How the Great Outdoors Makes you Healthy

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My boyfriend Greg and I have been hiking in the Adirondacks quite a bit this summer. We love Lake Placid; the restaurants cater to health enthusiasts like us with hearty, delicious, and healthy food choices and there is something uplifting about the fresh air of the Adirondack Mountains.

What I truly love is that just by being outside I am taking awesome measures to take care of myself—yes, even as healthy as I am, I am improving my health. Here are

my favorite scientifically proven benefits of the outdoors.

  • Vitamin D Rocks!

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Soak in those rays for at least 20 minutes a day without sunscreen to reap the benefits. Vitamin D boosts your immune system, collaborates with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K to protect your bones, and it can even help prevent diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease.

  • Super Slumber

Sweet sleep feels so amazing…and when you are outside often, you keep your circadian rhythm working the way it was meant to, helping you to sleep when it is dark and rise when it is light. Nature has been proven to help prevent insomnia as well-an awesome bonus. See, there are psychological and physiological reasons you sleep better just by spending time outside!

  • Bright Eyes

Most of us wear sunglasses in the summer and that’s important for protecting your eyes, but even with those shades on, do you being outside helps your eyes? Artificial light and constant staring at electronic devices inside literally kills your eyesight. Get outside often to rest those eyes!

  • Maintainin’ a Healthy Weight

Being outdoors generally forces you to move your body more…and that exercise is awesome for maintaining a healthy weight. You don’t need to hike mountains like me; even a nice walk around the block is literal steps in the right direction!

  • Helpin’ my Heart

A recent study in Australia found that just 30 minutes of exposure to nature each week can reduce the prevalence of high blood pressure by nine percent. Imagine if you spent 30 minutes outdoors a few times each week?!

  • Marvelous Mood

Exposure to nature has been proven to boost your serotonin (feel-good hormone) levels! Sometimes when you are feeling blah, a step int the Great Outdoors can spark the joy we all need!

Time to pull yourself away from the electronic device, step outside, take in a deep breath, and delve into all the benefits that nature offers us!

Celebrate World Pistachio Day with Me

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Happy World Pistachio Day! Yes, that’s right, today is a day to celebrate pistachios. Let me give me a little Pistachio 101 lesson on this little powerhouse. Related botanically to cashews and mangoes, pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees, and are one of the only two nuts mentioned in the Bible. Americans started enjoying pistachios in the 1800s, but the first commercial crop wasn’t harvested until 1976. Today, California produces 300 million pounds of pistachios a year. They are also produced in Syria, Greece, Italy, and Turkey.

These little green nuts. are packed with amazing nutrients, such as B-complex, healthy mono-unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, vitamin E, copper and other minerals. Studies show that daily consumption of nuts, like pistachios, may reduce the risk of heart disease and may lower blood pressure. Emerging research shows that pistachios can help manage blood-sugar levels even when consumed with a high-carbohydrate meal. Now, that’s powerful!

Here are some more fun facts about pistachios:

  • One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts! No deprivation here!
  • New research shows that your serum antioxidant levels rise when you at pistachios.
  • New research also shows that your LDL (BAD!) cholesterol levels can lower when you eat pistachios.
  • Here’s my favorite! Pistachios can make you happy! These little green nuts are actually referred to as the smiling nut in Iran and the happy nut in China.

I enjoy many of the pistachio products made by Setton Farms. Pistachio Chewy  Bites are awesome and handy little snacks to take with me when I travel. They are so simple and natural and yummy-a pistachio cranberry combo. If you are a chocolaholic, you will love their Dark Chocolate Pistachios. If you like things to be spiced up a little, try their flavored pistachios. Setton’s flavored pistachios are available in five different flavors. Consumers can choose from Chipotle BBQ, Chili-Limon, Garlic Onion, Jalapeno and Salt & Pepper.

Did you know there were so many fun ways to enjoy pistachios? Try any of these—you will thank me!

 

Five Surprising Foods that are Super for your Heart

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February is National Heart Health Month. Last February, I wrote about why the Mediterranean Diet is great for your health; click here to read up on that. I’m going to do something a little different for this blog. I am going to clue you in on five surprising foods that keep your health beating strong!

  • Potatoes

Potatoes get such a bad rap when fad diets accuse them of being a scary carb! This is not true, well sure, they are carbohydrate-based, but get this? One medium potato has only 118 calories and it is loaded with heart-healthy fiber, especially if you eat the skin! They are also high in potassium and magnesium, which research has proven, can lower your blood-pressure. And what can be easier than a baked potato? Wrap one in foil, stick it in the oven at 450 and in 45 minutes, it’s done. Add some low-fat cheese and broccoli and you have quite a healthy dinner!

  • Lean Beef

When I have clients who are red meat lovers, I don’t shun them. There are actually forms of red meat that are healthy choices. In fact, a recent study by Penn State researchers found that those who ate lean beef as part of a heart-healthy diet lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 10 percent. If you love your red meat, choose cuts that are loin or round; these are the leanest types. Grass-fed loin or round is your best bet!

  • Coffee and Tea

Caffeinated coffee and tea can raise your blood pressure due to the caffeine; however, it’s only a temporary rise if you consume either within reason (less than four cups a day). The good news is that coffee and tea are both high in antioxidants that have heart-protecting properties.

  • Spicy Foods

Some people get heartburn from spicy foods, but, keep in mind that the feeling of heartburn stems from your esophagus. If you can handle spicy foods, add some chili peppers or jalapenos to your meals; they help blood flow freely to your heart.

