Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet for You?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 5, 2014

There are various health advantages associated with a vegetarian diet .

If you’re thinking about abandoning red meat and poultry in favor of a predominantly plant-based diet, it’s important to know what the nutritional benefits are of vegetarian and vegan diets.

“There’s certainly some research on the benefits of the vegetarian diet,” says Kathy McManus, Director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She ticks off the various advantages associated with this way of eating – lower body mass index and blood pressure, and reduced risks for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

If you’re thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, but are worried about making a big change in how you eat, know that there are many different layers to this way of eating. The most common approaches are these:

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Good News about Nuts and Your Health

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 18, 2013

Watch this short animation from the New England Journal of Medicine that summarizes our recent research about nuts and your health.

Today’s post, written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director, Department of Nutrition and Nutrition Director, Program for Weight Management at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was adapted from an article that originally appeared on the Health-e-Weight for Women site. 

You may be hesitant to eat nuts because they contain fat, but this idea stems from the misunderstanding that all fats are bad. Despite what you’ve heard, all fats are not created equal. Researchers and clinicians now know certain fats (trans fat and saturated fat) contribute to heart disease, while others (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) actually reduce the risk of a heart attack when substituted for the unhealthy fats.

Although nuts contain some saturated fat, most are rich in monounsaturated fats and are packed with important nutrients. Dietary fiber, magnesium, copper, folic acid, potassium, vitamin E and protective phyto-nutrients are found in nuts, all contributors to cardiovascular health.

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The Sour Side of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 12, 2013

Sugar-sweetened beverages can have a sour impact on your health.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition. The post originally appeared in the newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

The next time you reach for a nice cold soda or juice, consider this – each 12 ounce can of a sugar-sweetened drink or juice contains 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, amounting to 150 to 175 calories. Though it doesn’t sound like much, it will take about 20 minutes of casual biking, walking, or yoga just to burn these extra calories!

Obesity is a growing problem in the US (no pun intended), and there are many contributors to the crisis. One is the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), as well as the increase in beverage portion sizes. These two factors have led to a greater percentage of calories consumed each day via beverages.

Sugar-sweetened beverages currently account for about 10 percent of total calories consumed in the US diet. Today, 63 percent of adults and 80 percent of youth consume at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day. Americans consume about 250 to 300 more daily calories today compared to the seventies, and about half of this increase is due to the greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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What’s the Big Deal about Salt?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 28, 2013

Excess sodium intake not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director, Department of Nutrition and Nutrition Director, Program for Weight Management. The post originally appeared in the Healthy 850 Newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

Some consumers believe that dietary salt (sodium) is only a concern if they have high blood pressure; not true. Excess sodium intake not only increases blood pressure, but also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death in the US. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 97 percent of children and adolescents eat too much salt, putting them at greater risk for cardiovascular disease as they age.

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Improving Your Health the Mediterranean Way

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 30, 2013

Think of the Mediterranean to inspire healthy eating.

With its abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a multitude of health benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and better weight control.

Unlike some restrictive dieting approaches, the Mediterranean diet encourages inclusion rather than exclusion. However, the Mediterranean diet goes beyond food selections. It also hinges on attitudes towards eating and food.

Cultures adopting the Mediterranean approach generally care deeply about their food and are mindful when they eat, taking time to enjoy the taste and satisfaction of the meal. This is in stark contrast to the typical American diet, where consumption of meals tends to be done quickly and without much thought, which also can result in overeating and weight gain.

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Ten Simple Substitutes for Healthy Eating

Posted by Blog Administrator June 15, 2012

Ten food substitutes

Make recipes healthier with these ten simple substitutes.

When it comes to healthy eating, small changes can make a big difference. “Many people become overwhelmed when thinking about changes in their diet,” says Kathy McManus, Nutrition Director for Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “The fact is that simple food substitutions can have major benefits, including fewer calories, less cholesterol, and more stable blood sugar levels. These changes often lead to weight loss and lower your risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.”

To make recipes healthier for you and your family, try these ten simple substitutes:

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A Helpful Hand in Losing the Weight – and Keeping it Off

Posted by Blog Administrator June 7, 2012

Weight management program

The Program for Weight Management’s Anjali Grover, MD, with patient Janine Corwin during a screening.

For years, BWH patient Gary Morse struggled with weight loss. He tried everything, from dieting on his own and joining a gym to commercial weight loss programs.

“It wasn’t until I went to the Brigham that I saw the light at the end of the tunnel,” said the 60-year-old.

Earlier this year, Morse enrolled in the BWH Department of Endocrinology’s Program for Weight Management and, with the guidance of physicians and dietitians, he shed 52 pounds, dropping from 229 pounds to 177.

“This is just the first step toward living a healthier life, and I couldn’t be happier,” Morse said.

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Healthy Eating Guidelines Hit Home for Hospital Employees and Visitors

Posted by Blog Administrator March 26, 2012

Your Health Your Choice Eating Program

A new Brigham and Women's Hospital program helps staff and visitors make healthy food choices.

Ever wonder if doctors, nurses, and dietitians practice what they preach? Are they really healthy eaters?

“Healthcare specialists are often on their feet all day seeing patients or performing long procedures, with little down time,” said Kathy McManus, Nutrition Director at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “That makes it hard to maintain a healthy diet and avoid selecting foods that provide a quick ‘pick me up’ but deliver high amounts of calories, saturated fats, sugar, and sodium.”

In order to make it easier for BWH employees and visitors to choose healthier foods and beverages, the BWH Nutrition Department developed Your Health, Your Choice – a healthy eating program within the BWH cafeteria. Driven by the latest nutrition research and using guidelines from the Harvard School of Public Health’s Healthy Eating Plate, the program features color-coded labeling on foods and beverages, designed to help people to make healthier choices.

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