Back in the day heart disease was always thought of more as a “man’s disease.” However, we now know coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, arrhythmia and congestive heart failure do not discriminate among gender — 1 in 4 women dies from heart disease in the United States. Starting at about 20 years old, approximately 1 in 16 women will begin to develop coronary heart disease, the number one cause of death for women in the U.S. The risk of heart disease for women increases as we age.
Heart disease is preventable. Like many other illnesses, cardiovascular disease often starts in the gut. As we mentioned in part 1 & 2 of our “Aging Gracefully…Other BS” series, exercise and nutrition help combat heart disease.
We know what you are thinking — heart disease is all about the build of plaque on the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, right?! Yes, that is correct. You have also likely heard the heart healthy guidelines: Eat healthy, stay active, don’t smoke, and limit alcohol use to lower your chance for heart disease. This article is going to focus on the heart healthy guidelines: Eat healthy because what we eat can make a difference in the health of our hearts❤️.
Fiber. Number one element to preventing heart disease from beginning to develop in your gut. We discussed fiber’s importance here: https://amysmargulies.medium.com/womans-series-part-2-your-food-your-gut-your-immunity-a07a6ab3e1bd — so take a look if you missed it!
Healthy fats. Fat was a word formally banished from our plates until the science revealed how healthy fats provide one of the most important roles in our bodies. Healthy fats help you absorb certain vitamins and minerals, and they provide certain vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. Furthermore, healthy fats are essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. These healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. AVOID industrial-made trans fats!
Fats are both naturally and industrially created. The chemical structure of fats is what makes them both similar and different. A simple explanation — without feeling like you are back in 8th grade science — is that all fats contain a chain of carbon atoms bonded to hydrogen atoms. Seemingly slight differences in fat structure translate into crucial differences in form and function:
Now we are on the right road! Less is best when it comes to bonding and fats (but not bonding and friends, of course). With less hydrogenated atoms bonding to their carbon chains, you have liquid at room temperature. Some of the food sources include vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.
Let’s cook up some MUFA!
This is based on the more famous Chicken Kiev, but lightened up and heart-healthy! The original recipe leaves the chicken with the skin, stuffs it with butter, dips it in egg and bread crumbs and deep fries it. This version has much less fat, uses a monounsaturated oil, fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, lots of herbs, spice and flavor, creating something moist, delicious and healthy for your heart. With that said, this is a longer recipe in terms of time, so perhaps a weekend dish or an evening when you feel you can commit and embrace your time in the kitchen…just sayin ;).
photo by mccormick
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, washed and dried, chopped into small pieces
3–4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided (or basil, thyme or other favorite herb)
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (create by removing crusts and process 4 slices whole wheat bread in food processor until just crumbly)
1/4 cup nonfat milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the filling: Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and garlic. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Then remove the lid and continue to cook until the liquid has fully evaporated from the skillet. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of your herb of choice. Place on dinner-size plate, divide into 4 equal portions and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.
For the coating: Combine the bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons your herb of choice and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl.
For the cookin’: Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the prepared chicken on sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. Chicken should be cooked through but still moist. Serve immediately, sliced for a fancy look or whole, topped with herbs. Makes 4 servings.
1 whole grain flatbread — ie. whole wheat Naan, whole wheat pita bread, whole wheat tortilla
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 cups cooked veggies: broccoli, mushrooms,, zucchini, spinach
1/2 cup chopped arugula and/or tomatoes
1/2 cup low fat cheese — any mix of mozzarella, cheddar, feta, goat, etc.
1/2 cup protein from your fridge or pantry: chopped cooked chicken, white beans, cooked lean steak, cooked shrimp, etc.
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
optional garnish: fresh basil leaves
Preheat broiler on low. Place flatbread on a baking sheet, lined with nonstick foil. Brush flatbread with olive oil. Mix veggies with garlic and spread veggies, protein and cheese evenly on top of your flatbread, with cheese on top.
Place in oven and broil for 2–3 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.
