Category Archives: Heart Health

It’s National Women’s Health Week

With all that has been going on around the country and world, it’s easy to overlook that May is women’s health month and that this week is National Women’s Health Week.

A balanced eating pattern is a cornerstone of health. Women, like men, should enjoy a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, low-fat or fat-free dairy and lean protein. But women also have special nutrient needs, and, during each stage of a woman’s life, these needs change.

Eating Right

Nutrient-rich foods provide energy for women’s busy lives and help to reduce the risk of disease. A healthy eating plan regularly includes:

  • At least three ounce-equivalents of whole grains such as whole-grain bread, whole-wheat cereal flakes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or oats.
  • Three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products including milk, yogurt or cheese; or calcium-fortified soymilk. (Non-dairy sources of calcium for people who do not consume dairy products include calcium-fortified foods and beverages, canned fish and some leafy greens.)
  • Five to 5-and-a-half ounce-equivalents of protein foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts and seeds.
  • One-and-a-half to two cups of fruits — fresh, frozen, canned or dried without added sugars.
  • Two to two-and-a-half cups of colorful vegetables — fresh, frozen or canned without added salt

Iron-rich Foods

Iron is important to good health, but the amount needed is different depending on a woman’s stage of life. For example, iron needs are higher during pregnancy and lower after reaching menopause. Foods that provide iron include red meat, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, kale, spinach, beans, lentils and some fortified ready-to-eat cereals. Plant-based sources of iron are more easily absorbed by your body when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods. To get both these nutrients at the same meal, try fortified cereal with strawberries on top, spinach salad with mandarin orange slices or add tomatoes to lentil soup.

Folate (and Folic Acid) During the Reproductive Years

When women reach childbearing age folate (or folic acid) plays an important role in decreasing the risk of birth defects. The requirement for women who are not pregnant is 400 micrograms (mcg) per day. Including adequate amounts of foods that naturally contain folate, such as oranges, leafy green vegetables, beans and peas, will help increase your intake of this B vitamin. There also are many foods that are fortified with folic acid, such as breakfast cereals, some rice and breads. Eating a variety of foods is recommended to help meet nutrient needs, but a dietary supplement with folic acid also may be necessary. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, since their daily need for folate is higher, 600 mcg and 500 mcg per day, respectively. Be sure to check with your physician or a registered dietitian nutritionist before starting any new supplements.

Daily Calcium and Vitamin D Requirements

For healthy bones and teeth, women need to eat a variety of calcium-rich foods every day. Calcium keeps bones strong and helps to reduce the risk for osteoporosis, a bone disease in which the bones become weak and break easily. Some calcium-rich foods include low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, sardines, tofu (if made with calcium sulfate) and calcium-fortified foods and beverages, such as plant-based milk alternatives, juices and cereals. Adequate amounts of vitamin D also are important, and the need for both calcium and vitamin D increases as women get older. Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon, eggs and fortified foods and beverages, like milk, as well as some plant-based milk alternatives, yogurts and juices.

Guidelines on Added Sugars, Saturated Fats and Alcohol

Women should be mindful of sources of added sugars, saturated fat and alcohol.

  • The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugars to less than 10 percent of daily calories. Limit added sugars including, sugar sweetened beverages, candy, cookies, pastries and other desserts.
  • If you choose to drink and are of legal age, limit alcohol intake to one drink per day. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Women who are pregnant should avoid consuming alcohol altogether.
  • Focus on sources of unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, in place of foods high in saturated fat. Opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean proteins instead of their full-fat counterparts.

Balancing Calories with Activity

Since women typically have less muscle, more body fat and are smaller than men, they need fewer calories to maintain a healthy body weight and activity level. Women who are more physically active may require more calories.

Physical activity is an important part of a woman’s health. Regular physical activity helps with muscle strength, balance, flexibility and stress management.

Source: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN, The Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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4 Things Every Man Should Know About Their Heart Health

Blog Header 02_19_19 Copy 5Good nutrition and lifestyle play big roles in keeping your heart healthy. You can decrease your risk of heart disease by making smart food choices. Fill up on fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils. Choose plant-based fats, such as avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil, instead of animal-based fats such as butter. Read on to learn more about how to protect your heart for life.

Fruits and Vegetables Matter

Eat less fatty meats and more plant-based foods, such as vegetables and legumes. Not only are fruits and vegetables low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants, they can help keep blood pressure in check. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. What makes fruits and veggies so good? They are packed with potassium, a mineral that has been shown to lower blood pressure in clinical studies.

Aim for 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day for good blood pressure. That’s at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables daily. The best picks are tomatoes, leafy greens, potatoes, bananas and squash.

