Category Archives: Cardiovascular Health

Silent Signs of Heart Disease in Women

Women Heart Health Tips

Most people don’t realize that heart disease and stroke are the #1 killer of women. Many have the misconception that heart disease is a man’s disease, but the reality is that each year one in every three women will die of heart disease and stroke.

In honor of National Heart Month and GO RED for Women month, I am joining the movement to help women know the facts and that they can prevent heart disease. In fact, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.1

Get to Know the Facts

  • One of 3 women dies from heart disease, equal to the prevalence in men.
  • More women than men die from heart attacks and strokes.
  • Women typically develop cardiovascular symptoms about a decade later than men, and the disease is often riskier and more complicated to treat. Women are also more likely to be disabled after a heart attack or stroke.
  • At menopause, a woman’s heart diseaserisk starts to increase significantly, so start prevention before menopause.
  • 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for developing heart disease.
  • Women’s symptoms are often overlooked at emergency rooms, or doctors’ offices. That is why it is CRUCIAL for you to be in the know and to be pro-active if symptoms are present.
  • Women don’t have “typical” symptoms and symptoms do not always include chest pain. Commonly, the only symptom is extreme fatigue, or fatigue upon exertion or “just not feeling right.” You can see why this symptom is misdiagnosed. Fatigue can result from lack of sleep, lifestyle, allergies, colds, and many other conditions, but at times it is a sign of heart disease.

Recognize the Symptoms

Heart Attack

  • unexplained prolonged fatigue
  • chest discomfort , pressure or chest pain (not as severe as men’s)
  • pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw or stomach pain
  • shortness of breath, with or without exertion
  • light-headedness or headache
  • confusion
  • nausea or indigestion
  • sweating


F.A.S.T. is an acronym used for the most common signs and symptoms of stroke. These signs tend to appear suddenly and every second matters so it’s crucial to act fast.

  • Face. Ask the person to smile. Does the face look uneven? Does one side droop?
  • Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down or is it unable to move?
  • Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound strange? Strange speech could be slurred, the wrong words may come out, or the person is unable to speak.
  • Time to call 9-1-1.

Understand the Risk Factors

Be alert to your risk status for heart disease. Each risk factor increases your risk. These include:

  • Age 55 or older – no matter how healthy you are
  • Smoking, which increases heart risk 7 times more in women than in men
  • Diabetes, which increases risk by 3-fold
  • Being overweight or having abdominal fat (a waist size over 35 inches)
  • African-American women over age 20 – almost 50% have heart disease
  • Hispanic women – who typically get heart disease 10 years earlier than Caucasian women
  • High blood pressure – 1 in 3 women over age 65 have or will have HBP
  • Cholesterol over 200 – which means 70% of women
  • High triglycerides (blood fats) over 125
  • Sedentary living, including more than 10 hrs of TV a week
  • Menopause – at any age
  • Depression/stress (ups risk 2.5 times)
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Family history or personal history of a heart condition

Scary, isn’t it? How many risk factors do you have? Which can you reverse or control?

Here’s the good news: 80 percent of all heart disease is preventable and even reversible by making lifestyle changes in your eating and activity habits.  

We can all make changes. Be proactive! Do not wait for your doctor to tell you to eat fresh food or shed a few pounds. Rid your pantry of packaged foods with extra salt, sugar and saturated and trans fats. Vow to eat a heart-healthy diet that is plant-focused with lean proteins and liquid vegetable oils. Add salads, beans, nuts, fruit and wholegrains to your daily diet along with lean cuts of beef and pork and nonfat dairy foods. You can do this. Take a 30 minute brisk walk daily in your neighborhood, mall or gym. You can break it up into three 10-minute walks. It all starts with one step.

Making these changes, you will soon reap the benefits – improved, less inflamed arteries, better blood flow, lower blood fats and a lessened risk for heart attacks and stroke. The sooner you start, the better. The longer the damage continues, the tougher for you to turn around. Please take preventative, aggressive action. Every bite and every step count.

