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Eat a Rainbow

Have you heard the phrase, “Eat a Rainbow”?  Think about red, green, yellow, orange, blue, purple, and even white. These natural colors present in fruits and vegetables supply us with powerful antioxidants and nutrients that help build immunity and reduce risk of many chronic diseases.

With summer approaching, it’s the perfect time to add color to your plate. Developing these healthy eating habits now will help you enjoy produce throughout the year. At the end of this rainbow, there is a pot of gold – your good health.

Benefits of Color

Red: Lycopene, Anthocyanins

Benefits: Heart health, memory function, urinary tract health, lower risk of cancer

Sources: Red apples, Beets, Red cabbage, Cherries, Cranberries, Red grapes, Red peppers, Pomegranates, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Watermelon

Yellow/Orange: Beta Carotene

Benefits: Vision health, lower blood pressure, lower risk of cancer

Sources: Apricots, Butternut squash, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Mangoes, Nectarines, Oranges, Papayas, Peaches, Yellow peppers, Pineapple, Pumpkin, Yellow summer or winter squash, Sweet corn, Sweet potatoes

Green: Chlorophyll, Lutein

Benefits: Vision health, strong bones and teeth, lower risk of cancer and birth defects.

Sources: Green apples, Artichokes, Asparagus, Green beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Green grapes, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, Peas, Green pepper, Spinach, Kale, Collard, Mustard & Turnip greens, Zucchini

Blue/Purple: Anthocyanins

Benefits: protect cells, reduce risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease, improve memory function, and promote healthy aging

Sources: Blackberries, Blueberries, Eggplant, Figs, Plums, Prunes, Purple grapes, Purple potatoes

White: Allicin, Anthoxanthins

Benefits: Lower cholesterol and blood pressure; reduce risk of cancer and heart disease

Sources: Bananas, Cauliflower, Garlic, Ginger, Jicama, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Turnips

Here’s a recipe to enjoy these colors:

Rainbow Ratatouille Pasta Salad


  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 8 oz. package button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (12 ounce) package whole wheat tricolor rotini
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Dressing: Combine 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil with 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.

Add ½  tsp. each of salt, pepper, dried basil & dried oregano.  Whisk well.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine zucchini, eggplant, onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic in a rectangle baking dish. Toss with olive oil. Spread in a single layer. Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
  3. Cook the pasta per package directions.
  4. In a bowl combine roasted vegetables, cooled pasta, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, pine nuts, and dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Useful resources:

  1. Color Your Plate with Salad
  2. 20 Ways To Enjoy More Fruits and Vegetables

Parul Kharod, MS, RD, LDN is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed. For more information or to make an appointment with a registered dietitian, call WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at (919) 350-2358.


Henry Winkler Comes to WakeMed with Open Arms

Henry Winkler Speaks at WakeMed

Henry Winkler spoke this week with WakeMed rehab patients, caregivers, and staff about his personal connection to upper limb spasticity and the Open Arms Campaign.

Best known for his role as “The Fonz” on the popular TV sitcom, “Happy Days”, Winkler took on the role of caregiver after his mother suffered a stroke. As a result of her stroke, his mother developed upper limb spasticity, a debilitating condition that affects one million Americans following a stroke. It also affects patients who have problems with their brain or spinal cord associated with cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.

The condition is often painful, said Dr. Patrick O’Brien, director of WakeMed Rehab Hospital. A lesion on the brain or spinal cord can cause muscles in the arm to contract, become tight and stiffen.

Treatment options include:

  • Physical and/or occupational therapy to help you stretch your affected limbs, improve your strength and mobility, and perform daily activities.
  • Botox injections were approved by the FDA to help treat the increased muscle stiffness in the elbow, wrist, and fingers that often develops in upper spasticity patients. It is not a substitute for the normal course of care.
  • Oral medications work through the body to reduce muscle stiffness and pain.
  • A catheter can deliver medication directly into the fluid-filled area around the spinal cord.
  • Surgery is only considered when upper limb spasticity goes untreated and results in contractures.

To see media coverage of Henry Winkler’s visit, go to WRAL, News 14, and the Raleigh Downtowner.

View event photos


Tick Season Arrives Early

Tick season in North Carolina arrived earlier this year due to the mild winter.

WakeMed Physician Michele Casey, MD, spoke to WTVD this week about the signs, symptoms, and treatment of tick bites and related illnesses.

Preventing tick-borne illnesses can be as simple as using insect repellent before you venture into wooded areas.

