The next time you plan your visit to the grocery store, consider your local farmer’s market instead. There’s a wealth of fresh produce to fill up your reusable tote bags. What’s in season? What’s not? To get the most from your experience, consider a few things.
Reasons to Shop at the Farmer’s Market
- You are making a difference by supporting your local farmers and their success will grow.
- The produce is picked at the peak of the season, so it’s naturally more flavorful compared to your grocery store items that may not be as fresh from transit to store. In many cases, the market offers lower prices.
- Follow the simple rule of thumb to eat a rainbow of colors to get a variety of cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals that different colors offer.
What’s in season right now?
- Fruits: apples, avocados, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, Texas grapefruit, kiwi, lemons, oranges, papayas, pears, pineapple, raspberries, tangelos and tangerines
- Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, radicchio, Belgian endive, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, kale, leeks, lettuces, mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, russet potatoes and new potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, shallots, spinach, sugar snaps, snow peas, squash and sweet potatoes
Strategies for Shopping at the Farmer’s Market
- Do some research and plan ahead. Seek out what’s in season and know before you go. Think about what meals and snacks you’re planning for the week and guide your purchases around that.
- Take a stroll around and scan what’s there to decide what and where to buy, instead of settling on the first vendor you walk up to. There are so many choices and the same foods reappear. You might get a sweeter tasting watermelon at one vendor versus another.
- Try before you buy. Take advantage of taste testing. The vendors offer a plethora of samples so you can taste all the lovely fresh food before you buy it.
- Get creative and adventurous. Here’s a great opportunity to experiment with foods. You may discover that you like fresh figs, which by the way, are loaded in fiber. Find out how to use certain foods and get new and fresh ideas. Ask your vendor their favorite way to prepare a particular food. You might leave with some new recipes. You may not realize all the uses for a single food. Make it a learning experience for the whole family!
- Stock up. Buy your favorite foods in season and then freeze them for later when that food is off season. A good example of this would be berries that freeze well.
- Make requests. Don’t be shy to ask questions. If you are buying for one or two people you may ask for half a basket of an item to get the amount you really “need.” It’s better to buy two tomatoes and actually use them, than a large basket of six tomatoes and realize the other four have spoiled by the end of the week.
- Have fun! Make your visit to the farmer’s market a field trip for you and your family. You’ll leave with some super nutritious fresh food, some extra knowledge, and maybe even a bit more passion about filling your plate with a rainbow of colors.
Did you know Cooper Clinic patients who regularly get an annual exam live 13 years longer than the average male and seven years longer than the average female? Read about each of the six components of the comprehensive exam to learn why. If you haven’t seen the first three posts, get caught up!
- Medical Exam & Counseling
- Laboratory Analysis
- Cardiovascular Screening
- Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
- Skin Cancer Screening
- Nutrition Consultation
Taking the cardio screening a step further, look inside at the health of your heart’s arteries with an MDCT scan. Calcification of the coronary arteries is a risk factor for developing heart disease and having a stroke.
Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
An MDCT scan is an upper torso scan (between the shoulders and hip bones) that detects buildup in the heart’s arteries. The scan also evaluates the lungs and abdominal organs. Depending on the clinical history, this scan is commonly performed in men after age 40 and in women after age 50 and is repeated if clinically indicated thereafter.
Why do you need an MDCT scan? For your heart.
Among other things, the MDCT scanner can detect the presence of calcification in the coronary arteries or “CAC”. The amount of CAC is measured and converted to a score called a CAC score, also known as the Agatston score. Many studies have demonstrated that the more calcification detected, the risk of atherosclerosis in the heart arteries and the higher the risk of having future cardiovascular disease events. Learn more about CAC scores here.
Clinically significant amounts of atherosclerosis, frequently an indication for more aggressive risk factor management, is often defined by a CAC score ≥100 or a high score for someone your age and gender. A CAC score ≥400 may suggest the need for further diagnostic evaluation depending on the presence of other clinical symptoms or factors.
CAC is not uncommon in adults. A study from the National Institutes of Health evaluating CAC measured in 3,238 white adults in age groups ranging from 45 to 75 years of age found that 32 percent of women and 52.9 percent of men had some evidence of calcified plaque. CAC can even be detected in patients who are otherwise low risk when using traditional risk factors. For example, they have normal and/or cholesterol and don’t smoke.
Atherosclerosis that is not yet calcified (called “soft” plaque) is not detected by the MDCT scan. Thus, the absence of coronary calcification does not mean that the arteries are totally normal; however, the absence of CAC confers a very low risk for future cardiovascular events.
Why do you need an MDCT scan? For your lungs.
The MDCT scan is also a good tool for evaluating the presence of lung disease, specifically at early detection of lung cancers.
