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SHAKE OFF THE SALT

by Andrea Rutger RD, LDN

February is American Heart Month.
While this designation is beneficial in reminding Americans about the importance of heart health, steps can and should be taken on a daily basis to prevent, treat, and minimize risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD encompasses all diseases of the heart and circulation, including heart disease and stroke.
Some risk factors for CVD and stroke are dictated by genetics, and therefore cannot be altered, but the American Heart Association, as well as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recognizes diet change as a key factor in prevention. Cutting back on food items that include high amounts of saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium has proven to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels which, subsequently, lowers risk of CVD and stroke.
Currently in the United States, an estimated 77.9 million Americans have high blood pressure, and this number is predicted to rise. High blood pressure increases the workload of the heart muscle, and over time damages the arteries leading to the heart. Excess sodium in the diet limits the body’s ability to regulate fluid balance. This leads to an overload in the vessels, resulting in high blood pressure.
This month, re-evaluate your sodium intake. Did you know that nine out of ten Americans consume too much sodium daily? The average estimated sodium intake is 3,400mg per day, while the recommended intake is 1,500mg or lower! If you have already taken the salt shaker off of the table, you are headed in the right direction. About 10% of sodium consumed comes from home cooking and salt shakers. This is followed by about 25% from restaurant items, and last, but certainly not least, 65% from packaged foods bought in stores!
Even cutting back by 1000mg of sodium per day can decrease blood pressure, so it is wise to be aware of all sodium sources. The American Heart Association has made a list that they call “The Salty Six”. This list is a reminder of foods that can carry hidden sodium. It includes: Bread, Cold Cuts & Cured Meats, Sandwiches, Pizza, Soup, and Chicken.
Sodium is added into many packaged foods for storage and preservation. So when selecting foods, the safest choice is usually fresh fruits & vegetables, as well as meats without added flavors or fancy packaging.
Learn more about sodium and high blood pressure by visiting http://www.heart.org/

SHOP YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS
by Andrea Rutger RD, LDN

We’ve all been there. A hard week is ahead, the to-do list gets longer by the minute, and the last thing on your mind are groceries, let alone groceries that satisfy heart-healthy guidelines.
With these helpful tips, you can conquer grocery store grief and make a positive impact on your health!
Read The Nutrition Facts Label
Use this as your own secret weapon. Be mindful of the serving size listed, as well as servings per container. As a general rule, low is <5%. Aim low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. High is >20%, aim high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber! Also look for labels of foods that contain mono and polyunsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy.
Shop The Perimeter
Most grocery stores in the United States are set up with the same basic layout. Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, dairy, and other perishable items are kept along the perimeter, while processed and long-lasting foods are kept in the middle aisles. If you stick to the perimeter, you are more likely to adhere to heart-healthy guidelines which limit sodium, fat, and added sugars!
Plan Ahead
Make a list before you go and don’t stray from the plan! This can save you money as well as remind you not to impulse buy extra snacks or sweets that may impede your goals.
Look for the American Heart Association Check Mark
Food with this check mark is guaranteed to meet the 7 categories for healthfulness defined and approved by the American Heart Association. This useful program was designed to help consumers become more informed about their food choices.
Spice It Up
Less sodium doesn’t have to mean less flavor. Purchase, or even grow , fresh herbs and spices to enhance your meals. Try a new one every week until you’re an herb expert! Some popular options are basil, cilantro parsley, rosemary, mint, and many more!
For more grocery store tips, visit http://www.eatright.org/or speak with a Registered Dietitian.

Recipe of the Month:

BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND MUSHROOM TACOS
Mushrooms take the place of meat in this recipe to cut back on saturated fat and make it a heart-friendly choice.
Recipe part of Aladdin’s Season’s Harvest Menu,
Adapted from Clean Cooking Magazine.
Ingredients
2 tbspcoconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped onions
2 cups mushrooms
4 ozBrussels sprouts, shredded
½ lbkale, stemmed and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
6 corn tortillas
1 (15 oz) can refried beans
Directions
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in onions, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, and cook 7 to 10 minutes. Add kale, lime juice, chili powder and cumin. Continue to cook until kale is wilted, another 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, heat tortillas, spread with warmed refried beans, followed by a spoonful of the vegetable mixture. Top with pineapple guacamole for a fun flavor combination!
Yield: 6 tacos

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving Size: 1 taco
Calories 140
Total Fat 5g
Protein 6g
Saturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 185mg
Total Carb 20g
Fiber 5g
Sugars 2g

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