HEALTH / FITNESS
Information about fitness, health, nutrition and weight loss
Do you know of a new diet or fitness routine that you'd like us to review? Or perhaps you want to write a review yourself and see it in print! Got a great recipe you want to share? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this Section....
- February Recipes
- Daily Diet Tip
- The Heart Healthy Food Groups
- Live in the Present
February Recipes - Click Here
This month we are focusing on Valentine's Day, and that means we're getting right to the 'heart' of the day!!! We have chosen some 'hearty' selections for a meal with lots of 'heart'!! Okay, no more silly puns. Besides offering a hearty theme, :), we've also included a warm and comforting soup dish which should help thaw any frozen hearts!!! ( I did another one, didn't I? Okay, no more from now on, I promise!) Prepare this meal for your special someone and you'll be sure to win their . . . favor. (You thought I was gonna say heart didn't you????) Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!
We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at email@example.com. Hope to hear from all of you in the following months!
The Heart Healthy Food Groups
Base your diet on these, getting the number of daily servings recommended, and your chances of heart disease will fall significantly--and almost immediately!
1. Protein--Power for a Healthy Heart
No food group offers more versatile protection from the heart attackers than protein. Lean beef, eggs, and pork are packed with homocysteine-lowering B vitamins. Fish delivers omega-3 fatty acids that keep heart rhythm steady and discourage blood clotting. Skinless chicken and turkey are low in artery-clogging saturated fat, and their protein keeps food cravings (and the risk of overeating) at bay. Beans--legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans--are not only rich in high-quality proteins but are also one of nature's richest sources of soluble fiber, which sweeps cholesterol out of your body and helps hold blood sugar levels steady.
Of course, no food group holds more danger for your heart, either. Cuts of beef and pork that are high in artery-clogging saturated fat raise your level of LDLs and your heart attack risk. The solution? Here's how to enjoy heart-healthy meats and more.
Create a seafood habit. The healthiest seafood for your heart is cold-water ocean fish because it's so rich in omega-3s. The most popular kinds are salmon and tuna; other choices include mackerel, herring, and anchovies. Your goal is to get three or four servings of these fish a week. How? Have canned tuna for lunch twice a week (make your tuna salad with low-fat mayo) and salmon for dinner once or twice a week, or get anchovies on your Friday-night pizza. Or get creative: Use canned salmon to make salmon patties, or make a Spanish-style salad of cooked potato cubes, sautéed onions, a can or two of tuna, olive oil, and salt and pepper. It's delicious! While other seafood may not have as many omega-3s, pretty much all types are terrific sources of protein. So if sautéed sole or shrimp appeals to you more than salmon--or a chicken breast or steak, for that matter--by all means, choose the seafood.
That said, if you truly detest fish or have a shellfish allergy, simply substitute another type of lean protein--and consider getting omega-3s from walnuts, ground flaxseed, or fish-oil capsules if you can. Rediscover beef and pork. Long vilified by health activists, these classic centerpieces of the American dinner plate deserve a second chance--and a place in your heart-healthy eating plan. The fact is, both meats have gotten healthy makeovers to fit modern tastes: Beef is 27 percent leaner today than 20 years ago, and pork has 31 percent less fat. In one National Institutes of Health study, volunteers who ate lean red meat five to seven days a week had the same slight improvements in cholesterol--their LDLs dropped 2 percent, and HDLS rose 3 to 4 percent--as those who stuck with chicken and fish. The lowest-fat cuts? Pork tenderloin, top and eye rounds marked "extra lean," boneless shoulder pot roast, and boneless pork sirloin chops.
Shift the focus to beans. Beans deserve the lunchtime or dinner spotlight several days a week. Few people bother to learn bean-dish recipes, but if you can commit to coming up with three or four that your family enjoys, and then prepare one every few days, you will do wonders for your health! Make meatless chili; create quick, hearty soup by mixing drained and rinsed canned kidney beans and frozen veggies with a can of low-sodium minestrone soup or chicken broth; sprinkle chickpeas or black beans from the salad bar over your lunch salad; or order a bean burrito (hold the cheese) when you go out for Mexican food.
2. Good Fats--Better Than Low-Fat
Why keep spreading saturated-fat-laden butter or crunching on snacks packed with artery-damaging trans fatty acids when you could eat as if you spent your days beside the Mediterranean Sea--spreading fruity olive oil on crusty bread and fresh veggies and snacking on almonds? Countless studies have shown that these cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet protect your heart. That's why nuts, olive oil, and heart-healthy canola oil, which contains some omega-3 fatty acids, get top billing in this plan, too. All three are rich in monounsaturated fats. Eat them in place of saturated fats, and they'll lower LDLs, slightly increase HDLs, and reduce triglycerides. While you need to keep saturated fats low, monounsaturated fats can make up 20 percent of your daily calories. Just watch your portions--oils, nuts, and nut butters are calorie dense, so a little goes a long way. Here's how to rebalance your fat budget.