  • Eggs

I swear that for years, researchers’ stance on eggs seemed to vary weekly, but now, the general consensus is that eggs are good for your heart; eggs can increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. They’re a great protein-rich source for energy so they can also help curb you from snacking on refined, processed foods that are bad for your heart.

So plan your meals and snacks with your heart in mind. Protecting your heart is an important part of living a long and healthy life!

 

 

Improve your Heart Health this New Year

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I have a lot of clients who come to me seeking to lower their alarming cholesterol levels, lower their blood pressure, or both. Both of these conditions affect your heart health and I want to give you some tips on how to improve both.

Let’s start with blood pressure. To lower your blood pressure through diet, you want to consume foods high in potassium and low in sodium.

Reduce canned or processed foods. Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods like soups or frozen dinners—even poultry or other meats often have salt added during processing. Eating fresh foods, looking for unsalted meats, and making your own soups or stews can dramatically reduce your sodium intake. Cook at home, using spices for flavor. Cooking for yourself enables you to have more control over your salt intake. Make use of the many delicious alternatives to salt. Try fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives. In the dried spices aisle, you can find alternatives such as allspice, bay leaves, or cumin to flavor your meal without sodium. Substitute reduced sodium versions, or salt substitutes. Choose your condiments and packaged foods carefully, looking for foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, or unsalted. Better yet, use fresh ingredients and cook without salt.

Potassium helps you heart by reducing the effects of sodium! Many people turn to bananas for potassium. Yes, they are a great source, but there are some tasty veggies with even higher amounts. Some foods that are high in potassium include avocados, spinach and sweet potatoes.

Now, let’s talk about lowering your cholesterol. There are multiple ways to address your cholesterol nutritionally Increase your soluble fiber intake; soluble fiber reduces your LDL cholesterol. A common food choice that truly helps to do this is oatmeal! Check out my blog with overnight oat recipes. Having a high-fiber breakfast will also help your metabolism and maintain a healthy weight, both of which also help your heart health. Other foods high in soluble fiber include: apricots, mangoes, oranges, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and turnips.

Healthy fats raise your ratio of HDL (or good cholesterol)  to LDL (or bad cholesterol). Some healthy fats to consider are salmon, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. And there are certain flavonoids found in dark chocolate, red wine, apples, spinach and tea that help lower cholesterol.

Here’s to your heart! Stay tuned for more heart health blogs in February, in honor of heart health month!

Powerful Pomegranates

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Pomegranates are one of the top a super foods you can consume; super foods contain an abundance of nutrients with superior health benefits. These red, round fruit are tricky. You don’t want to bite into them; you want to break them open and consume the seeds. I know it’s weird; we’ve been taught to not eat the seeds of the majority of fruits, but you have to trust me on this one. Pomegranates have an eye-opening amount of benefits for your body. For starters, pomegranates are packed filled with fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Another good thing about pomegranates is that they are filled with powerful antioxidants that contain anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is known to cause heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and even obesity.

Eating pomegranate seeds contain the necessary components to aid with the reduction of inflammation to help you live a healthier life. Pomegranates help fight against prostate and breast cancer as well! Pomegranate juice can inhibit cancer growth and lower the risk of death. Having trouble with maintaining your blood pressure? Adding pomegranates to your regular diet can lower your blood pressure, which can reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke.

Gaining years in your life can lead to becoming wiser, but it also leads to arthritis and joint pain. No fun! Consuming pomegranates has been shown to reduce arthritis and joint pain. Also, they contain an antibacterial property that can be used to fight off germs and disease within your mouth. If these aren’t enough reasons to start eating pomegranates, then how about the benefit of increasing your memory? This benefit is great for any age. Do you ever get that 2 o’clock slump? Don’t grab that cup of coffee, reach for your pomegranate seeds because they can wake you up just as much. Healthy is kind of the new trend nowadays. So why not jump on the bandwagon and be a healthy version of yourself? Eating pomegranates will be the right start to improve your health.

Your Heart Hearts the Mediterranean Diet

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As February, Heart Healtmediterraneanh Month, soon comes to a close, we must not forget to take our heart health seriously. Heart Disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. Choosing a Mediterranean diet is one of the best ways to protect your health.

Let’s take a look at some of the main items consumed by Italians, Greeks, Egyptians, and others who live near the Mediterranean Sea.

Veggies Galore:

Vegetables are very central to the Mediterranean diet.  For example, residents of Greece eat, on average, six or more servings of vegetables a day. Experiment with spices to add flavor and life to those veggies. No mushy broccoli here!

Fish:

The Mediterranean diet includes a lot of fish. Thousands of studies have proven that the Omega-3s present in fish are great at boosting heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing blood clotting, and reducing inflammation in general. The research has led to the American Heart Association recommending 2-3 servings of fish a week.

Nuts & Seeds:

Nuts and seeds are heart-healthy snacks and condiments for salads.  Several of the largest cohort studies, including the popular Nurses’ Health Study, have shown a consistent 30 percent to 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death or cardiovascular disease associated with eating nuts several times a week. In fact, the FDA now allows some nuts and foods made with them to carry this claim: “Eating a diet that includes one ounce of nuts daily can reduce your risk of heart disease.” Which nuts to choose? Almonds lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. Pistachios lower blood pressure and walnuts help keep the arteries clear.

Olive Oil:

The Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards are serious about their olive oil. Abundant evidence supports the role of extra-virgin olive oil in protecting the heart. It lowers LDL cholesterol and may raise your HDL (good cholesterol).

Try substituting your red meat dishes for fish; choose nuts and seeds over cookies and pastries, and experiment cooking with olive oil as opposed to butter in your cooking and you will be doing your heart a super favor!