Tag Archives: heart disease

Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Cocoa

The next food on my list earned its spot for three main reasons. It has been found to improve mood, memory and medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Superfood # 4 is Cocoa!

Cocoa contributes to a calming feeling because of its effect on serotonin but is also contains Phenylethylamine (a body chemical or neurotransmitter) and theobromine (an alkaloid, which can produce a stimulating euphoric effect, and is considered a mood enhancer.

The ability of cocoa to boost memory was tested in a small clinical trial where 90 older individuals consumed 48 mg, 520 mg  994 mg of cocoa flavanols (CF) for 8 weeks.  Cognitive function was assessed at baseline and after 8 wk and it was found to “reduce some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction, possibly through an improvement in insulin sensitivity”,

Metabolic and heart health are also improved with cocoa consumption. Research has shown bacteria in the gut ferments both the antioxidants and the fiber in cocoa to produce anti-inflammatory compounds that improve blood vessel function,, in addition to the heart benefits of lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, raising HDL, improving  type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity.

Not many realize just how power packed cocoa is yet findings from Cornell University has shown cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea. It also contains magnesium, iron, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and other micronutrients.

Taste is an added bonus making chocolate that is higher in cocoa (85% or higher) and is minimally processed is sinful and healthy making it perfect addition to the list!

Why is the percentage of cocoa important?  Because the higher the percentage of cacao, the lesser amounts of other unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and milk solids. The goal is to get as close to 100% cocoa as possible and avoid Dutch processing (cocoa that is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity). You will notice with lower amounts of unhealthy ingredients, healthy chocolate contains more cocoa, more fiber and more fat.

Fat absolutely does not detract from the health value of chocolate. The type of fat found in cocoa butter is unlikely to clog arteries.  Most of that fat in cocoa butter contains the same monounsaturated fat as olive oil, oleic acid (known for supporting good heart-healthy) and stearic (a saturated fat)  that has a neutral effect on cholesterol.

There are many brands of chocolate on the market. Selecting one that tastes good and fits the “healthy’ criteria mentioned above. Try these, it’s a good place to start:

  1. >90% Cocoa Lindt
  2. Vivani 85% Cocoa
  3. Endangered Species 88% Cocoa (one serving is 17 g of carbs so only do <1/3 of a bar)

It is important to keep in mind that just because chocolate is dark does not mean it is healthy. Read the labels on any product you purchase. Focus on the ingredients section to know what it is you are exactly eating.

Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is the perfect “guiltless” pleasure. So if you love chocolate, eat it! There is absolutely no reason not to indulge.


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Cruising Down Memory Lane With The 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise

Image result for cruise

In honor of the 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise 2015,, hosted by my friend and colleague Jimmy Moore. I thought I would repost an interview we did awhile back and share a great conversation that discusses the health benefits of The Atkins Diet from my perspective as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and the book I co-authored, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (,, We discuss:

  • how you can identify reasons behind stubborn fat that just refuses to come off
  • why exercise may not be a good idea if you are experiencing metabolic overdrive
  • social and emotional interference with your diet
  • practical and creative solutions to help you stick with your nutrition plan
  • supplement solutions and much much more…

It is with great regret that I have only been able to attend one of the cruises but the memories are like yesterday. I met people who I will be friends with for life!

So here is my interview with Jimmy,!

I hope you have the opportunity to listen as this interview really hits on many aspects of weight loss and health regardless of diet preference and it may help spark a fire to that will help fix whatever obstacles are getting in the way of getting to your goal(s).


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The King of Ketosis

Dr. Atkins


Ketosis simply means burning fat. When your body burns fat it helps correct metabolic health and weight issues. If you are not healthy or cannot seem to lose weight, Make a change in your way of eating.

At a minimum, Dr. Atkins should be known as the “King of Ketosis”. It’s been awhile since I worked with Dr. Atkins and embarked on my own high fat, low carb journey. Back then, although we cited Keckwick and Pawan and a few others, we had NO “current” research. We barely even understood what happened biochemically in the body but we did know that our patients reaped the benefits much before the sea of results with today’s “current” research and monumental low carb following.

We understood the power of ketosis (controlling carbohydrates) and the health benefits of fat. Because eating real food and avoiding the push for commercially prepared low-fat products tainted with trans fat and high fructose corn syrup was and is healthier. We witnessed health and weight improvements. We did not need to wait for research when right in front of our eyes was this nutritional blessing of ketosis that helped improve quality of life and we would not bury our heads in the sand of denial no matter who said otherwise. It is hard to imagine what would have happened if Dr. Atkins retaliated in fear or lost his endurance to the wolves that hunted him. There were so many attacks.

