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Tea has been used for over 4700 years and is likely the healthiest beverage on the planet. Because it is loaded with antioxidants, tea can biochemically slow some aspects of aging. The EGcG (catechin) compounds in tea help maintain calorie burning, and have been shown in particular to prevent rebound weight gain. Tea consumption promotes bone health and also reduces gum inflammation.

But likely the greatest benefit from drinking tea is that it lowers your risk for future heart attacks and strokes. Compounds in tea improve arterial function, blood flow and blood pressure. Drinking tea decreases inflammation in arteries (by decreasing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol) which in turn, decreases arterial plaque growth. Drinking tea also keeps your platelets from sticking together, which reduces your risk for a major blood clot. Studies have shown that these cardiovascular benefits come from drinking as little as 3-4 cups of tea daily.

While tea contains caffeine which acts as a stimulant, one cup of tea has only 20-50% of the caffeine content of 1 cup of coffee. And tea has another compound called theanine which improves mental focus and clarity—which is why Buddhist monks have consumed it for millennia. Some people are highly sensitive to caffeine, and the 30 mg of caffeine in a cup of black or green tea can cause symptoms for these individuals. So if you need to avoid caffeine, all information available suggests that drinking decaf tea should have the same health benefits.

As I am writing this blog, my wife Nicole and I are on vacation in the tea production capital of the world, Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, which is reported to produce 80% of the world’s tea.  We discovered a great deal about tea while touring Sri Lanka’s hill country region.

Traditionally, tea pickers with baskets on their backs hand pick the top three leaves on a new stem from tea bushes planted over hillsides. While there are machines that pick some tea, most of the finer teas are still picked by hand.

The tea is dried until half its moisture content is removed. Then the leaves are crushed and rolled inside large machines. To make black tea, the crushed tea leaves are next subjected to so-called “fermentation.” This process is not actually a real fermentation, like making wine from grapes, but rather an enzymatic oxidation of the compounds in the tea leaves, transforming the tea’s flavor. To stop the fermentation process, the leaves are fully dried, allowing some control in the fermentation process.  Typically, the longer the tea leaves are allowed to ferment in their half dried state, the stronger the tea flavor. Green tea preparation skips the fermentation process altogether and the leaves are dried completely or sometimes steamed. Oolong tea is mildly fermented, typically for less than 30 minutes, so it is half way between black and green tea.

Both green and black tea have similar proven health benefits. Black tea has slight more anti-oxidant activity, while green tea has a higher EGcG content. But for your overall health, feel comfortable drinking any unsweetened tea you prefer.

Tea sold in the US often comes in tea bags. Generally speaking, the worst quality of tea leaves are used for instant tea and for tea bags.  The best quality tea comes from dried loose tea leaves that are sold in sealed, air-tight containers.

In particular in Sri Lanka, tea leaves collected from higher altitude have a more refined flavor and are sought after by tea connoisseurs. Lower altitude tea leaves have bolder flavors which some people find harsher but in reality, the elevation differences in flavor become a matter of personal taste.

Many have stated that tea decreases cancer risk, but this remains an unproven claim for now and is based upon laboratory studies. In China, tea has been reported to be contaminated with heavy metals, like lead, while tea plants across the planet are sometimes sprayed with chemicals during the growing season. These unfortunate factors may actually offset some of the theoretical cancer prevention properties from drinking tea. The risk of contamination does make me cautious as to where I buy my tea leaves, and likely makes buying organic tea leaves a better option.

I would encourage you to prepare yourself a proper cup of tea. Start by buying a container of good quality loose tea leaves. Some good regions for tea production that we have found here in Sri Lanka come from Nuwara Eli and Dimbula but there are many excellent tea regions, so you are not limited to just these.

The standard technique to brew tea is to add one teaspoon of loose tea leaves to one cup of pure and clean boiling water and to allow the tea leaves to steep for three minutes, more or less depending upon the strength of tea you prefer. Remove the tea leaves and enjoy. If your tea seems a touch too bitter, then don’t succumb to adding sugar, but take out the tea leaves a bit sooner next time.  A variety of tea leaf screens and spoons are available. You can serve your tea with milk or lemon, but of course from a health perspective, please avoid adding sugar or sweeteners.

I wish you the very best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

I’m writing this from the annual meeting of the American College of Nutrition in San Antonio, Texas. I presented data from my clinic on nutrients that help you shrink arterial plaque. One of my favorite presentations at the meeting was on building muscle mass by Elena Volpi, MD, PhD.

Muscle mass is absolutely essential to health. For older adults (over age 60), adding more muscle mass decreases the risk for falls, fractures, death, and loss of independence. Adding more muscle helps to ensure you recover better from infections, and from any potential surgeries.

