Protecting your sweet heart when dining out on V Day

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Valentine’s Day is next week! Quick, how can we be heart-healthy with the dining out indulgences that come with Valentine’s Day? From choosing what to drink to ordering dessert (yes, I said the “D’” word), I will share with you my favorite heart-healthy tips.

Making a healthy beverage choice

Red wine is a great heart-healthy choice; it contains a heart-healthy flavonoid called resveratrol. Drink a lot of water as well; not only will this help prevent you from overeating, but also, hydration is important for heart-protection. Dehydration actually makes your heart work harder. Results from a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that drinking five or more glasses of water a day was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease than those who drank less water.

Making a wise appetizer and entrée selection

The foods that will hurt your health are those that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and sugar. The foods that your heart will love are those high in healthy fat, lean protein, and fiber.

It’s often hard to find a healthy appetizer. Avoid anything fried and dips as well. Some dips sound healthy (spinach artichoke for example), but they are loaded with saturated fat because of the high-fat cheese and cream used to prepare them. I tend to choose things like spring rolls (not fried) or guacamole, which is loaded with healthy fats and fiber.

For the entrée, fish is my first vote! Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association (AHA) states, “Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels and lowers blood pressure.” The AHA recommends at least two servings of fish a week. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

If you are not a fan of fish, choose lean meats like chicken or turkey breast. Red meat is not a wise choice when trying to protect your heart; the saturated fat has long been linked to heart diseases.

Overall, if you see the words sautéed, pan-seared, crispy, scalloped, or pan-fried, dodge them! They are loaded with fat. Instead, choose foods that are steamed, broiled, grilled, poached, baked, or roasted.

Fill up on fiber. Research shows that fiber lowers cholesterol. Look to your side dishes for fiber. Some of the best choices include: broccoli, leafy greens, peas, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and any type of bean. Whole grains are also an incredible source of fiber (think quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, barley, etc.).

Another thing to keep in mind when dining out is portion control. Restaurant portions are often double the size we should be eating. Eat half and save the rest for the next day’s lunch. This will allow room for dessert!

Split dessert with your date. If there happens to be dark chocolate molten cake or mousse on the menu, go for it. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. It’s good for the heart and circulation. A recent study found that dark chocolate helps prevent your arteries from clogging.  It has also been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise levels of “good” cholesterol. Any dish with fruit is also a smart move because like veggies, fruit is a fabulous source of fiber.

Dining out is an American way of life; enjoying quality food is your right. Stick to the heart-healthy tips I’ve shared and you can dine out without regret.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Choices to Reduce your Risk of Breast Cancer

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salmon fillet with vegetables and basil

Approximately one in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  And sadly, the death rate for women with breast cancer is higher than any other form of cancer except for lung cancer. While there is not a food recommendation that can guarantee that you will not develop breast cancer, I will discuss some food choices that will help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible.

#1: Eat Plenty of Fruit and Vegetables

Aim to eat at least five cups of vegetables and fruit a day. A recent study has found that carotenoids (nutrients) in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Make those salads as colorful as possible; experiment with fruit and veggie combos (spinach, strawberry and a sprinkling of feta cheese; diced tomatoes, avocados, and mangoes; arugula, pecans, pears, and dried cranberries). The more colorful your fruits and veggies diet, the more variety of powerful carotenoids!

#2: Load up on Fiber

A study of 99,534 women, published earlier this year, found that those who ate more fiber in early adulthood had up to a 19% lower risk of developing breast cancer, depending on how much more fiber they ate. Some great high-fiber food choices include: apples, pears, berries, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats, almonds, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes.

#3: Eat Foods High in Omega=3 Fatty Acids

Several studies have suggested that the higher your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, the lower your chances of getting breast cancer. Fish is the greatest source of omega-3s. If you are not a fan of fish, consider a fish oil supplement. Other food choices that have an attractive amount of omega-3s include flaxseeds and walnuts, both of which I love adding to a bowl of oatmeal!

When you are deciding what to eat, think of the return on investment you get when you make healthy food choices. Not only does that choice help you to maintain a healthy weight, but also, it may be helping to reduce your risk of developing diseases like breast cancer. Choose the apple over the candy bar and the grilled salmon over the burger and watch your quality-of-life improve!

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!