Category Archives: Heart Health

Heart Health for Women

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in American women. Diet, lifestyle choices and a few other key factors play a big role in a wide range of heart conditions. Take care of your heart by choosing the right foods to promote overall health.

Fruits and Vegetables Matter

When it comes to loading your plate, fruits and vegetables are where it’s at. Not only are they low in calories and high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, they also can help keep blood pressure in check. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. What makes fruits and vegetables so good? They are packed with potassium, a mineral that has been shown to lower blood pressure in clinical studies.

For most adults, aiming for at least 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables daily, is a good way to make sure you’re meeting your potassium goals. Plus, research has shown that fruit and vegetable intake is associated with a reduced risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease..

Fat Matters for the Heart

The type of fat you eat also makes a difference. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan can contain up to 35 percent of total calories from fat. However, less than 10 percent should come from saturated fat.

A diet high in saturated fat may increase the risk for heart disease. Foods such as bacon, sausages, fatty meats, butter, ice cream and other full-fat dairy foods can be high in saturated fat.

Replacing sources of saturated fat with unsaturated fats has been shown to be beneficial in reducing “bad” cholesterol levels and may help lower the risk for heart disease. Foods such as olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds contain unsaturated fat.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a special type of unsaturated fat commonly found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring. They also are found in walnuts and flaxseed. Fish is a good source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), whereas nuts and seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Because these foods contain different types of omega-3 fatty acids, it is good to include a variety in the diet.

Slow and Steady Weight Loss for Heart Health

If your body mass index is considered to be overweight or obese, gradual weight loss offers the best results for overall health. Even a 5 to 10 percent loss in body weight can help reduce blood pressure and lead to other improvements in health. Regular physical activity also can be beneficial. Get at least 30 minutes of regular activity most days of the week. More moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity may be required for weight loss, so be sure to check with your physician before starting an exercise program.

Other Risk Factors

While you can change what you eat and whether you are physically active, there are some risk factors for heart disease you cannot change. These include:

  • Aging: The risk for heart disease increases with age.
  • Family History: Having a close blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, with heart disease increases your risk of having heart disease.
  • Race: Black women have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke than white women.
  • Previous Heart Attack: A history for past heart attacks increases the odds of having more in the future.

Source: Sarah Klemm, RD, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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What It Means To Live A Heart Healthy Life

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By Julia Lott, MS RD LD, Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  Fortunately, many of the factors that contribute to heart disease can be controlled, such as nutrition and exercise.  Furthermore, stress in your life can increase risk tremendously.    The only causes of heart disease that can’t be controlled are age, gender, and family history.

So what does it mean to live a heart healthy life?  When it comes to nutrition, it means consuming low fat, low sodium, and low sugar foods.  A simple way to consume low fat foods is by having a diet that consists of lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and non-fat or lower fat dairy items.  Additionally, consuming healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can contribute to improved heart health.  Foods that contain healthy fats are fish, avocados, and nuts.

One major cause of heart disease is consuming a high sodium diet.  According to the American Heart Association, approximately 77% of the sodium we consume is from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods.  One way to decrease sodium in your diet is by making most of your food at home.  Use as little salt as possible when cooking and preparing food, but do not have it on the table.  Or even better, season food with herbs, spices, onions, peppers, and garlic instead of salt.

There has been a lot of buzz around sugar and heart health.  According to a study by the Journal of the American Medicine Association Risk, death from heart disease is increased when consuming a sugar rich diet, regardless of age, BMI, sex, and physical activity level.  Participants who took in more than 25% of their calories from sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those that include less than 10% added sugar in their diet.  Many sources of added sugar come from sodas, pastries, ready to eat cereals, and alcoholic beverages.  Opting for sugar free soda, soda water, and fruit and vegetables without added sugar will help to decrease sugar intake.

Another way to improve heart health is to increase consumption of fiber rich foods.   Fiber can help lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels, as well as may reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.  There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.  Good sources of soluble fiber are beans, oats, peas, barley, fruits and avocados.   Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, and fruit and vegetables.  It is the rough matter found in the foods and it is not broken down by water and absorbed into the bloodstream.  Instead it adds bulk to waste in the digestive system; which helps regularity and prevent constipation.   Furthermore, according to a research study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, consuming more dietary fiber over a 9 year period lowered the risk of death from any cause.  People who ate a fiber rich diet had a 50 % reduction in in risk of death from heart disease, infectious disease and respiratory disease.