Muscle mass also burns calories. If you add one pound of muscle and do everything else the same for the year, you’ll burn an extra 40 calories every day, meaning you will lose about 4 pounds of fat, which is the volume of 1 football. In contrast, if you are losing muscle (by not exercising regularly or from a prolonged illness), not only are you losing your health savings account (protein reserves), but for every pound of muscle you lose, you will likely gain fat (up to 4 pounds of pure body fat in 1 year). Muscle mass also makes you look sexy. That shapely definition is what makes people look great!

Dr. Volpi shared data on how much protein older adults need to build muscle mass. Her research shows that unlike younger adults who can build muscle with 15 to 20 grams of muscle per meal, older adults don’t store any significant protein unless they get close to 30 grams of protein per meal.  The sad reality is that older adults eat only 12 grams of protein for breakfast, 15 grams for lunch, and 32 grams for dinner. Meeting your protein needs at only one meal per day is just not enough. The bottom line is that to build and even to maintain muscle mass, older adults should be aiming for 30 grams of protein 3 times a day.

Protein content per serving:

Oatmeal (1 cup cooked, steel-cut) = 7 grams protein (truly inadequate, so you’d need to add 20 grams of whey or pea protein powder to get enough with a bowl of oatmeal)

Omelet (2 eggs) = 14 grams protein (you’d need 3 eggs to reach the minimum 21 grams per meal)

5 ounces of cooked animal protein:

  • chicken breast (44 grams)
  • chicken thigh (38 grams)
  • turkey (white meat = 43 grams, dark meat = 40 grams)
  • sirloin (42 grams)
  • tenderloin (35 grams)
  • hamburger (30 grams)
  • salmon, coho (34 grams)
  • tilapia (35 grams)
  • shrimp (29 grams)
  • crab (31 grams)
  • scallops (20 grams)
  • pork tenderloin (42 grams)
  • pork chop (42 grams)

1 cup of

  • black beans (12 grams)
  • chile con carne (24 grams)
  • chile con turkey (21 grams)
  • veggie chile (13 grams)
  • 2% yogurt (organic, plain) 13 grams
  • 2% Greek yogurt (organic, plain) 21 grams
  • 2% cottage cheese (organic) 31 grams
  • cow’s milk (8 grams)
  • soy milk (7 grams)
  • almond milk (1 gram)

From this, you can see that oatmeal won’t meet your needs without adding protein powder. Instead of 2 eggs for breakfast, you’d need at least 3 eggs per person. Even 4 ounces of any cooked meat or poultry would be enough, although please skip the hamburger (ground carcass) and select a cut of real meat. Servings of fish, crab, and shrimp should be 5 ounces, and for scallops you’d need 6 ounces to meet your optimal intake needs.

Please remember that ideally you should be getting wild seafood, grass-fed and organic fed animal protein to ensure it is clean and free of hormones, chemicals, and pesticides.

Your challenge is to ensure that you get at least 30 grams of protein at two meals per day to maintain your muscle mass, and preferably at 3 meals every day, especially if you need to build more muscle.

To calculate your 24 hour protein requirements, most people need 0.45 grams of protein every day per 1 pound of body weight (1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight). But if you are trying to lose weight, then I often suggest 0.64 grams of protein daily per pound of weight (1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight). As an example, if Mary weighs 154 pounds, she needs (154 x 0.45) at least 69 grams of protein daily. But if she is trying to lose weight, then she should get (154 x 0.64) at least 99 grams of protein daily.

Often the easiest way to ensure you get enough protein is to add a couple of protein shakes daily, with either whey protein or pea protein. A sample protein smoothie with 30 grams of protein is listed below. I hope this info helps you ensure you enjoy adequate clean protein in your diet.

Protein Smoothie Recipe:  (31 grams of protein)

  • Whey protein, (25 grams) most protein powders need 2.5 scoops whey protein
  • Frozen blueberries, 1 cup
  • Chia seeds, (or ground flax seed) 1 Tbsp
  • Almond milk, 12 ounces
  • Frozen spinach, 1/3 cup

 Instructions:

Add ingredients to a blender, and blend for two minutes until smooth. Enjoy!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

PS: Watch for our new Heart Shake® available next week. We have designed a new Heart Shake® protein powder to help you lose weight, build/maintain muscle mass, and support your heart.

 

For some of you this may come as a surprise, because, YES! A Paleo Eating Plan can be very good for your heart.

The #1 cause of heart disease is not about eating fat, nor about your cholesterol level. You should know that the #1 cause of all cardiovascular disease is from eating too many refined carbs (sugar) and having elevated blood sugar levels.

A Paleo eating plan can be a great way to cut out refined carbs and get your blood sugar levels to normal.

But many people trying to follow a Paleo eating plan are getting it dead wrong. Paleo doesn’t mean just eating more meat, and skipping all foods made with grain. The problem is most commercially produced meats and poultry products today are loaded with hormones, pesticides, and chemicals. These nasty by-products are deadly. They increase your inflammation, your risk for cancer, and accelerated aging. And if you miss out on eating fiber, you will hurt your heart even if you skip the refined carbs.