Say no to saturated fats. Remove skin from chicken and turkey before eating; trim excess fat from all meats; choose mayonnaise and salad dressings with no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per tablespoon (look for versions made with canola oil, often at health food stores); and replace heavy cream in recipes with condensed skim milk. For baking and cooking, substitute canola or olive oil for butter by using one-fourth less oil than the amount of butter called for in a recipe (for example, in a muffin recipe, use 3/4 tablespoon of oil instead of 1 tablespoon of butter). If you must have butter, whipped varieties have 30 percent less saturated fat. Banish trans fats. Eat only packaged snacks and baked goods with no partially hydrogenated fats or oils listed as ingredients. Switch to trans fat-free margarine or use olive oil instead.
Pump up the monounsaturated fats. Invest in an olive-oil sprayer (Misto is one brand) to give toast and veggies a light, flavorful coating instead of using butter or margarine. Make olive and canola oils your first choices for salad dressings, marinades, and cooking. (Other oils have lower levels of heart-healthy monos.) Try olive oil for scrambling eggs, browning stew or soup meat, and sautéing vegetables. Commercial olive or canola oil sprays are good for coating cookware to prevent sticking.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips--hello, nuts. The monounsaturated fats in nuts (and omega-3s in walnuts) make these delicious nuggets a perfect heart-healthy snack. To guard against overeating, put one serving in a bowl, put the container back in the cupboard, then enjoy. Choose unsalted nuts to help control blood pressure. Diversify your nut portfolio. Beyond peanuts and walnuts, try pistachios, pecans, and hazelnuts. Sprinkle them on cereal and salads and add them to muffin batter, yogurt, and pudding.
Don't forget the peanut butter. PB has impressive amounts of monounsaturated fat, protein, vitamin E, and fiber. Have some on toast for breakfast, enjoy a good old PB&J for lunch (on whole wheat bread, of course), or scoop out a tablespoon and use it as a dip for baby carrots, apple slices, or pears as an afternoon snack.
Top desserts with Coromega. This orange-flavored, pudding-like gel (you can eat it straight from a single-serving container or spoon it over yogurt or ice cream) is about as far as you can get from fish in taste, but it's packed with the omega-3s usually found in seafood. Find more info about this emulsified form of omega-3 fatty acids, produced by the Coromega Company of Carlsbad, California, at www.coromega.com or by calling (877) 275-3725.
3. Fruit and Vegetables--Nature's Cholesterol Cure
Our ancestors filled their bellies with wild produce; today, researchers suspect that our bodies evolved to expect big daily doses of the antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering phytosterols, and soluble fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Without them heart risk rises. Here's how to get nine servings a day at home and at work.
Take a juice break. Sip 100 percent orange juice or Concord grape juice as one of your daily fruit servings, or mix juice concentrate with olive oil for a sweet salad dressing. Whirl up a blender drink. Toss frozen strawberries; orange juice; and a banana, pear, or nectarine (take the pit out first!) into the blender for a triple serving of fruit, smoothie-style. Add plain yogurt with a sprinkle of wheat germ or ground flaxseed, and you've got breakfast. Buy a cantaloupe or small watermelon, cube the fruit, and keep it in a container in the fridge for an easy, antioxidant-rich snack when you're looking for something to nosh on. Put fruit and veggies in easy reach. Keep a bowl of cherry tomatoes and a bowl of bananas or apples on the kitchen counter. If you see them, you'll eat them.
Redefine fast food. Supermarkets have a huge selection of bagged salad greens. In 15 minutes, you can grab a bag (look for extras, such as cranberries and walnuts right in the bag) of baby spinach or chopped romaine and a container of tomatoes, sliced carrots, mandarin orange slices, chopped nuts, and a sprinkle of raisins from the salad bar. You'll have five produce servings right there! Allow yourself to take second helpings only of vegetables at dinner. You'll save calories from fat and boost fiber intake.
Eat the rainbow. From blueberries to carrots and tomatoes to pineapple, have as many different-colored fruits and veggies as possible each day to get the widest variety of nutrients.
Splurge like a chef. You'd buy a fancy cake, a specialty ice cream, or a cheese-covered frozen veggie, so why not those gorgeous raspberries, that box of clementines, or a bunch of deep green asparagus instead?
Buy insurance for your cupboard and freezer. This means canned (in juice) and frozen fruit and veggies for times when you run out of fresh or don't have time to wash and chop. Some frozen produce has more nutrients than the fresh stuff because it's frozen immediately after harvesting.
Tuck extras in. Keep a bag of grated carrots in the fridge to toss into soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, tuna salad, and even muffins. Add extra frozen veggies to soups and stews.
Wash and blot, but don't peel. Cut your risk of food poisoning by washing all produce and blotting it dry. Then eat it all, skin included--it's full of fiber, and the fruit or veggie flesh just below it contains extra nutrients.
