January 2, 2011

Fried Fish Shown To Increase Strokes In The South

Posted in Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , at 1:31 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Eating fish is healthy for your body, right?  Think again. 

A new study is showing that people in the southern United States who consumed more fish weekly were actually more likely to have a stroke.  How could that be possible given that all the major health organizations (such as the American Heart Association) have recommended at least 2 servings of fish per week in order to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke?  Most people have overlooked the fine print though.  Southerners who ate more fish were found to be eating the wrong kind of fish altogether!  They tended to eat fried fish instead of the healthy baked or grilled omega-3 filled fish.  Frying fish removes it of it’s healthy nutrients and adds unhealthy fat from the frying oil.

In order to eat a healthy diet, fish is highly recommended for the fact that it contains omega-3 fatty acids.  This is pretty much the BIGGEST reason fish is considered healthy.  See this previous article about why Omega-3’s are important and what foods have them.  Some types of fish contain a lot of omega-3’s while others have very little.    Salmon, tuna, halibut and anchovy are examples of fish that have the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids. 

While grilled salmon may be offered at places like Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s, it is not the most popular item on the menu.  Their specialty is fried white fish which is high calorie and very high in the bad fats.  One piece of battered white fish at Long John Silver’s has 16 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat and 4.5 grams of the really bad for you trans fats.  What tiny amount of omega-3’s are left over after the frying process cannot possibly cancel out the amount of bad fats found in the fried white fish.  So think twice before you feel good about eating a piece of fish for dinner.  It has to be a healthy piece of fish like grilled salmon or tuna in order to get the desired health benefits.  Check out this super-easy recipe for salmon if you’re looking for a healthy meal.

November 7, 2010

A Chocolate Addict’s Heart Healthy Solution

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:57 am by keepyourhearthealthy

I must admit…I’m a chocolate addict.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to find heart-healthy chocolate recipes.  Just when I thought I would have to attend Chocoholics Anonymous, along comes the rich, chocolatey Vita Muffin Mix to my rescue!!

I used to indulge with a guilty conscience a 3 Musketeers bar or a York peppermint patty.  Out of all the high-fat and high calorie options, these two seemed to be the best.  But I still felt as if I was cheating on my diet whenever I had the pleasure of eating these sweet treats.  And then I discovered the ultimate, heart-healthy chocolate treat!  My health-conscious aunt sent me some Vita-Tops for my birthday and suddenly I was hooked!

Vita-Tops and Vita Muffin Mixes have all the flavor of an indulgent chocolate treat but without all the fat and calories.  You can burn off the calories with a quick 15 minute walk!!  Even better, they are loaded with fiber and vitamins!  You can try one for yourself by ordering online (Deep Chocolate VitaMix Muffin Mix) or searching your grocer’s freezer.  My local grocery store sells Vita-Tops but not the muffin mix.  It can get a bit pricey at times but several times a year you can get them on sale at a really great price.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

August 7, 2010

Eating by Measurements

Posted in Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , at 3:51 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Maggie Smith

Any good dietitian will tell you that America’s portion sizes are out of control.

A restaurant will serve much more than you should eat in a single meal.  Luckily, most chain restaurants now display nutrition facts on their website so you can figure out the unhealthy foods ahead of time.  But what if you are trying to cook heart-healthy at home?  Yes, you can follow a healthy recipe and keep your meal low-calorie, low-fat or low-carb.  Some people might also like to create their own healthy meals.

If you want to do a healthy meal the right way, you need to watch out for the measurements of your ingredients.  Cheese is a great topping for many meals but just 1 ounce of reduced fat 2% cheddar cheese has 4.5grams of the bad saturated fat.  In case you are not familiar with how much an ounce is, use a measuring cup and fill to 1/4 cup.  That’s right, only 1/4 cup of reduced fat cheese still has quite a bit of saturated fat.  Most people use way more than 1/4 cup in their foods!

