A recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine described three new interesting and important studies linking what we eat, our body shapes and how we live to our health. I thought I would share with you a few hightlights:

Eating Whole-Grain Breakfast Cereals May Be Associated With a Lower Risk of Heart Failure for Men

Men who consume a higher amount of whole grain breakfast cereals may have a reduced risk of heart failure (weakness of the heart muscle). One in five (20 percent) men and women will develop heart failure at some point. The most common causes are hypertension or untreated or poorly treated high blood pressure, coronary heart disease (blocked heart arteries) and hypercholesterolemia (high blood cholesterol).

Researchers in Boston analyzed the link between breakfast cereal intake and new cases of heart failure among 21,376 men (average age 53.7) participating in the Physician’s Health Study I. Cereal intake was estimated by using a food frequency questionnaire and new cases of heart failure was assessed by annual follow-up questionnaires for an average of almost 20 years.

The researchers found that a higher intake of whole grain breakfast cereals was associated with a lower risk of heart failure. This benefit or important link may be due to the beneficial effects of whole grains on heart failure risk factors such as hypertension, myocardial infarction [heart attack], diabetes mellitus and obesity.

This is only one of many studies showing the tremendous benefit of eating WHOLE GRAIN CEREALS on reducing risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. The greatest benefit comes from eating cereals that are full of whole grains with little sugar and fats added.

I came up with a granola recipe that I eat every day with plain yoghurt, a touch of honey, and lots of fresh cut-up fruit. For those of you who want my “coveted” recipe for health success – here goes:


Raw Oats
Ground flaxseed
Ground wheat bran
Unsweetened coconut
Raw pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
Slivered or sliced almonds
Cran-raisins (or small dried fruit of any kind such as dried cherries) Add the dried fruit AFTER baking while granola is cooling down.
½ to 3/4 cups of canola oil; ½ cup of natural peanut butter
¼ cup of honey and tbsp of cinnamon; sometimes add toasted pecans or walnuts - yummm

Spread lots of raw oats onto two baking/roasting metal sheets/pans with sides (makes lots to freeze), sprinkle plenty of flax seed, wheat bran, coconut and seeds/nuts until it looks “just right”!! I have no idea of exact amounts; usually limited to what I have available.

Place oil, peanut butter, honey and cinnamon (add a bit of water if you like) into 2-cup glass pyrex measuring “thing”, heat at 50% power in microwave (or stove) for 2 minutes or so and blend ingredients (peanut butter stays pretty lumpy)….divide between two pans and stir well into dry ingredients. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or so, stirring, remove when “toasted”. Cool for a long time before storing in freezer. Share your granola with all your friends and family.

Weight Gain Related to Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Risk

Women who gain weight throughout adulthood rather than maintaining a stable weight may have an increased risk for breast cancer.

Obesity has long been known to be a risk factor for developing breast cancer after menopause. The Nurses Health Study showed that no only weight gain – but WAIST GAIN – caused the greatest risk. Of the nurses, women with the largest waist sizes had 90% greater risk of breast cancer than nurses with the smallest waist. A healthy waist size is under 30 inches. (to learn how to measure your shape and waist size and learn what you can do to reduce risk and reduce inches, visit me at the apples and pears section of this website, http://www.drsavard.com/applespears/_promise.html.

It is suspected that estrogens may accumulate in fat tissue, potentially initiating or promoting the growth of cancerous cells in the breast.

Records of almost 100,000 postmenopausal women who were part of the National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study were analyzed. In 1996, the women reported their current body measurements and weight, plus their weight at ages 18, 35 and 50. Body mass index (BMI) was used to classify the women as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. Unfortunately the women did not measure their waist or hip sizes so we don’t have information on body shape – however many studies have shown that women who are apple-shaped have a much higher risk of postmenopausal breast cancer than women (even if overweight) who are pear-shaped.

Gaining weight in the early reproductive years (age 18 to 35), late reproductive years (age 35 to 50), perimenopausal and postmenopausal years (age 50 to the current age) and throughout adulthood (age 18 to the current age) were each associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with maintaining a stable weight during those periods.

Women who were not obese or overweight at age 18 but were at ages 35 and 50 had 1.4 times the risk of developing breast cancer compared with women who maintained a normal weight. This risk was greater than the small increased risk of breast cancer after 7 or more years of combined hormone use (premarin and provera/Prempro) in the Women’s Health Initiative study (risk of 1.24).

Read some of my earlier blogs to learn how to prevent unhealthy WAIST GAIN. Bottom line: eat high fiber, health fats, and NOT TOO MUCH.

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Behaviors Associated With Decreased Risk of Heart Attack in Women

Women who eat a healthy diet, drink moderate amounts of alcohol, are physically active, maintain a healthy weight and do not smoke have a significantly reduced risk of heart attack!!! Surprise, surprise!! We have long known from the US Nurses Health Study along with others that this LIFESTYLE PILL of diet, exercise, a touch of alcohol, and no smoking would reduce our risk of heart disease and death by almost 85%. So we are reminded of this yet again with the recent study results.

THE FINDINGS: Researchers in Stockholm identified dietary patterns in 24,444 postmenopausal women by analyzing food frequency questionnaires, on which the women supplied information about how often they ate 96 common foods. “We derived four major dietary patterns: ‘healthy’ (vegetables, fruits and legumes), ‘Western/Swedish’ (red meat, processed meat, poultry, rice, pasta, eggs, fried potatoes and fish), ‘alcohol’ (wine, liquor, beer and some snacks) and ‘sweets’ (sweet baked goods, candy, chocolate, jam and ice cream),” the authors write. Participants also answered questions about education, family history, health status, use of medications, body measurements and physical activity. When they enrolled in the study in 1997, none of the women had heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

Over an average of 6.2 years of follow-up, 308 women had a new myocardial infarction (heart attack); 51 of these cases were fatal. Two diet types—“healthy” and “alcohol”—were associated with a reduced risk for heart attack.

“The low-risk diet (high scores for the healthy dietary pattern) characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, fish and legumes, in combination with moderate alcohol consumption (5 grams of alcohol per day or less), along with the three low-risk lifestyle behaviors [not smoking, having a waist-hip ratio of less than the 75th percentile and being physically active], was associated with 92 percent decreased risk compared with findings in women without any low-risk diet and lifestyle factors,” the authors write. “This combination of healthy behaviors, present in 5 percent, may prevent 77 percent of myocardial infarctions in the study population.”

Only 5% of the residents took this health lifestyle pill – the exact depressingly same number in the US population and in the Nurses study.

To learn your waist-to-hip ratio, click here for our apples and pears tape measure calculator, http://www.drsavard.com/applespears/calculator/whrcalc.html.

Taking a lifestyle pill may be hard to swallow but sure beats taking a handful of pills. When will we ever learn that simple fact??

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

Warm regards,

Dr. Marie

Go to the Ask Dr. Marie Home Page | Dr. Marie's Home Page


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  2. Eric Says:

    diet for myocardial infarction

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