Category Archives: Heart Health

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


At Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine, we believe a nutritionally balanced diet along with regular exercise is key to living a healthy life. Our chefs are determined to prepare you food that is nutrient rich as well as a good source of healthy fats.

Try one of our 5 gourmet menus today or try a few individual meals with our a la carte option today and get $20 off your first order of $50 or more with promo code MARBLOG20 at checkout.

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


At Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine, our Healthy Mix and Vegetarian menus strictly adhere to the guidelines of the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Prepared by our chefs and approved by our Registered Dietitian, our calorie and portion controlled meals are perfect to combat overeating during the holiday season.

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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


At Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine, our portion and calorie controlled meals go hand in hand with an active lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for meatless alternatives with our Vegetarian menu, or gluten and dairy free meals from our Paleo menu, we have something for everyone with over 300 meals to choose from. Try our Custom option and you can even create a pescatarian or Whole30® menu.

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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.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!!!

Blueberry Chia Pudding

Blueberry Chia Pudding

If you’re old enough, you might remember the Chia Pets commercials from the 80’s, where small clay figures in the shape of various animals grew Chia sprouts to resemble their fur. They were a huge hit and sold hundreds of thousands annually. For those still not familiar with Chia seeds, we’ll break down why you should start incorporating this tiny superfood into your diet.

Because the seeds have no taste, they can be added to pretty much anything. By sprinkling them onto cereal, yogurt, oatmeal or a salad, you can enhance your nutritional intake of calcium, phosphorus, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies have shown that the seeds can help lower blood pressure and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. When exposed to liquid, the seeds develop a gelatinous coating which may help with blood sugar spikes. Because the seeds can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water, they can help make you feel more full which could lead to possible weight loss. Chia seeds also contain tryptophan, an amino acid most associated with wanting to take a nap after a big meal, which helps regulate appetite and sleep. The seeds come in 2 colors, black and white with the darker variety having more antioxidants.

Nutritional Breakdown

1 ounce of chia contains:
Omega-3 fatty acids: 4-5 grams – important for heart health and improving cholesterol
Fiber: 11 grams (1/3 of the RDA) – important for digestive health
Protein: 4 grams – 10% of the RDA
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s)
Calcium: 18% of the RDA – important for maintaining bone and dental health
Manganese: 30% of the RDA – important for bone heal and nutrient absorption
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA – important for maintaining bone and dental health
It also contains Zinc, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3, antioxidants, and fiber.

How do you incorporate chia seeds in your diet? Let us know your suggestions by adding them in the comments section.


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Potassium: Finding a balance

Southeast Family Farms' Stuffed Pork Loin

Southeast Family Farms’ Swiss chard-stuffed Pork Loin with Butternut Squash puree

Like most things in life, too much or too little of anything can be dangerous. In this country, it’s very common for many of our diets to be high in sodium and low in potassium. Both of those need to be well balanced in order for you to be healthy.

So what exactly is potassium and what does it do?

Potassium is a mineral that protects blood vessel walls from thickening and oxidative damage. It plays a role with muscle movement, daily nerve function, and the kidney’s ability to filter blood. Most importantly, it helps with the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout your body.

Various levels of potassium can be found in all fruits, vegetables, meat and fish. A lot of foods that are processed contain no potassium. Diets low in potassium can lead to hypertension and hypokalemia, which is a condition that can cause muscle weakness, myalgia, tremors, constipation and muscle cramps. Diets that are high in potassium can reduce the risk of hypertension, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

The USDA recommends 4,700mg of potassium per day for most healthy people. Too much potassium can be dangerous, so if possible, make sure to incorporate the following foods into your diet, as opposed to taking a supplement.

Foods high in potassium:

  • Apricots (both fresh & dried)
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Coconut Water
  • Edamame
  • Meaty fish like Halibut or Tuna
  • Milk
  • Molasses
  • Nuts (especially Almonds & Pistachios)
  • Oranges/Orange Juice
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Prunes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes/Tomato Sauce
  • White Beans
  • Winter Squash
  • Yam
  • Yogurt

At Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine, we recognize the importance of having a nutritionally balanced diet. Our chef prepared meals have many of foods that are high in potassium, such as our Swiss Chard-stuffed Pork Loin with Butternut Squash puree or our Sriracha Cod served with a Parsnip Carrot mash (both of which are on our Paleo menu).

Our special Fall offer ends on October 8, so if you haven’t ordered from us in the past 30 days, use promo code BLOG15 to SAVE 15% OFF on all new orders. Not valid with other offers or at distributor locations.

It’s Time To Go Nuts With Your Diet

Steel cut oatmeal with apples & walnuts

Steel cut oatmeal with apples & walnuts

There are many benefits of incorporating nuts into your diet. Even a small handful of these nutritious snacks can provide you with a substantial amount of protein, fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals. Tree Nuts, which include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts, have been linked to better weight control, heart health and lower cholesterol.

Nuts offer a variety of nutrients especially when compared to other snacks that are high in fat. Similar to olive oil, the fat in nuts is primarily unsaturated (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats.

Despite providing a variety of nutrients, nuts are high in calories, so it’s good to get in the habit of substituting them for less healthy foods or animal-based proteins, rather than adding them into your diet. For example, use them as salad toppers in place of croutons or bacon bits. The majority of calories in all nuts comes from their fat content but they contain no trans fat or cholesterol. Along with the fact that they are high in protein, nuts are very satiating.

Incorporating nuts into your diet can lower your bad cholesterol level (Low-density lipoprotein or LDL). Having a high LDL count is one of the primary causes of heart disease. All nuts contain fiber, which aids in lowering your cholesterol as well. Another option is nut oils, which are a good source of omega-3s and vitamin E, but do not provide any of the fiber found in whole nuts.

The lowest calorie nuts are almonds, cashews and pistachios  –  around 160 calories per ounce. Almonds have more calcium and antioxidants, like Vitamin E, than any other nut and are rich in fiber. Cashews are high in iron, zinc and magnesium. Nuts like macadamias and pecans have the lowest amount of protein but the highest amount of fats.

Brazil nuts have a good amount of selenium, which studies have shown may protect against prostate cancer. On the flip side, studies have shown that too much selenium can be harmful and may be linked to type 2 diabetes. One Brazil nut contains more than 100 percent of your RDA, so eat sparingly.

Suggested uses

  • Make a bag of trail mix with mixed nuts and dried fruits.
  • Use ground nuts instead of breading for fish.
  • Sprinkle chopped nuts over yogurt, cereal or oatmeal.
  • Spread nut butters on apples or bananas or on whole-grain toast.

Serving info:

Walnuts: 14 halves = 185 calories, 18 grams fat

Almonds: 23 nuts = 170 calories, 15 grams fat

Cashews: 18 nuts = 165 calories, 13 grams fat

Pecans: 18 halves = 200 calories, 21 grams fat

Brazil nuts: 5 to 6 nuts, 185 calories, 18 grams fat

Macadamia nuts: 10 nuts = 200 calories, 22 grams fat

Pistachios: 50 nuts = 160 calories, 14 grams fat

Hazelnuts: 21 nuts = 180 calories, 17 grams fat

At Fresh ‘N Fit, we recognize the healthy benefits of nuts and have incorporated them into many of our dishes like our blueberry almond muffins, our turkey meatballs with sliced almonds and sesame squash, or our macadamia crusted duck breast, all which can be found in our Paleo menu. Our new Fall menu includes a delicious paleo breakfast bar made with cashews and almonds, as well as Bourbon glazed turkey with a pecan sweet potato soufflé.

How do you incorporate nuts into your diet? Share them in the comments section!

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