Category Archives: Expert Health Advice

Health Benefits of Yogurt

Posted on: October 24, 2014

Deciphering the Yogurt Aisle: Get cultured!

By Elisa Bremner & Amy Rosenfeld

Yogurt ParfaitIt’s official!  Governor Andrew Cuomo named yogurt New York’s official state snack on October 15.  The Governor expects to raise public awareness of the health benefits of yogurt and economic benefits of supporting local yogurt industry. New York has become the nation’s top yogurt producer (making 741 million pounds of the dairy product last year), and health-conscious New Yorkers are literally eating it up.  Here are some of the great health benefits of consuming (the right kind of) yogurt.

Benefits of eating yogurt:
•    High in calcium, vitamin D for strong bones and healthy blood pressure.
•    Increases immunity and defense against common illnesses.
•    Connected with reducing symptoms associated with GI conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and colon cancer risk.
•    Linked with reducing yeast and vaginal infections.
•    Great source of protein for recovery post workouts and to feel fuller throughout the day.
•    Linked with reducing gum disease due to a healthy dose of lactic acid.

Have you noticed that the yogurt section at your local supermarket has been getting bigger and more diverse every year?  With all the yogurt choices available today, it can be confusing to make a healthy choice.

What’s the difference between all the types of yogurt available?
•    Flavored regular yogurts: Thinner yogurt; lower in protein. Regular yogurts can be a great choice if you are choosing a lower sugar variety. Mix ½ a plain yogurt with ½ a regular yogurt for a great family friendly low sugar blend!
•    Greek yogurt: Thick and creamy; high in protein, a fantastic choice. Choose plain Greek yogurt and mix with small amounts of honey/ fresh fruit for the lowest sugar/highest protein combo.
•    Icelandic yogurt or Skyr: Thick and creamy; lower in protein than Greek yogurt; only made with non-fat yogurt so this yogurt choice is always fat-free.
•    Swiss yogurt: Thinner and creamier than Greek; high in protein like Greek yogurt, but often higher in sugar as these yogurts tend to be blended with fruit. Cut the sugar by mixing Swiss yogurt with plain regular yogurt.
•    Kefir: Thin liquid; A cultured fermented milk product that has 3 times the probiotic content than regular yogurt. Perfect for smoothies.

Guidelines for making a healthy yogurt choice:
•    Save on the sugar: Choose options that have less than 20 g sugar; the lower the better
•    Pack in the protein: Choose brands that are at least 8 g protein; the higher the better.
•    Check the culture: Read the label to see if it says “contains active cultures” or “living cultures.” Many brands add extra probiotic varieties but eating any yogurt with active cultures can give you the same benefits.

There are plenty of local producers in the Hudson Valley/NYC area. Be sure to try some of these delicious and often unusual offerings.

Look for the following local brands:
•    Hudson Valley Fresh
•    Ronnybrook Farms
•    Stone Barns (e.g. sweet potato, tomato, beet)
•    Sohha Yogurt

For your next snack, try:
•    Peach Pie Smoothie (serves 4):16 oz bag of frozen peaches, 2 cups of vanilla yogurt, 2 cups skim milk (unsweetened), 1 cup oatmeal, 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
•    Yogurt & Mixed Berries: 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt and ½ cup mixed berries

Editor’s Note:
Elisa Bremner, MS, Registered Dietitian at Northern Westchester Hospital. Ms. Bremner holds Certificates of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management as well as in Prevention Strategies for Childhood Obesity.

Amy Rosenfeld, MS, RD, CDN at Northern Westchester Hospital. Ms. Rosenfeld holds a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and completed her clinical training at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

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Northern Westchester Hospital Chief of Endocrinology on Diabetes, Weight Loss, Healthcare Costs

Posted on: September 24, 2014

Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: Weight Loss Lowers Healthcare Costs

By Dr. Jeffrey Powell

A recent study found that overweight individuals with diabetes who lose weight by dieting and increasing their physical activity can reduce their healthcare costs by an average of more than $500 a year. While we always look at better health outcomes through diet and exercise, this is the first study to show that weight loss can save money. The findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care.

This makes a lot of sense. If an individual with diabetes can lose weight, he or she will likely see fewer and shorter hospital stays, and could eventually end up on less medication. That’s not only good for one’s health, but for the wallet.

At the Division of Endocrinology at Northern Westchester Hospital, we regularly encourage our diabetes patients to see a nutritionist. Patients are counseled to eat healthy. This includes limiting the portions of food high in carbohydrates, which when broken down they can raise glucose levels. We also advise patients to avoid fried foods and juices that can affect blood sugar levels.

