Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com Tune up your brain, heart, energy, waistline, and sex life! Tue, 24 Mar 2020 22:05:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://drmasley.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/cropped-PAN1360re-32x32.jpg Steven Masley MD, LLC https://drmasley.com 32 32 6 Steps to Improve Blood Pressure without Taking Medications https://drmasley.com/6-steps-improve-blood-pressure-without-taking-medications/ https://drmasley.com/6-steps-improve-blood-pressure-without-taking-medications/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2020 21:24:53 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=4873 The post 6 Steps to Improve Blood Pressure without Taking Medications appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Updated March 2020

Blood pressure is likely the best predictor for a future heart attack or stroke, and the best measure of the function and well-being of your arteries. When your blood pressure is elevated, that means that your arteries are sick and dysfunctional, likely constricting and limiting blood flow.

A normal blood pressure should be less than 120/80, anything above this is elevated. If it reaches 140/90 that is the standard cut off for hypertension, the point when you qualify for medication therapy, as your hypertension has made you high risk for a cardiovascular event. And despite that medications can lower blood pressure and help to decrease your future risk for a heart attack or stroke, they can have numerous side effects, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Decreased energy
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Wheezing
  • Decreased exercise performance
  • Decreased libido
  • And a variety of more serious side effects as well.

My goal is to help you have normal blood pressure, without needing medication. I don’t think of blood pressure medications as being bad per se, and for some people they may be essential, but they often have many unpleasant side effects, and my hope is that you won’t need them if you follow the easy-to-follow steps noted below. If you are taking medications to lower your blood pressure, please do not stop them on your own without talking to your own medical provider.

Below are six steps that are as effective as adding a medication, without those side effects, and they are pretty easy to implement, too:

Step 1: Eat five cups of vegetables and fruits every day

Vegetables and fruits provide nutrients such as potassium, vitamin K, vitamin C, flavonoids, and an array of other compounds that make your arteries dilate.  Everyone should eat at least five cups of produce every day, and the more colorful the better. It is amazing that doing something so simple is as effective as taken a drug.

Step 2: Exercise for 30 minutes daily

No doubt about it, exercise is great for blood pressure control. Dance, walk, bicycle, or go to the gym and find something that makes you sweat. Anything that gets your heart rate improve your blood vessel function and will improve your blood pressure control.

Step 3: Lose 10 pounds

I won’t say weight loss is easy, but it is super effective at lowering blood pressure (BP). Losing 10 pounds is as effective in controlling BP as taking a BP drug.

Step 4: Spend 10 minutes meditating daily

If you are not good at meditating, then try using an app like HeartMath, which gives you feedback and makes meditating easier. Studies show that for many people adding meditation or using HeartMath is as effective as using blood pressure medication.

Step 5: Specific probiotic supplement species have been shown to improve blood pressure control.

Recent studies have shown that having the right probiotic species in your gut will improve blood pressure control, and taking the right probiotic species is similarly effective to taking a blood pressure medication. Whether you get these probiotic species from food (such as yogurt or kefir) or get them from taking a capsule is up to you and both can be effective with the right species and the right dosages for the proper time.

The following species when used as a supplement have been shown to be effective at improving blood pressure control:

  • Lactobacillus plantarum,
  • Lactobacillus reuteri,
  • Streptococcus thermophilus,
  • Lactobacillus acidophillus

Studies have shown that several factors make using a probiotic supplement more successful:

  1. Use species that are proven to work.
  2. Combining 2 to 3 or more species is better than only taking a probiotic with 1 species.
  3. Total dosage should be at least 10 billion microbes and up to 25 billion every day
  4. Take a probiotic daily for at least 2-3 months. Treating for less time may not be adequate to modify the gut flora.

Step 6: Yes, limit salt intake, but more important is to limit your sugar!

For people with hypertension, decreasing salt intake from a typical American sodium intake of 3,800 mg per day to 2,500 mg per day lowers the top blood pressure reading (systolic) about 5 mm of Hg points, and the lower blood pressure reading (diastolic) 2.5. Yet for the average American with elevated blood pressure, the typical benefit from cutting your salt intake is only a 2 point reduction.

On the other hand, new research suggests that sugar has a bigger impact on blood pressure than salt. The challenge in making this distinction is that most processed foods are often loaded with both.

A study published in Open Heart by Drs.  DiNicolantonio and Lucan compares the effective of sugar on salt on blood pressure levels. (DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC. Open Heart 2014;1:3000167)

Their findings show that:

  • Eating more sugar increases systolic blood pressure 6.9 mm Hg points and diastolic blood pressure 5.6 mm Hg in the short term, and 7.6/6.1 mm Hg if followed for more than 8 weeks.
  • Drinking a 24-ounce soft drink can increase blood pressure by 15 systolic and 9 diastolic points and raise heart rate by 9 beats per minute.
  • People who consume 25% more calories from sugar (which is easy to do) have a 300% increase in death rate due to cardiovascular disease.
  • A high-fructose (sugar) diet for just 2 weeks increases blood pressure 7 mm Hg systolic and 5 diastolic, but also raises pulse rate, triglycerides, fasting insulin and is associated with fatty liver.
  • The good news is there is no harm noted from eating more fruit, so don’t fret over having an apple, a peach, or a cup of berries. Do avoid fruit juice and dried fruit.

For the best results, combine as many of these six steps together for the best results.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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Fresh Asparagus Soup https://drmasley.com/fresh-asparagus-soup/ https://drmasley.com/fresh-asparagus-soup/#respond Sat, 21 Mar 2020 01:18:14 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8147 The post Fresh Asparagus Soup appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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 I always look forward to spring and fresh asparagus season. Generally, I prefer the thick stalks in contrast to the thin ones as they are more forgiving when cooked so that they are tender but not overcooked. Over the 2-month asparagus season, I will enjoy them steamed, sautéed, grilled, or in soup. 

 I have prepared this dish two ways, with dairy and cream and without, both recipes listed below. The vegan (non-dairy) version uses boiled potatoes to add a creamy texture to the soup. Take your pick and/or make both.

Prep and Simmering Time: 25 Minutes

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

VEGAN (DAIRY FREE) VERSION

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 cups baby gold potatoes (1-inch in size), sliced into quarters

3 medium garlic cloves — minced

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1.5 pounds asparagus — base trimmed and discarded and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes, cover, and heat for another 1 minute with a couple stirs, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add the broth, asparagus, salt, and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Carefully transfer pot contents to a blender or food processor in batches and blend until smooth. (Use caution as hot soup may splatter.)

Serve hot, garnished with fresh chives.

INGREDIENTS:

ORGANIC SOUR CREAM AND MILK VERSION

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves — minced

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth — or low-sodium, organic chicken broth

1.5 pounds asparagus — base trimmed and discarded and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup whole organic milk

½ cup whole organic sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds.

Add the broth, asparagus, salt, and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Carefully transfer pot contents to a blender or food processor (in batches if needed) and blend until smooth. (Use caution as hot soup may splatter.) Return the blended soup to the pot. Stir in the milk and sour cream and bring to a minimal gentle boil. Then immediately remove from heat.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh chives and a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Corona Update, Friday, March 13, 2020 https://drmasley.com/corona-update/ https://drmasley.com/corona-update/#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2020 00:22:54 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8121 The post Corona Update, Friday, March 13, 2020 appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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There is so much information spreading about COVID-19, that I thought it important to share what I know with my readers.

Likely everyone has heard about the new coronavirus infection, COVID-19.

Unfortunately, misinformation is being shared by both on-line sources and our country’s top administration.

As nearly everyone knows, COVID-19 has spread worldwide and has reached pandemic proportions. COVID-19 is highly contagious and projected to be several times more deadly than influenza (the flu), and the flu kills 500,000 people worldwide annually.

One of the reasons the COVID-19 virus is thought to be far more deadly than the influenza virus is that most people have at some point been exposed to influenza, giving them some immunity and internal ability to fight it. Nobody has been previously exposed to COVID-19, so we have no internal immunity to this virus.

There are hundreds of coronaviruses, including the common cold and more serious forms, in particular, SARS (which emerged in 2002) and MERS (which emerged in 2012). The trend appears that a new and dangerous coronavirus appears about every decade. What makes COVID-19 unique is that with SARS and MERS, people became very sick almost immediately, which limited the spread of the disease, often either incapacitating or killing their victims before they could spread it in the community.

In contrast with COVID-19, many people who are infected have few or no symptoms during the first 5 days of the infection while they are highly infectious, allowing the virus to be spread before you know that you have it.  People can be infectious for up to 14 days.

This is why people who have been exposed to someone with the virus are being put in quarantine for 14 days to see if they develop the illness, and people who test positive are being isolated for a minimum of 14 days.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 80% of cases are mild. Symptoms include a fever, cough, and fatigue and can be strong to almost none.  At least 15% of infections progress to pneumonia, causing major shortness of breath, fatigue, fever, and low levels of blood oxygen saturation, which may require hospitalization. Currently, about 3.5% of cases result in death.

Fortunately, unlike influenza, most children seem to have a mild form of this infection. Like influenza, the elderly and those with heart, lung, and immune deficiencies are the ones who develop severe infections. Although, there are several reports of healthy 40- to 50- year olds who have died from this disease, so clearly none of us should ignore that rare possibility and ignore the seriousness of this illness.

