Be Well by Cathy Siley

Healthy Eating for a Healthy Heart

As "February is Heart Month" rolls along, another key component to good health is good nutrition.  Most people have a vague concept of what constitutes good nutrition.  Eat your fruits and veggies, cut down on sweets and fats, drink enough water, etc.  There are countless diets and eating plans out there, and many people have dietary restrictions for one reason or another.  But it really all comes down to this ... your main concern should be consuming foods that promote a healthy body while reducing your intake of things that are detrimental.  It really is as simple as that.

Food items that are heart-healthy include fruits and vegetables (particularly those that are colorful), low-fat dairy items, healthy cuts of meat, poultry and fish, and a wide variety of nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.  Whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas can be incorporated into good nutrition, and healthy fats and oils in moderation are actually good for your  heart.  There are TONS of good food choices available for any lifestyle you embrace.

These days however, many people run from place to place with less time than ever to prepare healthy meals.  Enter the world of prepared and convenience foods, thus leading to the second part of the equation, reducing your intake of ingredients detrimental to your health.   Although most people understand the pitfalls of traditional fast food, many families choose convenience and "to go" items that are seemingly healthy, yet may contain a variety of additives and preservatives.

Added salt is a primary ingredient in many processed and prepared foods, and sodium has a huge impact on the cardiovascular system.   Food items labeled as low-fat or non-fat often have added sugars and artificial flavors to enhance the taste of the food.   Other chemical additives such as nitrates are found in a host of processed meats and deli products.  In your quest to save time, you are now potentially sacrificing your family's health.

The good news is that there are many prepared items available today that ARE good for you.  The key is reading the ingredient labels and educating yourself about what you see.  Choosing prepared foods with a minimal number of ingredients (and ones you can pronounce!) is a good first step.  In addition, food labels list ingredients in descending order of the amount in the package, so avoid foods where salts, sugars, and fats are closer to the top of the list.  And remember ... salt and sugar can go by a variety of different names.  Labels can be confusing!  Check out this link to the American Heart Association's web page regarding this tricky issue:

Feeling overwhelmed by information overload?  Want to evaluate your diet or wondering what a "good fat" is ... or isn't?  Contact nutritionist Maureen Shortt for a consultation today.

In the mean time, check out Ash's Kitchen for freshly made salads, soups and entrees.  You can have a nice meal in the café or grab dinner out of the case.  Eat healthy and stay healthy, right here at The Solebury Club!

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