Check your body and your children, particularly in the groin area, after you have been out for long periods of time.

The Dos and Don’ts of removing a tick:

  • DO use fine-tipped tweezers.
  • DON’T use your fingers.
  • DO grab the tick at the part that is stuck in your skin.
  • DON’T grab the tick around its bloated belly.
  • DO gently pull the tick straight out until it lets go of your skin.
  • DON’T twist and turn the tick.
  • DO put the tick in a jar or ziplock bag and place it in the freezer for possible identification later.


WakeMed Dedicates the Raymond L. Champ Centers for Emergency Medicine

WakeMed Health & Hospitals dedicated this week its Raleigh Campus Level I Trauma Center and Emergency Departments as the Raymond L. Champ Centers for Emergency Medicine.  A special dedication ceremony was held in Champ’s honor on Thursday.

Champ served as WakeMed’s president and chief executive officer from 1983 to 2003. The county’s only trauma service and a freestanding Children’s Emergency Department, both located on Raleigh Campus, were two of the dedicated services established under Champ’s leadership.  Today, Raleigh Campus is home to Wake County’s only Level I Trauma Center, and the Raleigh Campus adult and Children’s Emergency Departments are collectively the busiest emergency departments in the state.

When Champ joined WakeMed in December 1983, it was a 576-bed hospital system with one full service acute care hospital. Under his leadership, WakeMed grew to a 752-bed multi-facility health care system with specialties in cardiology, orthopaedics, trauma, women’s and children’s services and neurosciences featuring a 68-bed physical rehabilitation hospital, a 114-bed full service community hospital in Cary, and smaller facilities in Fuquay-Varina and Zebulon.

Also during his tenure, WakeMed established the county’s only trauma service, the state’s first dedicated Children’s Emergency Department, North Carolina’s busiest heart center including a hotel for patients and their families, a pediatric intensive care unit, and an outpatient facility in northern Wake county that would become the location for the state’s first stand-alone emergency department.

Champ’s two decades of leadership laid the foundation for future innovations, including the addition of a Children’s Hospital, the advancement to a Level I Trauma Center, construction of three full-service, stand-alone emergency departments, as well as the addition of many inpatient beds, new services and outpatient facilities throughout the system.


Super 7 Spices and Herbs

When talking about antioxidants, chances are visions of dark chocolate, juicy strawberries and pomegranate juice pop into your head. What about cinnamon or oregano? Creating meals using spices and herbs is one of the best ways to add color, taste and aroma (and antioxidants!) to foods without adding salt or fat.

Antioxidants may help to reduce inflammation, reducing your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic disease. Here are seven herbs and spices that pack a powerful antioxidant punch.




Nutritional Highlights: Keep a shaker of cinnamon handy because this spice is not only versatile but contains the highest antioxidant levels of any spice. In addition to its potent antioxidant profile, early studies suggested that cinnamon might be effective for lowering blood sugar (glucose) levels in people with diabetes, although more research is needed.

How to use it: For those of you with a sweet tooth, use cinnamon for extra flavor and sweetness instead of added sugar. Jazz up plain cereal, yogurt and oatmeal with cinnamon, sprinkle on toast with peanut butter or almond butter, or even use in savory dishes with quinoa or couscous.


Nutritional Highlights: Derived from the flower buds of the evergreen clove tree, this spice is rich in polyphenols, which are plant-based compounds that have antioxidant properties.

Cloves are chock-full of antioxidants. Just ½ teaspoon of ground clove contains more antioxidants than ½ cup of blueberries.

How to use it: Ground clove is a flavorful addition to applesauce, stewed pears, and baked goods like sweet breads, muffins, and cookies. For a fragrant fall beverage, simmer 1 bottle (64 ounces) apple juice, 2 tablespoons honey, 4 Cinnamon Sticks, 1 teaspoon Whole Cloves and 1/2 lemon, sliced, in large saucepot for 30 minutes. Strain. Serve warm or chilled (recipe obtained from McCormick®).


Nutritional Highlights: Used commonly in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine, this flavorful herb contains the highest amount of antioxidants of 27 fresh culinary herbs. One teaspoon of dried oregano leaves provides as many antioxidants as ½ cup of strawberries or 3 ounces of almonds.

How to use it: Oregano goes far beyond spaghetti and pizza sauce. To flavor your eggs without the added fat, mix vegetables in with a dash of oregano instead of cheese. For an antioxidant boost, add oregano to your grilled cheese sandwich, casseroles and salad dressings.




