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Blog author, Solai Buchanan is an experienced Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with an MS from Columbia Teachers College. She specializes in treating heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, polycystic ovarian syndrome,and other chronic diseases. She is a provider at a full-service cardiology practice accepting most insurance and staffed with a primary care MD, pediatrician, and cardiologist. Call: 718.894.7907. NYCC is lead by Interventional Cardiologist Sanjeev Palta, MD, FSCAI, FACC. He trained at Cornell-Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the State University Hospital of Brooklyn. He currently is an Attending Cardiologist at New York Methodist Hospital and Maimonides Medical Center. He is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Having performed over 2000 invasive cardiac procedures Dr. Palta’s patients know they are in trusted hands.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


A recent analysis tracking more than 100,000 individuals for over 20 years has found that persons who consume a diet rich in orange and dark green vegetables have lower rates of severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  AMD, in which the center part of the retina fails, is one of the most common causes of vision loss.  In previous studies, carotenoids, the pigments responsible for the bright orange and dark green colors of vegetables and fruits have been linked to fewer age-related vision problems.

In this recent analysis researchers tracked the dietary patterns and health outcomes of adults age 50 and older.  They found  people who consumed vegetables rich in phyto-pigments lutein and zeaxanthin most frequently, had a 40% lower risk of advanced AMD compared to those who consumed these foods least frequently.  Those consuming a diet highest in pigments cryptoxanthin, alpha carotene, and beta carotene had a 35% decreased risk of advanced AMD.  The researchers noted that carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and others concentrate in the macula, where they are thought to help protect it from the harmful effects of oxygen and sunlight.

What to do:  Consume a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  The foods highest in lutein and zeaxanthin  include  winter and summer squash, peas, corn, beet greens, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, romaine, kale, asparagus, goji berries, and carrots.  Rich food sources of cryptoxanthin and alpha- and beta-carotene are generally orange including carrots, orange & red peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, papayas, and tangerines.

Adapted from article available at:


Wu J, Cho E, Willett WC, Sastry SM, & Schaumberg DA. Intakes of lutein, zeaxanthin, and other carotenoids and age-related macular degeneration during 2 decades of prospective follow-up.  JAMA Ophthalmology. Published online ahead of print October 08, 2015. DOI:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.3590.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Numerous studies have found the Mediterranean diet and other plant-rich dietary patterns are beneficial to heart health.  The Mediterranean diet is plentiful in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains; moderately high in olive oil and fish; and low in red meat, sweets, and dairy products.  An interesting recent study reveals one way that Mediterranean-style diet is beneficial is that it boosts gut bacteria production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s).  These are the preferred fuel of our intestinal cells and higher levels have been found to decrease systemic inflammation and improve immune function.  SCFA’s are associated with better cardiovascular and metabolic health, lower rates of insulin resistance and diabetes, decreases in the risk for autoimmune diseases, and decreases in the risk of colon cancer.

The study of 153 adults tracked dietary intake and levels of gut bacteria and their metabolites in stool and urine.  Researchers found a clear pattern of higher SCFA levels in those who consumed more fiber-rich foods, especially those consuming plenty of beans. Participants whose diet most closely resembled the Mediterranean diet, whether vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, had the highest levels of SCFA production.  Interestingly, vegan diets were the diet that most frequently resembled the Mediterranean diet.   

The study also showed that vegans or vegetarians had the lowest levels of a gut bacterial metabolite called trimethylamine oxide (TMAO).  Eggs, beef, pork and fish are the primary sources of carnitine and choline--compounds that are converted by gut microbes into trimethylamine, which is then processed by the liver and released into the circulation as TMAO.  TMAO levels appear to increase heart disease risk.  Among non-vegetarians, people who adhered to the Mediterranean diet also had relatively low TMAO levels.  

What to do:  Eat more fiber rich foods.  Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and beans are all fantastic sources of dietary fiber.  Typically, our first consideration when planning a meal is the protein option (usually fish, chicken, or meat).  Instead, try meal planning by first considering the vegetable component.  Aim to make half your plate vegetables.  Also, beans and nuts are easily added to a variety of dishes, so mix things up a bit and add them in your favorite dishes to give your fiber intake a healthy boost.

Filippis F, Pellegrini N, Vannini L, et al.  High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. Gut.  2015, published online ahead of print September 28, 2015. DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309957

Den Besten G, Van Eunen K, Groen AK, et al.  The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism.  Journal of Lipid Research. 2013;54(9):2325-2340. DOI:10.1194/jlr.R036012.

Adapted from articles available at: