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Jo-Anne M. Rizzotto, M.Ed, R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E.

Jo-Anne Rizzotto, MEd, RDN, LDN, CDCES, is Director of Educational Services at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. She is a registered dietitian and a certified diabetes educator with over 25 years of clinical, research, management and industry experience and is a key member of the clinic leadership team. Jo-Anne is co-chair and an active member of the National Certification Board of Diabetes Educators Exam Board. Jo-Anne has a proven track record of managing many facets of quality assurance and improvement with documented outcomes including advancing the use of technologies in the clinic for the management of diabetes. Jo-Anne establishes, directs and manages all aspects of diabetes education programs including overall direction, content, design, delivery, budgeting and staff management. She ensures all programs and staff delivering education meet the highest quality standards and do so with the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness. Jo-Anne participates in and has been the co-principle investigator in numerous clinical research studies. Jo-Anne chairs and participates in a variety of high level selection committees, clinical guideline committees, publication review committees and academic promotion committees. She also chairs the quality committee with the General Counsel at the Joslin in addition to the Clinic policy and procedure committee.

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Is it true that drinking tea can cut your risk of heart disease? Are there other foods I should eat to protect my heart?


Indeed. Research has shown that drinking more than two cups of tea daily may reduce your risk for heart disease. Participants (men and women who had suffered a heart attack) in the Determinants of Myocardial Infarction Onset (MIO) Study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, who drank more than 14 cups of caffeinated tea per week were less likely to die during four years following their cardiac event than the other study participants who drank less tea. Investigators suspect that the heart healthy components of tea are substances called flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants, which are disease-fighting molecules found naturally in plant-based foods. Investigators believe antioxidants help prevent disease by fighting free radicals, substances that can attack and damage the body's cells and tissues. Free radicals are formed by normal bodily processes as well as by environmental contaminants like cigarette smoke. Antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage. A diet rich in antioxidants (including flavonoids, vitamins E and C, and beta-carotene) may not only reduce the risk of heart disease, but it may also reduce the risk of some cancers, stroke and cataracts. Good food sources of antioxidants include dark orange, red and green vegetables and fruits; beans; nuts; seeds and whole grains.

A note regarding dietary guidelines:
With a greater understanding of the relationship between diet and health, nutrition and medical experts crafted the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are evidenced-based guidelines to help improve health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. These guidelines should serve as the basis for heart-healthy eating and meal planning. The guidelines emphasize reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity -- calories in should not exceed calories out (calories burned).

A few of the heart-healthy recommendations include:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Eat more whole grains and fewer processed carbohydrates like cookies and candy
  • Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products
  • Choose poly- and mono-unsaturated fats whenever possible (found in fish, nuts, and vegetable oils), and avoid saturated and trans fats (found in many store-bought baked goods, fried foods and some margarines).
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