Nutritional Highlights: Historically, ginger has been used to treat upset stomachs, the common cold and even motion sickness. Recently the focus has shifted to a compound in ginger called gingerol. Gingerol is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to sooth sore muscles after a hard work out. Ginger may also have cancer-fighting properties but more research is needed in this area.

How to use it: Add ¼ teaspoon ground ginger to vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Mix into fruit smoothies or add to fresh fruit like melons, peaches and pears. Add a hint to hot or cold tea or create Asian flare by adding to marinades and sautéed vegetables.


Nutritional Highlights: Turmeric gives curry powder its distinctive hue. Turmeric also contains a compound called curcumin. This bright-yellow compound is the focus of research for its potential to ward off diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

How to use it: Stir Turmeric into 1 tablespoon low fat plain or Greek style yogurt. Swirl mixture into a serving of lentil or split pea soup to add a color and flavor boost (recipe obtained from McCormick®). Add to any vegetable dish for added curry flavor.




Nutritional Highlights: Garlic enhances the flavor of everything from pasta sauce to bread, but can it prevent disease? Maybe. Research is focusing on garlic’s anticancer and cholesterol-lowering properties.

How to use it: sauté garlic and add to roasted vegetables and pasta sauce. Garlic used to flavor many foods, such as salad dressings, vinaigrettes, marinades, sauces, vegetables, meats, soups, and stews. Garlic powder can be substituted if necessary – 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder is equal to one medium fresh clove of common garlic.


Nutritional Highlights: Contains a powerful compound called capsaicin, whose antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help lower risk of some cancers (also found in red chili peppers and cayenne). Hint: the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin you’ll find. Capsaicin may also help you to eat fewer calories during a meal by signaling your body that you’re full.

How to use it: Sprinkle over grilled or roasted meat, fish and poultry. Instead of using the salt shaker spice up your popcorn by make your own seasoning: combine paprika, ground thyme and ground pepper and sprinkle on plain popcorn.

Need a Registered Dietitian?

For more information or to make an appointment with a registered dietitian, call WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Nutrition Services at 919-350-2358.

Amy Bowen, RD, LDN is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital.


Scully Needs Your Vote

Thanks and high paws to everyone who voted to help Scully advance in the 2012 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards.

Scully is currently in eighth place and needs your help to become a finalist.

Log on to and click here to vote for him in the service dog category. Voting ends on June 30. If he is the top vote-getter, Scully will walk the red carpet and be recognized at a star-studded awards show on October 2, 2012 when the winning Hero Dog will be announced.

Scully, a lab/golden retriever mix, was nominated by Canine Companions for Independence for his work helping patients who have recently suffered a stroke or brain injury. Along with his handler, Elizabeth Penny, Scully provides therapy by letting patients groom, walk or feed him and serves as “pure motivation”, especially for pediatric patients.

Created two years ago, the Hero Dog Awards celebrate the contributions of our four-legged friends who offer a comforting paw during times of need, protect our communities, and serve as first responders during emergencies.

The real winners are the patients of all ages Scully helps at Wake Med. Just recently, Scully helped a spinal cord injury patient and his 3-year-old daughter reconnect as she adjusted to the reality of his injury.  Scully has also helped patients improve their memory and word retrieval, their socialization skills, balance, and range of motions. Patients who have worked with Scully often experience more self-confidence and the motivation to participate in daily activities.


Spring Exercise-Related Injuries

As the temperatures rise, so does the impulse to get outside and exercise.

Dr. Curt Hanson of Wake Orthopaedics talks to WRAL about gradually increasing your intensity to prevent exercise-related injuries.  Any change in how or where you exercise should be done with caution.

The body can become accustomed to the controlled environment of the gym, and the differences present when exercising outdoors can cause injury.

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Springtime Allergies Can Trigger Asthma Attacks in Children

For children with allergies who also suffer from asthma, the spring season can be life-threatening. But with the right medications and proper medical monitoring, children can stay on playgrounds with their friends without inviting an asthma attack. Dr. Karen Chilton, a pediatric physician with Wake Faculty Physicians, discusses with WRAL what you can do to help your child manage springtime asthma.

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Is Sugar Toxic?

Recently sugar has been all over the news as it’s been linked with the growing obesity problem in the United States.

Earlier this month, Dr. Robert Lustig told CBS News’ “60 minutes” that sugar is addictive, toxic, and it’s killing us by increasing our risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, hypertension and cancer. The pediatric endocrinologist has even gone as far as to say that sugar should be regulated like cigarettes and alcohol.

