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Blogs with Heart

This week’s Aaron’s Additions brings you a roundup of the biggest, loudest, and by golly, shiniest heart health blogs on the web for your perusing pleasure. The assortment of perspectives out there is enough to send me running for my sneakers. Some are great, but I’ve also included a few that get my heart pounding out of concern. Okay, actually, many of them make me cradle my head in my hands and think about repaving America with running tracks.
The biggest problem I find: even “alternative” heart health blogs still truck out the same Uncle Sam outdated advice: bran flakes, low-fat dairy, fruit juice, and plenty of wailing away at the cardio machines.

The Cardio Blog
A very classy cardio blog that is sadly missing a little “heart” and soul. Nevertheless we keep daily tabs on the frequent multi-author posts for a glimpse of a more traditional health perspective. To wit: in their commentary on CNN’s “9 steps to a healthier heart”, the Cardio Blog dug the recommendation for pomegranate juice (#4). You might recall, yesterday we took issue with #4, and still do – fresh fruit, not juice, is the healthiest bet for your heart.

A Hearty Life
Dr. Lei clearly knows her stuff, and has the best of intentions, but the real bummer is that most of her advice boils down to “if only you’d taken your medication”. I’m sure she knows that 1 in 3 women die of heart disease, so I think it’s only reasonable to suggest that the thinking on heart health needs a hefty overhaul. Let’s start earlier, work harder, and take more assertive preventive action. Now where were those pills…

Revolution Health
Can Steve Case – your friendly AOL CEO – really do this? Evidently so. We were turned on to a sneak preview of Revolution Health, Case’s health blog social network brainchild, and surprisingly, it’s not too shabby. In fact, it’s pretty cool. I haven’t found any entertaining angry apples or racist food scams exposed. Nevertheless, this mainstream-attempting-to-appear-cool community does all right. It’s fluffy, but so far appears to be sugar-free. (I can see the top dogs in the boardroom now: “The 25-35 set who watches The Daily Show and can afford hybrids will really like this one, guys…”). Or, as Jon Stewart might say…”Feh.”

Eating Fabulous
Who is this fabulous person behind this fabulous blog? Eat your way to great health – it can be done. Though this blog focuses on other issues besides heart health – probiotics, diabetes, weight loss, allergies – the focus is sensibly alternative without skating into bizarre-theories-r-us territory. I know I’m always shilling this site, but it’s awesome!

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Why the Atkins Diet Works

No doubt you’ve seen the major news out today that the Atkins diet is significantly more effective for weight loss than higher-carb diets promoted by the likes of Dr. Dean Ornish and Barry Sears. As you’d expect, Ornish says the study is flawed. Sears says the study is bad science. That’s fine, boys. The Atkins followers not only lost weight, they were healthier by the end of the year. Both Sears and Ornish take issue with the fact that compliance in the study was, at best, half-hearted (meaning the ladies who participated didn’t exactly follow the various plans to the letter). My response to that is: all the more evidence that upping your protein and fat intake is a wise idea. If you can lose weight, lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease, and you don’t even have to follow your diet perfectly…where’s the problem? A year-long study compared four different diets – Atkins, LEARN (Uncle Sam’s feel-good acronym will not leave you feeling good), the Zone, and Ornish’s bread-buffet regimen. At the end of the year, Atkins followers lost about twice the weight of the other participants. This is no big surprise – it’s yet another study that proves what I’ve been saying for years: cut the carbs. Critics – mainly, Sears and Ornish – are, as I expected, getting lost in the details and ignoring the big, fat elephant in the room. They point out that ten pounds of weight loss instead of five pounds of weight loss is no big deal. Well, okay, but that depends on your perspective – I’m willing to bet good money that had the results of the study gone in their favor, they’d be singing a different tune. Instead of “10 pounds is no big deal,” we’d hear: “Double the weight loss – this is huge!” Instead of a “flawed” study, we’d hear: “We’re talking about a long-term, year-long, significant study!” And instead of splitting hairs about the lack of 100% compliance, my guess is that Ornish and Co. would say “This is a realistic study that looks at how people actually follow diets, rather than perfect, artificial conditions in a lab.” So, while the pasta-and-bread fans are crying to Uncle Sam, here’s the question the rest of us are smart enough to ask: Why are doctors so afraid of fat? The overwhelming majority of studies – of all shapes, sizes and ulterior motives – supports, again and again, the case for a high-fat, high-protein diet for humans. And if the weight loss isn’t enough, those who enjoy bacon and butter also lower their cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. Doesn’t anyone in the carb camp ever stop and think – wait a minute, why are we subscribing to the low-fat, low-cholesterol dietary model to begin with? (People more cynical than me will note that the corn and wheat industries are among the most powerful lobbies, and the most heavily subsidized industries, in the world.) How … Continue reading “Why the Atkins Diet Works”

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Yeah, But What Is It?