As this is a new virus, we currently have no proven vaccines to prevent it, or therapies to treat it. It will likely take at least 1-2 years to develop vaccines and therapies, although every effort will be taken to shorten their release. An example of a promising new therapy is Remdesivir, an investigational antiviral drug being developed and tested in patients with COVID-19.  Unfortunately, vaccines and therapies that are released early in a rush will lack traditional safety testing and may be less effective and cause more adverse events.

For serious cases, the only proven treatments that we have are supportive, meaning: hydration, oxygen, and sometimes intensive hospital care, in the most serious cases including intubation and mechanical breathing.

The big concern is that if too many people become sick at once and health care providers also become ill, we will overwhelm our ability to provide supportive care and people who would have normally survived will die.

This means health officials want the number of cases to occur gradually over time, not spike all at once as has happened in Wuhan, China, South Korea, and northern Italy, overwhelming the hospital and medical care systems.

This is why you are seeing public events being canceled and schools being closed. Health officials are trying to slow the spread of the rapidly proliferating disease.

Even though children usually have milder cases, they remain an important vector (carriers) of this infection.  Closing schools and preventing them from getting infected in mass is a very effective strategy to stop the spread of the infection in a community. Again, the goal is to slow the spread of the disease so that our hospital and medical providers are not overwhelmed.

COVID-19 is tested by using nasal swabs and throat swabs. It takes about 2-3 days to get a result after testing.

What has made the spread of this infection far worse in the US than it should be has been the lack of testing. Other countries have been testing thousands of people daily, while our ability to do testing has been extremely limited.

I have spoken to many physicians this week who have tried to test patients for COVID-19 but were told that testing kits were not available. Even today in Florida, my neighbor who has had a fever, cough, shortness of breath and fatigue for one week and feels worse was denied testing when she went to her clinic.

The disease is now spreading through the US community rapidly, making planning and tracking very difficult. Hopefully, we will catch up soon, but the initial delay in this country has hampered our ability to control the proliferation greatly.

This virus is spread in large droplets by infected people who are coughing and sneezing. These droplets fall to the ground and other surfaces fairly quickly, within a 3-6 foot distance. It is also spread by infected people touching surfaces with hands that have been coughed on. This means that the air will not infect you, but all the surfaces where these droplets land are infectious for about 7 days – every surface that is associated with infected people will be contaminated and potentially infectious.

The most likely way to get infected in public is to touch a contaminated surface and then touch your nose or mouth. Thus, public spread occurs mainly through surface contact, and being coughed on most likely occurs while in close contact with family or friends.

This virus only has cell receptors for lung cells (it only infects your lungs) The only way for the virus to infect you is through your nose or mouth via your hands or an infected cough or sneeze onto or into your nose or mouth.

To compensate for the initial rapid spread and the highly contagious potential of this infection, for the short term all of us need to take steps to help prevent this life-threatening disease, especially as you could be infected, spreading it, and not know for several days.

HOW TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19:

  1. NO HANDSHAKING OR HUGS! Use an elbow bump or foot tap instead.
  2. Avoid touching your face with your hands, especially when in public.
  3. In public places, open doors with your elbow, closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door.
  4. Do not allow yourself to be nutritionally deficient. People with low levels of vitamin D and zinc have depressed immune function and are more likely to get ill and will have more severe infection than people without a deficiency.
    • Be sure to get at least 2000 IU of vitamin D every day with your supplement routine.
    • Take a good quality multivitamin with at least 250 mg of vitamin C and 15 mg of zinc daily.
    • Eat cold-water seafood 3 times per week or take a good quality fish oil supplement daily.
  5. Use disinfectant wipes when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
  6. Before you eat or touch your face after having been in public, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Similarly, wash your hands whenever you make contact with a door or handrail in public.
    • When you return home from ANY public outing, wash your hands and/or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before touching surfaces in your home.
  7. Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances and in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
  8. If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you do not have a tissue; the clothing on your elbow will contain an infectious virus that can be passed on for up to seven days. By all means do not cough or sneeze without covering your mouth to limit the spread.
  9. Avoid large gatherings: sporting or public events where people are close together. When you are in public places, avoid crowding together try to maintain some social distance (at least 3 feet and preferably 6 feet) when feasible. Likewise, for the near future, minimize inviting friends or family over for parties and other large events.
  10. As the elderly are especially prone to severe, life-threatening infections, people over 70 years of age and/or those with lung, heart, or immune-deficiency health issues should isolate themselves as much as possible for the near future.
  11. If you are going to have contact with public surfaces, consider wearing latex gloves.
  12. If you have the option to work from home, do so.
  13. What about wearing a mask to prevent an infection?
    • If someone coughs on you, wearing a typical surgical mask will not prevent the virus from passing through the mask into the air you breathe. (There are N-95 masks that limit small particles and exclude a virus, but these are in very short supply even for medical providers caring for severely infected patients.)
    • Wearing a surgical mask will help to prevent you from touching your nose and/or mouth (We touch our nose/mouth 50-100 times per day without knowing it!). This is the only way this virus can infect you – it is lung-specific. Since the mask will not prevent the virus in a direct sneeze from getting into your nose or mouth – it is only to keep you from touching your nose or mouth.
    • Wearing a surgical mask will also help prevent the spread of the virus in case you become infected, especially if you do not yet know that you are infected and are spreading the disease.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET SICK WITH COLD SYMPTOMS:

Many of us are going to get sick with cold-like symptoms over the next few months as the common cold and influenza are also spreading through the community. Without testing, you will not know if you have a minor cold, the flu, or a COVID-19 infection.

  1. Stay home, avoid contact with others, and disinfect the area around you (doorknobs, counters, anything that you and others might touch).
  2. As feasible, stay at least 6 feet away from other people as when you cough or sneeze the virus becomes airborne. Cover your mouth with a Kleenex as able with coughing or sneezing.
  3. Call your medical provider’s office to see if testing is available in your area and to clarify your symptoms. (Hard-hit areas like Western Washington are getting testing kits first.) Testing options will vary by region.
    • Especially if your symptoms are more than mild, or if you are getting worse over time, ask your doctor what testing is available, and I suggest that you ask for testing for influenza and COVID-19. Many people are also getting the flu, which can have similar symptoms, and rarely you could have both, which likely would make you at higher risk for a severe infection.
    • The worse your symptoms, the more important that you get tested, just in case your symptoms continue to worsen over time.
    • Do not just show up at the doctor’s office or the emergency room unless you have serious symptoms as you put yourself at risk to infect yourself from COVID-19 infected people at medical facilities.
    • Again, 80% of infections will be mild and do not require medical therapy, so until testing is available, if you think you might have COVID-19, take preventative measures to avoid infecting other people.
  4. Irrigate your nose with nasal saline. It is very soothing to your tissues and helps reduce congestion.
  5. Get adequate sleep and rest, hydrate, and avoid using excess alcohol which can depress your immune function. If you smoke, stop smoking as it decreases your lung function and puts you at much higher risk for pneumonia.

WHAT IF YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19?

  1. Follow your medical provider and public health department advice regarding treatment and recommendations.
  2. Stay at home and avoid exposing others to the disease for at least 14 days.
  3. Wear a mask to decrease the spread of the infection. Masks block you from spreading the large droplets into the air that carry the virus. Ideally, everyone would have masks at home, yet the problem is that masks are in very short supply and are being rationed for medical care settings.
  4. Use hand sanitizers to keep your hands from spreading the infection to others.
  5. Regarding natural products, ask your doctor about using zinc gluconate lozenges.
    • In updates shared by molecular biologists that have studied the coronavirus for decades, zinc lozenges have been proven to be effective in blocking coronavirus (and several other viruses) from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. Use as directed several times each day when you begin to feel ANY “cold-like” symptoms beginning. It is best to lie down and let the lozenge dissolve in the back of your throat and nasopharynx.
    • There are many brands available, and compounds made with zinc gluconate appear to be the most effective. However, we do not know if any of these are effective for COVID-19.
    • In excess, zinc lozenges can cause nausea.
  6. Similarly, ask your doctor about taking vitamin C at 3 to 5 grams daily during an acute infection. It is unclear if this treatment will help shorten the duration and severity of COVID-19 infections, but it appears to have some benefit in limiting the severity of other coronavirus infections. Taking vitamin C in high doses has not been shown to prevent corona infections.
  7. Elderberry extract and anti-inflammatory compounds are being considered to limit the severity of the COVID-19 symptoms. In the future, natural anti-inflammatory compounds, such as curcumin, boswellia, and quercetin may be found to help with severity, but for now are unproven remedies.

FINAL NOTE:

I pray that this pandemic will be reasonably contained without overwhelming our health care systems. I sincerely hope that you will be able to say that my recommendations were excessive, but personally I do not think this will be the case, as of right now the numbers of infections are increasing rapidly nationwide and will very likely continue over the next several months.

Later, all of us will be glad that we did our best to help prevent the spread of this infection that currently lacks a vaccine or curative treatment.

I wish that you, your family, and your friends remain well over the next few months.

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

 

 

 

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Kale and Tomato Mini-Frittatas https://drmasley.com/kale-and-tomato-mini-frittatas/ https://drmasley.com/kale-and-tomato-mini-frittatas/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2020 21:13:34 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8031 The post Kale and Tomato Mini-Frittatas appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Here is a tasty, and super easy-to-prepare breakfast, that provides several servings to enjoy over several days. Stores well in a glass, sealed container for 3-4 days. You can vary the vegetable and cheese options to match what you have on hand. To rewarm leftovers, pop min-frittatas in the microwave or sauté them in a skillet.

