Originating from India, the eggplant is a traditional part of Asian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean diets, all of which have been touted for their heart-healthy benefits. Eggplants are generally oval shaped with a deep purple skin contrasting with a creamy white, spongy centre. In the summer, small, light purple and round, white varieties are also available. Small, slender varieties are usually more tender and sweet. Their meaty and filling texture is great for vegetarian dishes like eggplant parmesan, vegetable stew (ratatouille), and the ever popular baba ghanoush dip.
Selection and storage Choose eggplants that feel plump and heavy for their size, with a dark purple glossy skin. They should be free of scars or soft spots, with a fresh green cap. Don't go for the huge ones because these may be less meaty, have more seeds and taste bitter. Look for an oval dimple on the plump end; a round shaped dimple tends to signal a seedier fruit with less meat. Eggplants should be used quickly but can be stored in the refrigerator covered in plastic for up to five days. With time, the bitterness intensifies and soft brown spots will develop.
Nutrition Although eggplants are not packed with nutrients, one cup of cooked eggplant offers about 28 calories, fibre, potassium and a small amount of folic acid. Nasuins, antioxidants in the purple variety, are thought to block the formation of cell-damaging free radicals that can cause heart disease.
Preparation Ever wonder why people salt and press eggplant before cooking? This draws out the bitter juices, improves taste and reduces the amount of fat that is soaked up during cooking. After thirty minutes, the eggplant is rinsed, patted dry and is ready to be baked, broiled, grilled, stuffed or stewed. Eggplants do not have to be peeled, but should always be cooked to destroy the solanine, a toxic substance that may cause headaches for some people.
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.
Our experts answer reader questions about dropping the last 10 pounds—or more.
Question: I've heard that lifting weights helps the body burn calories even when you're not active. True or false? — Reiko
Answer: That's true. A lot of women prioritize cardio because they want to lose fat, but that burns calories only while you're exercising; as soon as you stop, you're no longer burning as much. Instead, lifting weights revs up your metabolism, so you'll continue burning calories for a few hours after your workout. And don't worry about bulking up; women don't have enough testosterone for that. But you will get leaner!
— Trudie German, certified personal trainer and owner of bodyenvy.ca, Toronto
Question: Is it possible I'm meant to be this big? I've been about the same size all my adult life, give or take a dress size. My mom and my sister are both size 14, and so were my grandmas. Maybe it's genetics? — Anne
Answer: Your genes do play a role, but it's more important to remember that size isn't really a good measure of health. If you're active, feeling good and sleeping and eating well, you probably don't have to worry. According to the World Health Organization, obesity is defined as "abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health." Of course, as you get heavier, there's a greater likelihood your health could be negatively impacted. But it's impossible for me to tell just by having you step on a scale; I have to do all sorts of tests to see if your weight really is affecting your health.
Question: I'm injured and I can't work out. Is it still possible to lose weight? (Even if I'm eating my feelings about not being able to exercise?) — Katie
Answer: It's certainly possible! In fact, what you eat has more of an impact on your weight than exercise. You won't be able to work off extra calories, so be particularly mindful of other factors that influence weight, too, by getting enough sleep, finding ways to manage stress and choosing healthy whole foods in appropriate portions. And try these tricks: Serve vegetables family-style so they're within easy reach, but keep richer foods on the stovetop; use a smaller plate; and focus on your food—you're more likely to overindulge if you're distracted, so try not to eat in front of the TV, in the car or at your desk at work. Lastly, don't deny your hunger; eventually, it will backfire and you'll find yourself overeating or grabbing a convenient but unhealthy snack. People often think they have to cut back on food if they're going to lose weight, but I counsel my clients to eat more during the day. The idea isn't to willpower your way to weight loss; it's to make sustainable changes.
Want to transform the look of your bedroom? Inspired by board-and-batten siding, this headboard looks like a million bucks—on a way smaller budget. It's super simple to build and you can easily customize the size to fit your bed.
- Tape measure
- Table saw or handsaw
- 1/2-inch sheet of MDF
- 1- by 5-inch MDF board
- 1- by 3-inch MDF board
- Several 1- by 4-inch MDF boards
- Wood glue
- Clamps for drying (optional)
- Nail gun and nails
- Caulking gun and caulk
- Paint tray
- Paint roller and paintbrush
- Paint (We used Behr Ultra Pure White 1850)
- Screwdriver and screws
- Wood filler
Measure the width of your bed. Using the saw, cut the sheet (A) so it's 4 inches wider than the bed— this was 57 inches for us—and 66 inches long. (We had ours cut to size at The Home Depot.) Cut the 1- by 5-inch board (B) the same width as the sheet. Cut the 1- by 3-inch board (C) 4 inches longer than the width of the sheet, which was 61 inches for us.
Place the boards horizontally on top of the sheet so they're flush.
Measure from the bottom of the 1- by 5-inch board (B) to the bottom of the sheet. Cut four 1- by 4-inch boards (D) to the same length. Place them vertically equidistant on the sheet.
Create a grid by cutting remaining 1- by 4-inch boards (E) to fit horizontally between the vertical boards.
Glue each board in place on the sheet; let dry. Using the nail gun, secure each board in place. Caulk any edges (if you see gaps); let dry.
Paint the headboard. To make it easier to paint the sides, elevate the sheet on scrap pieces of wood.