Physical activity and regular follow-up medical appointments are also encouraged so that we can work together with our patients to achieve the greatest possible health outcome for them.

Aside from the study mentioned above, it is also very important to note that many people with type 2 diabetes are not aware that they have it. Individuals who are overweight and who have high cholesterol and high blood pressure should get checked. This is because cardiovascular disease is a main complication of diabetes.

Managing weight is also important because many malignancies are associated with obesity. According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity is tied to the occurrence of cancers of the esophagus, breast, colon, rectum, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, and possibly others.
One thing that many people who struggle with their weight know is that trying to lose weight is a full time job. What many people do not know is that the body naturally works against weight loss. But there are a variety of ways that our dedicated team can help.

The Center for Diabetes at Northern Westchester Hospital is dedicated to providing a wide range of services and programs for people with diabetes.

In addition to supporting the needs of inpatients, the Center offers a comprehensive outpatient education program that focuses on meeting the individual needs of persons living with diabetes and their families. The Center also sponsors a monthly diabetes support group for adult patients to help them achieve their best possible health outcomes.

Editor’s Note:  Jeffrey Powell, MD is Chief of the Division of Endocrinology at Northern Westchester Hospital

Attend the monthly Diabetes Support Group at Northern Westchester Hospital. Discussion topics are developed around the American Association of Diabetes Educators Seven Self Care Behaviors such as healthy eating, being active, medication, monitoring, reducing risk, healthy coping and problem solving. Guest speakers often include dietitians, pharmacists, exercise physiologist and other specialists. Contact Meagan Sullivan, RN, MSN, Diabetes Educator at 914-666-1861 to register.

Northern Westchester Hospital Pediatric Pulmonologist on Kids and Asthma

Posted on: September 22, 2014

Managing Childhood Asthma

by Lynne Quittell, MD

The soft wheeze or whistle as a child breathes. The chin tucked and chest pinched as he coughs incessantly. These are signs of childhood asthma, a maddening, frightening condition for kids and parents — and a leading cause of ER visits for children. While in the past asthma has been difficult to treat and manage, advancements in medications and methods have allowed doctors and families to tame this potentially dangerous condition in children.

The reasons why a child develops asthma can be murky. Potential triggers can be allergies, exposure to secondhand smoke, or a family history of asthma. Premature babies who spend time on a ventilator appear to be at higher risk.

The reason a child struggles to breathe is that the airways can easily become inflamed, muscles that support the airways can constrict, and mucus production can increase. Some kids will have exercise-induced asthma while others may find allergy season to be the source of troubles. Even a sudden change  in temperature or a rise in humidity can set off an attack.

Parents and children should work with their doctor to develop a treatment and medication plan. This is the aspect of asthma treatment that has really changed over the years. The medications have improved greatly. We teach children and parents to recognize the earliest signs of an attack, and encourage them to treat symptoms promptly — before they worsen. I like to use the analogy of smoke in the kitchen… You wouldn’t just let it go — you’d address it immediately. Asthma is the same: Stop the attack before the symptoms become more difficult to control.

When setting up a plan, a doctor must take into consideration the child’s triggers and needs. During the spring or fall allergy season, some children will require a daily preventive medication to minimize airway inflammation, while others may be okay using an inhaler to treat occasional flare ups linked to exercise. The next step is managing more serious flare ups, and then knowing when to seek emergency help. No one leaves my office without a written treatment plan. “It’s one of the most important aspects of asthma care.

Children whose asthma isn’t responding to treatment can benefit from pulmonary exercise program, similar to what is offered at Northern Westchester Hospital. An effective program would involve exercise and respiratory therapists who would create a program for your child to help him or her build physical strength and exercise capacity. The plan should be specifically tailored to your child’s needs and include education and advice for caregivers. The goal? To get your child to the point where they can play and partake in activities with their peers, without limitations.

With the excellent treatment available, I expect my patients to be able to take part in all age-appropriate activities with no restrictions.

Editor’s Notes:
Lynne Quittell, MD, is a pediatric pulmonologist who specializes in pediatric asthma at Northern Westchester Hospital

Did you know…
Asthma affects 7 million children under the age of 18.*
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Safe Satisfying Seafood

Posted on: September 18, 2014

Savory and Satisfying Seafood

by Kimberly Stein, RD, CDN

There are plenty of fish (and shellfish) in the sea, but sometimes it’s difficult to know which are the best choices. Seafood is a delicious protein source that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that boost heart and brain health. The current recommendation from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines is to consume seafood about 2 to 3 times per week. A recent hot topic is sustainable seafood. There are many environmental groups that identify which fish are the safest for consumption, and for the environment. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of those groups. To make their list, seafood must contain low levels of contaminants (such as mercury), high levels of omega-3 fats, and be sourced from a sustainable fishery.
Here are some simple tips to ensure you are getting safe, fresh, and nutritious seafood!