I was a registered dietitian (RD), a vegetarian at the time eating low-fat foods, but Dr. Atkins hired me anyway. He was extremely bright. I think he knew what he was doing when he hired “the enemy”. He used to call registered dietitians “airheads” because he was so frustrated at the medical establishment trying to denounce what he was doing and label him a “quack”. When I reminded him I was a RD, he smiled ( a charismatic smile ) and said “not all of them”.

I, on the other hand, had no idea what I was about to experience and even explain how this job would become my life. However there were four main reasons  I switched from being a vegetarian to an Atkins for lifer!

  1. As a vegetarian, it was difficult to make creative eating suggestions for my flesh-eating clients.
  2. I was about ten pounds overweight and I wanted to experience the excitement my clients felt and, of course, the fast weight loss results.
  3. I saw patients clinical labs and they all improved: cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and all the rest, including the clients reported benefits:
  • improved energy
  • stable moods
  • mental focus
  • less gas/ bloating
  • better sleep
  • less acne flare ups and episodes
  • less appetite

oh, there were so many…

  1. As I dug through the published data and paced the shopping aisles of the grocery store. I realized this “Atkins” diet was healthier than anything I had recommended during my whole nutrition career. I realized I was brain washed by the establishment. Fast forward, while I completed the nutritional analysis of the menus in my book, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (, the less carbs the more nutrient dens the meal. As carbs were placed back into meals, not too many of course, it diluted what I call the “nutrient bang for the calorie buck”.

We did not have sexy marketing lingo like “nutritional” ketosis.  Although it is a great descriptor as being in ketosis  equates to eating nutrient dense meals. Today we may just take for granted what seems to be the obvious.

Cristi Vlad does a great job at explaining ketosis, He describes his own weight and fat loss but the advantage of lowering carbs goes beyond what you see on the outside.

The true magic of ketosis is buried deep within at the hormonal level and hormones influence our lives (men, women and children) much more than we know.

If you want to read up on the research, Ellen Davis has a no holds barred  website, on almost everything you may want to know about a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet and how it contributes to slowing the aging process and healing:

  • any blood sugar disorder, including diabetes, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • parkinson’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • epilepsy
  • autism
  • fatty liver
  • stomach issues like reflux, ulcers, gas bloating

and the list goes on.

Don’t be afraid of ketosis or living low carb.  Jimmy Moore,, has been living low carb, writing books, doing podcasts, hosting cruises and even has a list of practitioners who can help you, Burning fat to supply body energy (ketosis) is not only an optimal way of eating, it is prudent for quality of life and longevity.


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Low Fat Better Than Low Carb, Say “It Ain’t So”!


When your friends, family, colleagues, healthcare professionals, the media and everyone you know are claiming low carb diets are dangerous, not effective or boring. Stand up and just say “It Ain’t So!”

I am soooooo tired of hearing and reading about how calories, not carbohydrate management, is the best way to lose weight or that meat eaters are more likely to die than those who abstain from eating meat, blah, blah, blah, blah.

When researchers do not keep their studies objective, crazy things happen. For example, unhealthy meats that contain known cancer causing ingredients (such as nitrites) are put in the same group as other meats; the media reports “all meats are unhealthy”. The reality is that nothing new was proven, we know nitrates and nitrates can cause cancer.  The responsible message should be “avoid meats that contain cancer causing ingredients”.

We have seen the headlines touting the real answer to weight loss,  “calories matter more than the distribution of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.” However, this is not always the case. When research on low carb diets (less than 50 grams is actually low enough to ignite fat burning) are actually performed, they trump low-calorie diets for weight loss, lowering heart disease and managing blood sugar every time. I have the same experience in practice.

Eating low carb is a healthy, delicious and nutritious option. Well at least that is why I started eating low carb…at least that was only after being ready to keep an open mind and I opened my eyes and ears to the truth. Only then could I free myself from believing the hype of big business, corrupt opinion leaders, less than objective researchers and unsuspecting healthcare professionals who still only see one side of the fence.

These studies were published 6 years ago but the results continue to be re-produced.…-7075-2-31.pdf…-7075-3-24.pdf…3-7075-5-9.pdf

Results from research conducted by Darlene Dreon suggests that low-fat diets for some people with a specific genetic predisposition can increase risk factors for heart disease. Do you know any doctors that warn people of the potential risks of low-fat diets as found in Dreon’s study?

