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Women Do Need to Worry About Heart Attacks
One minute Elizabeth Baska was wrapping Christmas gifts … “and suddenly I couldn’t breathe,” says the Seattle mom, who was 36 at the time.
Just as she had done during a similar episode two years earlier, she called 911. And, once again, the paramedics who came diagnosed the incident as an anxiety attack. But this time, Baska’s symptoms continued to worsen, so the emergency personnel gave her an EKG—and determined that she was having a heart attack. “If I were a man, I think everyone would have been quicker to realize that it was my heart,” says Baska, who now takes pulse-slowing medications to keep her safe. “I never considered the possibility because I didn’t think women needed to worry about heart attacks.”
The truth is, more than 450,000 American women die from heart disease each year. For two decades, it has killed more women than men, and the gap is actually widening as men’s heart attack death rates improve faster than women’s. Yet only a third of women in the United States consider themselves at risk for heart disease, according to a 2006 poll.
“Most women worry far more about breast cancer than heart disease,” says Elsa-Grace V. Giardina, MD, cardiologist and director of the Center for Women’s Health at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Health Editorial Advisory Board member. “But for every woman who dies from breast cancer, 10 die from heart attacks.”
There have been advances: Heart disease deaths in women actually declined between 2003 and 2004. But the lifetime risk of dying of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is still nearly one in three for women. And that’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) recently released new guidelines underscoring the importance of healthy lifestyles in women of all ages to reduce the long-term risks of heart and blood vessel diseases.
For starters, you need to forget most of what you already know about heart attacks. The conventional wisdom has long been based on the male experience, but doctors are now realizing that heart disease can be very different for women—from symptoms to diagnostic tests to effective treatments.
Two thirds of women who have heart attacks die without ever knowing that they’re having one. In large measure, that’s because the symptoms, like Elizabeth Baska’s, can differ from men’s and are often misinterpreted by the victim or misdiagnosed by their doctors.
“Most people think that if you’re having a heart attack, there’s going to be chest pain and left arm numbness. But that’s not always the case for women,” explains cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, MD, associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and director of the NYU Women’s Heart Program. “Women commonly experience different symptoms, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, pressure in the abdomen, and jaw pain.” And these are often misidentified as stomach ailments or anxiety attacks, so the early warning signs go unheeded.
Even when doctors suspect heart disease and order an angiography or angiogram (a diagnostic X-ray of the heart and its blood vessels), they often don’t see problems, something that has long baffled them. But findings of a 10-year study by the National Institutes of Health—the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) completed in 2006—appear to unravel the mystery.
WISE researchers discovered that two-thirds of the study participants with chest pain had “clear” angiograms, but half of those women had a condition called coronary microvascular sydrome, in which plaque coats small arteries in the heart rather than building to clumps in larger vessels.
“Instead of discrete obstructions, the plaque is evenly distributed throughout the blood vessels, so it’s pretty much invisible on the angiogram,” says Dr. Goldberg, who’s also an AHA spokeswoman.
Health Benefits of Sweet Potato
Super Foods that Heal - SWEET POTATOA An endorsement of sweet potatoes as a nutritious food helpful in the prevention of disease comes from the North Carolina Stroke Association, American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association. And they're not the only ones noticing the attributes of sweet potatoes.
In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to all other vegetables. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value. According to these criteria, sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the white potato. The Center strongly recommends eating more sweet potatoes since a nutritious diet is one that is high in fiber, provides many nutrients, is rich in complex carbohydrates, and is low in fat.
The sweet potato is a good source of dietary fiber, which lowers the risk for constipation, diverticulosis, colon and rectal cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The fiber in sweet potatoes provides a feeling of fullness and satiety, which helps to control food intake.
Antioxidants play a role in the prevention of heart disease and cancer, and sweet potatoes supply plenty of the antioxidants, vitamin E and beta-carotene. These substances are effective in neutralizing free radicals, which are responsible for damage to cell walls and cell structures. Vitamin E also protects against heart attack and stroke by reducing the harmful effects of low-density cholesterol and preventing blood clots.
Antioxidants are essential for good brain functioning and in delay in the effects of aging on the brain. A low level of vitamin E has been linked with memory loss. A Columbia University study showed a delay of about seven months in the progression of Alzheimer's disease when subjects consumed high levels of vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin is found mainly in high-fat foods such as oils, nuts, and avocados. Only the sweet potato provides vitamin E without the fat and calories.
Sweet potatoes contain 30 mg (50,000 IU) of beta-carotene (vitamin A) in one cup, which is four times the USRDA. You would have to eat 23 cups of broccoli to consume the same amount of beta-carotene. Health professionals believe that carotenoids give protection from the formation of free radicals and are chemo-protective against cancer.
The Finnish study of 10,000 smokers, reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, tested the effects of taking beta-carotene supplements to prevent lung cancer. It was based on the earlier finding that individuals who have higher blood levels of beta-carotene have a lower incidence of lung cancer. To the researchers' horror, those who took the supplements actually had a higher rate of lung cancer and the study was discontinued. Researchers concluded that beta-carotene has a protective effect only when consumed in food, the original and best source. The nutrient-packed sweet potato is the richest source of this protective substance.