Is sugar really toxic? Does this mean you should eliminate all sugar in your diet?  Not necessarily.

There are two kinds of sugar—naturally-occurring and added sugars.  Mother Nature provides us with many naturally-occurring sugars in our foods. For example, yogurt, milk, and fruit – all healthy foods- contain sugar. Lactose is the sugar in milk and yogurt; fructose is the sugar in fruit.

Added sugars are sweeteners that are added to food and beverages during the manufacturing process. Common sweeteners added to foods include fructose and high fructose corn syrup. Desserts, sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, energy and sports drinks, are the top sources of added sugar in most American diets.

Sugar may taste sweet but added sugars are not-so-sweet for your health. Added sugars add extra calories which may lead to weight gain. Weight gain increases your risk for many health conditions, including heart disease.  Additionally, if you’re eating foods with lots of added sugars, it’s likely you’re not eating nutrient-rich foods. For example, a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 25-35 grams of high fructose corn syrup but provides our bodies with no other nutrients. In comparison, one cup of blueberries contains about seven grams of natural fructose and also packs a powerful punch of fiber, antioxidants and important vitamins and minerals.

Recommendations on added sugar

The American Heart Association recommends that most women have no more than 100 calories per day from added sugar, which equals about 6 teaspoons (25 grams). For men, no more than 150 calories from added sugars or about 9 teaspoons (38 grams). That’s much less than you may think: 1 small candy bar, ½ cup of ice cream or frozen yogurt is equal to about 100-150 calories.

5 tips to cut back on added sugars:

  1. Learn the label lingo. Both kinds of sugar are included in “sugars” listed on the Nutrition Facts panel. To determine if a food has added sugar, check the ingredient list for these words:  brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, nectars (e.g., peach nectar, agave nectar) invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, syrup and table sugar.  Tip: If any of these words are near the top of the ingredient list, then the food contains a large amount of added sugar.
  2. Make fruit your dessert. To satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for fresh fruit for dessert instead of sugary indulgences. If you buy canned fruit, choose fruit packed in its own juice or water, instead of syrup.
  3. Buy plain yogurt instead of sweetened yogurt. Add fresh fruit to yogurt instead of buying sweetened yogurt, which can contain a lot of added sugar and unwanted calories.
  4. Sip smarter. Avoid non-diet sodas and sweetened drinks. Choose water, sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime, low-fat or fat-free milk, 100% fruit juice or unsweetened tea.
  5. Spice it up! Try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg to sweeten your food instead of sugar.

Amy Bowen RD, LDN is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital.


WakeMed Mother’s Milk Bank Needs Donations

Got milk? Save a life.

WakeMed Mother’s Milk Bank is in dire need of donations. It is one of only 10 operational milk banks in the U.S. and distributes more than 200,000 oz. of milk per year.

Mothers seek donor milk when they cannot nurse their babies. Premature babies in intensive care units often get top priority.

Milk banking in America is on the rise because of its many health benefits and the trust in the safety of donor milk. There has never been a documented disease or illness transmission through processed human milk.

Potential donors are screened – very similar to the way blood banks screen donors. View the four-step process to donate milk. Donors must be non-smokers and must not drink alcohol within 12 hours of pumping milk for the Milk Bank. There are also restrictions on the consumption of medications.

Donors are never paid.  However, the Mothers’ Milk Bank assumes all costs for blood testing and supplies containers to store milk.

Most donor mothers find they can begin pumping extra milk (typically four ounces each day) to donate once their own children are a few weeks old and are regularly gaining weight. Donors store the milk in their home freezer, then deliver the milk to our facility.

The Milk Banks asks out-of-town donors who overnight-express milk to send the product in batches of at least 200 to 300 ounce increments to help keep down shipping costs and ensure that the milk stays frozen.  Extensive shipping information.

Milk is transported to the WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank in a frozen state.  After it thaws, the milk is pooled and heat-treated to kill any bacteria or viruses.

The Milk Bank processes the product in 2-, 4-, or 8 oz. jars and refreezes it for storage.  It is dispensed only after a sample is cultured and shows no sign of bacterial growth.

The milk is then frozen and shipped overnight-express to hospitals and to recipients’ homes.

For more information on becoming a donor, please contact the WakeMed Mother’s Milk Bank at (919) 350-8599. You may also e-mail a program coordinator at

Sue Evans is a lactation specialist and executive director of WakeMed Mother’s Milk Bank.