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Monday, January 29, 2007

Do Vegetarians Live Longer?

One reader asks: Where's the proof that vegetarians live longer? Where's the proof that vegans live longer?

The literature is mixed on this subject of longevity. Some studies say that vegetarians and vegans live longer, and others show no difference. While vegetarians and vegans will be more healthy and youthful in their younger years, the difference shrinks as people get into their eighth and ninth decades of life.

Keep in mind, though, that the standard American diet is a major cause of many illnesses, including but not limited to coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, or cancer. It is known that vegetarians and vegans are much less likely to suffer from these diseases.

These illnesses, which can be avoided by diet, can be debilitating. Take the example of one man, with hypertension and diabetes. He has a heart attack at age 50. He has a stent put in. Then, as his diabetes progresses, his vision becomes worse. He develops disease in the arteries of his legs. He has bypass surgery on his legs, but this does not work and eventually he requires an amputation, confining him to a wheelchair. Then, his kidneys fail as a result of years of diabetes and hypertension, and he requires three hours of dialysis each day in order to survive. At age 70, he dies of another heart attack.

While this person lived a relatively normal life span, his quality of life was clearly impacted by his burden of disease. It is very plausible that he could have lived a much healthier life had his diet been different. He could have had better control of his diabetes. In fact, Dr. Neal Barnard's most recent work shows that a vegan diet has a powerful impact in reversing diabetes (Diabetes Care. 29(8):1777-83, 2006 Aug).

There is some evidence that people who follow a plant-based diet live longer. But, the bottom line is that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of many illnesses, and leads to a far better quality of health throughout most of life.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why Vegan?

A reader asks:

Please explain, how is it natural to be vegan? I don't see how being vegan promotes a healthier lifestyle than if one were have a healthy diet that consisted of meat. If everyone were vegan, I wonder how things would work in the large scheme of things. Would love your insight...

Vegetarian diets are lower in saturated fat and are free of cholesterol, with more fruits, vegetables, and fiber. And, some studies suggest that vegetarians live longer than non-vegetarians. A longer, more detailed explanation is offered here.

If everyone were vegan, the impact on the planet would be very positive. At present, factory farming pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. Vegan Outreach provides an excellent explanation.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Entertaining




I love to entertain! This evening, I hosted a Happy Hour at my apartment for some of the people I work with. I made a few appetizers. The first one is called Texas Caviar. It's a mixture of black beans, pinto beans, red and orange peppers, jalapeno, cumin, cilantro, corn, onion, diced tomatoes, and edamame. Next is a spinach dip, which is a favorite that I've made for parties before. Since then, I use less Vegenaise and Tofutti vegan sour cream. With the leftovers, I add another pound of frozen spinach, and it's a lower in fat version that I can eat for lunch!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm Out

I am disappointed beyond words.

The hip isn't appreciably better.

I haven't run in over 3 weeks. Just trotting a few steps is painful.

There's no way I can run the Boston Marathon.

I need a new goal: a spring olympic distance triathlon?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Boston Marathon Dream May Be Over

I can't tell you how badly I wanted to run the Boston Marathon.

But my right hip is injured. I've done two weeks of physical therapy. My diagnosis is a combination of iliotibial band syndrome and muscle imbalance, with my hamstrings being too strong compared to my quads.

I have not run in three weeks. I have maintained my level of fitness as best possible by running in the pool, swimming, spinning, and using the elliptical trainer.

My registration is due this Wednesday. There are twelve weeks and two days until the Boston Marathon. If I started running again in the next week, I can do it. It wouldn't be the greatest performance ever, but I'd finish. Any later than that, then I think it will be a lost cause.

So, I'm coming to terms with the reality of the situation. To be positive about it, I can say that I've started training for triathlon season, which is in the spring. Were I not injured, I wouldn't be swimming or biking.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Salad with Faux Rost Turkey

Salad with shredded Lightlife Roast Turkey Style slices, craisins, and dressing. Very filling.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Professionalism

I still remember the first day of medical school orientation, almost twelve years ago. Henry Pohl MD, the dean of Albany Medical College, walked out to greet us wearing a rock band t-shirt and a condom hat.