To do a Paleo program right, you’d need to only eat “clean” animal protein (wild fish, grass-fed, organic beef, and organic-cage-free poultry). Plus, just as important, you need to eat lots of vegetables (3-5 cups per day), fruits (1-2 pieces per day), and 1-2 handfuls of nuts every day. Especially for your heart, and unlike most Paleo plans, I also include a daily portion of beans (1/2 to 1 cup cooked). So from my perspective eating more Paleo would mean you are eating more clean protein, vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.

But how do you do this and make it easy? That is the challenge, and I have great news because a colleague and friend of mine has a new book out that shows you how to make following a Paleo eating plan simple.

This is why TODAY I’m excited to share with you the Part-Time Paleo Starter Kit [Link], from my friend, NY Times best-selling author and nutritionist Leanne Ely.

Leanne has helped thousands of women and busy moms for over 20 years feed their families healthy meals (without the whining!) and she can definitely help you too.

Get your Part-Time Paleo Starter Kit for no cost, right here >> 

Leanne is giving it away to celebrate the launch of her important new book Part-Time Paleo: How to Go Paleo Without Going Crazy –her first book in over 7 years.

Having a paleo diet helped Leanne triumph over Hashimoto’s disease which she battled for over 10 years! I encourage you to order her book so you can enjoy these fabulous time-limited bonuses Leanne has waiting for you!

You’ll learn how to:

  • Save money on your fresh organic produce.
  • Equip your kitchen for success.
  • Make mouthwatering smoothies
  • Learn to juice healthfully.
  • Stock your pantry, fridge, and freezer to easily throw together any meal.
  • Simplify your life with menu plans, grocery lists and serving suggestions.
  • Harness the magic of your slow cooker.
  • Get your freezer stocked with easy freezer meals.
  • And much, much more.

To learn more, get your FR*EE Starter Kit here NOW!

Happy feasting!

I wish you the very best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


Happening NOW 

Transform Your Health Summit 2014 Sept 21st – October 5th 

If you haven’t signed up yet there is still time.  Sign up NOW!

Sexy Younger You 2014 September 8th – October 10th 

I will be speaking on Monday, September 29th about how to tune-up your heart, energy, waistline, brain performance and libido.  Become a sexy younger you NOW!

Upcoming Events

The Natural Cures Movement October 6 through the 13th 

This event will feature presentations from the top doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths and health experts in the world where you will learn the best natural remedies and treatment protocols also how to use plant­-based medicine for specific conditions like hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease and so much more!  Register for this FREE event here!

The news media has highlighted a fascinating study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that compared  Low-Carb with Low-Fat Diets. It is terrific  that they measured weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors. Of course, the media only got the message half right.

Before you hear the results, you need to understand what the people in the study actually did, something the media failed to understand.

The investigators randomized 148 obese men and women to follow two diets:

Diet #1: Less carb, higher fat, higher protein 

These subjects increased fat intake from 34% of calories to 40% of calories and increased their protein from 17% of calories to 24% of calories. They were supposed to increase their fiber, but didn’t (their fiber intake stayed the same). The biggest increase in fat was from nuts and olive oil (monounsaturated fat), and they were asked to eliminate hydrogenated fat. They were also given shakes to help them follow the plan.

Diet #2: Less fat, higher carbs, same protein

These subjects decreased their fat intake from 34% to 28-30% (not really low fat enough to be a low-low fat diet), and increased their carb intake from 46% to 54% of calories. They didn’t increase their fiber (they were asked to, but it stayed the same) instead, they added more starch (potatoes, white bread, white rice and pasta).

Both groups were asked to not change their activity and they were given meal plans to reduce their calorie intake and lose weight.

The low-carb, higher fat, higher protein group dropped form eating 2000 calories per day to only 1200-1400 calories per day for 12 months. They lost 12 pounds in the first 3 months, and then their weight stayed the same for the rest of the year. Their cholesterol profile improved nicely.

The higher refined carb, lower fat, same protein group dropped form eating 2000 calories per day to only 1400-1500 calories per day for 12 months. They lost 5 pounds in the first 3 months, and then gained half that weight back over the rest of the year, and their cholesterol profile worsened.

What did this study really show?

Bazzano et al, Effects of Low-Carb and Low-Fat Diets, Ann Int Med;161:309-318.

When you look at the real results, you can see that eating more “healthy” fat, more protein, and less refined carbs (less potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta) helped people lose weight and improve their cholesterol profile. They were also given a shake a day to help change their eating habits.

Asking people to eat less fat and more refined carbs (sugar and starch) without fiber isn’t very effective for weight loss and increases your risk for heart problems.

The bottom line from this study is that you should eat more “healthy” fat and protein, and less refined carbs.

