Archive | February, 2013

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: Eating Chocolate Can Slim Your Waistline?

By Susan K Wilkerson, RD, LD
A recent headline published in the national news has caught attention of many: Eating chocolate can make you slimmer. The observational study asked participants how much chocolate they ate, conducted a food recall to assess the amount of calories consumed, identified the amount of exercise done weekly and compared it with their Body Mass Index (BMI is the body’s weight compared to it’s height). Researchers determined that chocolate consumers’ BMIs were 1 point lower than non-chocolate eaters. So in perspective I am 5 foot 6 inches and if I weighed 130 pounds my BMI would be 21. It would take 5 more pounds to make my BMI go up one point. So eating chocolate daily does not make a significant difference in BMI. In that study frequent chocolate eaters also reported eating more total calories and more saturated fat than people who ate chocolate less often. The study also relied on the participants’ honesty of consumption. Researchers also say that may mean that the calories in chocolate are being offset by other ingredients that boost metabolism. Other studies done in test tubes and mice have found that the compounds found in chocolate inhibit pancreatic lipase, which breakdown fat. It worked with a small amount of chocolate. More chocolate does not mean more weight loss. It also has not been researched in humans.

Chocolate has been making a way in the health benefit category for years; from comfort food, mood enhancing, increasing your energy, lowering your blood pressure to reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke. But all chocolates are not equal. Let’s break down the types of chocolate to get a better perspective of its health benefits. Chocolate comes from a cocoa bean. The beans have a strong, pungent taste, which is from the flavanols or antioxidants. In this state, they have a great amount of healthy antioxidants, also found in wine and tea. The beans need a little processing to make it palatable. The more the cocoa bean is processed, the less health benefits remain. So, dark chocolate is the best option and keep the portion small. The darker the better (70% or greater). As we process the bean more to make milk chocolate, we add more sugar and milk fat, resulting in less antioxidants. White chocolate has no cocoa solids left and is prepared from the cocoa butter. It is left with virtually no health benefits. It’s important to consider consuming large amounts of chocolate will not out weigh the cost of calories and saturated fat. I advise no more than one ounce of dark chocolate a day.

Hummm? What is Hummus?

By Susan K Wilkerson, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center

Hummus has made it to the Patient Room Service Menu at Lexington Medical Center! BUT WHAT IS IT? Hummus has been around for centuries. Hummus is a Middle Eastern food dip or spread, served cold, made out of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (ground sesame seed paste), salt and garlic. Hummus is an Arabic work meaning “chickpeas”.

Hummus PictureHummus is high in iron and vitamin C and has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas are a good source of dietary fiber and protein. However, it is not a complete protein, which provides all the essential amino acids.

Foods are often combined together to get all the essential amino acids or a “complete protein”. Grains and legumes are served together to get all of essential amino acids. Nuts and seeds are also complementary to legumes because they contain the essential amino acids the legumes are low or lacking in, completely providing all the essential amino acids together. You do not need to eat complementary proteins together at every meal. As long as you get a variety of proteins throughout the day, you will get ample amounts of each essential amino acid.

The Tahini is ground up sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid, methionine complementing the proteins with the chickpeas to make a complete protein. Therefore, hummus is useful in vegan and vegetarian diets. The tahini can be hard to find in the grocery store so it is frequently omitted from the recipe. Then the hummus can be eaten with bread to make it a complete protein. Often it is served with pita bread or other flatbreads.

Hummus is very simple to make. It is often used as an appetizer, a quick snack, or complimenting a main course of fish, chicken or eggplant. It is served with raw veggies for a dip or pita bread as a spread. It can be substituted for mayo on a meat sandwich. Many different flavors are added to hummus making it very versatile. Sun dried tomato hummus is one of the more popular flavors and very easy to make. Hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Hummus recipe

1 16 oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini/ peanut butter/ nut butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil


Drain chickpeas and reserve ¼ cup liquid from can. Combine all remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.

Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional or something colorful). Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (15 oz.), drained
3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 teaspoons parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. If too thick, add 1 tablespoon water until desired consistency.

Serve immediately with hot pita bread, veggies, or pita chips. Store in an airtight container. Sun dried tomato hummus can be made up to two days in advance.

Recipes from

Welcome Dr. Steven Marra, Heart Surgeon

Dr. Steven Marra, Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery

Dr. Steven Marra, Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery

Lexington Medical Center is pleased to welcome Steven W. Marra, MD, FACS, to the hospital’s network of care. Dr. Marra has joined Jeffrey A. Travis, MD, at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery provides cardiac surgical consultations, follow-up care and vascular labs as well as offers a variety of cardiovascular services, including aortic and mitral valve replacement, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), and treatment of ascending, thoracic and abdominal aneurysms, peripheral vascular disease, lung masses and carotid artery disease.

Dr. Marra is the latest addition to the hospital’s comprehensive cardiovascular care team.

“I like Lexington Medical Center’s commitment to patient care and excellence. They do an outstanding job taking care of the cardiac needs of the community. I look forward to adding support for the excellent program that has been established here,” said Dr. Marra.

Dr. Marra graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton in Ohio and earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo. He then completed his General Surgery internship and residency at MetroHealth Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where he also served as chief resident. He followed this training with a Cardiothoracic Surgery fellowship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, also serving as chief resident there.

Dr. Steven Marra and Dr. Jeffrey Travis, Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery

Dr. Steven Marra and Dr. Jeffrey Travis, Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery

For the past five years, Dr. Marra has been the medical director of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the only operating cardiothoracic surgeon at Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA. During his tenure, he pioneered the development of the hospital’s program, emphasizing clinical excellence, quality measures and organization education.

With expertise in all aspects of open heart surgery, including valve repair and replacement, CABG, modified Maze procedure and transmyocardial laser revascularization, Dr. Marra also has extensive experience with minimally invasive videoscopic thoracic surgery. He’s performed more than 500 cardiac procedures and 400 thoracic cases since 2008. Prior to his work at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, Dr. Marra was an associate professor of Surgery for 10 years at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ and its interim chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery for one year.