Start eating better and move more today. You are worth it!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating and successful solutions, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips and eating plans makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/GeorgiaKostasNutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

The inclusion of links to other websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on the websites or any association with their operators.                                                        

1Source: The American Heart Association

Preventing Osteoporosis: Smart Eats for Stronger Bones

Milk Pour

Weak and brittle bones are typically thought to be a senior health concern, however, no matter what age you are, how you treat your bones today strongly impacts your bone health for the rest of your life.

Bones are living tissue and your body constantly creates new bones to replace its older bones. By about the time you reach the age of 30, your bones begin to break down faster than they are rebuilt. This causes the bones to shrink and become less dense, resulting in poor bone health and disease.

May is National Osteoporosis Month and a time to take a closer look at the disease affecting more than one out of three Americans and what we can do to offset our risk. Osteoporosis occurs when bones become porous, brittle and prone to fracture. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, more than half of women over 65 years old suffer from osteoporosis and 15-25 percent of men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Not only does poor bone health result in fractures, but it also leads to disabilities, chronic pain and an inability to partake in everyday activities.1

So how do you prevent osteoporosis and ensure bone health throughout your life? A healthy diet high in calcium and Vitamin D can play a crucial role. Calcium is vital to supporting bone and teeth structure and Vitamin D improves bone growth and the body’s ability to absorb calcium.

Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day and 200 international units (IU) of Vitamin D. After age 50, adults should aim for 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400-600 IU of Vitamin D.

Following are my recommendations for the best foods to ensure ample calcium and bone health.

  • Milk – Eight ounces of fat-free milk will provide 30 percent of your daily dose of calcium ( about 300 mg calcium). Look for brands fortified with Vitamin D to get double the benefits. Check out Kroger’s CarbMaster Nonfat Milk, which is available in three flavors including nonfat, chocolate and vanilla. It contains up to 40 percent of your daily calcium and only 60 calories per cup!  Typically, drink 2-3 cups milk (or foods with the equivalancy in calcium) to consume needed calcium daily. Add milk to cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, soup and mashed potatoes.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – A cooked cup of spinach, broccoli or collard greens can contain upto 25 percent of your daily calcium plus they are loaded with other nutrients like fiber, iron and Vitamin A.  Add greens to any spaghetti meat sauce or stew or bean dish, or even a smoothie.
  • Low-fat cheese – Great options include light cheeses such as from Cabot or Laughing Cow, which are high in calcium and lower in calories and fat ( 150-200 mg calcium; 50 calories per oz).
  • Yogurt –Enjoy Greek yogurt like nonfat Fage, which contains more calcium and more protein than most yogurts (250 mg calcium, 23 gm protein per 1 cup).
  • Salmon – A 3-ounce piece of salmon contains more than 100 percent of your Vitamin D serving for the day so load up!
  • Sardines – These small fish usually found in cans, can make a great addition to pasta or salads as they have surprisingly high levels of both Vitamin D and calcium.
  • Breakfast Calcium Boost – Get a calcium boost at breakfast time! Along with milk in cereal or oatmeal, choose calcium and Vitamin D- fortified orange juice. Look for Tropicana Pure Premium or Minute Maid Pure Squeezed with Calcium and Vitamin D (350 mg calcium per cup).
  • Add it up. How much calcium do you consume daily? Keep track and make sure you are getting the proper amount in your diet.

Emerging research also indicates the following nutrients play an important role in increasing bone density: Vitamin K (found in green vegetables), magnesium (found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, beans, bran and whole grains) and foods rich in omega-3 (found in seafood) and boron (found in apples, avocados, dates and nuts, and fruit and vegetables). These nutrients and vitamins lower the body’s acidity and calcium loss. Eat these foods regularly for added bone strength.

For more ideas on how to increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis with a healthy diet, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

1 The National Osteoporosis Foundation

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Tune Up Your Metabolism

WeightsRevamping your metabolism is more than just about exercise. Research suggests what and when you eat and how and when you exercise can play a role, too.

Here are some simple steps to take to rev up your metabolism and help you lose weight.