I suspect the reason the subjects in the higher refined carb diet gained their weight back despite following the low calorie intake, is that without extra protein, their metabolic rate (calorie burn rate) decreased. Adding more protein to the low-carb, higher fat plan boosts calorie burn and was a smart idea!

Notice that the people in this study were obese, yet they only lost 12 pounds. They likely would have lost twice as much weight if they had added more FIBER (fiber makes you full and satisfied and improves your cholesterol profile), but the fiber must come from eating more vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruits–not from eating more flour!

If they had added more activity, they would have kept losing weight after 12 months and their cholesterol profile would have looked even better. So unlike the results in this study,  the ideal plan would have been more “healthy” fat and protein, less refined carbs, more fiber, and more activity.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS


 

Upcoming Events 

Transform Your Health World Summit 

I will be speaking on Tuesday, September 23rd and will debunk heart disease myths and also tell you about the 6 nutrients YOU need for optimal heart health.  If you haven’t signed up for this amazing summit, do so NOW!

Sexy Younger You 2014 

Don’t miss my presentation on September 29th where I’ll share with you how to tune-up your heart, energy, waistline, brain performance, libido & romantic life!  If you haven’t signed up yet please register here!

 

You asked the questions and I have the answers!  

Click Here to listen to the answers from the great questions you asked.

If your question didn’t get answered, I will do another Q&A session in the

upcoming months, keep an eye out for my emails and blog posts.

Once again here is the link to listen to the answers: http://bit.ly/1pmXy4H

 


Metabolic Syndrome 

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of factors that multiply a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.  34% of adult Americans have Metabolic Syndrome, do you?

Our genetic expression has been altered by our modern sedentary lives and poor eating habits, resulting in abnormal cholesterol, prediabetes, inflammation, and obesity. This combination of symptoms is known as METABOLIC SYNDROME!

When people were hunter-gatherers they spent days outside walking, running, and carrying heavy loads.  NOW a typical day may be sitting at a desk for hours on end. Then once we come home one may sit in front of the TV or the computer for hours.  We have gone from eating lean protein, nuts, fruits, vegetables and few grains to a diet dominated by highly processed foods. Lifestyle changes in the last 20-30 years are responsible for this ever growing epidemic!

I will be discussing metabolic syndrome and the real reason for heart disease, today August 25th in the online Metabolic Revolution Summit. Join me and 11 other renowned experts as we gather in one place, online August 25th – 27th for FR*EE!

You will learn about the 2 major steps that begin to reverse Metabolic Syndrome immediately.  Start with these lifestyle changes that diffuse the consequences of Metabolic Syndrome before it’s too late. Get empoered, educated and lose unsightly fat. Reverse obesity, diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver disease in just 2 weeks.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine has a very difficult time connecting high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, infertility and Alzheimer’s with Metabolic Syndrome.

Don’t miss out on all of this valuable information that could help save you or a loved one from metabolic syndrome register NOW!

To your health,

Dr. Steven Masley

P.S. The Metabolic Revolution Summit runs August 25th – 27th online for FR*EE, be there!

For years we have told people to avoid saturated fat, in particular, fatty dairy products and fatty meats. Yet, a couple of new studies suggest that saturated fat might not be so bad after all.

Here are four key factors to consider when eating more saturated fat:

  1. Its impact on cholesterol profiles
  2. Its quality—is it Clean or Mean?
  3. Its influence on inflammation
  4. Its source?

Let’s address each of these critical points.

How does saturated fat impact cholesterol profiles? Eating saturated fat increases total cholesterol, good HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but it makes these cholesterol particles larger and fluffy in a way that makes them less likely to grow plaque. So, the net effect of the cholesterol profile changes on arterial plaque growth might be neutral.

This may explain why a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in March 2014 by Dr. Chowdhury showed no relationship between saturated fat intake and heart disease.

Is saturated fat clean or mean? Fatty meats and dairy products that are produced on commercial farms are often loaded with hormones and pesticides. The dark side of eating more fatty meats and fatty dairy may be the cancer risk that comes with it. The greater your intake of commercially produced meats and dairy, the greater your exposure to these toxins and the greater your risk for cancer.

The trick is if you eat fatty dairy and meat products, ensure you buy grass-fed, organic options, or skip it. People who are following a Paleo plan but are inappropriately eating “mean”, commercial animal protein are very likely hurting themselves greatly.

Does saturated fat impact inflammation? Eating saturated fat in the form of fatty meats and fatty dairy products increases inflammation levels. The more you eat, the higher your level of inflammation. Many detailed scientific studies have shown this to be the case. If you have an increase in inflammation, your blood is stickier and your joints are achier. Inflammation increases most aspects of aging.

