn’t tell you is that most of the patients in these studies were over 60 years of age and already had diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, kidney failure, and others.  This report inappropriately tries to draw conclusions for the entire population based on a combination of studies of people who were already at high risk of mortality due to serious diseases.  It is impossible to know if the greater mortality rates are due to the vitamin E or to the pre-existing diseases of these older folks.

Another factor to consider is that only one form of vitamin E, alpha tocopherol, was used. This makes it impossible to know if other forms of vitamin E, such as the natural, gamma tocopherol, would have produced a different effect.  Natural vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory properties that alpha tocopherol does not.

If you are unsure about taking vitamin E supplements, be sure to include a variety of vitamin E-rich foods such as almonds, avocados, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, and vegetable oils.  Since vitamin E works synergistically with vitamin C, you may want to combine these foods with oranges, bell peppers, strawberries, and other vitamin C-rich foods.


Vitamin E and Selenium TOGETHER

May Lower The Risk Of Prostate Cancer


The World Health Organization ranks prostate cancer as the third most common cancer in men, affecting almost 550,000 men worldwide.  Wyoming ranks 8th in the nation for prostate cancer. 

According to the journal Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Disease, vitamin E and selenium are the two most popular dietary supplements used to help prevent prostate cancer.  Researchers investigated the individual and combined effects of vitamin E and selenium.  The cells were then analyzed to determine the number of cells that were in the S-phase, an active phase of the cell cycle during which DNA is produced.  The researchers found that the combined treatment reduced the number of cells in the S-phase to a greater degree than either vitamin E or selenium alone.

Within 72 hours, the number of active cells in S-phase was reduced by up to 93.9% with the combined treatment when compared with an 80.3% reduction with selenium alone and a 47.3% reduction with vitamin E alone.

Although further research is necessary, it may be wise for men to eat a diet rich in these micronutrients.  Good food sources for vitamin E include plant oils, fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, asparagus, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables (see the leafy greens recipe below).  Good food sources for selenium are eggs, fish, seafood, and whole grains.



Herbs To Protect The Prostate?

For years I’ve read articles saying that saw palmetto can help men with prostate problems.  Recently, this herbal treatment received media attention in the November 2004 issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch.  The publication described the herb’s effect on symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), enlargement of the prostate gland.  BPH can cause such symptoms as the inability to empty the bladder completely, a weak urinary stream, and frequent night-time urination.  The Harvard article cited various clinical trials that demonstrated that saw palmetto reduced BPH symptoms by about 25%.  These trials involved nearly 3,000 men between the ages of 40 and 88.  Saw palmetto is believed to work by inhibiting an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (another hormone), which is believed to play a role in prostate enlargement. 

I believe more research is needed to support this data.  However, you may want to discuss the use of saw palmetto for BPH with your physician.  Remember that herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA.

Always check with your doctor before you begin taking supplements of any type, and remember to ask about drug and food interactions. 

Source: Harvard Men’s Health Watch, Nov. 2004


Aspirin Good For Heart… And Prostate?


Men who take aspirin to reduce their risk of heart disease may also help them survive prostate cancer.  It may help men prevent prostate cancer and also decrease the virulence of the disease so they can beat prostate cancer.

A new study by Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia found that anti-inflammatory pain killers, taken prior to radiation treatment for prostate cancer, improved survival rates.  Ninety-one percent of those taking anti-inflammatory meds were still alive 10 years after treatment, compared to 68% for those not using anti-inflammatory meds. 

Some researchers believe that prostate cancer tends to develop in areas with chronic inflammation.  Anti-inflammatory meds such as aspirin may also inhibit certain enzymes that lead to tumor growth.  More research is necessary to determine the effect of anti-inflammatory medications on prostate cancer.  Be sure to talk to your doctor before using anti-inflammatory meds.  There is always a benefit/risk to all medications, even over-the-counter meds.  For more info on aspirin and prostate cancer risk reduction, check out the following web sites.



Folate Is Fab For Head and Heart


Folate (folic acid) is a water-soluble B vitamin found in fruits and vegetables such as oranges, orange juice, strawberries, avocados, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, spinach, artichokes, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.  Folate is also found in legumes and in fortified breads and breakfast cereals. 

