February 2012
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February 2012 posts

Healthy Highlights of Chocolate

Flip the calendar to February and just like Pavlov’s dogs, you may immediately salivate for dark chocolate, bright red roses and heart shaped everything. You may think that Valentine’s day is a romantic holiday fueled by Victoria’s Secret, florists and chocolatiers, but there is a reason for everyone to celebrate this Heart Healthy Month. For the 40 plus percent of people flying solo this season (the ones that rolled eyes at the heart encircling the 14th on the office calendar), there are reasons why you too should read on and learn of the health highlights of this ‘guilty pleasure’.

First - learning the language of chocolate and discovering the nutrients hidden in this gift from earth can empower you to look beyond the diet taboo and instead intentionally enjoy the benefits chocolate has to offer (perhaps innocently on more than one occasion per year).

Within the fruit pods of the Theobroma cacao tree lie cacao beans, the preliminary form of chocolate harboring the health benefits which transform the reputation of this guilty pleasure into an innocent delight. Cacao refers to the tropical tree (see image below) and bean, and is not to be confused with the term cocoa.

There are approximately 20-60 cacao beans per pod, which are removed from their pods, undergo fermentation and then are dried, roasted, and crushed. The resulting nibs are separated from their shells. You can purchase cacao nibs at natural foods stores (Whole Foods, PCC, Madison Market). These nibs are then ground to extract cocoa butter while producing a brown paste known as chocolate liquor during the extraction process.

When further extraction is performed, the cocoa mass that results can be ground to produce unsweetened cocoa powder. Unsweetened chocolate, the most commonly recognized form of chocolate by consumers, is made by mixing heated chocolate liquor with cocoa butter and sometimes lecithin. Bittersweet, semisweet, or simply sweet chocolate has sugar, vanilla and lecithin added.

Now that you are more fluent in the language of chocolate, you can advance to learn of the nutrients and other components in chocolate contributing to its health benefits.

Valentine's Open House at Swedish/Issaquah

Join us for a night out at Swedish!

What do a surgical robot and the Sammamish Symphony String Quartet have in common? You can see both at Swedish/Issaquah on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m.
 

Bring your valentine to this fun night out at Swedish — the Sammamish Symphony String Quartet will be holding a 90-minute performance starting at 6 p.m. Swedish is excited to host the quartet, so bring your family, friends and neighbors for this free community concert. It promises to be a fun, relaxed evening. While listening to the quartet’s beautiful music, you can also browse and shop our boutiques. The Shops at Swedish will remain open until 8 p.m. — find that special gift for your valentine, just in time for Valentine’s Day! Plus, complimentary chair massages will be offered in the Be Well shop — come take advantage of the mini massages.   
 
In addition, Swedish’s new robotic surgical system will be out on display; you can see the high-tech equipment used for knee surgeries up close! (Can't come, but interested in how the robots are used in knee surgeries? Check out these highlights from a live knee surgery.)
 
Café 1910 — Swedish/Issaquah’s café — will be open until 8 p.m. so stop by to meet our chefs and see what delicious food they have to offer. As an added treat during the event, Starbucks will offer a free tall drip of their featured Valentine’s Coffee — Verona.

Time Flies (Just Breathe)

It’s already February?! If you’re feeling stressed with 2012 passing so quickly, re-visiting this post on stress & the importance of breathing might help (originally posted on Parentelligence here). 

It’s no secret that we’re all just a little stressed these days. Between the economy and information overload on the internet, we have all sorts of things to worry about nowadays. Stress and anxiety can cause physical pain, emotional strain, and strain in your relationships. When you’re stressed, your body is secreting hormones that put you into that ‘fight or flight’ state. Long term, this state will wear on your body.

Our children pick up on our heightened state and become stressed and anxious, too.This is not a good state for children to thrive in. We learn best when we’re comfortable and relaxed, not if we’re nervous and anxious.

Parents need to learn how to regulate their own stress so that we may help our children learn the same coping techniques.

Tips to regulate stress in the immediate moment:

New Cerebrovascular Center opens at Swedish Neuroscience Institute

Caring for complex disorders involving blood vessels in the brain -- called cerebrovascular disease -- requires a unique combination of specialized facilities and highly skilled medical professionals.

The Swedish Cerebrovascular Center, which opened at the Swedish Cherry Hill campus in mid-December, is the only center in the Pacific Northwest that offers comprehensive, coordinated care for patients with brain blood vessel disorders. Our care team includes world-renowned neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuroendovascular specialists as well as a highly skilled nursing team who evaluate, treat and manage conditions such as:

  • Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM): defects in the circulatory system affecting the brain or spinal cord
  • Brain aneurysms: ruptured and unruptured
  • Carotid stenosis: narrowing or blockage of the carotid arteries
  • Moyamoya Disease: constricted arteries at the base of the brain
  • Stroke: disturbance in blood flow to the brain due to a clot or a bleed
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): also known as a “mini-stroke” or warning stroke
  • Vascular tumors: benign or malignant growth formed from blood vessels

Simple, heart-healthy Super Bowl recipe and advice from a cardiologist

It's heart month, and with the Super Bowl this weekend (and suggestions from the media that sporting events may trigger heart attacks), I decided to whip up my low-fat, smokey, heart-healthy three-cheese fondue, as well as ask cardiologist Mark Reisman, MD, for some tips.

Low-fat, smokey, three-cheese fondue (serves 6)

Ingredients

Providence and Swedish Finalize Affiliation Agreement, Join Forces to Improve Health Care for Western Washington

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