Posts Tagged ‘omega 3s’

Our grad Colin Zhu serving up omega-rich food at WellBeingMD Center

Our grad Dr. Colin Zhu serving up omega-rich food at WellBeingMD Center

“Alignment” can be defined as an “integration or harmonization of aims.” I use the term here more specifically to describe an interconnection of events that could not have happened to me otherwise, if I was not honest, open, aware and – most importantly – authentic with myself.

The series of events I refer to led up to my experience with Dr. John Principe, the creator and founder of WellBeingMD Center for Life in Palos Heights, Illinois.

Some doctors’ offices have nutritionists on board, some have chiropractors and physical therapists for rehabilitating patients, and some alternative practices work with an acupuncturist. However, few doctors’ offices, if any, boast what Dr. Principe’s office has – a professional teaching kitchen with hands-on cooking and demonstration classes, complete trainer-guided exercise programs ranging from Zumba to Tai Chi, as well as acupuncture, chiropractic and massage.

Did I mention the other side of this coin is a full medical practice? The two approaches, like Yin and Yang, form a unique recipe called the Roadmap to Wellness program, whose main goal is to help patients take back control of their health.

I had the distinct pleasure of working with Dr. Principe for four days at the end of November, after hearing about his unique practice in a New York Times article in April of this year.

Aware that I was a resident physician and a Natural Gourmet Chef’s Training graduate, Dr. Principe put me to work the very first day! I saw patients in the morning and, by the afternoon, I was making french omelets for the employee staff for lunch. This was a unique experience because I saw patients with chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which could be prevented by preparing health-supportive meals.

By the second day, I was sautéing and roasting locally grown carrots and peppers in preparation for a Teach & Learn class on omega fatty acids. For this class, we prepared wild-caught Alaskan salmon and carrot bisque with kale-chia seed pesto on extra virgin olive oil-laced whole wheat baguette.

By the fourth night, we prepared and served a meal to the Emergency Medicine Journal Club of Christ Hospital. While it is certainly a privilege to teach patients the importance of healthy eating and living, it’s likewise an honor to share those concepts with colleagues as well. The menu:

  • Dr. P’s homemade marinated black olives with fresh bruschetta
  • Wild-caught, grilled Alaskan salmon with roasted whole wheat couscous on balsamic-glazed mixed greens
  • Red wine-poached pears with whipped ricotta cheese



Dr. Principe’s mission at WellBeingMD is to promote and educate about healthy and sustainable living so patients can take back their health. I was very blessed and fortunate to work and learn from him for that short time, and I know his pioneering vision is shared by many and is just the beginning. To learn more about Dr. Principe’s work and related topics:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtT6_1vtjzQ (Dr. Principe’s TEDx Talk)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2RNTsJpDfM (Kale-Chia Pesto Demonstration)


Colin Zhu with Dr. Principe (left)

Colin Zhu with Dr. Principe (left)

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Natural Gourmet Institute’s President, Jenny Matthau, is our resident expert and lecturer on issues relating to heart disease, healthy and harmful fats, and dietary approaches to achieve heart health.

NGI President Jenny Matthau

People continue to ask me the best way to lower cholesterol with diet and lifestyle to lower their risk of heart disease. I tell them the issue is not as simple as it appears to be. The following are my recommendations for cholesterol “management” . . .

There is mounting evidence that raising HDL cholesterol is more important than lowering LDL cholesterol, particularly in women.  To raise HDL:  most effective is aerobic exercise.  For maximum benefits, burn at least 1200 calories weekly.

With respect to diet:

Consume . . .

  • Moderate alcohol (one drink for women, one to two drinks daily for men)
  • Coconut products
  • Omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fatty fish, meat, milk and eggs from grass-fed animals, flax, chia, hemp and algae
  • Saturated fats from healthy animals (organically raised and grass-fed)
  • Soluble fiber found in oats, barley, legumes, carrots, apples, pears, citrus, berries, flax seeds
  • Raw onion
  • Green tea.

Avoid . . .

  • Trans fats (they lower HDL and raise LDL and the more atherogenic LPA)
  • Sugar and refined carbohydrates (they raise triglycerides, which are inversely related to HDL)
  • Excessive omega-6 fatty acids found most abundantly in these oils: grapeseed, safflower, sunflower, corn and soy
  • Commercially-raised animal foods.

While LDL cholesterol is a “risk factor” for young and middle-aged men, it is not for women, or for people aged 70 or older regardless of gender.  Note that the term “risk factor” does not connote causality, only a positive association.

Lowering cholesterol, without addressing the inflammatory causes of heart disease does not result in lower mortality rates.  That being said, to lower LDL:

Avoid foods rich in . . .

  • Saturated fats (they tend to raise LDL)
  • Concentrated sugars (they raise triglycerides, which can cause the liver to produce very small, dense particle LDL, the most dangerous kind).

Consume . . .

  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Foods rich in monounsaturated fats (olives, avocados, nuts, particularly macadamias)
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

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