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Category Archives: Heart Health

The Countdown Continues: The Top 5 Strategies for Healthy Eating

Next on our countdown of the top 5 eating habits of 2016 is eating more vegetables. I am pretty sure that you are tired of hearing that message BUT most of us still need to work on this habit.

In the recently published 2015-2010 Dietary Guidelines For Healthy Americans nutrients that most Americans are not getting enough of are fibre and potassium. And guess what foods can play a huge role in increasing the intake of both potassium and fibre? You guessed it! Vegetables!

While it is nice to know that veggies will bring some key nutrients to the diet, but can eating veggies help to reduce inflammation? Veggies are inflammation reducing powerhouses! In fact when we look at the dietary patterns that are most associated with lower rates of diseases that are thought to be caused by inflammation, they are filled with an abundance of vegetables.

Why are veggies such inflammation busting foods? They do add lots of fibre and consuming adequate amounts of fibre is linked to lower levels of inflammation. Vitamin C, which is a potent anti inflammatory nutrient, is found in abundance in Red and Yellow peppers. Smaller amounts are found in dark green leafy vegetables, even a potato cooked in the skin. Vegetables also contain a variety of plant chemicals that can contribute to good health.

Veggies are almost all low in calories and carbohydrates, with only a few exceptions. That is one of the reasons that we focus so much on increasing vegetable consumption! Vegetables contain less calories and carbohydrates, which helps us to stay at or close to a healthy weight, which helps to keep inflammation at bay.

What is the right amount of vegetables to eat? Eating well with Canada’s Food Guide, suggests that women aged between 19 and 50 eat 6-8 portions of vegetables and fruit daily. This should be about 3 portions of fruits and the rest vegetables. And easier guide is the MyPlate guide from the United States that suggests that half your plate should be made up of vegetables. In an ideal world the vegetables would be of many colours and some would be cooked and other would be raw. After all some nutrients are better absorbed from cooked vegetables and others give more bang for the quantity when we eat raw vegetables. Vegetable juice should be reserved for occasions where there it is the best option for including vegetables in a meal.

So let’s set some goals for adding more vegetables to your diet. Maybe you want to purchase some frozen vegetables to have on hand for those days you do not want to peel and chop. Maybe you want to look up some interesting vegetable recipes because you realize that your family is not crazy about eating plain nude (steamed) vegetables, so you want to try something different. The Curried Root Vegetable Masala is now a favourite in our family. Extras heat up nicely the next day for lunch too.

What goals will you set?

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The Top 5 strategies for Healthy Eating: 5 easy steps to a more anti-inflammatory diet!

The New Year brings New Year’s Resolutions.  Many of the resolutions that I hear about, and sometimes make myself, are vague and unmeasurable.  You know what I mean.  Resolutions like “I want to eat a healthy diet” or “I want to be healthier” or even “ I want to get fit”.

Goal setting experts tell us that it is important to set specific measurable goals if we want to succeed.  So for each week in the month of January we will cover the top 5 nutrition goals that you can integrate into your diet to make it more anti-inflammatory, and then look as some of the measurable strategies that you can use to implement these changes and track your progress.

Start by adding spice to your life!  It is true that herbs and spices contain nutrients that can help the body to better cope with different stresses.  For example Turmeric is known to help reduce inflammation as is black pepper.   Ginger is used to prevent nausea.  Almost every other herb or spice contains some type of plant chemicals that will help the body in some way or another.

So how can we start to add spice to our menus?  Well let’s look at the small steps that need to be taken to achieve this goal

  • Pantry Inventory: make sure you actually own some herbs and spices and make sure that they pass the smell test. If they have no aroma then they are too old and need to be discarded.
  • Look at old favourite recipes to see if they contain any herbs or spices.
  • Look for new recipes or recipe ideas that contain herbs or spices.  For instance lots of recipes for apple crisp or apple pie mix apples with cinnamon.  So how about a sprinkle of cinnamon on your apple the next time you eat an apple.  Or maybe sprinkle some cinnamon or ginger in your tea.  Maybe it is time to make that curry recipe that your mom used to make but you stopped making because you thought that grilling was healthier….
  • Now pick a simple goal!  Here are some examples:
    • I will purchase cinnamon this week
    • I will make Seasoned Chickpeas and Almonds ( From the Complete Arthritis Health Diet Guide and Cookbook) to add to my salad at lunch.

 

Doesn’t that sound easy?

 

Stay tuned, next week I will look at 2 other goals.

 

 

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What should I eat to reduce my risk of heart disease?

 

The nutrition recommendations that are being suggested by dietitians and other health professionals have evolved over the years from a focus on fats to looking at the overall eating pattern. Now, dietitians will evaluate many aspects of the eating pattern.

 One place I always start is with vegetables and fruits.

 Eating Well withCanada’s Food Guide suggests that adult men consume 8-10 portions and adult women consume 7-8 portions of foods from this group.

 It is easy and delicious to include vegetables and fruits in our diets.  Here are a few tips to help you to make delicious, healthy choices:

 Choose more vegetables because they contain less calories, but they contains lots of nutrients.  Many vegetables are nutrient dense, not calorie dense

 Remember to eat a colourful plate: the more colours you choose the more variety of nutrients you will add to your diet.

 Choose fresh vegetables and fruits whenever possible.  Frozen or canned can be good alternatives in the winter when fresh vegetables and fruits can be more expensive or are not grown locally.

 Remember to dress up your vegetables and fruits.  Eating a plain apple can be fun, but sometimes it is fun to dress it up.  Dressing up vegetables and fruits can be simple or elaborate.  Just remember not to add too much sugar or fats

Here are a few examples: 

 Cut up an apple and top it with some plain low fat yogurt sweetenedwith a tiny bit of honey, and sprinkle it all with a bit of cinnamon.

 Sprinkle some cooked spinach with some nutmeg

Add nuts to salads or cooked vegetables for some added crunch and nutrients.

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