If you want to make a dairy-free version, skip the cheese entirely, double the almond milk portion to half a cup, and whisk almond milk with eggs as mentioned below.

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped finely 

½ teaspoon sea salt (divided) 

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning 

5 medium kale stalks, spine removed, chopped finely (about 1.5 cups) 

8 cherry tomatoes, sliced into quarters 

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely 

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped 

9 organic, cage-free eggs 

¼ cup organic low-fat milk (or almond milk) 

½ cup organic comté (or gruyere) cheese, grated

 

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350° (F). Line a muffin tray with a dozen muffin liners. 

Heat a medium sauté pan to medium heat. Add olive oil, then onion, ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and sauté with an occasional stir for 2-3 minutes, until onion softens.

Add kale, tomatoes, basil, and rosemary, cover, and heat another 2-3 minutes with an occasional stir until kale has wilted. Remove pan from heat.

Meanwhile in a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and remaining half teaspoon salt then stir in half the cheese with the egg-milk mixture. 

Spoon sautéed onion, kale, and tomato into the muffin tray liners. Next ladle egg mixture into each liner. Sprinkle remaining half of cheese over the top of each mixture. 

Bake for 16-20 minutes, until eggs are set and serve. 

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Grilled Scallops with Wild Mushroom Sauté https://drmasley.com/grilled-scallops-with-wild-mushroom-saute/ https://drmasley.com/grilled-scallops-with-wild-mushroom-saute/#respond Fri, 14 Feb 2020 20:03:28 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=8007 The post Grilled Scallops with Wild Mushroom Sauté appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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I really enjoy grilled sea scallops especially when served with Mediterranean herbs and wild mushrooms. Select any mushroom that you enjoy. I recommend that you serve this with a green salad or a generous portion of green vegetables on the side.

Marinating Time: 10 Minutes

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Serves: Two

Ingredients:

¾ pound large sea scallops

1 tablespoon avocado oil

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups wild mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, porcini, chanterelle), stems discarded, sliced

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dry white wine

4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely

½ cup Italian parsley, chopped finely

Directions:

Rinse scallops, pat completely dry with paper towels, and place in a bowl. Combine with avocado oil, thyme, salt and pepper and marinate for 10-20 minutes.

Pre-heat grill (or broiler) and prep mushrooms, garlic, and parsley.

Heat a medium sauté pain to medium heat, add olive oil, then add mushrooms, salt, black pepper, and heat for 3-4 minutes with an occasional stir until mushrooms have softened. Add wine, garlic, and parsley, stir and cover. Heat another 2 minutes, remove from heat but keep covered.

Once grill is hot, sear on both sides for 2 minutes. If you are using the broiler instead, plan scallops in an ovenproof pan under the top rack of the oven. After two minutes, turn the scallops and return to the top shelf in the oven. They should be slightly browned on both sides and still be moist and tender in the center. Avoid overcooking or they will be dry and tough.

After turning scallops to cook on the second side, resume medium heat in the sauté pan with the mushrooms.

Add scallops to serving plates, spoon mushrooms around the scallops. Serve with a side green salad or a side green vegetable.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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How your gut can affect heart health! https://drmasley.com/how-your-gut-can-affect-heart-health/ https://drmasley.com/how-your-gut-can-affect-heart-health/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2020 17:44:45 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7993 The post How your gut can affect heart health! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Despite our efforts spending hundreds of billions of dollars (likely trillions) researching and treating heart disease, it remains the #1 cause of death for women and men in the Western world.

For decades, scientists have blamed heart disease on red meat intake because it is loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat. The advice was a pillar of preventive medicine: ‘Limit red meat intake to avoid heart disease’.

But a problem has emerged with that cause-and-effect advice, as several studies now question whether consuming cholesterol or saturated fact necessarily impacts heart disease.

It turns out there may be something else about red meat that increases your risk for a heart attack or stroke, independent of cholesterol and saturated fat. The connection appears to be between red meat and your gut microbiome.

You’re probably familiar with the term “microbiome,” which refers to the friendly bacteria and other microbes that live in and on your body. We now know that the gut microbiome—ideally populated by a well-balanced mix of bacteria, fungi, and viruses—plays a major role in all aspects of health, including heart health.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote that “all disease starts in the gut.”

More than 2,000 years later, scientists made a discovery about a substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), with findings that are right in line with his theory. Studies have shown that high blood levels of TMAO are associated with arterial plaque growth, clotting in the blood stream, and a dramatic risk in inflammation—itself a trigger for a host of illnesses and chronic disease.

One of many new studies on TMAO, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found up to a 62% heightened risk of a heart attack, stroke, or death in people with elevated TMAO, which is a far stronger relationship to heart disease than from either cholesterol or saturated fat.

So, you may be thinking, just avoid food with a lot of TMAO, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple, because food itself doesn’t contain TMAO. Instead, the gut microbiome makes TMAO from foods with nutrients like choline and L-carnitine,  nutrients that have health benefits, and that are abundant not just in meat, egg yolks and dairy products—the classic examples of high saturated fat/cholesterol—but also in foods regarded as heart-healthy, such as lean poultry, low-fat dairy, and fish. (Note: Although eating fish does raise TMAO levels, it is not associated with cardiac events, likely because of the anti-inflammatory properties of long chain omega-3 fats in seafood.)

Not only does eating red meat consumption increase the amount of L-carnitine available for TMAO production, it also appears to shift the balance in gut microbiome, fueling the growth of bad gut bacteria that produce TMAO. Yet, the TMAO production and growth of TMAO producing bacteria were reversed when the participants were crossed over to vegetarian diets (featuring vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, and whole grains), or if they adopted a Mediterranean diet.

It turns out that a Mediterranean diet, (loaded with vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, moderate red wine, and herbs and spices like garlic and Italian herbs, and generally avoids red meat)  will promote good gut bacteria and limit TMAO production, despite that the diet also contains moderate amounts of fish, poultry, yogurt, and cheese. The plant-based aspect of a Mediterranean diet creates a different gut microbiome that does not produce TMAO.

Part of the benefit of a Mediterranean diet is that it includes an abundance of probiotic rich foods, including plain yogurt, kefir, olives, capers, and pickled vegetables. If you are dairy intolerant and/or avoid dairy for other reasons, choosing other probiotic rich foods will help you support your gut microbiome as well.

I have also been researching how the gut microbiome impacts most of the major risk factors for heart disease: inflammation, obesity, cholesterol, diabetes, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. If you maintain a healthy balance of microbes—nurturing the beneficial ones and eliminating those that do damage—you’ll enhance your control of these important risk factors, as well.

In later blogs, I will share how modifying your gut microbiome through diet can impact all these risk factors for heart disease, and how to boost your gut microbiome with the most beneficial microbes.

The good news is that there are many ways to benefit from following a Mediterranean diet, especially for your heart.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

 

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Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Fennel https://drmasley.com/butternut-squash-soup-with-ginger-and-fennel/ https://drmasley.com/butternut-squash-soup-with-ginger-and-fennel/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2020 04:33:25 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7972 The post Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Fennel appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This fragrant, delicate soup is especially good for fall and early winter when butternut squash—a great source of fiber and beta-carotene—is in season. The savory flavors of gingerroot and fennel go perfectly with squash.

Baking Time: 35–45 minutes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Simmering Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash (2–3 pounds)

2 tablespoons almond oil (or your favorite nut oil)

½ medium onion, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon peeled and grated gingerroot

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup coarsely chopped fennel (bulb only—save the feathery leaves for garnish)

¼ cup white wine

2 cups low-sodium organic vegetable or chicken broth

1 cup organic almond milk (or organic whole milk)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds, and bake face down on a lightly oiled baking dish for 35–45 minutes, until soft enough to scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Set flesh aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add oil. Sauté onion with salt and pepper until onion is translucent, 2–3 minutes. Add gingerroot, curry powder, and fennel. Heat 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine; after 30 seconds add stock and all but ¼ cup of the almond milk. Stir and remove from heat. Purée in a blender or food processer.

Add squash pulp to puréed ingredients. Blend or process until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Return to saucepan and heat through for about 10 minutes.

To serve, pour into individual bowls, garnish with fennel leaves, and add a swirl of milk.

Steven Masley, MD

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Wild Mushroom Soufflé https://drmasley.com/wild-mushroom-souffle/ https://drmasley.com/wild-mushroom-souffle/#respond Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:07:47 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7953 The post Wild Mushroom Soufflé appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Here is a great way to warm up your kitchen using the oven and create a fantastic meal at the same time. Use any variety or combination of wild mushrooms, such as oyster or shiitake. Tip: When making a soufflé, bake in the center of the oven and make sure there is no rack above it so that nothing interferes with the rising.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Baking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil

3 cups wild mushrooms, diced (12 ounces stemmed)

½ cup minced shallots

1 teaspoon dried fines herbs

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup white wine

2 tablespoons diced Italian parsley

⅔ cup grated Gruyère cheese

8 large organic-fed, cage-free eggs, separated

Garnish:

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons grated Gruyère cheese

2 tablespoons almond slivers

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Lightly butter soufflé dish (9 inches wide by 5 inches high) or 1½-quart baking dish.

