It’s hard to miss all the heart-themed gifts and goodies that are popping up everywhere. As a holistic health coach, I no longer see the symbol only as representing Valentine’s Day; I see it as an important reminder to take care of our health and wellness. That’s because February is American Heart Month, with a mission to increase awareness and actions that prevent and reduce heart disease. It’s a rapidly growing health issue; according to the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming more lives each year than all forms of cancer and respiratory disease combined. Today, more than 90 million American adults are living with some form of heart disease. For more details and risk factors associated with heart disease, click here.
However, I am inspired by the clients I work with who are taking steps to improve their health, nutrition and weight. Even small changes in your daily fitness and food choices can minimize your risk of heart issues and diabetes, so that is why this month show your valentine some love by signing him or her up, or both of you, for one of my online health coaching programs; click here for to sign up for any of the individual detox programs, OR if you live locally, attend my next FREE workshop,The Case Against Sugar, at the local Princeton YMCA on April 13th, 2017 at 7pm. And because you may be more tempted to eat sweets this month, I’ve included my favorite “good, better, best” tips below for kicking your sugar cravings, since consuming too much added sugar can significantly increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine. In a study of 31147 adults, "those who consumed 17 % to 21 % of their calories as added sugar had a 38% higher risk of death from heart disease (CVD) compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as sugar. " To read more on how sugar affects the heart, click here.
A heart healthy diet is low in refined sugar and sweeteners, low in sodium, low in trans fats, and high in “good, better and best” choices, including nutrient-dense vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, and whole grains.
Let’s start with sugar (since you will be seeing “the big red heart” a LOT this month!) The latest research continues to show that sugar causes inflammation; suppresses the immune system; is a leading contributor to obesity and adult-onset diabetes; and increases our risk of cardiovascular disease. Sodium is another heart concern; consuming too much salt can increase our risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Ready to fight back? I recommend, whenever possible, flavoring foods with “good, better and best” alternatives to sugar and salt. Try a few of these food flavoring tweaks in your own meals:
• When recipes call for sugar, try chopped dates, a drop of raw honey, or maple syrup.
• Instead of salt, try chopped onions, garlic, Braggs liquid aminos, kelp granules, and nutritional yeast.
• Ditch the salt shaker for “better” choices, including herbs and spices. There are dozens to select -- from Italian flavorings such as rosemary, thyme and basil; ground spices such as cayenne and chili powder; or simple additions that pack a lot of flavor, such as cumin and lemon pepper, or just plain red pepper flakes.
• Multiply the benefits of choosing spices over salt by using natural anti-inflammatories such as fresh ginger or ground turmeric.
• To flavor fish, vegetables and salads, try citrus -- lemon, lime and orange are great complements to fresh foods. Use a tablespoon or two of citrus juice, or for a more intense flavor, try a teaspoon of finely grated citrus zest.
• Replace soda, sport drinks and energy drinks with flavored water. Use citrus juice or try adding blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, or watermelon! You’ll have a sweet and healthy alternative.
• Other heart healthy tips for your daily diet include adding more fiber to your diet with organic sprouted grains, fruits and leafy greens; and including healthy omega 3 fats in each meal, such as nuts, flax and chia seeds, olive oil, and avocado.
If that’s not what you’re currently doing, all of those changes might sound a little overwhelming. I encourage you to make one little change at a time if that’s more doable for you. Tiny steps lead to big changes. If you need support making healthy changes, I’m here to help you make “good, better and best” alternatives! One conversation could change your life! Let’s talk! To set up an appointment, click here to email me for more information!
Remember, Bee Fitters, Food determines how we feel and heal!