When animals are fed corn and other grain products to fatten them, their tissues contain high levels of inflammatory fats; the impact of eating fats from these grain-fattened animals produces far more inflammation and is much unhealthier than eating saturated fat. Plus commercially-produced products come with pesticides and hormones, too.

So, if you want to enjoy eating animal fats in your diet, how do you neutralize this inflammatory effect?

Step 1: Consume organic and grass-fed products.

Step 2: Since all saturated fat produce some degree of inflammation, keep your intake moderate (not more than a 5-7 ounce serving of grass-fed meat at a meal, or a 1-ounce serving of cheese).

Step 3: Eat an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods (green leafy veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, spices, and herbs) to counter any inflammation when you eat saturated fat

The bottom line is that if you eat clean animal fat and an abundance of anti-inflammatory foods (green leafy veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, spices, and herbs), then saturated fat likely has a neutral (not harmful) impact upon your health.

Eating sugar and refined carbs is much, much worse for your health than any concern about consuming saturated fat.

And when eating out, if you can’t find clean protein (hard to do in most restaurants), focus on selecting lean protein.  The leaner the protein (less fat), the cleaner the protein, as most of the hormones and pesticides are highest in the fattier cuts.

How is Coconut Fat Different from Saturated Animal Fat? Coconut oil is a bit more controversial. Yes, coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, but its structure is very different from saturated fat that comes from dairy and fatty meats, as it is made from lauric acid. In contrast to dairy fat, coconut oil has a couple benefits:

  • It helps boost metabolism in highly active people.
  • The medium chain triglycerides in coconut fat provide a terrific fuel source for prolonged exercise sessions and for athletes.
  • Coconut fat appears beneficial for cognitive function, and for people with neurological disease, as eating more saturated fat may protect the brain from injury.

Despite these benefits, eating more coconut products increases cholesterol levels. Yes, it raises LDL particle size (considered good) and it raises healthy HDL cholesterol levels (also good). The problem is that we do not have any clinical outcome studies that show eating coconut is either neutral or beneficial.  We only know that it improves some laboratory measures; we don’t know if it increases or decreases your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Therefore, if you have established heart disease (meaning you have had a heart attack, stroke, or abnormal cardiovascular testing with your doctor), or you are being treated by your doctor for abnormal cholesterol problems, I’d recommend you stick to the fats that have been proven to be healthy, such as seafood, nuts, nut oils, avocados and avocado oil, and olive oil and avoid coconut products for now.

However, if you are healthy and active, or you have signs of a neurological disease, then I’d say enjoy eating more coconut products, like coconut milk, coconut oil, and unsweetened coconut every day.

I hope this helps you to make the best choices for your health.

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

Upcoming Events

The Metabolic Revolution Summit  August 25-27, 2014 FREE on-lineMet Rev2

The Metabolic Revolution Summit brings together 11 of the world’s leading authorities on metabolic diseases that ruin your health.  You will learn why you might be on an invisible timeline to a HEALTH DISASTER. Join me on August 25th and Learn about your metabolic time bomb NOW!

 The Evolution of Medicine Summit  September 8-15, 2014

Evo of Med

Medicine is evolving, with or without you. If you’re interested in being healthy, you MUST keep up with this evolution.  Join me at the Evolution of Medicine Summit, it will show you the future of healthcare. Plus,  it’s ONLINE and FREE!

Sexy Younger You 2014  September 8th – October 10th, 2014

SYY Banner

My good friends and colleagues Dr. Anna Cabeca and Robin Nielsen, NC are going to give you the tips you need to feel younger right now whether you’re 35 or 95 in their Sexy Younger You  telesummit, Season 3. Join me along with 24 other exceptional health experts in this transformational 25 day summit.

I enjoy fresh, delicious wild salmon, and I can’t stand the fishy smell of most salmon sold in stores. Salmon is loaded with healthy, long-chain omega-3 fats and protein. Yet, these fats are very delicate and easily damaged. Not only do rancid omega-3 fats taste awful, but they are dangerous to your health.

Tip #1: Buy fresh wild salmon. It seems silly to say this, but most stores call their salmon “fresh” if it hasn’t been frozen, even if it was caught 1-2 weeks ago. Clearly after a few days on ice, the salmon is no longer fresh. A whole salmon should have plump, clear, shiny eyes. The skin should be shiny and moist, and if filleted, the meat should be plump without wrinkles and look firm. If the eyes are dried out and the flesh looks cracked, mushy, or dried,,,, move on. If it looks good, before they wrap it up in paper, ask to smell it. It should smell fresh, not fishy. Fishy smelling salmon won’t taste good no matter what you do with it.

The reality is you can only find fresh wild salmon 3-4 months of the year, so for the rest of the year, you need a back up plan.