Heat sauté pan to medium-high, add oil, then mushrooms, shallots, fines herbs, salt, and black pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are soft and tender, 4–5 minutes; add white wine to deglaze the pan and stir 30 seconds. Stir in parsley, remove from heat, and stir in ⅔ cup grated Gruyère.

Soufflé (cont.)

In a large bowl, beat egg yolks together. Add mushroom mixture to yolks.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Then gently fold into mushroom mixture (don’t overmix or the soufflé won’t rise) and pour into prepared soufflé or baking dish. Top with parsley, remaining cheeses, and almond slivers. Bake at 400˚F for 30–35 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Happy New Year 2020! https://drmasley.com/happy-new-year/ https://drmasley.com/happy-new-year/#respond Tue, 31 Dec 2019 04:00:46 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7901 The post Happy New Year 2020! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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I wish you a wonderful New Year 2020, filled with health, vitality, and peace of mind.

Starting today, I am thrilled to announce that my new book, The Mediterranean Method, published by Harmony Books, is available wherever books are sold.

2019 was an amazing year for me. I spent hundreds of hours researching this book, sailed from Spain to Turkey, and looked for tips to make your transformation to better health quick and easy. The benefits from following a Mediterranean Diet and lifestyle are simply incredible.

You can:

  • Lose weight and keep it off, long-term
  • Prevent and reverse heart disease
  • Improve cognitive function and prevent memory loss
  • Improve your gut function
  • Reduce your risk for diabetes and cancer
  • Extend your lifespan and your healthspan
  • Eat fantastic food that is simple and easy to prepare

It almost seems too good to be true that all these benefits from a diet are possible. Yet, after reviewing over 1,000 scientific articles published in prestigious medical journals, these benefits have been proven over and over.

Plus, in the book there are over 50 tasty recipes and 20 photos of these dishes to get you started.

But the Mediterranean Lifestyle has more ways to benefit you than just with food. The Mediterranean Method also clarifies how the way you eat and the social connections you create while eating food likely have as much benefit to you, as the nutrients in the food itself.Simply buy the book, enter your receipt number here, and I will give you my Mediterranean Cooking Class Video Series as a bonus!,  These cooking class videos are packed with tips to make preparing these dishes super easy and fun.

Click here to buy the book and get these free Mediterranean Method Cooking Class Videos.

I hope you have a fantastic 2020 and I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

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Cod Poached with Herbs and Wine https://drmasley.com/cod-poached-with-herbs-and-wine/ https://drmasley.com/cod-poached-with-herbs-and-wine/#respond Sat, 21 Dec 2019 01:14:17 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7875 The post Cod Poached with Herbs and Wine appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Cod is the most popular fish served in several European countries, especially Portugal. Some restaurants in Portugal offer over 100 different cod recipes. This recipe was submitted by Teresa Delgado. Traditionally the Portuguese use dried, salted cod, yet finding good salted cod in the U.S. is difficult. Teresa wisely adapted this recipe using fresh cod.

You can also use this recipe with other white fish, including sole, hake, haddock, sablefish or snapper. The key is that the fish should smell fresh when you buy it, just like the sea. If it has a fishy smell, pass and buy something else.​

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

½ cup fish broth or water

1 ½ cups dry white wine

2 shallots, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, (some combination of rosemary, parsley, and/or thyme), or 2 teaspoons of dried herbs

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (6 ounce) fillets of cod (or other fish)

Garnish:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh herbs

2 lemon slices

Directions:

Heat the fish broth/water, wine, shallot, herbs, salt, and black pepper in a deep-frying pan over medium heat until simmering. Reduce heat to medium low and add fish fillets.

Cover and poach for 6 to 8 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork.

Transfer to serving plates. Spoon the shallots and herbs over the fish. Drizzle olive oil over the fish and garnish with fresh herbs and lemon slices.

Serve with a side of mixed vegetables, and optionally with a crisp wine, such as a Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

 

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Six Tips to Better Manage Stress Over the Holidays https://drmasley.com/six-tips-to-better-manage-stress-over-the-holidays/ https://drmasley.com/six-tips-to-better-manage-stress-over-the-holidays/#respond Thu, 19 Dec 2019 16:06:13 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7693 The post Six Tips to Better Manage Stress Over the Holidays appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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​Holidays are a wonderful time to spend with family and friends, and to be grateful for all the wonderful things and people in our lives. Yet, they can also be stressful, as packed schedules, wild expectations from family, and indulgent eating and drinking can stress out even the calmest of people.

Here are 6 steps to help you manage the added stress from the holidays, and hopefully enjoy peace and mental calm during this busy time of year.

  1. Don’t over-load your schedule

Typically, there is more going on over the holidays than any other time of the year. Plan your schedule wisely and avoid being over-committed. Focus on family and spend time with people that make you happy. You may need to say no politely to several events that are not a priority.

For some people, shopping can take over a person’s schedule as well as stress their budget and emotional state, especially if you overspend when you can’t afford it. Do not wait until the last minute to complete your shopping for loved ones; get your shopping completed early in the holiday season, set a budget and stick with it so you are not overextended.

  1. Don’t neglect sleep

No one functions well when sleep deprived, and it is hard to make good choices when you are exhausted.

Keep to your regular sleep routine as much as possible. And if you know that a party or travel are going to deprive you of some sleep, schedule a 30-60-minute power nap sometime during that same day.

Excess caffeine and alcohol make it hard to sleep well, so don’t overdo them.

  1. Stay active

Exercise boosts your energy and helps you melt away emotional stress. So, don’t skip your work-out routine over the holidays.

Schedule some time to be active, ideally outside with nature. Whether you choose to walk, cycle, dance, snowshoe, or ski, pick something that is fun and that will raise your heart rate too. If the weather doesn’t allow you to be outside, then plan for walking indoors, even a shopping mall will do.

If you end up in a hotel sometime over the holidays, nearly every hotel these days has a basic gym—so schedule time to use it.

  1. Yes, Celebrate for the holidays, but don’t overdo it

Many people associate the holidays with special foods, especially desserts. You do not have to deprive yourself, but you may need to set some limits. The easiest thing to do is to set a portion size. You may choose to have one small piece, or enjoy 3 fantastic bites and stop, just be sure that you do not go back for second helpings and overdo a good thing.

Make sure to savor and enjoy each bite of your favorite foods. And be sure to eat them at a table with other people you enjoy so that you get to share these foods and memories together. With holiday meals, who you share food with is hopefully more important than what and how much you eat.

Once the holiday is over, toss the extra food that is more of a treat than healthy nourishment. Nobody needs extra portions of cookies, pies, candies, and cakes.

Alcohol is another thing that is often overdone during the holidays, in the name of celebrating. Be sure to drink more water or herbal tea than alcohol, saving alcohol for a special toast and/or to pair with a special dish.

  1. Don’t forget your supplements over the holidays

B vitamins and magnesium help your body and brain deal with stress. Don’t miss out on them during the holidays.

You get your B vitamins from a good quality multivitamin and or a B-complex preparation. Magnesium is critical for hundreds of cellular reactions, is critical to help you relax and sleep, and needs to be taken separately, preferably at bedtime.

  1. Schedule time with your favorite people over the holidays.

It is all too easy to get overwhelmed with work parties and extended family over the holidays. If these are the people that make you happy and bring joy to your life, then awesome. But make sure that you have time for the most important people in your life—those who make you laugh and feel loved. Schedule something special and share a hug with the most important people in your life during the holiday season.

 

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

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Turkey Chili with Baked Potato https://drmasley.com/turkey-chili-with-baked-potato/ https://drmasley.com/turkey-chili-with-baked-potato/#comments Fri, 06 Dec 2019 17:30:50 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7661 The post Turkey Chili with Baked Potato appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This recipe makes a flavourful dinner and on a cold night using the oven can warm up your kitchen at the same time. If you still have leftover turkey, this is a great way to use it up; and if not, it is easy to cut pieces of turkey loin into bite sized pieces and sauté until cooked and use them in this recipe.

When baking potatoes, I prefer to use fingerling potatoes with their skin, in contrast to a classic russet baked potato, to minimize the glycemic load (sugar surge) that comes with eating potatoes. Serving them with beans is a great way to drop your blood sugar jump even further. Overall, this is an easy-to-prepare, tasty, and popular dish for the whole family.

Serves: 4

Baking Time: 45 Minutes

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

4 cups fingerling (baby) potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons avocado oil

1 medium onion, chopped

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)

15 ounces cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup salsa

½ pound cooked turkey, sliced into bite sized pieces (white and/or dark meat)

Garnish

¼ cup organic sour cream (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° (F). Bake potatoes for 45 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan to medium high heat, add onions, salt, pepper, paprika, and oregano and heat for 3 minutes with an occasional stir, until onions are translucent.

Add bell pepper and heat another 2 minutes with an occasional stir.

Then reduce heat to low and stir in green onions, cayenne pepper, pinto beans, salsa, and turkey and simmer for 5 minutes. Cover and remove from heat.

5 minutes before potatoes are ready to serve, heat the sauté pan with chili to medium heat, stir occasionally.

To serve, add potatoes to a plate or a large bowl and spoon chili over the top and optionally garnish with sour cream.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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What is the Best Diet for Your Heart? https://drmasley.com/what-is-the-best-diet-for-your-heart/ https://drmasley.com/what-is-the-best-diet-for-your-heart/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2019 19:16:23 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7640 The post What is the Best Diet for Your Heart? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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​Even though we can prevent 90% of heart disease with lifestyle, heart attacks and strokes remain the #1 killer for both women and men in the US, Canada, and most of the western world.

Several lifestyle factors play a critical role, including exercise, sleep, stress management, and avoiding tobacco use, but the biggest factor that impacts our heart is the food we eat day after day.

Low-fat diets have faded in popularity for over a decade and recent studies have shown that they can worsen blood sugar control and cholesterol profiles, even increasing your risk for heart disease.

More recently, Paleo and low-carb diets have been more popular, yet they are hard to follow long term, and tend to limit the critical antioxidant nutrients that come from eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables, which is critical for long-term heart health.

The good news is that the best-studied, most effective, and easiest to follow eating plan that protects your heart is a Mediterranean diet. It features vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seafood, olive oil, a variety of spices and herbs, and modest amounts of organic/free-range poultry, eggs, and dairy, and red wine. The meals prepared with these foods are easy to make and delicious, making this type of diet easy to stick with long term.

And, if we combine a Mediterranean diet with low-glycemic load content, the results are even better.

The EPIC Greek Cohort Study, published in 2012 with nearly 24,000 participants, evaluated adherence to a Mediterranean eating plan for more than 10 years in relation to heart attacks and strokes. Researchers also compared glycemic load with detailed dietary histories in all these patients. Those with the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet and lowest glycemic load scores had the lowest rate of CVD (heart attacks and strokes) events. And, if these individuals were overweight or obese, the benefits from following a Mediterranean diet combined with low glycemic load was even stronger.

Not only is a Mediterranean diet good for your heart, but in the famous PREDIMED study, they showed that following it can also improve your brain function and help prevent memory loss. The combination of a Mediterranean eating plan and low glycemic load is also highly beneficial for your brain.

The key to reducing glycemic load with a Mediterranean diet is to avoid sugar and flour, which with a Mediterranean diet is easy to do. That basically means avoiding bread, cereal, and pizza, plus eating fresh fruit for dessert. If you serve pasta on occasion, keep the pasta portion small and ideally buy the newer protein-enriched, low-carb pasta (such as the brand Barilla), which is commonly now available.

To get you started on a low-glycemic version of a Mediterranean eating plan, I highly recommend my newest book, The Mediterranean Method, which includes 50 of my favorite recipes with color photos. If you order now, as a bonus, you will receive my Mediterranean Method Cooking Class Videos featuring selected recipes from the book. These cooking classes provide my best tips for creating beautiful, delicious, and easy-to-prepare Mediterranean meals. Click here, to order the book and get my FREE cooking classes.

 

I wish you the very best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, CNS

 

 

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Wild Rice Salad https://drmasley.com/wild-rice-salad/ https://drmasley.com/wild-rice-salad/#respond Thu, 21 Nov 2019 20:23:37 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7611 The post Wild Rice Salad appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This is a lovely side dish with terrific flavors that would be great for Thanksgiving, or to go along with a variety of meals. This recipe was provided to us by Dorothy Lahr. Dorothy said that adding hummus to the dressing was optional, and although it is an unusual ingredient in dressing, it goes nicely with this wild rice salad.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, if you need additional recipes for the holiday please see my, Thanksgiving Recipes.   I wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

Wild Rice Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 cup wild rice

4 cups water

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 medium bell pepper (either red or orange, or half of each), chopped

½ small red onion, chopped finely

4 medium celery stalks (preferably with leaves), chopped finely

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup raisins (or sugar-free dried cranberries or cherries)

Dressing:

½ small red onion chopped very fine

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup hummus (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine wild rice, water, and salt, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 40-45 minutes, until rice is tender but still al dente. Once cooked, pour into a strainer and cool with running cold water, allow to drain, then transfer to a serving bowl.

Meanwhile, chop the bell pepper, onion, celery, parsley, and green onion and combine with the drained wild rice.

Next stir in almonds, pecans, and raisins.

Whisk dressing ingredients together, then toss with the salad and serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

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Bean Picadillo https://drmasley.com/bean-picadillo/ https://drmasley.com/bean-picadillo/#respond Sat, 09 Nov 2019 02:34:01 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7397 The post Bean Picadillo appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Here is an easy to prepare dish from E. Hazelbower. This recipe has multiple ingredients, yet they are easy to combine and provide a wonderful flavor. Picadillo is a traditional dish in many Latin American countries and the Philippines that is like hash. It is traditionally made with ground beef (in this recipe we substituted beans), plus tomatoes, raisins, olives, and other ingredients that vary by region.  Best is to soak kidney beans overnight and cook them until cooked but still a touch al dente, but using canned beans makes this recipe quicker. Caution with using jalapeno pepper; 1 pepper does not seem like much, but some people would find it too spicy—use less or more depending upon your tolerance for hot and spicy.

Prep Time: 35 Minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons avocado oil

1 large white onion, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped and seeds discarded

1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground clove

28 ounces (about 4-5 cups) plum tomatoes, chopped

4 medium cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup green olives, chopped

2-15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups corn

1/2 cup raisins 

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Garnish

1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat, add oil, then the onion, salt, and black pepper and sauté for 2 minutes with an occasional stir. Then add jalapeno, celery, spices, salt, and black pepper, stir occasionally for 3 minutes, then add the tomatoes, garlic, and green olives, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 3-4 minutes with an occasional stir.

Add cooked kidney beans, corn, raisins and vinegar and simmer another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast sliced almonds in a small to medium sauté pan over medium heat until warm and fragrant, but do not allow to burn.

Add vegetable and bean picadillo to a serving dish, and garnish with toasted almonds and serve.

Enjoy,

Steven Masley, MD

 

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Which diet is the easiest to follow and most effective for weight loss? https://drmasley.com/which-diet-is-the-easiest-to-follow-and-most-effective-for-weight-loss/ https://drmasley.com/which-diet-is-the-easiest-to-follow-and-most-effective-for-weight-loss/#respond Tue, 05 Nov 2019 02:03:53 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7370 The post Which diet is the easiest to follow and most effective for weight loss? appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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​As we all know, weight control is a BIG problem in the United States. More than two thirds of Americans are overweight, and nearly forty percent are obese. But it isn’t just the US, most western and affluent countries are struggling with weight problems.

Dieting has become a global obsession, but sadly very few people are having long term success with the diets they try.

Yet the latest research shows that there is a solution that is easy to follow and effective, and what is amazing is the food you eat can be delicious and easy-to-prepare.

In published research, Dr. Joseph G. Mancini and his colleagues evaluated five randomized weight loss trials involving more than 1,000 patients on different weight-loss regimens (low-fat, low-carb, Mediterranean diet, etc.) who were followed for over 12 months.

There are hundreds of short-term studies published, but this 12-months-plus follow-up time is especially impressive because it means that researchers were able to track whether a diet delivered long-term weight-loss results—the true marker of success.

Unfortunately, we’re often swayed and distracted by headlines and hype from short-term studies of trendy diets that show weight loss over 4-6-12 weeks, but as you likely know, all that weight loss bounces back, adding an extra 5 pounds in the end.

What is even more deceiving are weight loss books touting, “Lose up to 10 pounds in 10 days.” The reality is that you can only lose at most 1-2 pounds of fat per week. Any additional weight you lose means you are losing water, or far worse, you might be losing muscle mass (an essential aspect of health and vitality).

According to these multiple clinical studies, a Mediterranean diet was equally effective for weight-loss as was a low-carb eating plan (such as Paleo), and more effective than a standard low-fat eating plan. Plus:  when comparing to a low-fat or low-carb diet, followers of a Mediterranean diet showed more improvement in cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure control than any other diet plan.

What was equally important was long term compliance. People following a low-fat or low-carb eating plan tended to abandon their diet either immediately or after the initial 4-6-12 weeks, while those following the Mediterranean eating plan had the highest long term adherence.

Over a year follow up, the average long-term weight loss among Mediterranean diet followers ranged from 10-22 pounds—and the weight stayed off throughout the 12-month follow-up period.

Even for people with type 2 diabetes, the Mediterranean diet turns out to be the best path for weight-loss. In a different meta-analysis of nine randomized dietary trials with over 1,000 patients, researchers concluded that when a Mediterranean diet was compared to the American Diabetic Association diet, a low-fat diet, or a low-carb diet, once again the Mediterranean diet showed superior results for blood sugar control, weight-loss, and lipid profile changes.

The idea that you could lose 10-22 pounds (and keep the weight off), improve your blood sugar and cholesterol profile, and lower systemic inflammation, all while enjoying delicious Mediterranean food, sounds almost too good to be true. 

But…it is true!

There is more good news. Not only is the Mediterranean diet the most effective and easiest to follow for weight control, but it is also the best diet to prevent heart disease and memory loss. Those multiple benefits are why in 2020 The US News and World Report ranks the Mediterranean diet consistently as the #1 best overall diet on the planet, a fact borne out by extensive research. They also ranked it as the #1 diet for health, best for plant based diet, best diet for diabetes, and the #1 easiest diet to follow.

I am delighted to announce that my newest book, The Mediterranean Method—Your Complete Plan to Harness the Power of the Healthiest Diet on the Planet, Lose Weight, Prevent Heart Disease and More, published December 31, 2019 by Harmony Books.