Lolla rossa and so much more.

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When Life Hands You Lemons… Squeeze Them Over Your Lolla Rossa

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

All the news, none of the trans fat!

Except for #1 and #4, That Is

Here are 9 – mostly – great ways to get a healthier heart. #1 is Big Moo baloney (for our readers just joining, Mark and the Bees frequently rant about Big Moo marketing deception). #4 is fine, but sometimes an antioxidant supplement is a better bet than relying on a sugary juice. If you’re wanting to lose weight or lower your blood sugar, we recommend eating whole pomegranates or taking a supplement instead of downing the juice.

Flickr fun: thanks to Podchef!

Low-carb lovers: 1; Bran fans: 0

Mark has been invited to join in a conference about this hot study. The scientists will be debating whether or not low-carb is a smart way to go, in light of two new powerful studies that indicate a grain-based diet is not healthy for humans. We’ll keep you updated on the developments!

Moms of America Roll Their Eyes: This Is News?

Yeah, yeah. Three proven ways to get better sleep tonight: journal your worries, eat a tablespoon of peanut butter (just avoid the Peter Pan for goodness’ sakes!), and drink a cup of warm organic milk or chamomile tea. Oh, and send the kids to the grandparents’ house.

Web it out:

Parents, here’s a great review of an important resource for raising resilient children.

Random obesity fact still manages to startle.

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How to Eat Healthy on a Budget

The Tuesday 10 It can be frustrating to stick with a healthy diet when factors like cost and kids enter into the equation. Junior Apple Kathy Lee faces a challenge many moms are familiar with: how do you provide kid-friendly fare that is both nutritious and inexpensive? 10. Switch snacks to veggies A large part of your grocery bill can be eliminated by avoiding the processed snacks and treats kids love. Parents know that Pop Tarts and Gushers are unhealthy, but there are plenty of seemingly healthy snacks – things that promise nutrition like “nutri-grain” crackers and “vitamin-enriched” gummy treats – that really rack up the total bill. The truth is, most of these processed “healthy” items are no better than candy, so as a parent, you don’t have to feel guilty for steering clear of them and heading for carrot sticks, apple slices and celery instead. An entire bag of fresh apples costs less than a single box of crackers, and is much healthier. Make the switch from boxed snacks to fruit and vegetables. 9. Eliminate soda, sports drinks and juice These items are expensive and unhealthy (though they almost always carry tricky health claims). Many moms are tempted to buy juice – and 100% real juice is often the most expensive of all. But even “real” juice is really just sugar water. Have the kids drink water instead. They can have juice when they go to Grandma’s. 8. Going organic? We all think of organic food as being more healthy – and generally, that’s true. But organic products are also much more pricey. Mark recommends making a choice to save yourself cash. While organic produce is a nice idea, it’s not the end of the world if you buy the regular tomatoes. Animal products like meat and cheese, however, are better when they’re organic. If you are going to spend a little extra money, spend it on the organic animal products and don’t worry about the lettuce. If you can’t afford organic foods, look for food that is at least produced in-state. Or, try to find out if there are local farms or butchers (bonus: they are often less expensive, too!). 7. Freeze! Frozen berries, vegetables and meats are generally much cheaper than fresh foods, and the irony is that many times, these frozen items are actually “fresher” than the fresh stuff! At least one frozen vegetable is always on sale, and they tend to rotate, so your family can eat healthy and enjoy a nice variety for just a few bucks a day! Cooking for a family day in, day out can get tiresome, so whipping up nightly stir-fries or stews with varying veggies is a simple, cheap way to keep things healthy and interesting. 6. Watch the sales Even that expensive European salad blend goes on sale at some point. Grocery stores tend to rotate the sales on spinach, romaine and other lettuce blends. Why pay 4 dollars for a bag of mesclun when you can … Continue reading “How to Eat Healthy on a Budget”

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