Don’t Forgo Your Morning Meal

You know the age-old saying: “Breakfast is the most important part of the day.” And well, it’s true. Research shows that breakfast plays an important role in jump-starting your metabolism. A healthy breakfast of fruit, yogurt and wholewheat toast or cereal is a great and healthy way to signal to your body that it’s time to start working. When you skip out on breakfast it’s often counter-productive as your body remains in rest mode and you may end up hungry and eating more throughout the day.

Add a Little Protein

Did you know eating protein can help crank up your metabolism? To step your metabolism up, try upping the amount of lean protein at breakfast and lunch and decreasing the amount of sugar and refined carbohydrates and fats in your diet. Your body will work harder to break down and digest proteins, increasing your metabolic rate1. How much an increase? It is not clear. But even a slight increase adds up, day after day.

So how much protein do you need at breakfast and lunch? Studies indicate 25-30 grams boost calorie-burning, satiety and muscle growth. Here are some suggestions: 1 cup Greek yogurt = 23 g protein; 1 egg or egg white + 1 cup milk + toast + peanut butter = 25 g protein; 3 oz chicken = 28 g protein.

As an added bonus, studies show those who eat more protein at each meal typically feel fuller and are more likely to eat fewer calories daily2. Great protein sources include fish, lean red meat, chicken breast, turkey, nonfat Greek yogurt, eggs and egg whites, beans and lentils.

Spice it Up

Turning up the spice on your food has been found to speed up metabolic rates, according to recent studies. Spicy foods help to generate heat and raise body temperatures when consumed. The heat source can be attributed to capsaicin and is found in a wide variety of peppers and spices, including jalapenos, habaneros, cayenne and most other chili peppers. While how much spices increase metabolic rates is debatable, spices also can be responsible for suppressing your appetite and making you feel fuller….thereby boosting weight loss.

Drink More Water

Sipping water throughout the day is a quick and easy way to speed up your digestive tract, burn more calories and eat less. Research suggests your body’s ability to burn calories relies heavily on having enough water to work effectively. When you drink more water ( 2 liters daily), there is actually an increase in the efficiency of your cells, speeding up metabolic rates. Water also helps you feel full, cutting appetite.

True thirst disguises itself as hunger. Drink water first. Hunger may disappear. Try drinking a glass or two of water before and after each meal.

Pump Iron

The more muscle you have the higher your resting metabolic rate. This means that even when you are sitting, you are actually burning more calories than those with more body fat. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. Toning up your body and increasing the amount of muscle mass through exercises such as weight lifting, Pilates, yoga, bands, can help give your body a big metabolic boost.

Pump the Heart and Lungs

Aerobic activity, including fast walking, biking, jogging, swimming and tennis, for 40 minutes or more boosts your calorie burn for the moment and several hours later. High intensity interval training – alternating fast and slower-paced activity every 1-2 minutes – for 40 minutes has been shown to speed up weight loss and fat loss.

Use any or all of these ideas, to help keep your weight in check.

For more ideas on healthy eating, calcium and fiber sources, and anti-osteoporosis exercises, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

1. “Effect of Dietary Protein Content on Weight Gain, Energy Expenditure, and Body Composition During Overeating.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. January 2012.

2. Leidy, HJ. “Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese.” The American Journal of Nutrition 97(4):677-688. 2013.

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Top Tips for Staying Committed to Fitness this Summer


The heat is on and summer is in full swing. As your calendar fills up with happy hours alfresco and weekends spent grazing at neighborhood block parties and barbecue buffets, don’t let go of your summer health and fitness routine.

To keep yourself on track both at home and while traveling these summer months, here are my top tips for staying committed to a healthier, happier you this summer.

Keep a Food Log

Research shows that recording what you eat is one of the best ways to stay on track and achieve your diet and fitness goals. With so many helpful mobile apps and online trackers, that food log is always in reach and it’s now easier than ever. I’m a fan of the USDA’s SuperTracker, which provides customized nutrition guidance to help people make smarter choices. MyFitnessPal is another favorite.  Keep track of your daily intake no matter where you are this summer.