Tip #2: If you can’t find “fresh” wild salmon, buy vacuum-packed, frozen wild salmon. Vacuum-packed salmon is usually much less expensive, and “if” it was vacuum-packed and flash frozen, it will taste fresh for at least six months. The salmon I defrost in January from my annual fishing trip in July, usually tastes much better than the “fresh” farmed salmon they sell in the grocery store. The challenge is finding a company that will vacuum-pack and flash freeze their catch. A good source is Vital Choice.

Tip #3: Marinate your salmon in an acidic, salty solution before cooking, such as orange juice. In fact, I marinate most of the seafood I buy in salty orange juice before cooking it. First rinse the fish in fresh water, then add one teaspoon of sea salt to 1 cup of orange juice and marinate it for 10-20 minutes before cooking. I gently rinse and pat it dry with paper towels before I add seasoning.  The acidity sears the outer flesh, maintaining the moisture, and it decreases the formation of harmful heterocyclic amines (carcinogens formed with grilling) by up to 80%. The orange juice also washes the occasional frozen slime coating on frozen fish and leaves it with a sweeter, fresher taste.

Tip #4: Add spices and herbs with your salmon. When I catch salmon and eat it that same day, I add maybe a touch of salt that is it—it is awesome. But the truth is that most salmon wasn’t caught the same day and it tastes better if I cook it with herbs. I like to stimulate at least 3-4 taste bud centers, and sometimes all five. I enjoy experimenting with various combinations of dill, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, salt, lemon, lemon rind, ginger, and garlic. Try the Grilled Salmon recipe below as an example.

Tip #5: If your taste buds are highly sensitive to fishy fats, then pick salmon with less fat content.  Pink salmon has much less fat content than say silver or king salmon, and it can be great in a salmon spread. See below. For a great source of canned pink salmon, I like Vital Choice.

Below are a couple of my favorite salmon recipes, adapted from my 30-Day Heart Tune-Up cookbook. Enjoy!

Salmon Spread (Quick & Easy)

A better option to a tuna spread is this healthier version which is delicious on sandwiches, in pita bread, or served with a tossed salad.

PREPARATION TIME: 5 MINUTES     SERVES: 2

6 ounce           Canned salmon (I prefer wild Alaska pink or red salmon)

2 medium       Green onions, diced

1 Tbsp             Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp             Hummus

1 Tbsp             Capers

1 tsp                Lemon juice

1 medium       Celery stalk, diced

Optional         Hot sauce to taste

Flake salmon. Mix with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Grilled Salmon with Lemon, Chili, Brown Sugar and Dill       

Voila, my favorite grilled salmon recipe. I grew up salmon fishing with my Dad, and I now take my sons salmon fishing most summers. Even guests who normally shy away from salmon have enjoyed this recipe. All of their taste buds (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami) are stimulated at once!

Preparation Time: 10 minutes   MARINADE TIME: 15 MINUTES    cooking time: 8-10 minutes   Serves: 4

1.5 pounds  Salmon (preferably wild Alaska Coho or other wild species)

1 cup            Orange juice

1 medium    Lemon

1/2 tsp         Sea salt

¼ tsp            Ground black pepper

½ tsp            Paprika

¼ tsp            Cayenne pepper (1/8 to ¼ tsp, to taste)

1 tsp             Brown sugar

1 tsp             Dill weed, dried (or ¼ cup fresh dill weed, cut into 1-inch strands)

 Rinse salmon fillets in cold water. Marinate in orange juice for 15 minutes. Pre-heat grill to 450 degrees (F), or set oven to broil. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle lemon juice over fillets. Combine salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, sugar, and dill weed and sprinkle over the salmon.

Transfer salmon fillets to the grill. For a 1-inch thick fillet, grill about 8-10 minutes total, 4-5 minutes per side (for thinner fillets, use less time). The timing will be similar if you use the top rack of your oven broiler.

Serve with lemon wedges and garnish with fresh dill weed.

Hope you enjoy the recipes!

To Your Health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

I am returning home from my annual Alaska salmon fishing trip with my two sons, Lucas and Marcos, plus one of my patients and friend, Tim. We had an awesome three days of fishing and bringing home 325 lbs of vacuum-packed, flash-frozen salmon, with a touch of halibut.

Salmon has amazing nutritional benefits. To appreciate and understand these benefits, knowing more about their lifespan should help you decide which type of salmon you want to pick. During their short 2-6 year lifespan, the environmental diversity in their life is amazing. Salmon start life in pristine mountain streams, swim downstream to the ocean, feed and grow, then return to the same stream to reproduce. The fact that they have such a short lifespan (limited time to accumulate toxins) and that they eat very low on the food chain keeps them clean and low in chemicals, in particular mercury.

3Salmon

Marcos, Myself and Lucas

Once they reach the ocean, salmongorge themselves on krill. Krill are very small shrimp that feed on red plankton, rich in Astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is the pigment that makes shrimp, crab, and salmon turn red. We catch salmon as they are within a few months of swimming back upstream to spawn, and at the end of their lifespan. At this time, they feed voraciously to gain strength for the incredible journey home.