Fat Matters for the Heart

The amount and type of fat you eat makes a difference. Research shows eating too much saturated fat is not good for the heart. Foods such as bacon, red meat, butter and ice cream contain saturated fat. You also should avoid trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils. These fats can clog arteries and raise cholesterol levels. Trans fats are found in commercial baked goods and fried foods.

Unsaturated fat has been found to be beneficial for overall cardiovascular health. Foods including olive oil, canola oil, avocados, walnuts and almonds contain unsaturated fat, and help cholesterol levels by raising “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Omega-3 fatty-acids, a type of unsaturated fat, have been found to be helpful in preventing sudden death from heart attacks. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring, contain two types of omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The recommended intake for omega-3 fatty acids is 500 milligrams per day. That’s about two 6-ounce servings of fatty fish per week.

Another type of omega-3 fat, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) provides cardiac benefits. Flaxseeds and walnuts contain ALA. Eat 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed or 1 ounce (about a handful) of walnuts each day for heart health.

Exercise Does the Heart Good

Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of regular, aerobic exercise most days of the week. Simple activities make a difference. This includes walking, jogging, biking and dancing. Participate in strength training, such as weightlifting, at least two to three times per week. Remember to incorporate balance and flexibility exercises, too.

Prioritize Stress Management

Even if you eat right and exercise regularly, poorly managed stress can wreak havoc on your health. Getting enough sleep, practicing relaxation techniques and nurturing relationships are healthy habits that can help protect you from the harmful effects of stress.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics


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Heart Health Month: Identifying The Risk Factors Of Heart Disease

By: Julia Lott, MS, RD, LD Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine
February is heart health month so over the next few weeks we’ll be giving you helpful suggestions and information on how to live a heart healthy lifestyle. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. There are numerous conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease. Many of these conditions are controllable and can greatly reduce the possibility of heart disease.

Diabetes

Uncontrolled diabetes can cause a build up of sugar in the blood. Also, with a buildup of glucose in the body, blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart and blood vessels can be damaged. People with diabetes tend to develop heart disease at a younger age than those without diabetes. 

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease.  It occurs when the pressure in the blood vessels and arteries is too high.  When high blood pressure is not controlled, it not only affects the heart, but it can also damage other major organs of the body, such as the kidneys and brain. 

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol can build up on the walls of the arteries and those of the heart.  As a result, plaque build up and atherosclerosis can occur.  This causes decrease blood flow to the heart and other parts of the body.

Physical Inactivity

Not getting enough exercise or physical activity can lead to heart disease.  Physical activity reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, and reduces likelihood of developing chronic diseases.  Try to exercise at least 30 minutes every day.

Many forms of heart disease are preventable with healthy lifestyle choices.  In addition to receiving various benefits from regular physical activity, eating the right foods can help prevent heart disease. 

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Shake The Habit: How To Lower Your Sodium Intake

By: Julia Lott, MS, RD, LD Fresh ‘N Fit Cuisine
The average person eats more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day. However, the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends having 2,300 mg a day.  According to the American Heart Association, 70% of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods, not from table salt.  Excess sodium intake could lead to serious medication condition such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. Here are a few simple ways to low your sodium intake:

Read the Label

Packaged foods can be loaded with sodium; even foods that you would least expect to have it. Surprisingly, breakfast cereal can be loaded with sodium.  Also, look for “no salt added” labels. This means that no salt was added during processing.

Spice It Up

Who says low sodium food has to taste bland? Instead of using salt when you prepare meals, try experimenting with herbs and spices to flavor your food.  Who knows you may discover a spice that you’ve never tried before and like it.  There’s a plethora of herbs a spices to choose. A few of my favorites include:  coriander, nutmeg, parsley, cumin, cilantro, ginger, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, dry mustard and dill.

Snack Foods

Snack foods like pretzels, crackers, and chips can have several hundred milligrams of sodium per serving. When choosing a low sodium snack, try fresh fruit, unsalted trail mix, Greek yogurt or raw veggies. 

No Salt Please

Typically restaurant food is outrageously high in sodium. Before going out to eat, check out the menu and nutrition info online. This way you’ll have an idea of some good choices before you sit down. Also, you can request for no salt to be added to your food and sauces on the side. Even following a few simple tips on sodium, can make a big difference when it comes to developing serious conditions likes heart disease and hypertension.  Becoming knowledgeable about where the sodium is coming from and how to reduce it will greatly impact overall health.


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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


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 us this Valentine’s Day and save $20 off your first order with promo code VALENTINE20!

 

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