By: Meridith M. Fargnoli, RD, LDN – Registered Dietitian
According to the CDC, February is American Heart Month, and unfortunately, most of us know someone who has had heart disease or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day.
As you know Take Shape for Life is committed to making America healthy. So here are some quick “Heart Healthy” tips for you and your clients to apply:
1. Be “heart” smart about your fat intake
–Limit total fat intake to less than 25–35 percent of your total calories each day;
–Limit your intakes of saturated fat to less that 7% of energy
–Trans fat to less than 1% of energy
–Limit cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg per day with a history of CVD
–The remaining fat should come from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as nuts, seeds, fish and vegetable oils. (HEALTHY FATS)
–Increase Omega-3 fatty acid intake by incorporating fatty fish (SALMON) 2 times per week or through supplementation. Omega- 3 intake has been associated with improvements in total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and blood pressure.
2. Eat more fiber. Choose high fiber veggies, higher fiber Medifast Meals and when in Transition & Maintenance-choose whole grains!
– Eat beans, whole-grain cereals, and oatmeal, and aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables/day. Anything with 5 g of fiber or more is a high source of fiber. However, it is recommended that adults consume 25-38 g of fiber/day for optimal health!
Choose more of the higher fiber Medifast meal options. Some of the highest fiber items (each with 5 grams of fiber) include: Blueberry and Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal; Vanilla pudding; Home-style Chili and Scrambled Eggs. Many of the other Medifast meals contain 3-4 grams of fiber, however, they can range from 1-5 grams, so be sure to check your labels (and/or product profile) to determine which may work best for you.
Choose higher fiber veggies like spinach, broccoli, collard and/or turnip greens, etc.
3. Eat more plant-based meals, using beans and soy foods for protein
–25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. (MEDIFAST UTLIZES SOY PROTEIN IN MANY OF ITS MEALS)
4. Aiming for a Healthy Body Weight
–Obesity is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Maintain a healthy weight and keep waist circumference well below 40 inches for men and below 35 inches for women. Extra body weight increases blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, LDL and increases the risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other diseases.
5. Aim for Normal Blood Pressure
-Elevated Blood pressure is an independent risk factor for CVD. Limit daily sodium intake to a maximum of 2,300 mg per day. (THE 5&1 PROVIDES 1250-2000MG/DAY-LIMIT YOUR ADDED SALT)
6. Aim for normal Blood Glucose Level
-Hyperglycemia and insulin resistance are related to many cardiovascular complications. (IF YOU ARE DIABETIC-CHECK YOUR BLOOD SUGARS REGULARLY AND HAVE REGULAR CHECK UPS WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN AND/OR ENDOCRINOLOGIST)
7. Be Physically Active
-Regular physical activity improves CVD risk, metabolic syndrome risk factors, and lowers the risk of developing other chronic diseases. (YOU CAN EXERCISE UP TO 45 MINUTES/DAY)
8. Avoid Tobacco Products
-The use of tobacco products and exposure to secondhand smoke increases CVD risk, cancer and other serious illnesses.
9. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation
-If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day -for women, and one to two drinks a day for men. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. (ALCOHOL IS NOT RECOMMENDED ON ANY OF THE MEDIFAST PROGRAMS).
February is also known for its pink and red hearts and cupid decorations, flowers and sweet decadence…that latter piece can be daunting when you are trying to keep your carbohydrates limited and lose weight. So I thought I would share some of my personal On Plan sweet ideas…
Cherry Cordial Truffles…Mix 1 packet Cherry Pomegranate Shake, 1 packet Hot Cocoa and 3-4 Tablespoons of water (you just need enough water to form a soft dough-so add in one Tbsp of water at a time. Weigh and portion dough out into two equal portions. Roll each dough portion into 4 small balls-chill in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes. ( ½ recipe = 1 Medifast Meal)
Whoopie Pie… Mix together 1 packet Medifast Brownie according to package directions. Divide dough equally into two trays (spray lightly with non-stick spray) and bake at 350 degrees for about 5-10 minutes. Remove and let chill in fridge. Once cooled completely spread 1 Tbsp Sugar Free Cool Whip on one brownie-gently top with the other brownie-place in the freezer for about 15 minutes or until cool whip is slightly firm…yummy! (1 Medifast Meal + 1 Condiment)
Mexican Hot Cocoa… Mix together 1 packet of Medifast Hot Cocoa according to package directions. Add ¼ tsp Cinnamon, 1/8 tsp cloves, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. Stir well and heat. Top with 1 Tbsp of Sugar Free Cool Whip. This is a yummy sweet and spicy treat! (1 Medifast Meal + 2 Condiments).