Makes one serving, but feel free to double, triple, quadruple, as needed.
ROASTED TILAPIA WITH ALMONDS AND OLIVES
Roasting helps to bring out the natural juiciness of the food itself, creating a moist, flavorful and satisfying dish. This fish dish is topped with some of our MUFAs of course, creating a delicious mix of a tender fish and moist crunch, to make you taste buds and heart smile big. Not a fan of fish, you could easily substitute a veggie here too, like asparagus or string beans.
4 6-ounce tilapia fillets
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon minced shallots
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 ounces white wine
1/2 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
2 Tablespoons almonds, crushed
Fresh chopped tarragon for optional garnish
Combine lime juice, pepper, tarragon and shallots in a large sealable bag. Add the tilapia fillets (or vegetable) and turn to coat all sides with the marinade. Let marinate at room temperature for about 20 minutes. While fish is marinating, place nonstick foil in rimmed baking sheet. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Remove the fish from the marinade and place on baking sheet. Place in oven to roast for about 10–12 minutes or until fish is fork tender.
While fish is roasting, prepare sauce by placing a small skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and white wine. Bring to a simmer for 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the olives and almonds.
Once roasting is complete, remove fish from oven and place on serving dish. Top with sauce and additional tarragon for garnish. Makes 4 servings.
Survival is the new success.
~ Jerry Seinfeld
Abdelhamid AS, Martin N, Bridges C, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;7(7):CD012345. Published 2018 Jul 18. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD012345.pub2
Guideline on the Management of Blood Cholesterol: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019 Jun 25;73(24):e285-e350. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2018.11.003. Epub 2018 Nov 10. Erratum in: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019 Jun 25;73(24):3237–3241. PMID: 30423393.
Lloyd-Jones DM, Morris PB, Ballantyne CM, Birtcher KK, Daly DD Jr, DePalma SM, Minissian MB, Orringer CE, Smith SC Jr. 2017 Focused Update of the 2016 ACC Expert Consensus Decision Pathway on the Role of Non-Statin Therapies for LDL-Cholesterol Lowering in the Management of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk: A Report of the American College of Cardiology Task Force on Expert Consensus Decision Pathways. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Oct 3;70(14):1785–1822. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.07.745. Epub 2017 Sep 5. PMID: 28886926.
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Immunity has become a hot topic during this worldwide pandemic.While there may be information floating around about diet and coronavirus prevention, we cannot prevent COVID-19 with food (or with wine, though it continues to be tested😊). Increasing your intake of vitamins C, D, and iron helps build and maintain immunity and health, but, again, they won’t keep the coronavirus from attacking and spreading. For COVID-19 prevention, follow the CDC guidelines: wear a fucking mask😷, physically distance by at least 6 feet, wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds each time. Period.
The importance of building our immunity for long-term health is indisputable. As discussed in our last blog, most women focus on proper calcium intake during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, but we tend to lose that focus later in life. Our immunity and bone health are crucial for long-term well-being and overall health. One silver lining from this pandemic is a focus on prevention, protection, survival and wellness. Our goal is to encourage people to move away from dieting and relying on a scale to measure progress, and to meet nutritional needs through balanced eating🍽.
Your gut, consisting mostly of the large intestine, is home to millions of powerful bacteria that are continually working to prevent and protect us from disease. Over 60% of our immunity is housed in the lining of our guts. Feeding our good bacteria builds our immunity against disease. As all disease begins in the gut, our bodies are hosts to a microbiome revolution: what is there (your microbiome), what they can do, what they actually do. If we do not feed our good bacteria, this will increase the inflammation in our gut, putting us at higher risk for disease😞. The good news: keeping your diet diversified, filled with healthy fiber, protein and fat will keep your microbiome, your gut and you happy and healthy😃!
Fiber intake is the marker of a healthy diet, specifically fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides. The new 2020 Dietary Guidelines will state a minimum of 28 grams of fiber per day, up from 25 grams. The lower your fiber intake, the higher your risk for disease. You do not have to remember their scientific names, but you should know where to find them. Fructans are found in whole wheat products, onions, garlic, barley, asparagus, and jicama. Galacto-oligosaccharides are found in dairy products as well as plant-based foods including beans, lentils, and soybeans. Fiber is the most powerful building block for healthy nutrition.