Several studies have documented a link between increased folate intake and decreased rates of neurological diseases such Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.  Folate also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, neural tube birth defects, and certain types of cancers.  A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition states that inadequate folate intake “may have a negative impact on the health of the aging population because it is a significant risk factor for atherosclerotic vascular disease, for changes in DNA that may result in pro-carcinogenic (pro-cancer) effects, and an increased risk for cognitive dysfunction.”

It is important to note that if you take folic acid from supplements, you should also increase your vitamin B-12, because added folate (in supplement form) may mask the diagnosis of a vitamin B-12 deficiency.  Vitamin B-12 is not as well absorbed in individuals over age 50

Staying physically and mentally active and eating a healthy diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids from olive oil and canola oils, nuts, and fish are other ways to help preserve cognitive function with aging.  Be sure to check out the leafy green and beet salad recipe in the recipe section below.  After all, the word folate means “foliage!”

Reference:  Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2003 Feb;22(1):1-8.


Can You Talk While You Exercise?

Not being able to carry on a conversation while you work out may be a sign that you are exercising at too high of an intensity.  Talking should not be as easy as it is when you are at rest.  However, if you are huffing and puffing during exercise, you are working too hard!  In order to be in your target training zone, or ideal exercise heart rate, you should be able to carry on a conversation and break a sweat.

According to a recent study at the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the “Talk Test” has been shown to be well correlated with exercise heart rate.  It appears to be a valuable, although quite simple, method of determining your exercise intensity, or target heart rate for exercise.

The study evaluated the consistency of the “Talk Test” by comparing responses during different types of exercise.  Healthy volunteers performed their exercises on treadmills and cycles.  The results support the hypothesis that the “Talk Test” approximates heart rate testing (with heart rate monitors) on both the treadmill and cycle. 

At the point where speech first became difficult for subjects, their exercise intensity was almost exactly equivalent to the heart rates measured by testing equipment.  When speech was not comfortable, their exercise intensity consistently exceeded their target heart rates.  These results suggest that the “Talk Test” is a highly consistent method of monitoring heart rate during exercise.

So, if you are carrying on a conversation while breaking a good sweat, you are in your target training zone.

Reference:  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Sep; 36(9):1632-6.


High Carb Diets and Diabetes

   Permission to reprint this article from “Communicating Food for Health”

by James Kenney, Ph.D. Registered Dietitian

 Back in 1988, Dr. Garg published a study and concluded that a diet high in monounsaturated fat was preferable to one high in carbohydrate (CHO) for people with type 2 diabetes, because the high-CHO diet raised the blood sugar levels and triglyceride levels and lowered the HDL level compared to the higher fat diet.


I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that this study’s results would not apply in the real world where people, rather than researchers, determine their calorie intake.  Why?  Because a higher fat diet would be expected to provide less satiety (fullness and satisfaction) per calorie than a diet higher in carbohydrate.  Since then many other studies have been published using the same flawed experimental design and coming to the same largely irrelevant conclusions.  Based on these flawed studies, many now believe diets higher in monounsaturated fats and protein improve blood lipids and blood sugar control in diabetics and are even better for preventing cardiovascular diseases than are diets higher in CHO.  I have written letters to the editors repeatedly explaining why short term studies with controlled calorie intakes lead to conclusions that are largely irrelevant to the planning of diets for people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.  In the real world over the long term, most people consume more calories and gain weight on diets higher in fat and lower in CHO.


Results from two long-term trials in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance demonstrated that a diet higher in CHO combined with exercise led to a reduction in body weight and about a 60% reduced risk of developing diabetes.  No comparable data exist to demonstrate that higher-fat diets slow the progression of impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes.  Two studies in normal subjects showed that the adverse changes seen in blood lipids do not occur if the subjects, rather than the researchers, determine how much they eat when offered either a high-fat or a high-CHO diet.  Now a study from the University of Oregon has looked at the impact of feeding subjects with type 2 diabetes either a high-CHO or high-monounsaturated-fat diet.  Not surprisingly, the adverse impacts of the higher-CHO diet on blood lipids and blood sugar levels failed to materialize.  Why?  Because subjects spontaneously ate fewer calories and lost more weight on the high-CHO diet than on the higher-fat diet.  The authors concluded, “Contrary to expectations, the low-fat, high fiber diet promoted weight loss in patients with type 2 diabetes without causing unfavorable alterations in blood lipids or blood sugar control.”


