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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.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Stress is known to be an independent risk factor for many chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.   An interesting new study indicates that one of the ways stress impacts health is by diminishing the positive effects of healthy foods. 

To evaluate the interactions between diet and stress, researchers recruited 58 healthy women with an average age of 53.  On two different days, participants consumed a high fat breakfast of biscuits and gravy.  Both days the breakfasts contained 930 calories and 60 grams of fat but on one day the fat came from unhealthy saturated fats and, on the other day, the fat came from healthy monounsaturated fat.  On both occasions the women completed detailed interviews to assess the stress they experienced on the previous day.  Their blood was drawn multiple times during their visits. The researchers looked at two markers of inflammation -- C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A. They also evaluated two markers of cell adhesion molecules, indicators of how readily arterial plaques form.   The research team controlled for blood levels before the meals, age differences, abdominal fat and physical activity -- all factors that could impact the physiological response to the meal.

Previous research has shown that saturated fats increase inflammation in the body, which has been linked with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a host of other chronic health problems.  Saturated fats mainly come from the fats in dairy and meat.  Conversely, monounsaturated fats such as those found in olives and nuts are associated with lower levels of inflammation and better heart health.

The trial found that participants with low recent stress levels exhibited lower levels of inflammation and cell adhesion after they ate the monounsaturated fat biscuits and gravy, compared with when they ate the saturated fat-laden alternative.  But, for participants with higher levels of recent stress, the monounsaturated fat meal did not confer physiological advantages.  Their levels of inflammation and cell adhesion were comparable to when they had the high saturated fat meal. 

These findings add to the evidence that stress, even moderate, short-term stress exerts a powerful role on our health. Exactly how stress interacts with the physiological effects of foods is not known.  It is possible that the harmful effects of stress overwhelm the potential benefits of a healthy meal, or it may be that stress itself alters the body's processing of the meal.  Other studies have shown that a person's metabolic rate is lower and insulin levels are higher following a stressful day.

What to do:  Because food is tangible and stress is not, it is sometimes harder to recognize an unhealthy stress response than an unhealthy food.  These results underscore the importance of developing healthy strategies to cope with stress and they hint at the fact that in order for us to realize the full benefits of a healthy diet, we must first manage our stress.  Regular sleep, regular physical activity, journaling, talking with others, practicing mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral therapy can all help to support better stress management. 

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Fagundes CP, Andridge C et al. Depression, daily stressors and inflammatory responses to high-fat meals: when stress overrides healthier food choices. Molecular Psychiatry, 2016. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2016.149

Information adapted from articles available at:


Tuesday, September 27, 2016


A new analysis suggests that eating two or more servings per week of fatty fish such as salmon can significantly reduce diabetics’ risk of retinopathy.  Diabetic retinopathy develops when elevated blood sugar levels damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina.  It is estimated more than 80% of patients with type 2 diabetes will develop some form of diabetic retinopathy within 20 years of diagnosis. 

The current findings were drawn from a five-year Spanish study that tracked the dietary intake and health of participants (ages 55-80) with type 2 diabetes.  They found that those who routinely had fatty fish twice per week were 48% less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy than those who consumed less.

Why might intake of fatty fish be protective of eye health?  Omega 3 fatty acids are found in high concentrations in the eye where they are believed to help protect against oxidative damage caused by elevated sugar levels, systemic inflammation, and age-related changes.  While it is believed that the omega 3 fatty acids are the constituents in fish that promote eye health, studies in which individuals supplemented with fish oil rather than eating the whole fish have not yielded as positive results.  This may be due to benefits from other nutrients in the fish as well as the fact that the omega 3’s found in foods are fresher and less degraded than the oils extracted for supplements.

What to do:  To minimize the damage caused by diabetic eye disease, the most important measure is to control your blood sugar.    Controlling blood pressure is also important for eye health.  Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and rainbow trout.  Regular intake of fatty fish is not only is good for the eyes but also the other systems of the body, especially the cardiovascular and neural systems.  The amount of fish eaten in this study provided about 500mg daily of omega-3 fatty acids but do not supplement with fish oil without consulting your provider.  

Article adapted from:


Sala-Vila A, Díaz-López A, Valls-Pedret C, et al. Dietary marine ω-3 fatty acids and incident sight-threatening retinopathy in middle-aged and older individuals with type 2 diabetes: Prospective investigation from the PREDIMED Trial. JAMA Ophthalmology. Published online August 18, 2016. DOI:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2906

Larsen, M.  Eat your fish or go for nuts.  JAMA Ophthalmology.  Published online August 18, 2016. DOI:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2942