It is now recommended that even in the absence of worrisome symptoms (such as chronic cough), current or former smokers with significant smoking history receive low-dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer. These recommendations follow the publication of results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in 2011, which found reduced deaths from lung cancer among patients who received a low-dose CT screening compared with those given chest X-rays.
Chest X-rays are not recommended for lung cancer screening because they often do not demonstrate a lung cancer until it is far advanced. If you have been a longtime smoker and you have a normal chest X-ray, you should not assume that you are lung cancer free.
Combining the latest scientific technology with an unparalleled level of personal care and attention, Cooper Clinic delivers a truly unique patient experience. The MDCT scan is performed in a matter of minutes and is noninvasive. Unlike some clinics that make patients wait days or even weeks for results—results to celebrate or results that could change everything—Cooper Clinic provides all results the same day, many times within hours. That gives you time to review the information and discuss next steps with your Cooper Clinic physician.
To request an appointment or to receive more information from Cooper Clinic, click here.
Recent studies have shown an increase of inactive adults in the United States. This is a problem when you consider that physical inactivity doubles the risk of heart disease. But, it’s a problem that can be fixed.
Walking for as few as 30 minutes a day, five days a week not only provides heart health benefits, but it reduces the risk of all death by all causes by 58 percent.
To conquer inactivity and celebrate National Walking Day, Cooper Fitness Center Dallas Professional Fitness Trainer April Swales offers advice on how you can start a walking program. Follow these tips to a fit, healthy self.
If you are going from a sedentary lifestyle to a regular walking routine, begin with short walks for a limited amount of time. For instance, start by walking for ten minutes at a time and work your way up from that time period.
Stepping It Up
One shoe does not fit all. Before beginning a new walking program, it is valuable to invest in a good pair of walking or running shoes.
If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you can visit stores like RunOn or Luke’s Locker to have a specialist analyze your foot and the way that you step. From that point, they can fit you with a shoe that complements your foot’s shape and pronation.
Going the Distance
Rather than focusing on the distance traveled, think about how long you have actually spent walking. You do not want to increase your distance too quickly because it could result in negative side effects. Instead, each day add on a few more minutes to your walking routine.
Fit in Hydration
It is important to stay hydrated during your workouts. Water is important for every single cell function in your body. Staying hydrated will keep your body functioning as it should, so you can make the most out of every workout.
Once you reach an intermediate level of fitness, you can begin to take your workouts up a notch. You can add intensity by warming up with dynamic stretches, keep a challenging pace or adding interval training to your walking workout.
Find a Walking Path
The American Heart Association has created a list of walking paths. From parks to shopping malls, check out this list of American Heart Association-designed walking paths across the country. And when you’re traveling, you can find a local path to take and keep on your route to healthy living.
Walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health, and it is the simplest way to start and continue a fitness journey. Look for ways to incorporate more walking into your day, whether it’s parking the car father away from your destination or going for a family walk after dinner.
For more information on Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, click here or call 972.233.4832.
Over the years, Cooper Consulting Partners has discovered that a healthy company is driven from the top down and leading by example yields results. Passionate and engaged leadership is the force behind most successful corporate wellness programs.
To help executives activate change within themselves and their organizations, Cooper Consulting Partners created Fit:Business. The healthy leadership workshop is based on research from The Cooper Institute that has revolutionized health and wellness, and inspired millions of people to live healthier lives.
Offered as a one-day interactive workshop, Fit:Business is our flagship training program that achieves the ultimate output by helping the participants connect their personal health to their productivity, while at the same time driving healthier behaviors of those around them.
The full-day Fit:Business workshop includes:
- Sessions on leading healthy change, stress management, exercise, nutrition and more.
- An interactive participant guide to use during the program and as a reference following the program.
- Light activity breaks to keep participants engaged and to demonstrate the ease and efficiency of an active lifestyle.
- A healthy breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack.
- One-year license to Fit:Mobile – the workshop’s companion content app that drives ongoing engagement.
The next Fit:Business session will be held in Dallas on April 24, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Register today or click here to find out more about upcoming sessions in your area, contact Cooper Consulting Partners.
The construction hats have moved from Cooper Fitness Center to Cooper Hotel! A new look is now in progress at Cooper Hotel. As part of Cooper Aerobics Center’s multi-million dollar renovation, we’re refreshing our guest and meeting rooms and public spaces. Blending elegant sophistication with modern touches, guests will stay well at Cooper Hotel. The renovation will be completed this summer.
Nestled in the heart of Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas, Cooper Hotel & Conference Center is the place to stay well. Cooper Hotel offers spacious rooms with resort amenities and beautiful outdoor grounds for a weekend getaway, wedding or social event. Cooper Hotel also provides a place for business leaders to connect well with nearly 8,000 square feet of gathering space for groups up to 250 and full-service catering with healthy options. We offer corporate travel rates, complete/day meeting packages and multi-day conferences, with wellness lectures, fitness breaks and teambuilding sessions available.
