Should You Eat Fermented Foods?

By Sheri Berger, RDN

I am sure most of you have noticed the latest food rage these days is fermented foods! You may be wondering what are these foods and why are they getting so much attention. Some examples of fermented foods are yogurt, buttermilk, cottage cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, sour dough bread, and kombucha. These foods are literally alive! That’s right, fermented foods are full of alive and active bacteria, also known as probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that have well known benefits as well as some possible advantages that are still under research. Here are two benefits we know for sure:

  • Digestion regulation
  • Strengthens immunity

Other possible benefits of probiotics that are still under review:

  • Weight loss
  • Improve mood and anxiety

Fermented foods are tasty and contribute beneficial nutrients such as fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, although some can be high in sodium and sugar. For people with high blood pressure, be conscious of the sodium content of sauerkraut and kimchi. For those who are limiting sugar intake, be cautious of the added sugars in yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. It is best to read your labels carefully and choose a probiotic variety with less added sugar or sodium or balance out these nutrients with all your other daily choices.

Read here for more information on the benefits of probiotics and some diy recipes for kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi:

Get Heart Smart

healthyfood3By Patrick Landers

Corporate Fitness

Keys to a Healthy Heart

Take a moment to reflect on your nutritional habits. Chances are there are some modifications you could be making to help keep your heart in optimal condition. If you’re unsure about what steps you should be taking, it is time to start learning a few. Unhealthy diets are linked to four of the world’s top ten leading risk factors causing death: high blood pressure, high blood glucose, obesity, and high cholesterol. Each of these is a heart disease risk factor that you can control if you take action. Here are some nutritional modifications you can try to help improve your heart health:

Cook at Home

Cooking at home is a great way to make sure the ingredients that go into your meals are healthy. When you cook at home you can choose to include whole grains in your meals. Whole grains are important because they contain antioxidants, phytoestrogens and phytosterols which protect against coronary disease. Also, add soluble fiber and insoluble fiber to your recipes. Soluble fiber helps remove unwanted toxins from the body. As it moves through the intestines it works like a sponge, soaking up toxins and capturing them in order to prevent their reabsorption into the bloodstream. Foods high in soluble fiber include oatmeal, barley, beans, okra, eggplant, and citrus fruit, such as oranges. Insoluble fiber (found in vegetables, wheat bran, dried beans, whole grains and seeds) passes through the digestive tract virtually intact. During its journey through the intestines it helps to “sweep” the colon free of debris by removing toxins from the intestinal wall.

Substitute the Fats – The Good for the Bad

Substitute good fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) for bad fats (saturated and trans fats). For example, try canola oil or olive oil instead of butter. Start incorporating flaxseed oil and walnuts that contain omega-3 fats to your meals. Omega-3 fats lower the levels of triglycerides in your blood that may contribute to blood clotting. They also lower blood pressure slightly and can help prevent irregular heart rhythms. Heart-healthy monounsaturated fats found in walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts and peanuts are some more great additions. Also, opt for lean meats such as poultry without skin and fish instead of fattier cuts of meats. Enjoy heart-healthy fats in moderation and remember this tip: 1 teaspoon equals 1 serving.

Pile on the Fruits and Vegetables

Choose all kinds of fruits and vegetables — fresh, frozen, canned, juiced and dried. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Load your shopping basket with fruits and vegetables of many different colors. Polyphenol and anthocyanin (found in blue, purple and deep-red foods) and tannins (also found in wine and tea) may help to reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries and lower blood pressure. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, plus vitamin A, potassium and fiber. They are high in lycopene, which works with other vitamins and minerals that may help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Sweet Tooth?!

Grab a piece of CHOCOLATE! Flavanol-rich dark chocolate has a blood-thinning effect, which can benefit cardiovascular health, and it may also boost the immune system by reducing inflammation. Be sure to choose dark chocolate, ideally one that’s 70 percent cocoa solids; milk chocolate lacks significant levels of epicatechin (a type of natural phenol antioxidant).

Below is a quick reference guide with some heart healthy tips based on a 2,000 calorie diet:

  • At least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • At least two 3.5 oz. servings of fish per week, preferably oily fish
  • At least three 1-ounce servings of fiber-rich whole grains per day
  • Limit sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams a day
  • Drinking no more than 36 ounces weekly of sugar-sweetened beverages

For more heart healthy tips and information check out!


American Heart Association (2014). Heart Health. [ONLINE]  [Last Accessed January 8th, 2014].

American Heart Association (2014). Heart Health. [ONLINE]  [Last Accessed January 13th, 2014].

ReNew Life Formulas (2014). Fiber Nutrition. [ONLINE]  [Last Accessed January 16th, 2014].

Benefits of Diet and Exercise to Cholesterol Values

healthy-living1By Christine Emery

Preventive Medicine

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death within the United States (1, 4). Seventy-one billion people in the US are known to have high levels of LDL cholesterol; also known has the “bad” cholesterol (4).  It is important to diagnosis potential risk factors early to work at changing lifestyle choices in hopes of preventing more cases of cardiovascular disease (3). There are two components to total cholesterol: HDL cholesterol (High Density Lipoprotein) and LDL cholesterol (Low Density Lipoprotein).  A term known as dyslipidemia defines the risk for cardiovascular disease to be fasting levels of high total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in correlation to low HDL cholesterol values (6). The Cholesterol/HDL Ratio has been known to be one of the best predictors for eventual cardiovascular disease. If ratios are greater than 5.0 in men and 4.4 in women, those participants have an average or greater than average risk for developing cardiovascular disease. If they are at or below 3.4 in men and 3.1 in women those participants have statistically half or less than half the risk for eventual cardiovascular disease (2). Our main goal is to focus on the best lifestyle changes to prevent or reverse risk of cardiovascular disease.

The combination of diet and exercise will be the most effective way to prevent cardiovascular disease. In an article conducted by Varady and Jones, researchers studied the effects of diet and exercise on lipid profile values both independently and together. The dietary controls were saturated fat and three types of nutritional supplements (fish oil, oat bran, and plant sterols). They found that in both diet control groups, changing the diet alone only bettered the LDL and total cholesterol values (6). Once endurance exercise was added to the lifestyle routine, HDL cholesterol levels increased while LDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride values decreased. There were no statistical differences between the dietary interventions, but their main conclusion was that the combination of diet and exercise favorably affected all four-lipid profile values. In conclusion, in order to help better lipid profile values, the combination of diet and exercise will obtain the best cardiovascular benefit, then just conducting one independently (6).

  1. American Heart Association
  2. BaySport Inc. Preventive Medicine Information Packet, 2013
  3. Brief Reports: Race, ethnicity are heart disease factors. Healthcare Leadership Review. 2011.
  4. Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  5. Couillard, C., Després, J. P., Lamarche, B., Bergeron, J., Gagnon, J., Leon, A. S., … & Bouchard, C. (2001). Effects of endurance exercise training on plasma HDL cholesterol levels depend on levels of triglycerides evidence from men of the Health, Risk Factors, Exercise Training and Genetics (HERITAGE) Family Study. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 21(7), 1226-1232.
  6. Varady, K. A., & Jones, P. J. (2005). Combination diet and exercise interventions for the treatment of dyslipidemia: an effective preliminary strategy to lower cholesterol levels?. The Journal of nutrition, 135(8), 1829-1835.

About the Author:

Christine Emery is currently getting her Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology from San Francisco State and is working to complete her Phlebotomy certification. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in May of 2013 with a degree in Health and Human Sciences and has been been working with the Preventive Medicine team since June. She continues to do so while simultaneously obtaining her Masters Degree.