Strawberries-A Heart Healthy Treat!

By Debbie Jeffery, RD

Not only are strawberries an excellent way to satisfy the sweet tooth, they are also extremely nutrient dense.  One cup of strawberries contains more vitamin C than an orange, has 20% of your daily folic acid needs, and contains 4 grams fiber & 270 mg of potassium.  Strawberries also contain a variety of phytochemicals, including flavonoids, which may have anti-inflammatory properties.  The latest research also shows that the nutrients in strawberries may also help to maintain a healthy heart. Besides snacking on strawberries, you might enjoy sliced strawberries mixed with salad greens or a refreshing smoothie like the recipe below!

Strawberry Flax Smoothie        

1 cup fresh or frozen sliced strawberries

½ cup nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt

½ cup skim milk (soy, almond, rice, or coconut milk may be substituted)

3 tablespoons ground flax seed

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high speed until smooth.  Consume immediately or refrigerate up to 2 hours before serving.

Serves 2.  Per serving: 145 calories, 4g fiber, 7g protein, .5g saturated fat, 19g carbohydrates, 170 mg calcium.

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Keeping a “Sweet” Heart!

By Debbie Jeffery, RD

February is National Heart Month and the time of year to think about the health of your heart.  Your heart is a powerful muscle whose primary function is to pump blood to all parts of the body, delivering nutrients and oxygen to your organs and tissues.  In an average day your heart will beat more than 100,000 times, pumping more than 4,300 gallons of blood throughout your entire body.  Many think of heart disease as a man’s issue but heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States followed by lung cancer and then breast cancer. Heart failure may occur suddenly or develop gradually over years.  But one thing is certain, regular exercise and good nutrition habits play a major role in preventing heart disease. Healthy foods to keep our hearts strong and include:

Fruits and Vegetables: Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables ensures that you are taking in a wide range of nutrients to protect against heart disease.  These foods are high in vitamin C, beta carotene, and phytochemicals, all of which are essential antioxidants in the prevention of heart disease.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids:  Omega 3’s have been found to help decrease triglyceride levels, the rate of atherosclerotic plaque and arrhythmias.  Fish high in Omega 3 include salmon, sardines, herring, trout, mackerel, halibut and tuna.  Other sources of Omega 3 rich foods are flaxseed oil, walnuts, enriched eggs and edamame.

Soluble Fiber:  Soluble fiber helps to decrease cholesterol levels, therefore working to decrease the risk for heart disease.  Some foods high in soluble fiber are oats, oat bran, flax, lentils, apples and pears.

Nuts:  Nuts are high in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium and essential fatty acids.  Eaten in moderation, nuts can help decrease the risk for heart disease.  Some examples of heart healthy nuts are almonds, walnuts and pistachios.

Love your heart and keep it strong by eating a healthy diet and participating in regular physical activity.

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Build Your Own Bootcamp

All you need is sneakers and workout clothes!

Perform each exercise for 60-90 seconds, resting as needed between each exercise. Repeat the whole circuit 2-3 times. If you have more equipment at home, you can add in dumbbells, jump ropes and more!

Choose any six exercises below:
Pushups
Squats
Lunges
Tricep Dips
Planks
Sit Ups
Hamstring Bridges
Body Weight Rows or Pullups
Jumping Jacks
High Knees
Squat Jumps
Burpees
Mountain Climbers
Wall Sits
Calf Raises
Supermans

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Bikram Yoga–Don’t Sweat it!

Too cold to go for a run outside? What better way to warm up in the cold winter months than Bikram Yoga. This 105 degree, 40% humidity, 90 minute class may seem intimidating but it’s nothing to sweat about! This practice has many benefits to the body and mind and is definitely a challenge worth trying.

What is it? Bikram Yoga consists of two breathing exercises and 26 postures. Every class is the same routine going through each posture twice. There is a standing sequence aimed to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility and align the body. The last half hour of the class is completed on the floor where the focus is on spine and flushing toxins.

Being in this class guarantees a lot of sweating which has been found to release toxins and flush the circulatory systems. It is said that this practice helps change the body from the inside out including the bones, muscles, respiratory and circulatory systems. It helps teach you how to properly breathe and utilize the oxygen to your best capability.

Many of the poses create a “tourniquet effect” in which your blood supply is cut off for a moment, creating pressure. When released, blood rushes through the veins and arteries flushing them out.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to help prepare you for the class is highly recommended as well as not eating about an hour prior to the class in order to have digested everything.

As with any exercise, it is best to consult your physician before trying a class especially if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney issues or any orthopedic problems.

To find a full demonstration and explanation of each of the 26 poses, visit bikramyoga.com.

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Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili

Contributed by Stephanie Devine, MS, RDN

Roasted bell pepper gives this meatless dish a delightful boost.   It’s packed full of fiber and flavor with the Spanish smoked paprika, quinoa and pinto beans.

Serves 4

2 red bell peppers

2 poblano chiles

4 teaspoons olive oil

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3 cups chopped zucchini

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

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4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with chipotles, undrained

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup low-sodium vegetable juice

Preparation

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cut bell peppers and chiles in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet, and flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop.
  3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini, onion, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and paprika; sauté for 30 seconds. Add roasted peppers and chiles, 1/2 cup water, and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.

Nutrition Information:  Serving size: 1.5 cups; Calories 258: Fat 6.3g; Saturated fat 0.9g; Sodium 430mg; Carbohydrate 42g; Fiber 9.8g; Protein 9.7g

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3 Tips for Staying Happy & Healthy this Winter!

  1. Consider a Vitamin D supplement

With fewer daylight hours and the bitter cold keeping many of us indoors, our natural production of vitamin D is much lower in the winter months. Low levels of vitamin D may cause issues with depression, immune function, bone health and even heart disease and cancer. Some studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin D improved mood regulation and wellbeing scores in healthy subjects. In addition, other studies showed that people who take daily vitamin D supplements were 3 times less likely to report cold and/or flu symptoms. When Princeton Longevity Center tests vitamin D levels in our patients, we find that many have low or deficient vitamin D levels and therefore, would benefit from vitamin D supplementation. Talk to your physician to determine if taking a vitamin D supplement is recommended for you and what dose would be appropriate based on your current vitamin D level.

2. Focus on another “D”, DHA

DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is mostly associated with heart and brain health.  However, this omega-3 fat may also help to support mood balance and improve depression. Many people find that the winter months bring out or exacerbate issues with mood and depression. Keeping your DHA intake adequate may help with regulating these issues.  DHA is found in certain types of fish like salmon, tuna, trout, etc. Aim to eat 2 fish meals each week and if you aren’t consistently doing so or you have cardiovascular disease, talk to your physician about taking a DHA based fish oil supplement like those offered by Nordic Naturals.

3. Eat good “bugs”

When you have a cold every hour is misery and shortening the length of a cold is on everyone’s wish list! The possibility of this wish coming true can be increased if you eat probiotic-containing foods everyday.  Some studies have shown that ingesting daily probiotics from foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi and other fermented foods may shorten colds by almost 2 days! The key is to eat these foods before you get sick!

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White Bean & Artichoke Salad

If you are trying to add more beans into your diet, try this recipe as it uses white beans, which are protein-rich and full of vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber.

  • 3 cups white beans, drained
  • ½ (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2/3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped black olives
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ ounce chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine beans, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, olives, onion, parsley, mint, and basil.
  2. In a jar or small bowl, combine oil and vinegar; shake together or mix well. Pour oil and vinegar over the salad, and toss to coat.
  3. Cover and chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight, stirring occasionally, to let flavors blend.
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