The renovation is refreshing all 61 guest rooms, two of the 900-plus square foot meeting rooms, the outdoor pool area and corridors. The new carpet, paint, lighting and custom furnishings will transform the interiors, blending elegant sophistication with modern touches. Read full media release.
With an expected completion date of summer 2014, guests may obtain the latest updates on the Cooper Hotel renovation on the Cooper Aerobics Facebook page. Providing easy access to all Cooper has to offer, some might say Cooper Hotel is where you come to recuperate. We like to say ReCooperize. Book a room or meeting today!
Did you know that more than 100,000 patients have done the treadmill stress test at Cooper Clinic? A few weeks ago we began a blog series to dive into each of the six components of Cooper Clinic’s comprehensive preventive exam. To get caught up, read about the first two components.
- Medical Exam & Counseling
- Laboratory Analysis
- Cardiovascular Screening
- Multidetector Computed Tomography (MDCT) Scan
- Skin Cancer Screening
- Nutrition Consultation
Component #3: Cardiovascular Screening
Since Cooper Clinic opened in 1970, we have used the treadmill stress test to help detect heart artery blockages and assess patients’ overall risk of developing heart disease in the future. Dr. Cooper was the first physician in Dallas to routinely use the treadmill stress test for this purpose. And since then our research has proven the importance of having this test done annually.
The stress test is a standardized walking or cycling test used to determine cardiovascular fitness, assess functional capacity and the conduction system of the heart and identify possible underlying coronary artery disease. Before, during and after the stress test, the electrocardiogram (EKG) is monitored continuously and blood pressure is measured frequently to assess the cardiovascular response to exercise.
On the Treadmill
At Cooper Clinic we use a modified Balke treadmill protocol for the treadmill stress test. With this protocol, the treadmill speed remains at 3.3 mph. We increase the work of the heart by adding elevation.
- First minute—Zero percent elevation
- Second minute—Two percent elevation
- Third minute—Three percent elevation
After the second minute, we increase the elevation by one percent for each minute up to a maximal incline of 25 percent. As you can imagine, that is a pretty steep hill! For those few individuals who can exercise beyond 25 minutes, the incline stays at 25 percent and then the speed increases 0.2 mph/minute until exhaustion. We use this protocol rather than the Bruce protocol, which is used in most cardiology offices for the diagnosis of coronary blockages. Why? Because the Balke treadmill protocol has a more gradual increase in cardiac workload so that even our most unfit patients can participate to provide the data to write an exercise prescription.
How Performance Provides Results
Patients will often ask, ‘how long do I need to walk on the treadmill?’ In order to obtain an adequate test for the diagnosis of coronary blockages, a patient should reach a heart rate of at least 85 percent of their predicted maximal heart rate. The predicted maximal heart rate is estimated using the equation “220 minus age”. For example, if you are 50 years old, your predicted maximal heart rate is 220-50 or 170 beats per minute. However, we often exercise patients beyond this threshold value of 85 percent of predicted maximal heart rate because we stop the treadmill based on the patient’s exertion level rather than a predetermined heart rate. For many of our very fit patients, if we stopped the test when their heart rate reached 85 percent of their predicted maximal heart rate, we would have a result that didn’t reflect how hard they work when they exercise and we couldn’t create a realistic exercise prescription for them.
A recent study from Cooper Clinic involving 25,642 individuals followed for 7.2 years, showed that in addition to assessing changes on the EKG during a stress test, other non-EKG measures helped predict the risk of death from all causes or from cardiovascular disease. Including:
- Functional capacity (how long you exercised on the treadmill)
- Resting heart rate
- If the heart rate increased appropriately during exercise
- How fast the heart rate recovered after exercise
Unlike its use in other settings, the treadmill stress test at Cooper Clinic is used as an objective way to measure fitness. Sure, we can ask you how often you exercise; we can ask you how hard you work during exercise, but nothing provides a real measure of fitness like your performance on the treadmill.
In 1989, a landmark paper from The Cooper Institute 501(c)(3) nonprofit examined 10,224 men and 3,120 women who had undergone fitness (treadmill) testing. After a follow-up of slightly more than eight years, research showed the risk of death from any cause decreased as fitness increased in both men and women. In addition, cardiovascular and cancer death rates were lower among the higher fit individuals.
Since that time, numerous scientific publications from The Cooper Institute have demonstrated the benefits of being fit and the risks of being unfit:
- Men who maintained or improved their fitness were less likely to die from anything or from cardiovascular disease versus the unfit men who remained unfit over time.
- The health benefits of fitness include reduced risk for developing risk factors for heart disease including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- The risk of low fitness approaches the risk of smoking.
