Animal Protein Linked with an Increased Risk of Dying

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.36.41 PMI know that people on the low-carb or Paleo diets don’t want to hear this, but the source of your protein really does matter. This recently published study found an increased risk of dying for those who consumed more animal products who had one other lifestyle risk factor such as smoking, physical activity, or overweight/obesity. In particular, eating animal protein was linked with a higher risk of heart disease.

plant-based-dietIn contrast, eating more plant-proteins was linked with lower mortality and lower risk of disease. This is not the first study to find this link! In fact, eating more plant proteins is associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and makes insulin work better. In addition, substituting plant proteins for animal proteins lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


What to do?

  • Eat less red meat and processed meats.
  • Eat less of other animal protein foods.
  • Eat more plant proteins such as nuts and beans.
Copyright 2016 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

Mediterranean or Low-fat Vegan Diet: Which Is Better for Prevention of Heart Disease and Stroke?

By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

Recently, a randomized control trial was published looking at the effects of mediterranean diet picturesthe Mediterranean diet on the primary prevention of heart disease. In other words, does the Mediterranean diet prevent heart disease in people that never had it?

A total of 7,447 men and women were enrolled; none with heart disease, but all were at high risk for it. They were randomized into three groups.

  • A control group, which was advised to reduce dietary fat.
  • An experimental group, which was instructed on the Mediterranean diet with the addition of olive oil
  • Another experimental group, which was instructed on the Mediterranean diet with added nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts).

The investigators found that the Mediterranean diet lowered the risk of major cardiovascular events, in particular stroke. This trial adds even more evidence to the pile of research in support of the Mediterranean diet.

But…there has also been some criticism of this research, primarily from the low-fat vegan crowd. Dr. Ornish wrote an article on this research in the Huffington Post.

He says, and rightly so, that “The comparison (control) group did not follow a low-fat diet. As the authors wrote, “We acknowledge that, even though participants in the control group received advice to reduce fat intake, changes in total fat were small.” This is not surprising, since they gave the control group virtually no support at all in following this diet during the first half of the study.”

He also says that “The authors should have concluded that the Mediterranean diet reduced cardiovascular risk when compared to whatever diet they were eating before, not when compared to a low-fat diet, since patients in the control group (“low-fat diet”) were not consuming a low-fat diet.”

So who’s right?

The great news is that both diets are linked with lower rates of heart disease. That’s not surprising considering that both have some key components in common including lots of plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, not much or no red meat, and minimal processed foods.

Both diets impact traditional risk factors for heart disease such as high blood cholesterol or blood pressure. But even more compelling, both diets positively impact the novel risk factors highlighted in the graphic below such as inflammation, arrhythmic risk (irregular and deadly heart beats), endothelial dysfunction (unstable plaque), and thrombosis (clot formation).

risk factors

There are a few differences between the diets. Mediterranean diet followers consume higher amounts of DHA and EPA, also known as omega-3 fats, which are linked with lower rates of heart disease. These fats decrease the risk of clots and stabilize the heart beat. But the low-fat vegan diet has been found to actually reverse heart disease. And people who consume this diet have less stiffness of the arteries, which is what causes high blood pressure as we get older. This is practically unheard of in folks consuming meat.

So we have reason to celebrate! We have two viable options for people to consume that will help lower the risk of heart disease. I am hoping you are doing what you can to eat more veggies and less meat.

Eaitng veggies

Copyright © 2013 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

Antibiotics, Fermented Foods, and Your Health

By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

Antibiotics were a miraculous discovery, saving lives because of their ability to kill bacteria. Thanks to antibiotics, diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid fever, diphtheria, and leprosy are treatable and not a problem for most people. However, there is a downside to antibiotics, and one that I experienced firsthand after taking them for 7 years at the advice of my physician. When you take antibiotics, they destroy both bad and good bacteria.

Collectively, the bacteria in our gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract are called the microbiome or the microbiota. These good bacteria are necessary for our health. They help us fight infection by crowding out unhealthy bacteria. We also need bacteria to help us digest food. And they decrease our risk of allergies, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. Without these healthy bacteria, we would not survive.

By the age of 18, the average person has taken 10 to 20 courses of antibiotics. And with each course of antibiotics, we lose more of the good bugs.

Taking antibiotics only when really necessary is an important step in preserving the good bacteria in your microbiome. Adding back healthy bacteria is another important step you can take. The best and most reliable sources are fermented foods. This includes high-quality yogurt with live cultures, kefir, and fermented veggies. Since I can’t eat dairy, I have been eating fermented veggies and have to say that I love them!

When looking for fermented vegetables, make sure they contain live cultures. You will find them in the refrigerated section of the market. Below are a few I have found.

Bubbies sauerkraut is easier to find and it does have live cultures.


Gold Mine sauerkraut is available at some Whole Foods Markets and independent health food stores.

Gold Mine

There are even salt free options!

Salt free

beetsI found the Pickled Planet brand at the Co-Op in Santa Monica. I tried their sauerkraut made with beets and caraway seeds and it was delicious. Check independent health food stores near you to see if they carry this or other brands.

I even found fermented pickles and salsa! And there is always kimchi, Korean-style fermented vegetables with a spicy kick. You can even make your own fermented veggies at home.

There are so many options to choose. All are a lot more interesting than a probiotic supplement. Do you have any favorite fermented veggies? I would love to know which brands you like or what you are willing to try.