1)    Be Finicky When Selecting Fish. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and their strict criteria, here are some of the best choices of seafood: Arctic Char (farmed), clams, mussels, oysters, Pacific Cod, Alaskan Salmon, Tilapia (Ecuador or US), and US/ Canada Albacore/white canned Tuna. They recommend avoiding: imported Mahi Mahi, farmed Atlantic Salmon, Shark, imported Swordfish, and Bluefin Tuna. As you can see, it also depends on where the fish comes from. Some waters are better than others, which will provide you with fewer toxins. For a more complete list of sustainable seafood, check out www.seafoodwatch.org

2)    Oh my Omega! Fish are a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids. These unsaturated fats are found to lower levels of inflammation throughout the body and reduce your risk of cardiovascular events. Certain fish with a higher fat content are higher in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, trout, herring, sardines, and tuna. Enjoy these to reap their heart-healthy benefits!

3)    Safely Cooking Seafood. As with all meats, the USDA sets requirements for how fish and shellfish should be properly cooked to avoid potential food-borne illness. Cook shrimp, lobster, and scallops until they are an opaque, milky white color. Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F, until it flakes with a fork.

4)    Restaurant Ratings. To avoid the high-calorie seafood options when eating out, opt for dishes without a batter-dipped coating, or butter sauce. Instead of the coconut shrimp, try grilled shrimp or instead of a breading and mayo-rich crab cake, choose steamed crab legs. You can still enjoy a variety of seafood without the added fat calories.

Here are some delicious seafood recipes to try! Enjoy!

Hoisin-Glazed Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumber
Courtesy of www.myrecipes.com

Ingredients
Serves 4
1/3 cup water
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
24 thin English cucumber slices
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp. lower-sodium soy sauce
1 ½ tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. grated lime rind
1 (1-pound) skinless wild fresh or frozen Alaskan salmon fillet, finely chopped
1 large egg white
1 ½ tsp. dark sesame oil
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
4 (1 ½ ounce) hamburger buns with sesame seeds, toasted

Method
1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cucumber. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain
2. Combine panko and the next 7 ingredients (through egg white) in a bowl and stir well. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2 –inch thick patty. Press a nickel sized indentation into the center of each patty.
3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan. Add patties and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until desired degrees of doneness. Brush tops of patties evenly with hoisin and cook for 30 seconds.
4. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun and top each with 6 cucumber slices and top half of bun.

(Nutrition Facts: Serving Size ¼ of recipe, Calories 324, Protein 29.4g, Fat 8.6g, Sat Fat 1.5g, Mono 2.3g, Carbohydrates 59g, Fiber 1.7g, Sodium 473 mg, Cholesterol 59mg)

Fish Tacos with Sesame Ginger Slaw
Courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com

Ingredients  
Serves 4
1 ½ lbs. tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. plain Greek-style low-fat yogurt
2 tbsp. lime juice
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp. honey
3 cups shredded coleslaw mix
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Method
1. Heat a nonstick skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Spray fish with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Add fish to pan and cook 10 – 12 minutes, turning once, until fish flakes easily with a fork.
3. Combine yogurt and next 5 ingredients (through honey) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine dressing and coleslaw mix, tossing to coat.
4. Place 2 ounces fish in each tortilla. Top with coleslaw.

(Nutrition Facts: Serving Size ¼ of recipe, Calories 390, Protein 40g, Fat 9g, Sat Fat 2g, Mono 3g, Poly 3g, Carbohydrates 38g, Fiber 6g, Sodium 430 mg, Cholesterol 85mg)

Study: Genetic Testing for Ashkenazi Jews

Posted on: September 10, 2014

Study: Ashkenazi Jewish Descent as a Criterion for Genetic Testing
by Nancy Cohen, MS, CGC

Nancy Cohen Genetic Counselor WestchesterA new study, Population-based screening for breast and ovarian cancer risk due to BRCA1 and BRCA2 (abstract available in PubMed), suggests that population screening of Ashkenazi Jews for BRCA mutations may be beneficial because the cancer risks of those without a family history suggestive of a BRCA gene mutation were shown to be very similar cancer risks to those with such a history.

Since 2.5% of Ashkenazi Jews harbor BRCA mutations, and increased cancer surveillance and cancer risk reduction have been shown to improve outcomes for mutation carriers, such screening may have a useful role in this population. It will be interesting to see whether or not the guidelines from the NCCN will be adjsted to reflect this study.

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