So what does all this really mean to you?  Your health is in your hands!  All the contributing causes that lead to heart disease can be controlled by being mindful and knowledgeable about your food and lifestyle choices.  If you haven’t already, take charge of your heart’s health and make a change to live a long heart healthy life!


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Heart Health And Diet

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. About 92 million people in the United States have some form of heart/cardiovascular disease — that’s about 29 percent of the population. Many of these deaths and risk factors are preventable, and food choices have a big impact on your heart’s health, even if you have other risk factors.

Only a few risk factors, such as age, gender and family history, cannot be controlled. You can prevent and control many risk factors of heart disease, such as high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure with lifestyle changes and medications.

Lifestyle Changes

A healthy lifestyle — following a healthy eating plan, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, quitting smoking and managing stress — can lower your risk for heart disease and may prevent current heart disease from worsening.

A Heart-Healthy Diet

To lower your risk of heart disease, follow these recommendations directly from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

  1. “Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.”
  2. “Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.”
  3. “Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.”
  4. “Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.”
  5. “Support healthy eating patterns for all.”

If you are at high risk for heart disease or already have heart disease, your first step should be to meet with a registered dietitian nutritionist. Together with your health-care provider, your RDN can help you lower your risk or improve your existing condition by developing a personalized eating and lifestyle plan.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Dietetics & Nutrition


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Incorporating Healthy Fats Into Your Diet

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Fat is a nutrient necessary for your health. While various fats in foods have different effects on health, some fats offer health-protective benefits. Consider including foods with these fats, in moderation, to your meals.

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that may help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health.

What to Eat

Fatty Fish: Current dietary recommendations are to include fish in your meals at least twice per week. Fish high in omega-3 fats are salmon, albacore tuna (fresh and canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel.

Walnuts: Walnuts are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3. Add walnuts to cereal, salads or muffins. Try walnut oil in salad dressings and sautés, too.

Oils: Replace solid fats such as butter or margarine with oils such as canola and soybean when cooking or baking. It works well for sautéing and stir-frying.

Flaxseed: Add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereal, yogurt, baked goods including breads and muffins or mixed dishes and casseroles. Or, drizzle flaxseed oil over quinoa or use it for salad dressing. (Your body cannot break down whole flaxseeds to access the omega-3-containing oil.)

Eggs: Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3s so their eggs will contain more as well. When buying eggs, check the package label.

Monounsaturated Fats

Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.

What to Eat

Nuts: In addition to heart-healthy fats, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Just keep portion control in mind. One portion of nuts is equal to 1 ounce or ⅓ cup and provides approximately 160 to 180 calories.

Oils: Use oils like olive oil in place of saturated fat, such as butter. Use it in salad dressing or to sauté vegetables, seafood, poultry and meat.

Avocado: Avocados not only contain monounsaturated fat, but they are also packed with folate, vitamins E, C and B6, potassium and fiber. Try adding avocado to salad, pizza, soup, salsa, eggs and sandwiches.

Peanut Butter: Nearly half the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat. Resist the urge to pour off the heart-healthy oil that’s separated out of natural peanut butter, and mix it in.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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The 10 Best Foods for Your Heart

food-712665_1920In a fast-paced world where convenience trumps (more time- and labor-intensive) healthy eating, the battle is on to protect your heart. The food choices you make can drastically affect your heart health, energy and appetite control. Keep your heart in tip-top shape with choices that are tasty, healthy and convenient for the entire family. From berries and nuts, to fish and leafy greens, find out which foods are best for your heart.

Watermelon
Satisfy your sweet tooth while chomping on a slice of watermelon, a low-calorie treat that is high in fiber and a great source of antioxidants, according to Dr. Sarah Samaan, cardiologist with Legacy Heart Center in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. “It’s a fabulous source of lycopene, which has been linked to a lower risk for heart disease and cancer,” Samaan says. “Watermelon also supplies citrulline, which may improve the health of our blood vessels and may even have benefits for people with erectile dysfunction and diabetes.” Watermelon is also a source of vitamins C and A, as well as potassium and magnesium.