4. Whole Grains--Count These Carbs In
Simply eating a high-fiber, whole grain breakfast could cut your risk of heart attack by 15 percent; switching completely from refined to whole grains could slash it by 30 percent. That's the power of whole grains. These natural nuggets are filled with vitamin E and a wealth of heart-protecting phytochemicals, plus insoluble fiber to help digestion. Some, such as barley and oatmeal, also have cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Here's how to fit in three or more whole grains every day.
Think fiber in the morning. Here's new motivation to breakfast on oatmeal or another high-fiber cereal: Each gram of soluble fiber cuts your LDLs by as much as 2 points, according to the American Heart Association. From raisin bran with 8 grams per serving to supercharged fiber cereals with as many as 14 grams, there are lots of cholesterol warriors in the cereal aisle. One bowl a day could lower your LDLs by 16 to 28 points.
Boil once, then freeze the leftovers. Brown rice, barley, and bulgur are delicious. To save weekday prep time, cook up a big pot on the weekend and freeze extras in single-meal portions, then defrost in the microwave as needed. Add to ground poultry for extra body when making meat loaf or burgers.
Use the rule of three. Choose breads with "whole wheat" leading the ingredients list and with 3 grams of fiber per serving. Substitute whole wheat toast for bagels and low-fat multigrain muffins for pastries. Make sandwiches with whole-grain breads or rolls.
5. Dairy Foods--Better Blood Pressure Control
Having milk on your morning cereal, a cup of yogurt as a midafternoon snack, and grated low-fat cheese on your chili at dinnertime boosts your intake of calcium, a mineral vital for healthy blood pressure. In the landmark study, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), a healthy diet that included low-fat milk products cut blood pressure levels as effectively as drugs. Researchers suggest that dairy's calcium and protein work with the magnesium, potassium, and fiber in fruits, veggies, and whole grains to better regulate blood pressure. Use the following tips to get the calcium advantage without adding saturated fat.
Ease into fat-free. If you drink whole or 2% milk, switch to low-fat for a while, then try fat-free. Or use fat-free milk in cereal and soups, where the flavor difference is less noticeable, and use low-fat in coffee and hot cocoa.
Add fruit. A cup of yogurt topped with chopped fruit and a tablespoon of nuts makes a filling snack. Try vanilla yogurt topped with banana slices and a dusting of cinnamon; add sliced strawberries and chopped walnuts to strawberry yogurt.
Replace the water. Use milk instead when cooking oatmeal or soups that can be served creamed.
Top it with cheese. An ounce of grated low-fat cheese is delicious melted on bread or as a topping for chili or beans.
Written by: Maria Albus
Live in the Present
A couple of days ago, I was on my elliptical and scanning the TV channels for something that would hold my attention. I happened to see a movie about a gymnast and his search to become the world’s best. Although the acting left something to be desired, I’m always drawn to stories about ‘overcoming’. Also, the story line seemed familiar. As it turned out, it was a movie adaptation of a book I had read years ago called the ‘Warrior Athlete’ by Dan Millman. Dan has always been an interesting read since he blends his story of becoming a top notch athlete with wise counsel about overcoming one’s personal barriers. Essentially, this movie was about Dan’s mentor teaching him how to live in the moment, not to look at past failures and not to worry about winning the gold medal – simply, learning to live and learn right now, in the present.
I believe most of us spend a lot of time lamenting about perceived failures in the past and worrying about what we might, or might not, accomplish in the future. We lose everything that is occurring right now. Worse, we aren’t content at this very moment because of that unsettling situation from last week or the upcoming meeting at work next week. (Or things of this sort).
This ties in to our eating and exercise. We dwell on past failures. We dwell on this morning’s or last evening’s lousy choices of food. We dwell too much on whether or not we will ever be a certain size. Or spend time dwelling on, “I should have gone to the gym yesterday” or “Can I ever achieve those goals I set for myself?”
Learn to live right now. Don’t dwell one second on yesterday, it’s gone. Don’t dwell on next week, since it hasn’t even happened. What can you do right now that can help you be content? If you’re hungry, can you make a healthy choice of a yogurt and fruit, rather than a muffin? Can you go for a walk rather than sit and watch a TV program that isn’t going to enhance your sense of well being anyway?
Happiness truly is about the journey and not the destination. Going to bed at night knowing that you tried hard to eat well and you got an exercise session in is very gratifying. No you may not yet be a pro tri-athlete or a run-way model, but you have done the very best that you could do in the circumstances in which you live.
In the movie, there was one nice statement where the ‘philosopher’ tells Dan that “you will never be better than anybody, but you will also never be less than anybody else”. We each live our own lives. To truly enjoy them, don’t condemn yourself, criticise yourself or compare yourself to anyone. This is your life to live as best as you can be.
Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the journey. Be happy with each and every baby step you take to eating healthy and exercising regularly.
Live in the moment. (Mark Twain said it best. “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened”. )
You can do it. Just don’t ever give up.
Submitted by: Dr. Doug