To hang the headboard on the wall just above the baseboard, use the level, then screw it in place. Cover screw and nail holes with wood filler; let dry. Sand; touch up with paint.
From lunges to overhead presses, our do-it-all workout routin gets your heart rate up, builds muscles and burns calories.
If you're exhausted just thinking about what you need to accomplish at the gym—get your heart rate up,
build muscle, protect your bones—you're not alone. This dynamic routine from certified personal trainer Justine Keyserlingk, owner of Toronto's
Just Get Fit, lets you target all of your health goals in a single session.
Do this eight-move workout two or three times a week, interspersing cardio (running, walking or cycling) in between. And as always, if you feel any pain while exercising, stop and consult a health-care provider.
1. Lateral lunge with overhead press Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your shoulders, take a large step to the left, bending your left knee and keeping your right leg straight. Send energy through your left heel to push yourself back to centre, then lift the weights overhead, extending your arms. Lower the weights to your shoulders. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A.Lifting weights overhead gives your heart a workout; your blood needs to pump against gravity.
B. Simultaneously working your arms and legs uses multiple large muscle groups, which means you're burning more calories.
C. Studies have shown that resistance training, also called weight training, may improve bone mineral density in the spine, hips and wrists.
2. One-legged dead lift Standing with your feet together and holding weights at your sides, slowly hinge forward at the hips while bending your left knee slightly and extending your right leg behind you. Lower your torso and lift your right leg until both are parallel to the floor, keeping your back straight and your arms extended downward. Send energy through your left heel to lift your torso and return to a standing position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This move works often-forgotten muscle groups: the glutes and the hamstrings.
B. Standing on one leg
improves your balance, which may help prevent falls. And that stretch you feel in your hamstring promotes flexibility—being limber protects against future muscle injuries.
Tip: If you have trouble balancing, start by holding onto the back of a chair with one hand.
3. Sumo squat with biceps curl Stand with your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart, with your hips, knees and feet turned out slightly. Engaging your core and holding weights in front of your hips, palms facing forward, lower your bum, as far as you can go, into a squat. Make sure your knees don't extend past your toes. Send energy through your heels to return to standing, then bend your elbows to pull the weights toward your shoulders. Do 20 reps.
A. This load-bearing exercise not only builds bone density but also
increases strength and stability, preventing falls that put bones at risk.
B. This move will help tone your abdominals, biceps, inner thighs and glutes.
C. Strengthening these muscles will give your resting metabolism a boost, so you will burn more calories per day.
4. Plyometric lunge Standing with your feet together, step forward into a lunge with your left foot, bending both knees at 90 degrees. Your right heel should be lifted and your left knee shouldn't extend past your toes. As you step forward, swing your right arm forward and your left arm backward. Keeping your torso upright and engaging your abdominals, jump, simultaneously switching your arms and legs to land in a lunge on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. The impact of landing in a lunge can help build bone mass and
enhance joint stability. Take care, however, if you have existing joint problems—plyometric (explosive) exercises can contribute to joint strain.
B. The jumping motion requires you to lift your body weight with each rep, giving your heart a workout. This dynamic exercise adds a calorie-burning cardio element.
Tip: If you're having trouble keeping your balance during this fast-paced move, add a small pulse or bounce to each lunge before jumping into the next one.
5. Renegade row Holding a weight in each hand, start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your hips parallel to the floor, bend your left arm, lifting the weight toward your underarm. Return the weight to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. This move helps open up the chest and shoulders. Over time, it can contribute to improved posture and help protect against spine curvature.
B. This exercise will sculpt your shoulders, triceps, abdominals, obliques and upper back. It's easy to develop muscle imbalances because day-to-day activities often involve pushing movements. The pulling action of this exercise helps rebalance muscle groups, which can
decrease the risk of injury.
6. Cross-body mountain climber Start in a plank position, with your arms and legs extended, your feet hip-width apart and your hands directly below your shoulders. Without moving your arms, quickly draw your left knee toward your right elbow, then return your left leg to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this move regularly, you'll notice more definition of your triceps, abdominals, obliques and shoulder muscles.
B. This high-intensity movement will get your heart rate up, improving your cardiovascular fitness.Because this exercise demands energy from your whole body, you'll
burn extra calories.
7. Side plank with hip drop Lying on your right side, stack your left leg on top of your right leg, with your right forearm on the floor, your elbow aligned directly under your shoulder, and your left arm extended upward. Press into your right forearm and lift your right hip, creating a long diagonal line with your body. Slowly lower your right hip to tap the floor, then return to the lifted position. Do 10 reps before switching to the opposite side.
A. This exercise will help define your obliques, abdominals and
B. Strengthening one side of the body at a time can prevent muscle imbalances, while core strengthening aids in stabilization.
8. Russian twist Sit on the floor, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, holding a weight in front of your chest. Leaning back to engage your core, lift your feet a few inches. Then, with hips facing forward, rotate your upper body to the left and tap the weight on the floor. Next, rotate to the right, tapping the weight on the right side. Do 20 reps.
A. If you do this exercise regularly, you'll see increased definition of your abs, obliques and lower-back muscles.
B. This rotational movement strengthens the muscles necessary for twisting and turning—motions that often cause injury in
Tip: If you have lower-back problems, do this exercise without lifting your feet.