Chefs Fight for Your Heart, Personalized Medicine, Kids’ Blood Pressure: Delaware

Heart-y Meals

I admit it. I have never watched those reality shows—especially the competitive cooking shows. From the iron chefs to the cupcake wars, I somehow never got into them. They look intense. People cry … over cupcakes.

Anyway, I think I found a cooking competition that I will watch and this one is a local production. It’s a healthy, heart-smart cooking competition and I can even taste the food. Maybe that’s why I have not watched the shows—it’s too hard to watch those perfectly good cupcakes go to waste just because they “were not innovative.”

For this American Heart Association sponsored event called “Chefs Fight for Your Heart,” on Nov. 3, three top local chefs will compete and be judged by a cardiologist, a fitness instructor, a nutritionist, a coach, a local celebrity, a celebrity chef, an aspiring chef and me. I mean, the audience gets to help choose the “Chefs Fight for Your Heart” winner.

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The celebrity chefs are:

  • Executive chef David Leo Banks from Harry’s Hospitality Group in Wilmington
  • Executive chef Kevin Reading from Abbott’s Grill in Milford
  • Executive chef Hari Cameron of a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth Beach

This competition is especially appealing to me because it won’t feel like health education.  We have all seen and perhaps read the articles about diet and heart health, but how many of us have actually made changes?

For most people, heart-related dietary changes only happen when an event has occurred to propel someone to take better care of their health. The creator of this event, chef Ludovic Bezy, lost his brother at a young age to a heart attack. This life-changing event has inspired Bezy to prepare heart-healthy meals and inspire those around him to do the same through cooking classes and programs. These types of health education programs are effective because they focus on being proactive instead of reactive.

For healthier eating habits, the American Heart Association recommends:

  • Increasing fruits and vegetables
  • Eat unrefined fiber-rich whole-grain foods
  • Eat fish at least twice a week
  • Cut back on saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and added sugars

It will be wild to watch amazing chefs integrate these recommendations into great-tasting recipes that I actually get to eat. No tears here. This reality show of mine will be delicious.

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The Personal Touch

Today, phrases such as “personalized medicine,” “clinical trials,” and “patient navigation” get thrown around in both the media and health care marketing. It can be difficult for consumers to keep up. So I thought I would explore the definition and benefits of personalized medicine because it’s a medical model for the future and I have always been a huge fan of “The Jetsons.”

So what is it? Is personalized medicine all that “personal care, private room” stuff you see in ads for hospitals? Does it have something to with stem cells? I spoke with Kathy Dunn, formerly president of KFDunn & Associates Inc., a life sciences marketing communications company, and asked her to help me understand what it’s all about. It turns out personalized medicine is very personal. It means your medical treatment is based on your genetics.

“Personalized medicine means that you can be given a particular treatment that is most likely to be effective for you based on your genetic profile,” Dunn says. “This will have a positive impact on the way drugs are developed and the way they are prescribed for you. It marks the end of the philosophy that all drugs are effective in all patients.”

For years, scientists have been researching how genetic defects lead to diseases—which has been the case with the abnormalities found in hemophilia, fragile X syndrome, and sickle cell anemia. But if you or someone you care about has cancer, you may be more familiar with how cancer treatment has been leading the way with this approach.

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“One example of its current use is in breast cancer,” Dunn says. “The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been studied in breast cancer patients. If the patient has inherited a mutation of either of these genes, the risk for developing breast cancer is increased. Typically these patients have a family history of breast cancer because of heredity.”

Since it’s clearly all in the genes, this makes access to your personal health records more important than ever. So if you choose a hospital that does practice personalized medicine and offers genetic counseling, the staff will ask you to provide as much information as possible. The more they can know, the more they can help.

To make it easier for all of us, hospitals are implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) system that provides all physicians within the system access to your specific personal and family health histories. This is a fabulous Jetson-like feature, as far as I am concerned.

Personalized medicine may not mean chocolate on the pillow during your hospital stay, but it does mean that your genes could save your life. Sounds pretty personal to me.


Don’t Take This with a Grain of Salt

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that children are showing up at the doctor’s office with high blood pressure. The reason? Too much salt in their daily diet.

According to the study, published in the medical journal Pediatrics, the average intake of sodium for children in the study (3,400 mg) was more than double what the American Heart Association has set as a goal for adults.

OK, so this is scary. The alarming thing about salt is that it’s hidden in our food. It’s not just about how much we sprinkle it over what we eat. It’s the sodium levels in what we are buying at the store or when dining out.

According to pediatrician Bethany Kutz, physicians are not surprised by this report.

“There is more sodium in processed foods than in what you would generally add at the table,” Kutz says, “so it is no surprise that children who have a diet with lots of processed foods, fast foods and white breads and grains will consume more sodium.”

I looked at what I have been packing in my son’s lunchbox. Those ready-made snack bags that make things more convenient will surely cause more of a problem in the long run. I asked Kutz what parents should be packing instead.

“We encourage lots of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean meats,” she says.

I put together a new shopping list. Here are some of the low-sodium snack options that will be making an appearance in my son’s lunchbox:

  • Fruits
  • Yogurt and milk
  • Vegetables with low-sodium dips, like low-sodium peanut butter or low-sodium salad dressing
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Low-sodium trail mix with unsalted nuts, unsalted pretzels, unsalted air-popped popcorn and raisins.
  • Small whole-wheat bagels with one tablespoon of cream cheese or low-sodium peanut butter.

I always assumed I would be the one to have high blood pressure before my child. It’s comforting to know that both of us may not have to have it at all.

Health Events

Saturday, Oct. 20
Walk to End Alzheimer’s
Location Wilmington Riverfront
Time  8 a.m.
More info., (800) 272-3900


Saturday, Oct. 20
Intro to Disc Golf
Location  Brandywine Creek State Park, 47 Adams Dam Road, Wilmington
Time  10 a.m. ($3 per person)
More info.  655-5740


Saturday, Oct. 20
Fall Color Hike
Location  Brandywine Creek State Park, 47 Adams Dam Road, Wilmington
Time  2 p.m. ($2 per person)
More info.  655-5740


Saturday, Oct. 27
ATI Foundation Celebration Extravaganza 5K
Location  Frawley Stadium, Wilmington Riverfront
Time  10:30 a.m. (registration begins at 9:30 a.m.)
More info., 654-6400


Saturday, Oct. 27
Halloween Hoopla 5K Run Walk (Benefits Kind to Kids Foundation’s services for Delaware foster children and children in poverty)
Location  Dravo Plaza, Wilmington Riverfront
Time  4 p.m.
More info.;


Sunday, Oct. 28
The Mental Health Association in Delaware’s E-Racing the Blues 5K
Location  Dravo Plaza, Wilmington Riverfront
Time  9:45 a.m. (run); 9:55 a.m. (recreational run)
More info.


Saturday, Nov. 3
Downtown Fall Fitness Fest
Location  Rodney Square, Wilmington
Time  Noon-3 p.m.
More info.


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