When you consume healthy, fibrous foods, your gut ferments these foods, which stimulates your healthy gut bacteria. Most dietary fibers are prebiotics, meaning they stimulate your beneficial microbes. Why is this so exciting? The needed fermentation that takes place in the gut increases calcium absorption. Hence, everything you eat affects your gut health and the absorption of all nutrients. You are what you eat is no joke!
Simple everyday swaps to improve gut health and immunity:
CREAMY GARLIC MEXICAN SOUP
Garlic has been used as medicine throughout ancient and modern history. Garlic contains antioxidants that protect against cell damage and aging. It is also naturally high in inulin, the type of functional fiber we mentioned above. It is a known prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system, helping create a healthy gut. Oh, and it is delicious 😋. The addition of Greek yogurt provides quite your nutritional bang.
Photo by Jezebel Rose on Unsplash
2 Tablespoons olive oil,. divided
5–6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or basil, if not a lover of cilantro), chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
4 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes, no added salt
1 4-ounce can diced chilies
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups Greek yogurt, nonfat, plain
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and garlic and sauté until lightly browned. Remove garlic from pan and set aside. Add additional tablespoon of olive oil and onion to skillet. Sauté tender, about 6 minutes. Add paprika, broth, tomatoes, chilies and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Slowly stir in yogurt and cook over low heat until heated through. Do not boil! Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with cilantro. Makes 6 1-cup servings.
1 cup steamed lentils
3 bell peppers, any color combo
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable broth, low sodium
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
optional garnish: fresh mint or basil leaves
Place lentils in large bowl and set aside.
Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove and discard seeds and membranes. Place peppers skin side up on a baking sheet. Broil on top oven rack until charred, about 5–10 minutes — keep checking! Remove from oven and place in brown paper bag to cool and loosen skin, for about 10 minutes. Remove from bag, peel and discard skins. Cut into small strips.
Add peppers, balsamic vinegar through spinach leaves into bowl with lentils. Toss well. Cover and chill in refrigerator for about 1-2 hours. Toss again, top with goat cheese, lightly toss and serve. Spice it up with additional pepper or other spices like coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper. Sprinkle with fresh mint or basil leaves. Makes 4 1-cup servings.
Edamame are quite the star of the legume family. When you consider just a half-cup serving contains 11 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, 2 1/2 grams of heart-healthy fats, along with vitamins c, a, iron and calcium, you wonder, should I be eating these more often? Yes! This recipe could be for a snack time, a side dish, or you could easily add a whole grain (we suggest farro!) and more veggies for a meal.
3 cups steamed edamame
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon grated ginger root
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Place edamame in a medium size bowl and set aside.
Mix apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, green onions, ginger root, orange and lemon juice together. Pour over edamame. Marinate in refrigerator anywhere from 1 hour to a few days. Makes 6 1/2-cup servings or 3 1-cup servings.
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (for gluten-free options: almond flour, Bob’s Red Mill GF 1:1 Baking Flour, King Arthur GF Measure for Measure Flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 large carrots, peeled and grated (yes, it is a lot :)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, nonfat, plain
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, on “roast” if your oven has this feature. Lightly spray loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and ginger. Blend well with a whisk. Add the grated carrots and mix well to combine.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the oil and eggs well. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until just combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Roast for 40–45 minutes, or bake for 55–60 minutes, until a toothpick placed in center comes out dry. Remove from oven and cool for at least 10 minutes in pan, then remove, slice and enjoy. Makes 12 servings.
The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but will rather cure and prevent disease with nutrition.
~ Thomas Edison
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The rebellious Rd
As a longtime promoter of healthy cooking and eating, Amy's focus is on plant-based eating, with a rebellious twist - that she and no one, needs to be perfect.