The American Heart Association and fitlosophy, inc. have declared today as Blog Your Heart Out Day to raise awareness about heart disease as the number one killer for women in North America. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, FatFighterTV!
Heart disease isn’t something that I personally (or anyone very close to me) have dealt with- and I hope to keep it that way. As some of you may know, I am on a crusade against trans fats. These dangerous fats are man-made and are also known as hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil. Food manufacturers are allowed to say that their food contains “Zero trans fats!” if the amount is very small (less than 0.5 grams per serving), but if you read the ingredient list, you’ll see it written as “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil”.
So what’s so bad about trans fats? Why does it matter if there is a minuscule amount in the food that you eat? Well, often we eat far more than a serving size, so that “minuscule amount” becomes something bigger. And the damage that even a small amount can do is terrifying: trans fats increase LDL-cholesterol and decrease HDL-cholesterol in the body. Higher levels of LDL- cholesterol increase our risk of heart disease; HDL-cholesterol, on the other hand, protects against heart disease. Trans fats are also directly related to cancer, birth defects, and diabetes, to name just a few major health issues. According to David Brownstein, MD,
Trans fats… are actually toxic substances for our cell membranes. When our cells contain an overabundance of trans fats, the cells become leaky and distorted. This can promote vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
If all of this is true, why do food manufacturers continue to use trans fats in their products? They do it because it’s cheap, flavourful, extends shelf life, and adds a smooth texture to the food. You can avoid this and fight back against heart disease by eating natural, whole foods (nothing packaged!), and by choosing butter or Earth Balance instead of other kinds of margarine.
On a less serious note, you can also participate in spreading awareness about heart disease by wearing red and thinking about fighting against heart disease as you celebrate Valentine’s Day with a fun, heart-healthy menu from Tosca Reno:
Pomegranate Fizz – 2 oz. Pomegranate juice, 1/2 to 1 oz. Triple sec or other orange liqueur, 5 oz. Chilled champagne, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, 6-8 pomegranate seeds with grated lemon rind (zest)
Heirloom Tomato Salad – 2 lbs. Heirloom tomatoes, 1 cup bocconcini, 2 generous handfuls of fresh basil leaves, several sprigs of fresh chives, 1/4 best quality balsamic vinegar, 1/4 extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp seas salt, freshly ground pepper to taste.
Scallops with Vegetables and Quinoa – 1 lb. Scallops; 3 Tbsp of Olive Oil; 1 cup uncooked quinoa; 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock; 6 small zucchini; 4 similarly size carrots, trimmed and peeled; 1 red bell pepper, seeded and de-veined, cut into long strips; 5 scallions, trimmed, cut lengthwise into fours; juice and zest of fresh lime, divided 2 Tbsp white sesame seeds; 2 Tbsp roasted sesame seed oil; 1/2 tsp of ground ginger; 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari sauce.
Chocolate-Coated Frozen Bananas – 4 medium bananas; 8 bamboo skewers; 4 oz. Good-quality chocolate, 70% cocoa or darker; 1 1/2 Tbsp coconut butter; 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped; 1 Tbsp crystallized ginger, finely chopped.
How will you be taking action to prevent heart disease?
The Living Healthy in the Real World Guide to Grocery Shopping kicks off on Monday- if you have any further requests for what topics you would like me to cover during our mini-series, let me know!