Red (sockeye) salmon only eat krill and other shrimp, which is why their meat is so red. When red salmon return to their native streams, their numbers are so vast the rivers literally turn red. They vary in weight from 3-8 pounds. They won’t eat herring or bite at lures that look like herring, hence we almost never catch red salmon, unless we accidentally snag one with our hooks. Netting is the best way to catch this type of salmon.

Pink (hump) salmon are the little guys, 3-5 lbs, and the most abundant. They have the shortest lifespan, only two years. They eat a mixture of shrimp and krill, so their color is pink. Pink salmon is the least fatty and most similar to tuna in texture, so when looking to make tuna fish salad, a much healthier choice is pink salmon. I have a delicious salmon spread recipe in my 30-Day Heart Tune-Up. Landing pinks in the boat is wild. They barely bite the hook and often steal our bait. When we do get them on the hook, initially they don’t resist at all, but once they see the boat, they fight like crazy, jumping and running in odd directions. Their mouths are soft, so this violent outbreak often frees them at the last moment as the hooks tear from their mouths.

Silver (coho) salmon grow rapidly in the ocean eating krill, and return at the end of their lifespan to fatten up and grow by eating herring. Their flesh varies from red to red-orange, depending on their eating habits. They weigh from 5 to 12 pounds. Most years, more than half of our catch is silver salmon. In late June, the same silver salmon would be only 5-7 lbs, and by August-September they can reach 10-12 pounds. They jump gracefully, and are often seen when fishing. Once on a line, they are great fighters and are really fun to catch. They jump and skim the surface as they come into the boat. After netting them, they have this amazing silver sheen, hence their name.

Keta (chum) salmon look like big silver salmon, but with bigger eyes. They weight from 8-15 pounds. Once keta salmon travel upstream, their skin takes on a greenish color, and their flesh becomes pale and mushy and is better suited to smoking than grilling. Yet, the bright silver ketas we caught had an-orange-red flesh and taste much more like silver salmon. So look for bright colored keta salmon if you plan to bake or grill them. When buying, if their color is pale to pink, pass.

The greatest are king (chinook) salmon. They spend one to two years in freshwater river environments before heading out to the ocean to fully mature and have an average life span of 5 years. Not only are they the largest, but they are very hard to catch. They also have a beautiful purple sheen to them, so they aren’t just powerful, but elegant, too. You are not allowed to keep a king salmon under 28 inches, so the smallest we catch are 10 pounds and the largest on this trip was 25 pounds. Although legends talk of 100-pound king salmon, the largest I have seen was 73 pounds and caught by my grandmother from a rowboat. King salmon gorge on herring the year before they go up stream to reproduce and die, so they have the highest fat content and are the richest in healthy omega-3 fats. When we get a king on the hook, the line sings as the reel empties. As they tire, we start reeling in. One jerk of the rod and the hook may pull out of their mouths, so of all the fish, it takes the most skill and finesse to get them into the boat.

I hope you enjoy picking your next salmon for dinner.

Part Two of this blog will focus on “How to Prevent Salmon from Tasting Fishy.”

I wish you the best of health,

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS

I attended an awesome meeting this past week in San Francisco. This nutrition conference was hosted by the Institute of Function Medicine-my 21st annual meeting with this organization over the last 23 years. Even my wife, Nicole, attended, which was lovely for me as I usually have to attend these medical meetings alone and great for her clinical knowledge, too.

They had an incredible debate/presentation comparing a Mediterranean diet, a Paleo diet, and Vegetarian diet. The best part of this discussion was that the moderator pushed them to find what they could all agree on, and I love the results.

Here is what they all agreed on:

  1. Everyone should have at least 30% of their calorie intake from vegetables and fruits, especially those with a low glycemic load.
    1. Since produce is so low in calories, this means 50% of the food we eat should come from vegetables and fruits. (Low glycemic load examples include beans, berries, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and beets.
  1. Everyone should have at least 1-2 handfuls of nuts daily; nuts and seeds are great for our health.
  1. If you eat animal protein, it should be clean animal protein.
    1. If you eat seafood, it should be wild caught fish. Examples of clean animal protein are organic, free-range poultry, and grass-fed, grass-finished beef—clearly not hormone, antibiotic, and pesticide enriched animal protein produced in many commercial factories.
    2. For the sake of the planet, it is also better to eat low on the food chain, such as rabbit and poultry over beef and pork.
  1. Nobody should be eating low fat. But fats need to come from healthy sources—hormone and pesticide free.
  1. Everyone should avoid high glycemic load foods that have been processed, such as bread, crackers, rice and potato products, and anything made with flour.
  1. And with the best of eating, we still need a supplement to get our key nutrients, like vitamin D, omega 3 fats, and other key nutrients.