In this new book, I show you how easy it is to follow a Mediterranean diet, and how to enjoy delicious food at the same time. Plus, I will share 50 recipes that I created while sailing across the Mediterranean Sea.

To order your book now, CLICK HERE.

As a bonus for buying the book, I am offering my free Video Cooking Classes, so be sure to go here.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

 

 

 

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Greek Burgers with Roasted Tomato Topping https://drmasley.com/greek-burgers-with-roasted-tomato-topping/ https://drmasley.com/greek-burgers-with-roasted-tomato-topping/#respond Sat, 26 Oct 2019 02:09:33 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7093 The post Greek Burgers with Roasted Tomato Topping appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This recipe is adapted from one of our community members, Ann Musico. She is a certified holistic health coach from NY. You can learn more about her work here threedimensionalvitality.com/.

This is a delicious burger recipe and the topping can be used with other proteins such as chicken, fish, and even over eggs.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Burger Cooking Time: Grill over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side (you can always bake these at 350 degrees or sauté in a pan with avocado oil until nicely browned and cooked to your liking)

Topping Baking Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves: 4 (makes 4 patties)

Ingredients:

1 lb. grass-fed and finished beef (these can be made with any quality ground meat, even pasture-raised, organic turkey or chicken.) To keep it very traditional, grass-fed lamb is my choice.)

1 organic shallot, finely minced

½ cup of organic spinach (if fresh, chop it, if frozen choose chopped, thaw and squeeze excess liquid out)

1/3 cup pureed, cooked black beans or any bean of your choice (lentils, chickpeas, or cannellini beans)

1 teaspoon vegetable stock or water (to help puree beans)

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (organic)

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried basil

¼ teaspoon cinnamon (this is what gives it that true Greek flavor)

Tomato Topping Ingredients:

1 pint mixed grape tomatoes (organic)

½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

½ tablespoon avocado oil

Directions:

Tomato Topping: Combine all the ingredients and drizzle with avocado oil. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until tomatoes burst and soften.

Burgers: Combine all ingredients in a bowl making sure all ingredients are well combined with the meat.

Form into 4 generous patties and either grill over medium-high heat 4-5 minutes per side, or bake in a 350-degree oven or sauté in a pan in avocado oil until nicely browned and fully cooked inside.

Serve with tomato topping. If the tomatoes are too large simply chop the mixture up a bit.

Enjoy!

Steven Masley, MD

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Why Are Greek Children Becoming Obese at Alarming Rates https://drmasley.com/greek-children/ https://drmasley.com/greek-children/#comments Tue, 22 Oct 2019 01:10:50 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7110 The post Why Are Greek Children Becoming Obese at Alarming Rates appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Over the last three months, Nicole and I have sailed over 1,500 miles across Greece. We have been awed by beautiful scenery, enjoyed the wholesome food, yet been surprised by high rates of obesity, not just in adults, but especially in young children.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) European office for prevention of noncommunicable diseases, Dr. Joao Breda, has said that the Mediterranean diet in Greece is dead and even Swedish children do a better job at following a Mediterranean diet.

Yes, there are awesome Mediterranean food options available, but far too many Greeks (like far too many Americans) have stopped eating them, especially children. A traditional Greek diet based on vegetables, fruits, beans, seafood, plain yogurt, red wine, and olive oil is being replaced by bread, French fries, sweets, candy, ice cream, and sugary drinks. And to stay trim and fit, this is what we should be eating as well.

Not only have the Greeks changed what they eat, but their activity levels have plummeted as well, which is the same trend we are seeing in the United States.

Although adult Greek obesity rates remain lower than in the US for the moment (US adult obesity rates are 38-39% versus 24-25% in Greece), there is a substantial increase in recent years and much higher than other nearby countries that do better at following a Mediterranean diet, such as France, Italy, and Spain.

In Greece, the biggest concern is the change in rates of overweight and obesity rates in children. Unfortunately, the US has also been seeing an increase in children who are obese or overweight, too.

Rates for children being overweight are:                    

Greece               44% boys          38% girls

US                        30% boys          30% girls

Mexico              28% boys          29% girls

Canada              25% boys          24% girls

France                15% boys          15% girls

The economic crisis in Greece has only made things worse. Unemployment rates are nearly 25%, spending on health and social services are down, the country’s mood has clearly worsened with the economic depression, and cheap processed food intake has increased substantially. It seems like Greeks are starting to eat fast, processed food like Americans, and it is killing them.

According to health experts at the WHO, the solution to the weight gain crisis in Greece is for Greeks (as well as for people who are overweight in the US) to resume eating a traditional Mediterranean diet. The critical shift is to stop eating processed food with sugar and flour, and to eat more vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, plain yogurt, and seafood—flavored with olive oil, plus herbs and spices.

Multiple studies have shown that the closer you follow a traditional Mediterranean diet, the slimmer you become, and the healthier you will be with less heart disease, less memory loss, and lower rates of cancer as well.

Along with the multiple health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, the weight loss benefits of following a Mediterranean diet has compelled me to research and write my latest book, The Mediterranean Method– Your Complete Plan to Harness the Power of the Healthiest Diet on the Planet — Lose Weight, Prevent Heart Disease, and More! publication date December 31, 2019. The book material comes with 50 awesome recipes, including 20 color photos.

To pre-order The Mediterranean Method, click here.

PS: to learn more of my sailboat travels across Greece and see photos, please visit my Facebook page: MasleyMD

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

 

 

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White Bean, Cauliflower, and Hazelnut Dip https://drmasley.com/white-bean-cauliflower-and-hazelnut-dip/ https://drmasley.com/white-bean-cauliflower-and-hazelnut-dip/#respond Fri, 11 Oct 2019 17:38:44 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7076 The post White Bean, Cauliflower, and Hazelnut Dip appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This dip pairs well with sliced vegetables. Canned beans make this even simpler to prepare (if you prepare your own, use 2 cups of cooked beans). Adapted from The Better Brain Solution, pg.265

Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Baking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6 (makes 3 cups)

Ingredients:

½ head cauliflower florets, cut into 1- inch pieces (about 2 cups)

2 tablespoons avocado oil

½ cup hazelnuts

4 medium garlic cloves, chopped

One 15- ounce can white beans, cooked, rinsed, and drained

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ cup low- sodium vegetable broth (or water)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

On a baking sheet, mix the cauliflower florets with the avocado oil. Bake for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, reduce the oven heat to 350°F.

Add the hazelnuts to an ovenproof dish and bake for 10 minutes.

At the same time, remove baking sheet with the cauliflower, stir in the garlic, and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the roasted cauliflower, the hazelnuts, beans, olive oil, salt, and vegetable broth.

Blend until smooth. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Enjoy!

Steven Masley, MD

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Share Your Favorite Recipe! https://drmasley.com/share-your-favorite-recipe/ https://drmasley.com/share-your-favorite-recipe/#respond Fri, 27 Sep 2019 21:10:08 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7051 The post Share Your Favorite Recipe! appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that features Mediterranean ingredients? If, so we would love to hear from YOU!

Over the years, I have had many people offer to share their favorite recipes.  It would be my great pleasure if you would submit one of your top recipes so my entire community could benefit. Of course, giving credit to the creator (or leaving it anonymous if you prefer). And, some lucky recipes may also be featured in one of my future books (only if you give your permission).

I always encourage recipes that are easy-to-prepare, but for a special occasion a dish that includes extra effort is always welcome.

There is an incredible variety of Mediterranean flavors. Your dish could be Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Israeli, Egyptian, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, and/or depending on the ingredients, even Portuguese.

I may request to modify your dish, if needed, to meet the recommendations of my next book, The Mediterranean Method, Harmony books. The publication date is December 31, 2019.

The guidelines are easy to follow:  Please read below.

  • For oil, use extra-virgin olive oil, or if you are using high heat cooking/baking (more than 400 degrees F), you can use avocado oil or almond oil.
  • Be generous with portions for vegetables, spices, herbs, and garlic.
  • Bean dishes are encouraged.
  • Dishes that use nuts are urged as well.
  • If using dairy, make sure you choose an organic source. You can use either low-fat or full fat products, although with full fat options, please keep the portion size moderate. You are also welcome to use dairy free alternatives, such as organic (Non-GMO) soy or almond milk products as preferred.
  • If using animal protein, it should be cage-free, organically raised, and/or wild. Poultry, fish, and shellfish are all welcome.
  • If you pick a dish using whole grains, keep the grain portion small.
  • Avoid using grain flour, although almond flour (technically almond meal) is clearly acceptable.
  • If using pasta, use protein and fiber enriched pasta, and keep the portion size small.
  • For desserts, focus on fruit, chocolate, and optionally, small amounts of honey.
  • Avoid sugar and sweeteners, although something naturally sweet, such as, dried, no sugar added fruit, a small amount of honey, maple syrup, or molasses in a dessert are ok, provided it has ample fiber from other sources, such as fruit and/or a whole grain.
  • I like to cook with wine, but if you want it alcohol-free, use broth instead.
  • If you are recommending a beverage with the meal, focus on water, herbal infusions, and optionally red wine.
  • If you can include ideas that make cooking your dish fun, and/or that include people working together in the kitchen, that is a bonus!

You are encouraged to send a photo of your completed recipe (a simple phone photo is adequate), although a photo is not required.

