During this cold winter month, red hearts and love are in the air. But more importantly, it is also American Heart Month. This is why our Nutrition & Wellness team here at Universal wanted to take some time to talk about the importance of loving our hearts through heart healthy eating.
For the 2017 year, one out of three deaths were caused by heart disease in the United States; that is approximately 800,000 American lives. But fear not, because there are several things you can do to keep your risk low; especially by making healthy food choices.
According to the American Heart Association, there are a variety of nutrient-rich foods from multiple food groups that people can consume to help keep a healthier heart and safe cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Heart Healthy Foods to Try:
- Leafy Greens: romaine lettuce, arugula, cabbage, Swiss chard, collard greens
- Whole-Wheat Foods: whole-wheat bread or pasta, brown rice, oatmeal
- Lean Protein: fish, poultry
- Nuts: pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios
- Berries: strawberries, raspberries, blue berries, goji berries, acai berries
- Beans: chickpeas, lentils, peas, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans
- Other: extra virgin olive oil, tomatoes, quinoa
Are these options not necessarily your first choice to indulge upon? That’s okay! For seasonality sake, let’s take look at some heart healthy alternatives to some of your go-to Valentine’s Day favorites.
Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries vs. Your Standard Truffles
Is chocolate your guilty pleasure? Chocolate covered strawberries are a great heart healthy treat to consider. Let’s compare these easy-to-make treats to Godiva dark chocolate truffles. One truffle is approximately 105 calories, while one dark chocolate covered strawberry is roughly 130 calories. The numbers line up nicely, but you’re getting more heart health benefit from the strawberry over the truffle ingredients.
|Truffles||Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries|
|105 Calories||130 Calories|
|6.5 g fat||7 g fat|
|4 g sat fat||4 g sat fat|
What Does Your Heart Love More: Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?
What is with all the hype around dark chocolate anyway? Is it the flavor or the fact that is simply just a healthier heart option for you? Statistically speaking, dark chocolate is made with more than 60% cocoa as compared to milk and white chocolates.
Health Benefits of Flavonoids
Cocoa contains flavonoids, which act like antioxidants; which helps with cell protection within your body. According to the National Institute of Health, health benefits of flavonoids include heart disease prevention through lowering of blood pressure and LDL, or unhealthy cholesterol.
One ounce of dark chocolate has 170 calories while milk chocolate has 150 calories in one ounce. Looks like milk chocolate is the better option, right? Maybe, but just remember that milk chocolate does not have the higher heart healthy flavonoids, and if you prefer milk chocolate you just may eat more than what the averaged serving size is.
|Dark Chocolate||Milk Chocolate|
|170 Calories||150 Calories|
|12 g fat||8 g fat|
|7 g sat fat||4 g sat fat|
To Dine Out or Stay in This Valentine’s Day?
Fondue. NY strip steak. Chocolate and champagne. What does your Valentine’s day look like?
Regardless of what’s in store, it is safe to say that you are in the driver’s seat when dining at home. The amount of butter and salt used to sauté and sear is entirely up to you. Be careful when dining out, as calorie-rich meals can pack in not only extra calories but also higher counts of sodium and fat. For example, Swiss cheese fondue for two at The Melting Pot is about 400 calories per person. But if you’re dining in this Valentine’s Day, try Swiss cheese squares with sliced pear or apple. 2 slices of cheese have about 200 calories.
|Swiss Cheese Fondue (The Melting Pot)||Two Slices of Swiss Cheese|
|400 Calories||200 Calories|
|25 g fat||16 g fat|
|17 g sat fat||10 g sat fat|
Our hearts need to be nurtured to stay healthy. There are many ways you can work to keep your heart healthy during this month. Check out what free nutrition seminars are happening, or tie up your sneakers and break a sweat in a group fitness class. Also remember to eat and drink all things heart healthy. What will you do to be good to your heart this month?