Bottom Line:


Diets very low in fat and high in unrefined carbohydrate (simple sugars) have been shown repeatedly to promote weight loss, improve blood lipids and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, only a very-low-fat diet has been shown to reverse angina pain and reverse the atherosclerotic process.  By contrast, diets with more fat and less CHO will generally be more calorie dense and lower in fiber, which makes them more likely to lead to weight gain in the long run.  Higher fat diets are less effective for preventing the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease over the long term.  While diets high in unsaturated fats do favorably impact blood lipids compared to high-saturated-fat diets, there remains no evidence that diets high in unsaturated fats can reverse angina or the atherosclerotic process.  Certainly there is no evidence a high-unsaturated-fat diet leads to a reduction in calorie intake and promotes weight loss.  Until such data are published, a diet very low in fat and high in unrefined CHO appears preferable to one with more monounsaturated fat.


References: N Engl J Med 2002;346:393-403;  N Engl J Med 2001;334:1343-50; Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:668-73.

Low-Fat Facts


Fat-free does not mean calorie free.  While “fat-free” does lower calories when it comes to meat and dairy, it doesn’t lower them significantly with chips and sweets. None of these items are “calorie free.”

 Reduced fat does not mean low in fat.  Reduced fat indicates that a product contains 25% less fat per serving than the regular product. 

 For a product to be labeled “low-fat,” it has to have 3 grams fat or less per serving.

 90% fat-free ground beef does not mean the beef contains just 10% calories

from fat.  90% fat free means the product contains 10% fat by weight.  For example, 90% fat-free beef contains about 47% calories from fat.  Look for extra-lean meats because they contain less than 5 grams fat and less than 2 grams saturated fat per serving or 100 grams.




Low-Fat Diet Promotes Weight Loss


Permission to reprint this article from “Communicating Food for Health”


by James Kenney, Ph.D. Registered Dietitian

 A recent study of a group of 64 mostly overweight postmenopausal women examined the impact of aggressively reducing dietary fat on body weight over an 8-month period.  Analysis of the subjects’ customary diets showed that the heavier

women (BMI > 27.5) consumed higher-fat diets (36.6% of calories) than the lighter women (BMI <27.5), who averaged 29.4% fat calories.  There is a lot of data

demonstrating fatter Americans eat greater proportion of their calories from fat than thinner Americans.  In this study the subjects were instructed on how to limit fat intake to about 15% of calories in separate 45-minute educational classes led by a registered dietitian for the first 8 weeks.  Each study participant also met individually for a total of 3 hours of dietary instruction spread out over the first 6

months of the study.  In addition, study participants met once a week for a potluck dinner and got an additional 30-minute group session to provide feedback and reinforcement for continuing on a 15% fat diet.  There was no change in physical activity during the study, so any change in body weight would be due to instruction to limit dietary fat intake.  Although fat was limited, the participants were not

instructed to reduce calories.  Even though these were free-living subjects who did not exercise and ate as much as they wanted, the average subject still lost 13.2 pounds after 8 months.


It should be noted that the subjects in this study consumed mostly refined carbohydrates and not whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  Even so, the average

intake of most nutrients monitored in this diet study went up or did not change. However, the intake of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids did drop significantly

on this very-low-fat diet.  The authors concluded, “This study demonstrates that adherence to a very-low-fat diet causes weight loss in the 5-10% range and a reduction in body fat.” 


Reference: J Am Diet Assoc 2003;103:1600-6


,,,Recipes ,,,

                                                   From The Fitschen Kitchen


 Try these easy slow cooker recipes on those hectic days before Christmas!


Slow Cooker Taco Casserole

1 1/2 lb. ground beef sirloin (or half beef and half soy burger)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (1.25-oz.) pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
9 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/2 cup chicken broth (low-sodium preferred)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 (10-oz.) can enchilada sauce
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) 2% shredded Cheddar cheese
2 (15-oz.) cans pinto, black beans, drained, rinsed
1 (11-oz.) can Green Giant Mexicorn Whole Kernel Corn, Red and Green Peppers, drained (I use frozen corn, red, and green peppers for less sodium and more vitamins)
1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chilies
1 (2 1/4-oz.) can chopped ripe olives
Low-fat or fat-free sour cream

Brush inside of 3 1/2 or 4-quart slow cooker with oil or spray with nonstick cooking spray. In large skillet, brown ground beef sirloin with onion and garlic over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix, salt and pepper. Place 3 tortillas in bottom of oiled slow cooker. Top with beef mixture, broth, tomato sauce and enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the cheese.