**Please email your recipe to info@drmasley.com with Recipe Request in the subject line, by October 30th.

I am grateful for your time and consideration, and I look forward to seeing what you submit.

Many thanks in advance for your help!

Steven Masley, MD

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How to Buy and Cook with Olive Oil https://drmasley.com/how-to-buy-and-cook-with-olive-oil/ https://drmasley.com/how-to-buy-and-cook-with-olive-oil/#comments Tue, 10 Sep 2019 18:10:16 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7039 The post How to Buy and Cook with Olive Oil appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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As Nicole and I sail across Greece, exploring a Greek version of a Mediterranean Diet, we see olive trees growing everywhere, olive oil on every restaurant table, and menus that proudly state “they only cook with extra-virgin olive oil”.

For millennia, the Greeks have promoted olive oil. Homer, the author of The Iliad and The Odyssey, referred to olive oil as “liquid gold.” Hippocrates, a physician known as the father of Western medicine, called it “the great healer” and prescribed it as a therapy for more than 60 different medical conditions.

Olives were used as food and as fuel, as the oil was a basic product in lighting lamps, used in medicine and cosmetics, plus the export of the oil was of great economic importance.

Pedanius Dioscorides, another Greek physician and botanist, and author of De Materia Medica– a 5-volume Greek encyclopedia about herbal medicine and related medicinal substances, was one of the first to recognize that the healthiest olive oils were those freshly extracted from unripe olives.

It’s no coincidence that Mediterranean populations tend to live longer and suffer less heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes than North Americans and northern Europeans. This observation has inspired great interest in the Mediterranean diet, particularly olive oil, one of its main components.

In recent years, hundreds of studies have shown that olive oil consumption will reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar levels, and fight cancer.

Mary M. Flynn, PhD, RD, a Brown University professor and dietician at the Miriam Hospital in Rhode Island, explains that there is a “common misperception that the health benefits of olive oil are due to the monounsaturated fat content,” which is often correctly viewed as being healthier than saturated fat and trans fat. However, olive oil offers far more than that, according to Flynn: “Studies done in animals and in test tubes have shown that the phenols in olive oil have amazing health benefits, such as selectively killing cancer cells, decreasing inflammation, and inhibiting tumor growth.”

Much of the recent research on olive oil has focused on the contribution of polyphenols, which are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidants. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the type of olive oil that tends to be richest in polyphenols; it is unrefined, and refining destroys many of the healthy compounds. (The amount and type of polyphenols varies from one EVOO to another, and virgin olive oil also contains smaller amounts of them.) Extra-virgin oil is, therefore, recommended for those seeking maximum health benefits.

The polyphenols in extra-virgin olive oil also have many anti-inflammatory properties, similar to the drug Ibuprofen. This anti-inflammatory activity is significant since many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and arthritis, are associated with chronic inflammation. High-phenolic EVOO has also been shown to reduce the blood clotting and narrowing of arteries that can lead to cardiovascular diseases, and one of the key components, oleocanthal, has even killed cancer cells in test tubes, without harming healthy cells.

Bottom line………..consuming extra-virgin olive oil is good for you!

Buying and Cooking with Olive Oil

There are three mistakes many Americans make with olive oil when they’re incorporating it into their daily diets. The first is using regular (non extra-virgin) olive oil. The second is cooking with it at high-heat.  The third is using too little or too much of it.

The first-time olives are pressed to produce oil, that product is called extra-virgin olive oil, which has the highest concentration polyphenols and the most health benefit. The second pressing is called virgin olive oil, still acceptable but less beneficial. Next, they heat the olives and use chemicals to extract the remaining regular oil from the olives, creating regular olive oil. I strongly recommend that you avoid regular processed olive oil, as the oil is likely damaged from the exposure to heat and it is also contaminated with chemical residues.

Do not use olive oil for high-heat cooking. The smoke point for extra-virgin olive oil is only 400 degrees F. High-heat obliterates its nutrients and even turns it into an unhealthy fat. It also destroys the taste—making it bitter, another reason why it’s a waste of money to ruin your good oil with high heat. You can cook with extra-virgin olive oil at low or medium heat, but not high heat, and you can use it when baking if you stay under 395 degrees F. Of course, it is fantastic when used with salads or dressings. On occasion, when you need high heat, use avocado oil, almond oil, or ghee. 

One serving of olive oil varies anywhere from 1 to 2 teaspoons to 1 to 2 tablespoons per person per dish. Published studies show that consuming up to a ½ cup of olive oil per person per day is associated with weight loss and better health. Still, it’s not hard to pour a half-cup of oil into a single meal recipe if you’re not paying attention. (A tablespoon of any oil has 120 calories, which is reasonable, while 1/2 half cup provides 960 calories, which would be over the top.) Just 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon in a serving of food can provide a wonderful smooth texture and a lovely flavor. You likely need at least 2-4 tablespoons per day per person to benefit from its health-related properties.

Beware of suspiciously cheap olive oil. It’s likely adulterated with other oils such as soybean or canola oils, or it may not actually be extra-virgin.

Much has been made of the origins of olive oil and where the “best” oil comes from. It’s largely a matter of taste—and also availability. Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Greece, California, Turkey, Australia, and most recently Tunisia produce significant volumes of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. In fact, Spain—home to the healthiest, longest-lived people in the Western world—is the largest producer of olive oil on the globe and produces one of my personal favorites.

Some bottlers sell a “blend” of extra-virgin olive oils from different countries, but buyer, beware: If it’s sold in a giant plastic jug or tin container, and it’s really cheap, it’s probably not the real thing. (Some reports suggest that up to half of all olive oil from Europe has been diluted with cheaper, less healthy oils.) Ideally, look for some form of certification, such as the California Olive Oil Council, to ensure that you are getting the real thing.

In general, when buying olive oil, it is best to buy from retailers that let you taste the oil to ensure you enjoy the flavor, and in small quantities, as once the container is opened, the oil deteriorates quickly. It’s also better to buy olive oil in dark colored glass bottles as the light can damage it. Avoid buying olive oil that comes in a plastic bottle, as the chemicals in plastic leak into the oil.

Finally, try to buy olive oil that is less than a year old, as it will have the greatest antioxidant activity. (Look for the “pressed on” or “harvested on” date on the bottle.).

I have personally used olive oil from the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. They import fresh pressed artisanal olive oil from producers around the world during harvest season. It is the most flavorful and healthiest extra virgin olive oil on the planet. All the oils are independently lab tested and certified for 100% purity. If you would like to try a bottle of their olive oil you can for just $1, click here.

Extra-virgin olive oil is one of the true win/win food ingredients that you should have in your kitchen, as it has a delicious flavor and using it is good for your health!

I wish you the best of health,

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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Shrimp Saganaki (Shrimp with Tomato Sauce, Garlic, and Feta) https://drmasley.com/shrimp-saganaki/ https://drmasley.com/shrimp-saganaki/#respond Sat, 07 Sep 2019 00:22:09 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7026 The post Shrimp Saganaki (Shrimp with Tomato Sauce, Garlic, and Feta) appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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This easy-to-prepare meal has been one of my favorite items on Greek restaurant menus. You will also find Mussels Saganaki and Chicken Saganaki—simply swap the protein portion to modify the dish, although I have had chopped bell peppers added with the chicken version. I suspect this would be good with cubed, firm tofu as well.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1.5 pounds large uncooked shrimp, deveined and shelled

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 medium garlic cloves, chopped finely

15 ounces tomato sauce

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Directions:

Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat, add olive oil, then onion, salt, black pepper, and oregano. Heat for 2-3 minutes until onions start to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add shrimp and sauté another 3 minutes, until they turn pink. Add tomatoes, garlic, and tomato sauce, bring to a gentle boil, add feta cheese, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

Steven Masley, MD

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Watermelon Gazpacho https://drmasley.com/watermelon-gazpacho/ https://drmasley.com/watermelon-gazpacho/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:25:42 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=7008 The post Watermelon Gazpacho appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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A Greek friend prepared this for me on our sailboat while exploring islands in Greece, when watermelon and tomatoes are at their peak. This dish in incredibly refreshing and flavorful, perfect for a warm summer evening.

Roasting Time: 1 Hour

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

3 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 medium garlic cloves (whole)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cups watermelon, rind removed, chopped, seeds discarded

2 tablespoons fresh mint

1 small cucumber, half the skin peeled, diced into ½-inch cubes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375° (F).

In an ovenproof dish, combine tomatoes, bell pepper, salt, black pepper, oregano, garlic, and olive oil. Roast in the oven for one hour.

Combine roasted tomato and bell pepper mixture with watermelon and mint in a blender at low speed and blend, leaving a few small chunks of tomato and pepper.

Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate at least one hour, stir in cucumber, and serve.

Enjoy!    

Steven Masley, MD

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Six Reasons Italians Eat Pasta and Don’t Gain Weight https://drmasley.com/six-reasons-italians-eat-pasta-and-dont-gain-weight/ https://drmasley.com/six-reasons-italians-eat-pasta-and-dont-gain-weight/#comments Mon, 19 Aug 2019 13:09:05 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=6997 The post Six Reasons Italians Eat Pasta and Don’t Gain Weight appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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Compared to the USA with a massive obesity rate of 39.8%, Italy’s obesity rate of 10% seems tiny. Not only are they much slimmer, but they live longer, too. The average lifespan in Italy is 82.5 years (2016 data) compared to 78.6 years in the US; Italians have one of the longest lifespans on the planet.

