Heart Healthy February

February is Go RED for Women and National Heart Awareness Month. According to Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2014 Update, heart disease and stroke are the Number 1 and 4 causes of death in both women and men in the U.S. today. Both researchers and dietitians have known there is a link between cardiovascular disease and diet. Now, notable evidence in the emerging research between the correlation of inflammation in the body and heart disease points to us as consumers to make diet and lifestyle choices essential to controlling the body’s natural response, inflammation, from injury and infection.

Throughout the month, we will be addressing steps to combat inflammation in the body through diet, physical activity, and relaxation techniques. We know that chronic inflammation in the body can cause pain, fatigue and damage to the blood vessels. Our goal is to help you make choices that can help you prevent and/or reduce the amount of inflammation in your body to achieve the best quality of life right now.

TAKE a kitchen inventory and remove processed foods from your daily diet. If you can eat it straight out of the box or bag, unless its raisins, assume it’s processed. Look for our processed food removal guide in the next couple of days. ACTION: Pop your own popcorn in olive oil instead of eating chips

MOVE your body. Set a goal to move at least 30 minutes per day, every day. Walk, garden, clean house, take a class, swim. ACTION: Work up to 50 squats a day, you’ll pump up your heart and your muscles.

ADD these foods to your diet and look for more nutrition tips throughout the month:

10 Ways Foods Can Reduce Inflammation
Many people with diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and other chronic health problems have high levels of inflammation in their bodies that occur over time when the immune system tries unsuccessfully to repair cells and rid itself of harmful toxins. The right foods can help reduce the amount of inflammation in the body and improve health. Here are 10 suggestions for clients and patients for eating to decrease inflammation:
1. Boost consumption of fruits and vegetables. Aim to eat four to five servings each of fruits and vegetables daily. Choose fruits and vegetables that are deep green, orange, yellow, and purple, since these have the greatest nutritional value. Ten servings per day may sound like too much, but serving sizes are small: one medium fruit, 1/2 cup canned or frozen fruit, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable, 1/2 cup fruit juice, and 1 cup leafy raw greens.
2. Cook with olive oil as much as possible and use it to make salad dressings. Make a quick and easy dressing by combining 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 clove minced garlic, and 1 T each of chopped fresh parsley and chives. (Use 1/2 tsp dried herbs if fresh herbs aren’t available.) Virgin olive oil is best since it has more inflammation-fighting antioxidants than refined olive oil.
3. Snack on walnuts instead of chips. Walnuts provide fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and the kinds of fatty acids that are good for your heart. 
4. Eat a whole grain cereal such as oatmeal for breakfast, and replace refined grains with whole grains, such as substituting brown rice for white rice.
5. Eat fatty fish such as salmon two to three times per week to get more omega-3 fatty acids. Wild salmon has more omega-3s than farmed salmon.
6. Eat fewer fast foods. Many tend to be cooked in oils that contain trans fatty acids, which increase inflammation. If you eat at fast-food restaurants, order a grilled chicken sandwich or salad with vinaigrette dressing.
7. Replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes. They’re high in vitamins and delicious when baked with a little olive oil, garlic, and rosemary.
8. Cut down on sugary drinks such as juice, soda, and punch. Add small amounts of cider, fruit juice, or wedges of lemon or orange to plain water to enhance the flavor.
9. Eat more lentils and beans. They’re good sources of protein and can replace red meat at meals. Try black beans and brown rice sautéed with onions and garlic and seasoned with cumin.
10. Munch on dark chocolate and fresh raspberries for dessert. Both are loaded with antioxidants.
FromToday’s Dietian February 2014

To Your Heart, Your Health, Your Happiness!
Align Wellness Studio