Make the Time

Though we are typically more active in the summertime don’t confuse activity with exercise. Carve out time in your busy summer schedule to schedule a workout. Even 20-30 minutes a day can make a huge impact – increasing your overall productivity and energy levels. Plus, making exercise a daily part of your daily routine reduces stress and keeps you relaxed.

Think Ahead

Commit to your exercise routine ahead of time and opt to get out there early when it’s cooler…or late. Try to avoid getting out in the middle of the day – between 11 am and 4 pm when the sun is pounding the pavement, too. And on these days when it’s too hot to be exercise outdoors, don’t just forgo your day’s exercise routine. Rather, hit the pool or plan to work out indoors. Staying on a schedule will also give you a chance to evaluate what is working and what is not in your fitness routine.  Summer is a fun time to try to a boot camp, water exercise class, water-walking or biking in your neighborhood or a new bike trail. Family or neighborhood volleyball or badminton games, bowling and hikes also add summer fun.

Indulge in Summer Veggies and Fruits of the Season

Throughout the year it’s easy to fall back on a few key fruits and vegetables, but summertime brings fresh choices. Give your body a nutritious kick by incorporating summer’s bounty of in-season, colorful fruits and vegetables. From red tomatoes and yellow sweet corn to dark green kale, there are so many options to choose from. Indulge in chilled watermelon, sweet cantaloupe, juicy grapes, refreshing pineapple and plump cherries this season. These also make perfectly sweet desserts. Use summer fruits and vegetables for snacks – keep them sliced up and ready to go in the refrigerator.  Smoothies are great snacks and desserts, too.

Find a Buddy

Being accountable makes all the difference. Find a partner that keeps you committed – and that also makes plotting out your diet and fitness goals more fun. Plan morning exercises together – running, walking, biking or hitting the gym – and swap healthy recipes. Buddying up is a great way to stay accountable and also celebrate your achievements when you hit your goals.

For more ideas on healthy eating, calcium and fiber sources, and anti-osteoporosis exercises, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating more enjoyable and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia KostasNutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

*Photo courtesy of

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Eat Real, America! – Food Day 2012

Food Day 2012 is just about here. The annual nationwide celebration and movement, which takes place annually on October 24, is a day dedicated to unifying food efforts across the country to improve our nation’s food policies and encourage healthy and sustainable food practices.

I personally see this as a wonderful opportunity to challenge Americans to get REAL and eat REAL FOODS! Putting a focus on foods that bolster our health, we can reap powerful nutrient-rich benefits. Overly- processed foods are usually high in fat, sugar and salt, and often high in calories and low in nutrients – increasing risk of chronic disease. Making a commitment to consuming vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, bean/peas, nuts, healthy oils, lean meat and low- or non-fat dairy foods each day, we can reduce the several hundred thousand premature deaths each year attributed to unhealthy choices and heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer.

Need help getting started on improving your healthy lifestyle choices? Download one of the delicious, healthful and easy-to- prepare recipes from some of the country’s most prominent chefs and cookbook writers in the Food Day Cookbook. You can also check out recipes of mine from my book, The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step up to the Plate (2009). This book’s recipe section focuses on fresh ingredients that you can find in season now at your local farmer’s market or in the produce section of your grocery store. You will also find easy, fun ways to eat more vegetables and fruits. Following is a favorite recipe of mine to jumpstart your commitment to real foods.

Ranch Pasta and Vegetable Salad

6 ounces corkscrew pasta, uncooked (or your favorite wholegrained pasta)
¼ pound fresh snow peas, trimmed (about 1 ½ cups)
1 ½ cups fresh broccoli flowerets
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup fresh cherry tomato halves
2 medium fresh yellow squash, trimmed and cut into 2” x ¼” strips
Dressing of blenderized:
¾ cup nonfat buttermilk
½ cup 1 percent low-fat cottage cheese
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
1 green onion, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; rinse under
cold water, and drain again. Place in a large bowl.