- Being fit reduces the risk of stroke and depression.
- Being fit reduces the risk of dying from lung and gastrointestinal cancers.
Most recently, The Cooper Institute has shown that fitness at mid-life (average age in the upper 40s) impacts health—including the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s disease—and is a predictor of health care costs in later life. The average follow-up was between 24-26 years.
Given the proven health benefits of fitness, most experts recommend that a fitness evaluation should be part of routine preventive care as an independent “vital sign” that can be directly modified by routine physical activity. At Cooper Clinic, we do exactly that. Once we measure your fitness, we can use that information to create an individualized exercise prescription to improve your fitness or keep you fit.
To learn more about the treadmill stress test at Cooper Clinic, click here.
The Greek yogurt industry is booming. According to the Wall Street Journal it has grown from 1 percent in 2007 to 35 percent in 2014. Greek yogurt now makes up one third of all yogurts in stores and continues to take up more shelf space. A huge part of its popularity is the allure of a higher protein content and less sugar than its regular yogurt counterparts; but this is not the case for all of Greek yogurts so be sure to read the food label to make the healthiest choice.
What is Greek yogurt?
Greek yogurt is made by straining off the liquid whey, which concentrates its protein content, making it two to three times higher in protein than traditional yogurt. It is also lower in lactose (the natural sugar found in milk), and therefore some of its calcium is lost in the straining process. One of reasons it can be more expensive than regular yogurt is because it requires three times the amount of milk. As for the taste, it is naturally creamy and tangy and comes in nonfat, low fat and full fat varieties.
What to look for on the labels:
There are certain nutrients that make some Greek yogurts nutritionally preferable over others; but there is something to please everyone’s taste buds. Look at:
- Calories: for a lower calorie yogurt, look for 150 calories or less.
- Total fat: nonfat is best, but if you select one that has less than 2-3 grams per serving, that’s okay, too. More importantly, find one that is low in saturated fat, with less than 1.5-2 grams per serving.
- Sugar: most flavored Greek yogurts contain more sugar that is added for taste. Look for less than 15-20 grams per serving; note that around 7 grams of the sugar listed comes from the natural sugar in milk.
- Protein: for a higher protein profile, find a yogurt with at least 10 grams of protein.
- Calcium: ideally select one that has at least 15 percent daily value (or 150 mg) of calcium per serving.
- Ingredients: plain nonfat Greek yogurt typically has a short list of ingredients that includes nonfat milk and live active yogurt cultures. For sweetness, flavored yogurt has either evaporated cane juice, sugar or fructose or it has added artificial low calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose or stevia. Some yogurts have fruit or pureed fruit folded into the yogurt or on the side. In some of the newer lower calorie yogurts, chicory root fiber is added.
How different popular brands stack up:
Plain unsweetened nonfat Greek yogurt:
- Fage® Total 0% (6 oz.): 100 calories; 0g fat; 18g protein; 7g sugar; 200mg calcium
- Chobani® 0% (6 oz.): 100 calories; 0g fat; 18g protein; 7g sugar; 200mg calcium
Flavored nonfat Greek yogurt with added sugar:
- Fage® (5.3 oz.): 120 calories; 0g fat; 13g protein; 16g sugar; 150mg calcium
- Chobani® (5.3 oz.): 120 calories; 0g fat; 12g protein; 16g sugar; 150mg calcium
- Dannon® Oikos (5.3 oz.): 130 calories; 0g fat; 12g protein; 19g sugar; 150mg calcium
Flavored nonfat Greek yogurt with artificial sweeteners:
- Dannon® Light & Fit Greek (5.3 oz.): 80 calories; 0g fat; 12g protein; 7g sugar; 150mg calcium (with added Sucralose)
- Yoplait® Greek 100 Calorie (5.3 oz.): 100 calories; 0g fat; 10g protein; 9g sugar; 100mg calcium (with added Sucralose)
- Chobani® Simply 100 (5.3 oz.); 100 calories; 0g fat; 12g protein; 6g sugar; 150mg calcium (with added Stevia)
Creative ways to incorporate Greek yogurt:
- Whip up a savory veggie dip or creamy dressing with all the rich texture and zero grams of fat. Mix plain nonfat yogurt with lemon juice, onion flakes, garlic powder and Italian herbs.
- Swap for high fat mayonnaise in creamy salads and side dishes such as potato, egg, pasta salads and coleslaw.
- Blend yogurt in smoothies as a high protein alternative to nonfat milk or protein powder.
- Substitute sugar-loaded syrup with yogurt as a topping for whole grain waffles or oatmeal pancakes.
- Create a yogurt parfait for a sweet dessert or satisfying protein and carb snack with layers of yogurt, fruit and a high fiber granola cereal.