The GoRedForWomen.org and National Wear Red campaigns help raise awareness for the leading cause of death in women – heart disease. By raising awareness, we can help fight this disease. But awareness needs to be more than awareness alone. It is important for everyone to educate ourselves about how to PREVENT heart disease and keep it from impacting women and children’s lives!
This is not just for women. Just as Type 2 diabetes rates have been increasing in children, so has their incidence for heart disease.
How can we work to turn these trends around? Healthy FOOD FOR ALL AGES!!
We vote several times a day towards our health by picking up a fork. We CAN combat heart disease by making food healthy choices. What foods? PLANTS! Vegetables (especially those dark leafy greens), grains, beans/legumes, and fruits all help to combat atheriosclerosis (or the thickening of the lining of your arteries). Plants contain no cholesterol and therefore fight the rise of LDL (lousy/bad cholesterol).
What are some things you can do?!
1) Cook oil free-why no oil? Oil contains only fat calories, 4000 calories per pound to be exact, and leads to additional fatty deposits in the circulatory system. It’s easy to cut out. How can you cook without oil you may be wondering? Try these methods:
- To sauté without oil, simply add your veggies to a hot pan, and a splash of water or vegetable broth to the pan to prevent sticking, and sauté away. Your veggies won’t stick, and you’ll still be able to get the caramelization affect your after.
- To bake: sub oils for apple sauce and neutral tasting nut or seed butters, like almond butter. Nut butters, while containing fat, also provide other nutrients like protein and vitamins, and aren’t as calorically dense as oils. Nothing has been extracted from them, they are a whole food. For a cookie without oil, try my chocolate macadamia nut biscotti.
Soups/Stews without oil: Add your veggies in together, along with the liquid you’re using (water or no/low sodium vegetable broth). No oil is necessary and you can even skip that sauté step to save time!
Roasting: To roast veggies, I toss them with some fresh citrus juice, herbs (dried hardy herbs to roast, fresh delicate herbs to finish), and cover with foil. The veggies cook up by steaming, and then can be uncovered to brown up a little. If you desire them to brown up more and to prevent sticking, cook them on parchment paper. This helps the veggies to get a crispier texture as they would get with oil. Finish them by drizzling with vinegar or additional citrus juice.
- Salad Dressings: I now use a flavored balsamic vinegar for my salad dressing alone. No oil needed. When you’re purchasing bottled dressings, you’re purchasing a lot of filler ingredients, as well as a lot of added fats, sugars, and preservatives. By using a nicely flavored balsamic vinegar, you can taste your salad ingredients more, and enjoy them with less calories.
EAT THOSE GREENS! Dark leafy greens provide amazing protection for endothelial health, the lining of your arteries. They help decrease inflammation, while providing plant-based calcium, protein, and fiber. High fiber diets have been linked to reducing blood pressure and bad cholesterol. For a delicious, oil free salad, try my Massaged Winter Kale Salad. It’s bursting with nutrients!!
Swap eggs in recipes for flaxseed or chia seed: eggs contain a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat. They’re also high in arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation in the body. Flaxseed and chia seeds act similarly to eggs in a recipe in that they helps with binding. For a! healthy pudding recipe that’s free of eggs and dairy, try my Apple Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding Parfait! !
Get out and exercise! Exercise helps to boost circulation and improve heart health, plus it releases endorphins, hormones that increase happiness. What’s not to love?! So on February 6, wear red, but eat all your colors, especially green to raise awareness and a healthy fork!!
For recipes and ideas on how to eat heart healthy, whole, plant-based foods, join me over at www.gardenfreshfoodie.com.
In good health-!
Jessica Altman Meyers
Follow us @WNYHeart! Tag #WNYHeart.