2. Blanch snow peas, broccoli and squash in boiling water 30 seconds; drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking process. Drain well; add to pasta.

3. Process buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in an electric blender until smooth; add green onion, jalapeno and cilantro; process until minced. Pour over pasta mixture, and toss. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Yield: 8 cups (8 servings)
Per Serving: 125 Calories, 1 g Fat, 3 g fiber, 7 g protein

You can also take action on Food Day by organizing or participating in a local event. For more information about what’s happening around you, visit You will find also a link there where you can ask your Congress leaders to support the following Food Day goals:

1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.
2. Support sustainable farms. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger.Organize food drives.
3. Protect the environment with reasonable regulations.
4. Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids.
5. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers.

Hope you’ll join the thousands of parents, teachers, students, health
professionals, community organizers and local officials across America this Food Day and push for healthier, more sustainable food policies.

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:http://

Almonds – The Inside Scoop

Earlier this month, I had the great pleasure of joining the Almond Board of California for an almond orchard tour. Next time I enjoy that almond crunch, I will think back on my time in the orchards where I came to appreciate the many steps taking one of my favorite nuts from the grove to the grocer!

Following is the inside scoop and key learnings from my almond orchard tour.

Growing Almonds

Almonds spend five months maturing on trees. They must be grown in the right climate – warm and dry – in order to produce well and that’s why California serves as the perfect environment to grow these nuts. In fact, California is home to 80 percent of the world’s almond production. The almonds are harvested in August, at which time they are hulled and shelled. The whole raw almonds are then prepared for shipment to food manufactures who dice, slice, sliver, roast, toast and blanch almonds for various foods and snacks.

Scientific Backing

New health benefits for almonds keep mounting. Four large prospective epidemiological studies – including the Harvard’s Nurses’ Health Study, the Physician’s Health Study, the Adventist Health Study and the Iowa Women’s Study – all link nuts to lower heart disease risk. Further, the British Journal of Nutrition recently published a study highlighting how consumption of nuts at least four times a week reduces risk of heart disease by 37 percent. The focus on nuts in the Mediterranean, DASH, and Portfolio diets also back the health benefits of these nuts, leading the American Heart Association to include almonds, pistachios and walnuts in their AHA Food Certification program.

Heart Health

What in almonds is cardio-protective? It’s the monounsaturated fats that help lower LDL-cholesterol and keep good HDL cholesterol high. Anti-oxidants, polyphenols, phytonutrients, flavonoids and Vitamin E work synergistically to keep blood vessels more elastic and block LDL oxidation, which hardens arterial plaque. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, fiber, anti-oxidants and arginine content are all responsible for helping to lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels and enhance blood flow. These nutrients combined with protein and fiber, work together to help control blood sugar. Almonds also have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant components that prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The nutrient-richness of almonds means each almond packs a lot of nutrients that work with 20 or more powerful antioxidants (including flavonoids in almond skins), which synergistically work to confer these multiple benefits. To ensure your heart health while reducing risk of diabetes, eat almonds with other foods at meals or snack time.

Weight Loss

Almonds have even been shown to aid weight loss, too! Research suggests, almonds do this in two ways: 1) promoting satiety (long-lasting satisfaction), helping to reduce calorie intake by satisfying hunger; 2) promoting body fat loss. In fact, a study featured in Obesity found those who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31 percent less likely to gain weight over a 28-month period than those who did not eat nuts. Additionally, in a recent weight loss study, smaller waist circumferences were evident among those who included almonds in place of equivalent amounts of carbohydrates in their diets.

Breaking Health News

Almond lovers rejoice! Thanks to new methodology used to measure calorie value, researchers recently confirmed almonds have 30 fewer calories per oz. (23 almonds) than previously thought. Now, for a satisfying snack, almonds are just 130 calories instead of 160 calories per oz.

It’s hard to believe all these health benefits are packed into one little shell! You can try incorporating these special nuts into your day – morning, noon and night. Spread a little almond butter on your toast and sprinkle a handful of almonds on cereal or yogurt. Top your salad with a sprinkling of almond slivers or pop a handful of raw, unsalted almonds for an afternoon snack.