His point? No matter what you do, you'll always be viewed as The Doctor.

I don't always see myself that way. I'm just the girl who goes running in the morning before work, wears blue jeans and a sweatshirt to the grocery store, and watches American Idol. I see myself as an ordinary person.

But, I am a physician, which gives me credibility on topics of diet and heart health. Through this blog, as The Doctor, I have power to help people change what they eat and how they treat their bodies.

Hence, the name change. Welcome to VeganHeartDoc.blogspot.com!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tofu Scramble

I love a good tofu scramble. You can make it on a griddle, after making pancakes, or in a frying pan. I saw a similar version made in the cooking demonstration after Dr. Barnard's talk, but I prefer mine with veggies.

Take one pound of extra firm tofu and remove as much water as possible. A new trick I learned is to squeeze the tofu between two plates. Heat some onion and garlic in a little oil or margarine (or even water if you want to go really low fat). Then add the crumbled tofu, along with some paprika, tumeric, salt, pepper, and Bragg's liquid amino acids or soy sauce.

You can add any veggies you want. Because I had kale sitting in the fridge from the soup that I made yesterday, I used that. I also added some Whole Foods frozen organic mushrooms and roma tomato. In the past, I've used spinach, broccoli, edamame, or sweet potato too.

I liked how it came out, flavorful with a bit of bite from the onion, garlic, and spices.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Soup

Neal Barnard, the president of Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, came to Boston and presented a talk about his new book, Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes. I had the chance to meet him and have him autograph a copy of his book.

After the talk, there was a cooking demonstration, including this soup. I made it for lunch for my parents, who are visiting. It was a good use for Gimme Lean Sausage from Lightlife. Look at the post below on how you can get coupons!!!!

Coupons!!! and Lightlife Gimme Lean Sausage

Here's some Lightlife Gimme Lean sausage, fried in a little canola oil. I cut them up into smaller pieces and added them to the Black-Eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Soup.

For a coupon for $1 off Lightlife products, click here.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Passed my boards!

I just found out today... I'm certified. As in a Board Certified Cardiologist!!!!!!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

When in Doubt, Bake Cookies


I think this is an important rule in life. And that's why it's important to have a good, easy recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Here is mine. It is based on a recipe I saw on VegWeb, but I've modified it enough that I think I can safely call it my own, including cutting the amount of margarine in half:
1 cup flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 cup vegan margarine, like Earth Balance
6 T sugar
6 T brown sugar
vegan egg replacer equivalent to one egg (I use Ener-g Egg Replacer)
1/2 t vanilla
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
In one bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In a mixing bowl combine the margarine, both sugars, vanilla, soy milk, and egg replacer. Beat well with mixer.
Add the dry ingredients and beat again.
Add chocolate chips.
Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350 for 10 minutes.
Serves: about 18 cookies.

Pool Running and Other Forms of Water Torture

Today I ran in the pool for an hour. I got some strange looks. I glared back.

I'd rather run outside, especially with this gorgeous weather we've been having in Boston, but with my hip being all screwed up, I can't.

With 13 weeks until the marathon, I need to think realistically. It's altogether possible that I won't be able to run, depending on how serious this injury is. Then again, Diddy ran NYC with only 9 weeks of training.

It's kind of a bummer. But I'm going to keep at it. My trainer has suggested to me 40 minutes of cardio each day, either spinning, cycling at 100rpm or faster, or pool running/swimming, with one "long day" where I do 40 minutes of two of the above. At least I'll be able to maintain some sort of fitness base.

In the meantime, I'm going to bake cookies.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Chocolate Creme Pie


I found this recipe for Silken Chocolate Tofu Pie. But I made it my own, mostly because I didn't have enough vanilla or chocolate chips. I melted about 2/3 of a bag of chocolate chips and put in the blender with 1 package of Mori-Nu silken tofu, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of Better'n Peanut Butter (real peanut butter would likely work too). I poured the mix into a pre-made graham cracker pie crust by Arrowhead Mills.

Put it in the fridge for 1-2 hours, and serve!

Friday, January 05, 2007

My New Favorite Salad Dressing

Creamy and delicious -- can make just about any salad taste great!