If we compare BMI (Body Mass Index with normal weight being less than 24, overweight is 24 to 29.9, and obese is over 30), the average Italian has a BMI of 24.3 while the average American has a BMI of 29.5.

How can this be, when they eat all that pasta? The average Italian eats pasta about 3-4 times per week, which is about three times more often than we eat pasta in the US. So how do they get away with that without it impacting their waistline?

As Nicole and I travel in our sailboat along the Italian coastline this last month (sailing south from Elba in Tuscany towards Sicily, and south through the straights of Medina), not only have we been eating out and shopping in markets (and yes eating pasta a few times per week), but I’ve been researching the overall good health of the Italian population, and studying how the Italians eat.

I have found there are at least six reasons that Italians get away with eating pasta so often, and still manage to control their weight and live longer than we do.  Let’s dive in and discuss each of them:

  1. Portion size

A typical serving of pasta in the US is 2 ounces of dry pasta per person, which is about 4 ounces once cooked. On top of that, often we serve ourselves a second portion (and sometimes even more), and many US restaurants will serve a platter with 4 to 8 ounces of cooked pasta per person.

In Italy, they commonly serve 1 to 1.5 ounces of dry pasta, which is 2-3 ounces cooked, and in a fine dining restaurant, the serving will often be even smaller. They don’t have a second serving either, as this is a defined course that comes with a full dinner.

A full meal may include:

  • Antipasto (an appetizer),
  • Next, the primi piatti (the first course) which is typically pasta or rice served with a tomato sauce, seafood, or with vegetables,
  • Followed by a secondi piatti (the second or main course) which is some form of protein, plus a side serving of vegetables
  • And finely fruit for dessert.

The bottom line is that they eat a modest pasta portion (likely half or one-third of what we would eat) and they don’t get an extra serving.

  1. Pasta Has a Lower Glycemic Load than Other Starches, and They Cook Pasta Only until It Is Al Dente

If you eat the same portion size of pasta, bread, rice, or potatoes, pasta provides the lowest rise in blood sugar levels and insulin production (if you recall from my earlier blogs, insulin is the hunger-stimulating hormone). Glycemic load refers to how high your blood sugar levels rise after eating a serving of food and reflects how big a load of sugar you get from eating one serving. The reason for its low glycemic load is that pasta has greater density, and because of this, it is digested and absorbed more slowly.

The longer you cook your pasta, the less dense it becomes, and the greater the rise in glycemic load after eating it. So don’t eat overcooked pasta!

After having ordered pasta multiple times over the last month, I’ve been surprised how al dente (chewy) it is served. It definitely has a bite to it. For years, I have been trying to make my pasta al dente by cooking typical dry pasta for only 9 minutes, but to match the Italian pasta makers, I have had to drop my cooking time to not more than 7-8 minutes.

Chef’s Note: A few pasta cooking rules. First, make sure the water has salt added to it and it is boiling briskly (not just a few bubbles coming to the surface—you want a crazy boiling pot), and that you use extra water in a big pot (do not try cooking pasta in a medium saucepan as the pasta will cool off the water when added and you have to wait for it to reheat and boil). Stir to separate the pasta strands and cook about 7-8 minutes until you test the pasta by biting into it and it is cooked but still chewy—do not wait until the pasta is soft! (As an example, Nicole and I were counting how many times we had to chew before swallowing al dente pasta in a restaurant to clarify how pasta is served here in Italy. Most of the time it takes 7-10 chews for each spiral bite of pasta, far more al dente than you’ll find your pasta cooked in a restaurant in the US.) Turn off the heat and immediately pour it into a colander to drain and serve immediately. Hot pasta will continue to cook and soften if left in a bowl over time.

  1. Italians Are Starting to Buy Pasta Made with Added Fiber and Protein

Not only do they cook their pasta al dente so that it has a lower glycemic load, they are starting to produce pasta that has more fiber and protein in it, with less carbohydrate as well. Companies like Barilla have started adding garbanzo (chickpea) flour to their protein-enriched pasta flour blend, and the result is a pasta that still tastes great but has a lower glycemic load. Look in your supermarket for pasta with added garbanzo flour—it is often called protein or fiber-enriched, and/or low carb pasta.

  1. They eat Mediterranean food with their pasta

They don’t just have pasta for dinner. Italians serve it with an abundance of vegetables, plus beans and protein, flavored with olive oil, herbs, and spices, plus some fruit for dessert. They avoid processed food. Following a Mediterranean eating plan has been shown to be the most effective diet on the planet for both controlling your waistline and enhancing your health.

  1. They go for a walk before and/or after dinner

The Italians have a lovely tradition, fare una passeggiata (take a walk or a stroll), which is typically done after dinner. Instead of sitting in front of a TV or computer screen, Italians go for a walk in the evening. From 7 to 10 pm in the evening, the streets are packed with couples, friends, and families out walking. It is a lovely sight to see. Walking after dinner not only improves your digestion and burns calories, but it helps to boost your calorie-burning speed (basal metabolic rate—BMR) as well.

  1. They Do Not Eat Pasta Made from GMO Wheat

Italy, like most of Europe, has avoided planting genetically modified (GMO) wheat. GMO wheat has been genetically modified to increase its gluten content, yet an unintended consequence is that most experts believe that GMO wheat has a higher inflammatory score than original wheat strains. Inflammation won’t only increase how achy you feel, but it lowers your basal metabolic rate (your calorie-burning rate) and makes it easier for you to gain weight.

If you do buy pasta, I recommend brands that are made in Italy that avoid GMO wheat.

SUMMARY

Should you start eating pasta every day……… Probably not, but if you eat it like an Italian, you could have it 2-3 times per week and stay slim.

When you do eat starchy carbs, pasta, especially protein and fiber-enriched pasta is a good choice to make, and from a weight control and blood sugar perspective, it would be a better choice than rice, bread, or potatoes.

If you do eat pasta on occasion, be sure to eat it like an Italian. Keep the serving size small (about 1 ounce of dry pasta per person) and serve it with a meal that includes lots of vegetables with either beans or animal protein to go with that meal. When you cook the pasta, keep it al dente.

Take a walk after dinner. And when you buy pasta, choose gluten-free or Italian pasta that is made from non-GMO wheat flour.

I wish you the best of health and Bon Appétit!

 

Best regards from Italy,

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

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Caprese Salad https://drmasley.com/caprese-salad/ https://drmasley.com/caprese-salad/#respond Sat, 10 Aug 2019 00:32:19 +0000 https://drmasley.com/?p=6931 The post Caprese Salad appeared first on Steven Masley MD, LLC.

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When tomatoes are ripe and flavorful, and you have access to good quality mozzarella cheese, Caprese Salad is fantastic.

The first time I tried this dish was decades ago, when I worked as a sailboat captain for a summer in France. I had been invited to a French family’s home for dinner. They turned eating Caprese Salad into a friendly competition. We drove to the local farmer’s market and with basket in hand we selected our ingredients. First you had to find the most flavorful tomatoes, next the best fresh mozzarella cheese available, and once back home, create proportions with just the right amount of mozzarella, tomato, olive oil, and fresh basil to make the perfect bite. The five of us each bought enough ingredients for one serving and tried to create the best tasting combo while feeding each other. This was one of the best salads I have ever had.

 Unless you are growing heirloom tomatoes in your own garden, finding flavorful tomatoes in the US is problematic, as most tomatoes are picked green and don’t have much flavor. Heirloom (commonly called “ugly tomatoes”) often have the better flavor of those sold in most stores, and in late summer are a good choice. Although using a large sliced tomatoes makes the best presentation, the most consistent best tasting tomatoes are cherry tomatoes as they are picked when they are completely ripe, and they are usually sweet and flavorful.

You can find very good quality mozzarella cheese in the US, but you need to know what to look for, and the key is “fresh mozzarella”. Traditionally the best quality mozzarella cheese is made from whole milk (low fat versions tend to be less moist) and are sold the same day it is made; fresh mozzarella can be kept in brine solution for up to 7 days, so ideally you want to know the packaging date, not just the expiration date. In contrast, low-moisture mozzarella can be kept refrigerated for up to a month, and some shredded low-moisture mozzarella is sold with a shelf life of up to six months, despite that the longer it’s stored, the less flavor and moisture it will have. Some of the best brands come from buffalo milk (Mozzarella di Bufala) instead of cow’s milk as it is creamier, although they are often double the price, and often you need a specialty store to find them. Whatever the brand, your challenge is to find fresh, whole milk mozzarella, and if using whole milk, then be sure to buy an organic brand as well. The bottom line is look for “fresh” (not more than 7 days old in brine solution), organic, whole milk mozzarella cheese for making Caprese Salad.

Finding good quality extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar is also important, but far less of a challenge as good qualify products are readily available, as is fresh basil. Some recipes will suggest a dash or two of dried oregano, yet if you have good quality ingredients, simpler is better. 

Prep Time: 5-10 Minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 large vine-ripe tomatoes, cut horizontally into ½-inch slices (or 3 cups of cherry tomatoes sliced in half)

16 ounces fresh, organic mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices

¼ teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup fresh basil leaves

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:

On a serving platter, arrange tomatoes and mozzarella in an alternating pattern.

Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle the basil leaves over the tomatoes and mozzarella.

Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!    

Steven Masley, MD

 

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