Layer 3 more tortillas. Top with beans, corn, green chilies, half of the olives and 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining 3 tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and olives. Cook on high setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on low setting for 6 to 7 hours. Uncover slow cooker for last 30 minutes of cooking time. Top individual servings with sour cream.

Spicy Peanut Chicken

1 Tbsp. olive oil

8 chicken thighs

1 large onion                                                                                                            

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chilies                     

1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes, undrained                                        

2 Tbsp. honey                                                                                                          

1-1/2 tsp.  ground cumin                                                                                      

1 tsp.  ground cinnamon                                                                                       

1/3 cup peanut butter                                                                                           

2 cups of hot cooked brown rice, couscous, or quinoa

1.  Heal oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook chicken in oil about 4 minutes, turning once until brown.

2.  Mix onion, diced and crushed tomatoes, honey, cumin, and cinnamon in 4-5 qt. slow cooker.  Place the chicken in slow cooker and spoon mixture over chicken.

3.  Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

4.  Stir in peanut butter until melted and well blended.  Serve chicken and sauce over cooked grains.


Leafy Green and Beet Salad

with walnut tarragon vinaigrette

(High in folate and antioxidants!)


4 TB walnut oil

4 TB tarragon vinegar

dash salt

4TB chopped walnuts

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bags leafy greens

3–4 whole beets, boiled or roasted and sliced

Whisk the oil, vinegar, salt, walnuts and garlic together until well combined.  Toss lettuce with half the dressing. Arrange dressed endive and beet slices on individual serving plates. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve.

Hint:  You may double the recipe for more dressing, but do not double the garlic!

Nutrition Info:  Serves 4

Per Serving (10 oz-wt.): 90 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 9g dietary fiber, 4g protein, 11g carbohydrate, 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium


Turkey Meat Loaf


Compare to 310 calories and 19 g fat for regular meatloaf


Per serving: 141 calories, 3.8 g fat, <1 g saturated fat, 38 mg cholesterol, 178 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 18 g protein.




1 tsp oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 lbs. extra lean ground turkey meat (regular ground contains much more fat!)

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

1/4 cup egg white

1 tsp garlic powder

black pepper to taste

1/2 cup ketchup, no added salt




1.  Preheat oven to 350 ºF.

2.  Sauté the onion in the oil until golden, about 3 minutes. Place the onion in the refrigerator to cool.

3.  In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, cooked rice, onion, tomato paste, egg white and seasonings. Mix this well and place in a 5"-by-9" loaf pan.

4.  Bake at 350 ºF for 50 minutes; drain any excess fat; coat with ketchup, and bake for 20 more minutes. Serve hot.


Serves 10.


Tip: You can mix half lean ground turkey and half lean ground beef until your family gets used to the new taste.


For The Super Health-conscious…

 Merry Tofajitas!


For a quick and very healthy Mexican dish, this recipe is hard to beat.  The baked tofu replaces beef or chicken and the olive oil provides a healthy fat alternative.  Non-fat whole-wheat tortillas work great with the fajita filling.  They have no hydrogenated fat (like the white-flour tortillas) and provide dietary fiber. 



2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably organic)
1 large onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
1 green pepper, such as ancho, Anaheim or bell, seeded and julienned
1 hot pepper, such as jalapeno or Serrano, seeded and minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms (portobello are recommended)
2 cups sliced, baked pressed tofu (preferably savory or hickory-smoked flavor)
Salt to taste
6 non-fat whole-wheat tortillas, warmed  (or low-carb tortillas – very high in fiber!)


Salsa, low-fat or fat-free sour cream, , chopped fresh tomatoes, onions, and avocado

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onions.

2. Sauté, stirring, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the peppers and mushrooms and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the tofu and stir-fry for 5 minutes more. Season with salt to taste and serve in the tortillas.

4. Top the fajitas with salsa, sour cream, chopped fresh tomatoes, onions, and avocado (or any combination of these).