Yogurt
For a sweet and savory treat that won’t clog your arteries, opt for a cup of yogurt, which will protect more than just your heart, says Dr. Andrea Paul, a physician and chief medical officer at Boardvitals.com, an online medical question bank. “Yogurt protects against gum disease, which can increase your risk of heart disease,” she says. In addition to reducing your risk of heart disease, according to Paul when you eat low-fat yogurt, you also absorb powerful antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and probiotics that are beneficial to your overall health, digestion and well-being. Top with fresh or frozen berries for a sweet and healthy treat during the day.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain a solid dose of heart-healthy vitamin C and like watermelon, are rich in lycopene. “Try making your own tomato sauce with canned or fresh tomatoes, and add oregano and chopped-up veggies for a gourmet, homemade pasta sauce with mega antioxidant power,” recommends Keri Glassman, New York-based nutritionist, television cooking host and author. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage, says Glassman.

Avocados
Avocados are full of healthy monounsaturated fats and are a source of potassium, a mineral also known for controlling blood pressure, according to Bridget Swinney, a Texas-based registered dietitian. “They are also a great source of vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids,” Swinney says. “Carotenoids have been associated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.” In addition to offering a beneficial dose of fiber, avocados have been shown to help the body absorb other antioxidants when eaten with veggies such as spinach and carrots, she says.

Berries
Packed full of antioxidants, berries are a great snack choice to keep your heart healthy. Berries increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol while lowering your blood pressure. In addition, the low-calorie, fat-free fruit (in any form: fresh, frozen, dried or cooked) contains nutrients that promote bone growth and the conversion of fat to energy. “These little cancer fighters combat oxidation and inflammation and should be eaten daily,” Frey says. As if that’s not enough, the hardworking fruit possess polyphenols, which have been shown to increase levels of nitric oxide, a molecule that causes blood vessels to relax.

Collard Greens
Low in calories and packing a hefty nutritional punch, collard greens contain vitamins K, A and C, as well as folate, manganese, calcium and fiber and much more. These important nutrients allow your blood to clot normally, help prevent calcification of your arteries and even protect your bones from fracture. “Collards have even been found to bind bile acids in the digestive tract, which lowers the body’s cholesterol,” says Rea Frey, Chicago-based nutrition specialist and International Sports Sciences Association certified trainer. “Collard greens also increase cardiovascular health due to their anti-inflammatory properties.”

Beans
Just a half-cup of beans a day will keep your heart in optimal shape, according to Georgia-based nutritionist Dr. Keith Kantor. “Soluble fiber is a key reason why beans are beneficial to your heart,” Kantor says. “The fiber binds to cholesterol and keeps it from being absorbed in the gut and building up to unhealthy levels.” Add some black, kidney, lima, navy, pinto or white beans to your next meal for that extra dose of soluble fiber, in addition to folate, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and B-complex vitamins — all essential nutrients to keep your heart healthy.

Walnuts
As a convenient snack in a bag or on top of a salad, walnuts boost your heart functions with healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidants. “Eating two ounces a day has been shown to improve blood vessel function among people with diabetes and also protect people from heart disease who are at risk for it,” says Bridget Swinney, a Texas-based registered dietitian and the author. Swinney points out that a handful of nuts has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels and help satisfy hunger.

Quinoa
This Peruvian wonder pseudo-grain (it’s actually a seed) is an incredible nutritional multitasker, according to Texas-based cardiologist Samaan. “It’s a fabulous source of vegetable protein,” Samaan says, “which is better for heart health, kidney health and blood pressure than protein from red meat.” In addition, she points out that quinoa contains almost twice the amount of fiber as other grains. Full of antioxidants and a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat — the same type of fat found in olive oil and avocados — quinoa is a much-needed source of fiber and is gluten-free. “What’s more,” Samaan notes, “quinoa is easy to cook, very versatile and really delicious.”

Salmon
When you serve salmon as your main entrée you’ll keep your blood pumping and your heart in prime shape. Studies show consuming fish regularly each week is associated with a 30 percent lower risk of developing coronary heart disease over the long term, notes Georgia nutritionist Kantor. “Cold water fish, such as salmon, contain omega-3 fats, lower levels of harmful lipid levels,” Kantor says. “Omega-3s also lower blood pressure slightly and can help prevent irregular heart rhythms, while also reducing inflammation throughout the body.” Serve your salmon with a side of collard greens and you have a scrumptious, heart-friendly meal.