Copyright © 2013 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

Six Health Promoting Dietary Changes for the New Year

by Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

It’s a new year, and a great time to make some changes to your diet. Here are six dietary changes that are worth making.

  1. Red_chardEat more non-starchy veggies. Every diet that has been researched and linked with health (including the Mediterranean, DASH, and low fat vegan) has an abundance of these vegetables. Not only are they super low in calories, but they also offer a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Good examples are leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, radishes, summer squash, and sugar snap peas.
  2. Plant a vegetable garden. Having your own garden can lower stress, improve your health, and offer organic vegetables at your fingers tips for a great price. Swiss chard is particularly easy to grow, even in a pot. Tomatoes are easy to grow as well. And you can’t beat the taste of a homegrown tomato!
  3. Eat less sugar. We all know we should eat less sugar but how much should we have? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar or 24 grams for women and about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams for men.
  4. red beans and rice 003 Large Web viewEat more meatless meals! Eating less meat is becoming more popular than ever. Even Bill Clinton went vegan. While avoiding meat entirely is not for everyone, eating more meatless meals is good for your health, your wallet, and the planet. A recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests a link between red meat, disease, and death. Each daily three-ounce portion was associated with a 12 percent increase risk of dying overall, a 16 percent increase risk of dying from a heart attack, and a 10 percent greater risk of dying from cancer. There was an even higher risk from eating processed meats, such as bacon and sausage. No matter how you slice it, eating less meat is good for you.
  5. Add fermented vegetables to your diet. Did you know that with each course of antibiotics you take, loads of healthy bacteria are destroyed? Adding fermented veggies, such as unpasteurized sauerkraut, to your diet is one great way to add back healthy bacteria, improve your immune system, and help your digestion.
  6. beerDrink less alcohol. The average American drinks almost 100 calories worth of alcohol each day. Over a year that is 10 pounds of weight most of us could do without. Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it also stimulates appetite and lowers inhibitions making it easier to overeat. That’s a lose/lose for most of us who would benefit from consuming fewer calories.

Now is a fantastic time to start some healthier habits. Please let me know what you are willing to change this year!

Copyright © 2013 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.

These are a few of my favorite things…from Trader Joe’s

By Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD

The perfect time to think about our favorite things is during the
holidays. Here are a few of my favorite things from one of my favorite
places, Trader Joe’s. These items make it easier and quicker to do the right thing—eat healthy and tasty foods!

Organic Kale

photo-5I worte a whole post on kale, but the bottom line is that it’s a top-rated veggie that it is full of nutrients. It’s great in salads, smoothies, or as a side dish. And you have no excuses because it is easy to use since it’s already washed and cut. Since it’s organic, it does not have any of the neurotoxic organophosphate  pesticides!

Roasted Mashed Sweet Potatoes

photo-4I love sweet potatoes. They are high in vitamin A and fiber and they taste good!The one disadvantage is the time to prepare and cook them. Trader Joe’s makes them easy to eat with their already mashed potatoes. They come in small frozen pellets that you just heat up with a dash of water in a pan. Yum!

Balsamic Vinegar of Modenabalsamic

This mild-tasting vinegar is great on a salad all by itself. It can also be used to enhance the flavor of everything from chili to a raspberry reduction.

Aartichoke heartsrtichoke Hearts

They are low in calories and a good source of vitamin C, K, and folic acid. Try adding them to a salad or even by themselves with a little balsamic vinegar.


This sauce is so tasty, that I have been known to eat it right out of the jar! I primarily use it on pasta and on top of grilled tofu

Organic Sprouted Tofutofu

Organic, no GMOs, a good source of calcium, inexpensive, and a great source of protein. What more can I say? Try it with the Bruschetta sauce on top for a yummy quick meal.

Canned Organic Beans

TJ BeansBeans are loaded with fiber, and they are a great source of phytochemicals and protein. I love kidney beans and garbanzo beans in salads and black, pinto, and kidney beans for chili. Their newest option, great northern white beans, is one of my favs to use in soup with carrots and sage. And Trader Joe’s organic beans are in cans without BPA (Bisphenol A),  a compound that can mimic estrogen and may be associated with health problems. If you have high blood pressure, rinse the beans with water to remove a lot of the sodium.

FBrown riceully Cooked Brown Rice
Healthy eating can’t get any easier than already cooked brown rice. I like to use it in soups instead of noodles and as a side dish with a meal.

Organic White Quinoa

quinoaQuinoa is such a super food. It acts like a grain, but it is actually a seed, which is why is has all the essential amino acids. It has a low glycemic load (which means it doesn’t raiser your blood sugar) and is a good source of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. Best of all, it cooks in about 10 minutes and can be used as a side dish or even a breakfast cereal.

HummusOrganic Hummus
Move over McDonalds, hello hummus, the perfect healthy fast food. You can have it with carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas or any veggie. It’s a great tasting and healthy meal on the run.

Orgtomatoesanic Sugar Plum Tomatoes
These tomatoes are the perfect snack. Everyone loves them, even kids. The trick is to make sure they are a rich red, especially the area close to the stem.

From the moment I first visited a Trader Joe’s store, I was hooked. They always have interesting, trendy, and tasty offerings for a good price. So now you know my favorites. What are yours??

Copyright © 2012 Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD. All rights reserved.