There are plenty of other examples of high fat and high calorie foods that we all probably consume way more than we realize.  1 cup of 2% “lowfat” milk has over 3g of the unhealthy saturated fats.  Think about all the foods which you might use milk in: cereal, oatmeal, coffee, mashed potatoes, etc.  Also keep in mind that a “serving” of sour cream is only one tablespoon.  Make sure you measure it out the next time you put it on a potato.  I’ll bet you will see how much extra you’ve been putting on all along.

You don’t need to measure your food forever.  Once you get to know exactly what 1/4 cup of shredded cheese is or 1 tablespoon of sour cream, you will be able to control your fat and calories without the official measurements.  Until you know the right portion sizes for ingredients in your home-cooked food, you need to measure everything.  It’s the best way to keep your diet as heart-friendly as possible!

July 1, 2010

How To Eat More of the Good Fats like Omega-3

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 5:36 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

Picture from http://www.fda.gov

Heart-healthy living means cutting out all the fat, right?  Not true!  Some fats are actually beneficial for your heart.  The problem is figuring out what to eat so that the good fats far outweigh the bad.  Here’s a simple list that will help you differentiate the good from the bad:

Bad Fats

  1. Saturated Fat
  2. Trans Fat

Good Fats

  1. Omega-3 Fats
  2. Polyunsaturated Fats
  3. Monounsaturated Fats

The good fats such as Omega-3 have been shown to lower the chances of another heart attack AND improve cholesterol numbers.  Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known to raise HDL, the good cholesterol.  This is the reason why the American Heart Association recommends at least 2 servings of fish per week.  Fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, anchovy, herring and mackerel are very high in Omega-3 fats.

Many food products are now advertising their heart-health benefits on the label.  You can easily check for yourself if a product really is heart-healthy by looking at the nutrition facts and making sure that there is very little or no saturated and trans fats per serving. Certain oils such as canola and olive oil are low in saturated fats but high in the good fats. Unfortunately, the nutrition facts do not yet include some of the more important healthy facts such as Omega-3’s and whole grains.  The only way you will know how much Omega-3’s are in an item is if the company voluntarily lists it.  The brand Smart Balance sells multiple products such as butter spread, oil, sour cream, milk and peanut butter that have added Omega-3’s and they list the amount right on the label.

You’ll want to watch out for some of the common foods that are very high in saturated fats such as: regular cheese (especially cheddar), whole milk, coconut oil, butter, ice cream and some chocolate bars.

Now, here is a specific list of foods that are high in the good fat, Omega-3.  The amount of Omega-3 obtained from www.nutritiondata.com is listed in parentheses:

  1. Flaxseed oil (12,059mg)
  2. Dried butternuts (2,850mg)
  3. Wild, raw salmon (2,843mg)
  4. Walnuts (2776mg)
  5. Fresh basil (2747mg)
  6. Spinach (2183mg)
  7. Canola oil (2,067mg)

Hopefully now you have a better idea of how to determine healthy foods.  Next time you are planning a heart-healthy meal, remember to look at the nutrition facts and manage your fat intake like an expert!

April 14, 2010

What Foods Are Healthiest from the Grocery Store?

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:19 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

I’m sure many heart disease patients have experienced the frustration of finding healthy foods at the grocery store.  You’ve got to inspect every detail of the nutrition facts to verify how much fat, calories, sodium and/or whole grains is in each serving.  One of the easiest ways to know if an item is appropriate for heart patients is to look for the Heart-Check Mark.

This is a special symbol designated by the American Heart Association for foods that meet their heart healthy criteria.  They actually have 3 different symbols that look similar but are intended for different products: Low in Saturated Fat & Cholesterol, Extra Lean (for meats) and Whole Grain.  Any of these symbols will still mean that the product is low in sodium, cholesterol and trans fat.

Once you know what to look for, shopping for a healthy heart can be much easier when someone else has already figured out what’s good for you!  In case you have trouble hunting down an item that has the symbol, you can find a complete list at: http://www.checkmark.heart.org/ProductsByCategory