Source: Shannon Philpott, Livestrong.com


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Healthy ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day

photo-3In celebration of February’s American Heart Month, enjoy Valentine’s Day with your loved one with heart-healthy foods that say, “I love you.” The heart symbol that represents this holiday can serve as a reminder of how important it is to keep ourselves and our families protected against the No. 1 killer in America: heart disease.

The purpose of American Heart Month is to promote awareness about heart disease and stroke. Now that January is behind us, some of the motivation to recommit to a healthy lifestyle in the New Year may be dwindling.

Here are easy ways to use Valentine’s Day as a catalyst to reinvigorate your plan for balanced eating and activity with heart health in mind.

Dinner at Home

This year, choose to steer away from the overpriced restaurant fixed course Valentine’s Day menus and prepare a delicious meal at home. One of the benefits of cooking at home is you can control both the ingredients and the portion sizes, keeping calories and sodium in check.

Use unique and fun ingredients to make the meal special. Try out a new recipe to impress your partner and elevate the meal above a typical weeknight dinner. Be sure to include a lean protein and lots of veggies.

Not only is the color red symbolic of love, but when it comes to food, it also represents a host of beneficial nutritional properties. For example, red bell peppers, red onions, tomatoes, radicchio and strawberries, in addition to other fruits and vegetables, contain powerful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber that help protect the cardiovascular system and keeps cells healthy.

Related: No Time To Cook? Highlights from Our Winter Menu

Minimize Salt

Although most of us take in about 3,400 mg of sodium daily, the recommended safe limit is 2,300 mg. People with certain health problems, like high blood pressure, should limit sodium further to 1,500 mg daily. Eating freshly prepared homemade meals and limiting processed foods and salty snacks can help reduce salt intake. To cut salt, but not taste, use flavorful ingredients like lemon, garlic, herbs, spices, pepper, mustard and onion as a substitute.

Creative Gifts

Flowers and chocolate might be traditional Valentine’s Day gifts, and while they are a nice gesture, there are other sweet ways to show you care. A gift that involves doing something engaging together like taking a cooking class or pottery class can be both unexpected and allow for intimate quality time together, creating lasting memories. A piece of art or a framed black and white photograph makes for a sentimental, non-edible gift for those trying to avoid sweets. If chocolate is a must for this special day, opt for dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa for the natural antioxidants and flavonoids found in the cocoa bean. Choose products that contain fewer added sugars and fats and have not undergone Dutch processing, which decreases the healthy properties of the cocoa.

Physical Activity

Staying active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and disease prevention. Including loved ones in your exercise routine can make it that much more enjoyable. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity weekly.

For example, make a date to walk together for about 30 minutes before heading out for the day or in the evening after dinner. Healthy habits that you make a part of your lifestyle are more likely to stick and give you long-lasting results.

Even if you don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day or are happily single, these strategies can be shared with friends, family and colleagues to promote heart health and reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.

Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune


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What You Need To Know About Sodium

12695040_10153909752592458_8946514912255381770_oIn celebration of American Heart Month, we’d like to discuss sodium, which has been a hot topic in the health community for quite some time now. The average intake of sodium in the United States is 3,400 mg a day, which is way more than the body needs to function properly. Three major functions of sodium are to help maintain the right balance of fluids in your body, to aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, and to balance the contraction and relaxation of muscles. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day.

As many of us already know, there can be serious consequences to consuming too much sodium in your diet. Increased sodium intake causes water retention leading to increased blood pressure, which could lead to heart disease, kidney disease and congestive heart failure. Therefore, it’s important to keep your sodium consumption under control. It’s vital that as a consumer you become knowledgeable about which foods are typically high in sodium. Many processed foods, such as cured or smoked meats, have a high sodium content. Additionally, packaged food like olives, anchovies, and pickles are high as well. You also have to watch out for added salt in dressings and sauces and snack foods like chips and crackers.

There are a few important ways to help to decrease your sodium intake. First, don’t use the salt shaker, try to use herbs and spices to flavor your food. One teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium! When eating fruits and vegetables choose fresh, frozen, or canned without added salt. When grocery shopping, look for items that say low sodium or no salt added. Lastly, always read the Nutrition Facts label carefully for the sodium amount per serving.


 

Fresh ‘n Fit Cuisine knows how important it is to be health conscious. Our menus will help you reach your health goals, including keeping your sodium intake under control. Our menus have a sodium level of less than 1,500 mg. Try us today and save 10% off your first order with promo code BLOG10.

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