Enjoy the crunch!

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.

Eat the Mediterranean Way for Better Health, Preventing Heart Disease & Diabetes

The rich flavors and health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet are hard to ignore. The heart-healthy diet is based on eating traditional foods (and drinks) of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including Crete and other parts of Greece and Southern Italy. The diet focuses on consuming healthy fats, seafood, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. Ingredients emphasize fresh and real foods, which help manage blood pressure, lipids and blood sugar while promoting longevity.1 In addition to cardiovascular benefits, research suggests a delayed need for sugar-lowering drug therapy in overweight patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.2

The century-old tradition of the Mediterranean Diet has proven to contribute to good health. Try incorporating these dietary patterns into your own home to promote an overall sense of well being while combating heart disease and chronic illness.

  • Seafood. Eat seafood 2-4 times a week. Try salmon, halibut, tuna steak, snapper, mackerel, bass, sardines, tilapia, canned light white tuna, shrimp and rainbow trout. The American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish twice weekly to reduce heart disease risk by 40%. The omega 3 oils in fish are heart-healthy.
  • Berries, Cherries, Red Grapes. Eat these daily. Choose fresh, frozen and dried and eat as part of meals, snacks and desserts. Add to shakes, smoothies, stews, salads. Use as toppings for yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal and cereals. The deep red pigment (identifying anthocyanins, flavonoids and polyphenols) are powerful anti-oxidants that reduce cholesterol oxidation (plaque) and inflammation in arteries, preventing the stiffening of artery walls.
  • Tomatoes. Eat daily fresh or cooked in sauces, stews, spaghetti or pizza sauce, soups, salsa and tomato juice. Include other red-pigmented foods too, such as carrots, cantaloupe, oranges, red onion, red bell pepper, red cabbage, red-veined lettuce, beets, red apple, red or purple grapes, eggplant, cherries, berries and sweet potatoes. The flavonoids in these foods fight heart disease.
  • Greens. Eat daily: spinach, asparagus, cabbage, greens, Brussels sprouts, lettuce and broccoli. These foods are packed with heart-healthy vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients, such as the B Vitamins, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium and Vitamins A,C, E, K that lower blood pressure and keep arteries elastic.
  • Beans. Include ½ cup daily or 4 cups a week of beans to lower lipids. Eat all types and colors, served hot or cold. Tasty options include hummus, lentil soup, black bean soup, limas, black beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, garbanzos, pintos, edamame and red beans. Try adding beans to dips and salads and snack on baby carrots and red bell pepper strips with hummus.
  • Wholegrains with Fiber. Strive for 3 servings daily. Enjoy oatmeal topped with raisins, almonds or walnuts; 100% wholewheat bread, cereal, crackers; kashi, barley, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, popcorn and wheat berries. Aim for 48 grams of wholegrains daily.
  • Lean Quality Protein. Include lean beef and pork cuts in your diet. Eat poultry without skin, low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), seafood and soy. These nutrient-rich foods protect your body and your heart.
  • Olive Oil, Nuts, Avocado. These healthy oils lower cholesterol. Use in salads and cooking. Try up to 6 teaspoons of oils daily or 2 tablespoons of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts or pistachios.

For more ideas on heart-healthy eating, check out The Cooper Clinic Solution to the Diet Revolution: Step Up to the Plate (2009). My guidebook of tips makes healthy eating fun and more manageable. Connect with me online at @GeorgiaKostas and Facebook/Georgia Kostas Nutrition and visit:

2011 American Society for Nutrition. “The Impact of a Mediterranean Diet and Healthy Lifestyle on Premature Mortality in Men and Women.” (Piet A van den Brandt)

2 2009 Annals of Internal Medicine. “Effects of a Mediterranean Style Diet on the Need for Antihyperglycemic Drug Theray in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes.” (Esposito)

This nutrition information does not address individual health conditions. Please consult with your physician or registered dietitian to meet specific health and dietary needs.