Low Glycemic Index
Different foods have different effects on blood glucose. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly glucose is absorbed after a person eats, how high glucose rises, and how quickly it returns to normal. A low glycemic index is desirable and is characterized by slow absorption, a modest rise in blood glucose, and a smooth return to normal. Fast absorption, a surge in blood glucose, and an overreaction that plunges glucose below normal are undesirable and are the result of eating foods with a high glycemic index. This distinction is especially important for people with diabetes, whose good health is dependent upon stable blood glucose levels. As a result, getting enough carbohydrates without causing glucose spikes can prove challenging. For example, white potatoes, corn, rice, and white bread all have a high glycemic index and can cause a spike and an ultimate drop in blood sugar. Diabetics and others wanting to avoid glucose highs and lows can turn to sweet potatoes, which have a low glycemic index.
Excellent Source of Potassium
Potassium plays a major role in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance and cell integrity. Controlling potassium distribution is a high priority for the body because it affects many aspects of homeostasis, including a steady heartbeat. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium, and sweet potatoes are among the top three richest sources, along with bananas and white potatoes.
Dr. Robert Cordell, emeritus professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, highly recommends sweet potatoes. "Sweet potatoes, a readily available and wonderfully tasteful root vegetable in the southeastern United States, are frequently overlooked regarding their health value. Most remain unaware of the significant health benefits of this low-fat, high fiber vegetable that is such a rich source of vitamins A and E. Sweet potatoes, therefore, contain significant deterrents to heart disease and stroke, both of which tend to be higher in our part of the country. In addition, reports have suggested anti-cancer effects. With these facts in mind, all of us should make sweet potatoes a more frequent part of our regular diet."
For the complete nutrition index, go to:
CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING AVOCADO: Healthy Fats, Lower Cholesterol
Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—a type of fat that may actually help to raise levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol) while lowering levels of LDL ("bad" cholesterol). And these delectable green orbs pack more of the cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol (a beneficial plant-based fat) than any other fruit. Beta-sitosterol reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. So the combination of beta-sitosterol and monounsaturated fat makes the avocado an excellent cholesterol buster.
Eat some today
Avocado is a bit high in calories. Your best strategy: Use this luscious veggie in place of another high-fat food or condiment.
Get this much
The American Heart Association recommends that you get up to 15 percent of your daily calories from monounsaturated fats like those contained in avocados, but some heart experts recommend an even greater percentage. (In an 1,800-calorie diet, 15 percent translates into 30 grams per day.) FYI: A whole avocado has about 300 calories and 30 g fat.
These pre-baked pastry cups filled with a custardlike cream will please your vegan friends. Best served freshly chilled. Cholesterol-free avocados are loaded with potassium, vitamins A and C, and niacin.
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 Tbsp. raw sugar
1/2 tsp. egg replacer powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. safflower oil
Water for binding
3/4 cup fresh cashew milk*
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups ripe avocado
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Fresh mint leaves for garnishing
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the dry pastry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Rub in the oil with your fingertips until evenly crumbly. Carefully add just enough water to make a soft ball of dough.
2. Lightly oil 4 mini tart pans or custard cups, or a standard muffin tray with 6 cups. Divide the pastry into 4-6 pieces depending on the size and choice of pan. On a floured work surface, roll each piece into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.
3. Place the pastry into the pans and mold to fit. Prick the bottoms with a fork. Bake for 20-30 minutes until light golden. Cool and remove the shells from the pans. If you are using custard cups, bake first, then remove the pastry shells from the cups and bake on a tray, bottom side up, for another 5-10 minutes.
4. Prepare the cashew milk as directed below. Blend the cashew milk and the next 4 filling ingredients until smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix. Spoon the filling evenly into the cooled shells and chill briefly. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Makes 4-6 tarts
*Cashew milk: Blend 1/4 cup raw cashew pieces with 1 cup hot water until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 293, Fat 15.3g (138 cal), Carbohydrate 34.7g (139 cal), Protein 3.8g (16 cal)
Added information: Saturated Fat 1.8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 202mg, Dietary Fiber 2.7g
Discover a hidden gem of New Zealand just an hour south of Auckland - Port Waikato. Stroll along the sublime beaches, surf some good waves, tramp the dunes, or just enjoy the laid back atmosphere of this seaside township.
The 'Port', as the locals call it, is a magical place where you can experience true Kiwiana. The pace of life is a bit slower and relaxed and beauty of New Zealand natures abounds all around. Whether its the majestic sand dunes, the mighty Waikato river which flows into the Tasman Sea, the impressive surf on Sunset Beach or the otherwordly limestone landscapes in the hinterland - there is always something beautiful to discover at Port Waikato.
Port Waikato Accomodation
Below are some of the fantastic places if you'd like to escape to Port Waikato for a spell:
Waikatoa Surf Lodge
* Small, friendly and relaxed.
* Enjoy modern facilites with great indoor/outdoor living
area. BBQ facilites.
* Two minutes walk to surf beach, and spectacular sunsets
* The best fish and chips.
* Superb surfing
* Coastal Walks
* Fishing, kayaking, mountain biking (equipment available)
* The Lord of the Rings - 'Weathertop Hollow' - Film location at Port Waikato
Click on the following link to visit the Waikatoa Surf Lodge
Westside Bed and Breakfast
* Private self-contained unit
* Twin or King sized bed
* Television, radio, CD player, SKY television, microwave
* Electric fry pan and cooking facilities
* Guest surf-casting fishing rods
* Continental Breakfast
* Plenty of space to park your boat
Take a walk around the rocks to the seal colony and check out some fossils - Port Waikato is renowned for its fossils. 3ha park-like grounds - quiet & secluded family camp. Caravan & tent sites, tourist cabins, kitchen cabins, motel units, onsite caravans, campervan sites. TV lounge, equipped kitchen, fridge/freezer, microwave, games room, internet/email access, photocopying, fax, barbecue, spacious grounds, boat ramp