Yet, for some reason this information escapes media attention. There are doctors and nutritionists who practice low carb diet health care. Medical doctors use low carbohydrate diets to help patients manage diabetes without the blood sugar high’s and low’s that medication can cause. This is also true for metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, stomach complaints and many other medical conditions.

The truth is that carbohydrate is the nutrient that has the most effect on internal eating cues and satiety switches? Excess carbohydrates more than any other nutrient triggers a hormonal cascade that starts with insulin. Insulin is a fat storing hormone and one that lowers blood sugar which in turn flips the “I’m hungry switch” to on.

It’s a good feeling to be able to help people who are following low carb diets. I tell it like it is from my heart and soul, from the very roots of my nutrition and medical education and experience. But most importantly, I feel comfortable thinking outside the box to help others find the path that works for them; whether it is for better health and nutrition, more self-confidence in their choices, positive social and emotional support. I can make a difference and I am making a difference. You can make a difference too, stay true to yourself and “Don’t Believe the Hype”.

When you hear crazy outrageous claims that make you concerned about your low carb eating regimen, know “It Ain’t So”.


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It Is About “Time”: Fat Facts and The Cover Up


What do steak, eggs, coconut, dark meat, chicken and turkey with the skin on have in common? They are all high in healthy saturated fat and are safe foods to eat.

Bryan Walsh’s report made the cover of Time magazine, “Eat Butter.” His article describes a 43 year “human experiment” using the consumer as guinea pigs to test lowering dietary fat and reducing heart disease risk starting back in 1977; when a senate committee urged Americans to “eat less high-fat red meat, eggs and dairy; eat more carbohydrates and increase fruit and vegetable consumption”.

What happened?

  • Heart disease is still the number one cause of death
  • Obesity now effects 33% of the US  population
  • Type 2 diabetes escalated by 166%

I do not have any statistical analysis but there are many more health conditions caused by excess carbohydrate intake that are on the rise, like metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome etc…

Why did this cover-up happen?

  • The establishment refused to publish controversial research.
  • Unethical researchers cherry picked the data used for analysis
  •  Puppeteers were good at disseminating the low-fat dogma put forth by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

The research supporting the safety and efficacy of fat and saturated fat exists. In his article, Walsh interviews researchers who explain:

  • “Americans were told to cut back on fat to lose weight and prevent heart disease. There’s an overwhelmingly strong case to be made for the opposite.” –Dr. David Ludwig, Boston Children’s Hospital


  • “The argument against fat was completely flawed. We’ve traded one disease for another.” –Dr. Robert Lustig, University of California, San Francisco


  • “Willett (Walter Willett, Harvard) found that when high saturated fat foods were replaced with carbohydrates, there was no reduction in heart disease.”
  • “Simple carbs like bread and corn may not look like sugar on your plate, but in your body that’s what they’re converted to when digested.”
  • “Studies (by Eric Westman, Duke University) found that replacing carbohydrates with fat could help manage and even reverse diabetes.”

Mind you this TIME article is not late breaking news. I have blogged on the “BIG FAT” topic before:

  1. Seeking Saturated Fat,
  2. Follow The Nutrition Guidelines Or Follow Your Heart,
  1. When It Comes To Saturated Fat Use Your Noggin’,
  2. Carbohydrates Are Worse Than Saturated Fat,
  3. Andrew Weil: Saturated Fat Is Not Associated With an Increased Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke or Vascular Disease,
  4. Eat saturated Fat For Good Health,
  5. Fat Functions To Promote Good Health,
  6. Have We Created Our Own Heath Crisis? High Fat Must Have Foods For Good Health,
  7. The Low Fat Nutrient Less Diet Cannot Nourish The Body,
  8. Eat Foods With Fat (5): Balance Foods With Fat,

So now what?

It is hard to break bad habits and we have been brain washed for a while into believing low-fat foods are healthy. But now it is time, no more cover ups, to open our eyes to the truth about food, fat, carbohydrates, what we eat and how it affects health.

If you want to undo the damage caused by 40 years of eating low-fat refined and processed foods avoid carbs. Eat real meat, natural fats and veggies to let the healing process begin.


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Eat Foods With Fat (5): Balance Foods With Fat


Oil3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Healthy foods with fat are natural foods:

Red meat










When I say eat foods with fat, I do not mean eating only fish or olive oil. Saturated fats need to be part of the balance. Why?

A healthy omega 6 to omega 3 balance should be in a 1:1 ratio but no more than 6:1. Twenty to one is what most people eat today. How?

1. Omega 6 foods are cheap (soy, corn, vegetable oil) and are used in many commercially prepared foods.

2. Consumers have bought into the idea that unsaturated fats are healthy.

3. As consumers buy into conventional dogma and avoid meat/ saturated fat they eat more unsaturated fat.

So I’m here to open your mind to adding saturated fat as part of a variety of foods that should be added to your shopping list. The omega 6/omega 3 ratio is too high. Eating less omega 6 foods and adding back saturated fats can help improve this ratio and keep you healthy.

Here’s why, here’s how:

  • Excess Omega 6 is linked to  inflammation on the cellular level that can lead to  many health issues (heart disease, arthritis, obesity and diabetes, metabolic syndrome, stomach issues, cancer, asthma, mental health issues).
  • When you use vegetable oils at high heat to microwave,  bake, sauté or fry, the high temperature oxidizes the oil and unsaturated “good” fat changes to bad cholesterol leading to heart disease,
  • Omega 6 also can compete with Omega 3 and reduce the body’s ability to use Omega 3.

Saturated fat is more stable at high heat cooking temperatures. Use olive oil as a salad dressing but cook with natural sources of saturated fats that are not hydrogenated to avoid oxidation,

Fats can oxidize over time and saturated fats are more shelf stable than unsaturated fats,

Plant sources of Omega 3 ,like flax and chia seed, cannot be converted to the essential type of Omega 3 we need to utilize unless saturated fat is present.

Research supports saturated fats:

help prevent essential fats and skin cells from oxidation;

promote utilization of essential fats;

help balance the good bacteria in the gut and boost the immune system;

help in the process of calcium absorption and bone development;

lower  lipoprotein(a) ,  a risk factor for heart disease;

protect the liver from alcohol and other toxins created by medication metabolism.

There are a few simple ways to balance the foods you eat with fat.

Will let you know…next blog :)

But maybe you have some of your own ideas. I’d love to hear one or some?


Posted by on September 14, 2012 in diet, FAT


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The Low Fat Nutrient-Less Diet Cannot Fully Nourish The Body

English: A photo of ribeye steaks

English: A photo of ribeye steaks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do foods with fat have that low or non-fat foods don’t? Aside from the obvious more fat and calories, they contain many more nutrients that can help keep waistlines slim, skin, hair and nails looking young, the immune system strong and the heart healthy. And this does not even scratch the surface of what the benefits are.

If you can look beyond calories and fat to focus on nutrient rich foods like, eggs, coconuts, beef and other healthy higher fat foods you will find better health. Last week I posed the question, “Have we created our own health crises?”,

This week will shed some light on the answer. You will get the “low-down” on the low-fat nutrient-less diet and the nutrients that are not provided when following it.

Five reasons to eat fat and get many more nutrients that will stave off health problems:

  1. Real food sources of saturated fat (meat, coconut) and cholesterol (eggs) have nutrients that are essential to good health. These are nutrients that are not found in low-fat foods include:

Arachidonic acid (AA) is a polyunsaturated fat but is mostly found in red meats, egg yolks, organ meats and breast milk. AA is a key factor for brain development, nerve function and keeping cells flexible. But many may be familiar with AA because of its involvement in muscle growth and repair. AA and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, fish oil) are often talked about together because they make up a large component of the brain,

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) also found in saturated fats: whole milk, butter, palm oil and coconut. MCT’s have metabolic benefits that aids weight loss, digestion, lower the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease by increasing HDL cholesterol, supports thyroid function and boosts the immune system. Coconut also contains lauric and capryllic acid which helps fight bacteria and infections.

Choline is found in the membrane of the cell good sources ground beef, whole eggs (yes, especially the yolk) and peanut butter. Choline functions to protect the liver from fat  accumulation (check out the recent spike in fatty liver disease, , helps prevent advanced age memory loss and may help lower cholesterol and homocysteine levels and may also assist in protecting against some types of cancers.

But you do not hear too much about these nutrients when the focus on cutting fat trumps all else.

Over the next few weeks, you will learn much more about the nutrient density and importance of health promoting fatty foods. Look for the next 4 points over the next few weeks.

There are many sources you can read to get a more detailed picture. Here are some:



Posted by on August 5, 2012 in eggs, good health, Healthy Eating


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