Here is where they disagreed. They didn’t find common ground on sources and quantities of protein, or regarding beans and whole grains:

For legumes, the Paleo plan recommended none, as they have a few compounds that block nutrient absorption. The trouble with this is that beans are super high in nutrients and fiber, and blood test findings have noted that consuming beans has powerful and beneficial effects. The vegetarian and Mediterranean diet proponents truly made the point that we would benefit from eating beans daily. So yes, beans should stay on the menu

For whole grains, the Paleo plan recommended none, because of their glycemic load (blood sugar jump). Both the vegetarian and Mediterranean diet proponents accepted small quantities of whole grains, but not nearly as much as consumed by most Americans today.  Everyone agreed that if you have a gluten intolerance, you need to totally avoid all gluten products (wheat, rye, barley).

For protein, no surprises here:

  1. With Paleo, 30% of the diet comes from animal protein.
  1. With Mediterranean, no fixed amount of protein, but it comes from a mixture of lean animal protein and beans.
  1. With Vegetarian, more beans, soy, and protein powders.

They all agreed that the most challenging part is that many, if not most Americans trying to following these diets, are doing it wrong.

  1. The Paleo followers are poisoning themselves with dirty protein and animal fat—eating commercial sources loaded with hormones and chemicals, and they are clearly not getting the 5-7 cups of vegetables and fruits daily required to benefit from this type of eating plan.
  1. The Mediterranean followers are eating far too much bread and pasta. If you are a farmer and physically active 6-8 hours per day, clearly you need more calories, and whole grains, even in the form of flour, can provide these nutrients. But for most people struggling to exercise for 7-10 hours per week, they can’t handle this high glycemic (sugar) load.
  1. The Vegetarian followers are eating too many refined carbs and processed foods. To benefit, they need to stick to unprocessed food. They also have to ensure they get their protein from beans, soy, and protein powders, omega-3 fats from seaweed or a supplement, and enough vitamin B 12.

The bottom line is all these eating plans can lead to optimal health, but only if followed properly. You just have to find which diet you can follow best!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP

My friend Jackie Wicks has a NEW book available on how to make weight loss easy. The system she’s come up with is called The Cheat System Diet, and as the name implies, cheating is a big part of it! The great thing is, that you won’t just cheat your way to losing weight—The Cheat System Diet will also help protect your heart!

We all know that an ideal weight is beneficial for heart health, and in this regard we might expect any diet to be cardio protective.  However, there are diets out there like the Atkins diet which can actively cause harm to the heart, even if you do lose weight. The Cheat System Diet isn’t one of these heart-harmful diets, let me show you why.

A big emphasis in The Cheat System Diet is choosing healthy fats. If you’ve read my book The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, then you know that not all fats are created equal. Even when looking at broad categories of fats, like saturated fat, there are good types like stearic acid, found in dark chocolate, and to some degree in grass-fed beef, and less-healthy types like palmitic acid, found in large amounts in conventional beef that have been fattened on corn and may be high in hormones and pesticides.

The Cheat System Diet encourages consumption of the healthiest fats from the healthiest sources while encouraging the reader to avoid the unhealthy fats. Wild and grass-fed meats are encouraged, along with nuts, olive oil, and polyunsaturated fat-rich seafood. Another big plus for the heart The Cheat System Diet encourages is an eating plan high in fiber intake. Fiber-rich foods don’t only make you feel full, they can help improve your cholesterol profile, blood sugar level, and blood pressure too. Beans are a great source of dietary fiber and other nutrients.

A high-fiber diet is another way that The Cheat System Diet beats out many other diets. Some diets, despite weight loss, discourage consumption of heart-healthy fiber while encouraging consumption of high-fat, low-fiber foods like conventionally-raised meat. What’s the point of weight loss without gaining health!

Vegetables, one of the focuses of The Cheat System Diet, are also highly beneficial for the heart. They are rich in phytochemicals and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, all of which help prevent and repair damage, and keep the heart functioning in tip-top shape.

Vegetables are also one of the best sources of potassium, a key nutrient for balancing out the hypertensive effects of sodium. In fact, potassium intake may be even more important than sodium intake! At any rate, The Cheat System Diet both encourages a high consumption of potassium as well as a low intake of sodium, so you get protection in both ways!

Finally, you’ve got to consider the little ways you can benefit your heart, because sometimes it’s the small, easy steps that can make the biggest difference. For example, instead of using fats and sugars to flavor food, The Cheat System Diet encourages the use of herbs and spices. Herbs and spices are rich in the same cardio protective  properties that vegetables have, and they also reduce the amount of sugar-rich condiments you use to turn bland food into tasty food!

If you’re trying to lose weight, The Cheat System Diet may be just right for you. So many diets focus on weight loss to the exclusion of health, including heart health. Let me tell you this: weight loss is important, but it also matters how you do it!

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP