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The answer- YES!
Of course you do!

Maybe you were the kid that LOVED eating their vegetables- or maybe you were the last one at the dinner table picking at them because you hated them. But no matter how you feel about vegetables- you NEED them!

Now, admittedly not all vegetables are as appealing as others- but just because you don’t like 1 or 2, doesn’t mean you can’t LOVE some others!

They come in all shapes, sizes and flavors!
From cherry tomatoes, to cucumber, to eggplant, to potatoes- the variety is just never ending.

Vegetables are a great snack AND meal option. Not only are they super low in calories but they are a quick and natural way to provide us with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are high in calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A and C- just to name a few! 

Research consistently shows that people who eat at least 5 servings of vegetables a day have the lowest risk of many fatal health complications.

Let’s take a closer look at some vegetables and the mighty punch they pack

Let’s start with a fan favorite: Carrots

Carrots are tasty no matter how they are consumed. Cooked or raw with some of your favorite dip- they are a versatile and quick way to fill yourself with some key nutrients. One serving of carrots (half a cup) contains up to 73% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene) which is vital for healthy eyesight, and getting enough of this nutrient may help prevent vision loss. Carrots also have an ample amount of antioxidants which promote a healthier heart and can lower the risk of health issues while their Vitamin C content can help boost your immune system.

Spinach- not just for Popeye!

Spinach is another great vegetable that can be consumed raw or cooked. Toss some raw spinach in your salad or add some cooked spinach to your dinner- either way you will be giving your body a surprising amount of nutrition. Just 1 cup of uncooked spinach has 30 milligrams (mg) of calcium, 24 mg of magnesium and 167 mg of potassium.  It also contains vitamin K, fiber, beta carotene, phosphorus, and thiamine- all of which work to provide your body with benefits such as bone health, digestive support and blood sugar management.

It’s a Fruit, it’s a Vegetable- It’s a Tomato!

Yes we know tomatoes are technically a fruit, BUT most people treat them like vegetables and are most often used in veggie dishes. A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily recommended minimum of vitamin C.

They also contain high amounts of Vitamin A-which supports vision and your immune system. Vitamin K-which is good for your bones, and Potassium- an important nutrient for heart function and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Now onto arguably the BEST VEGGIE out there- the potato.

So versatile-mash them, bake them, turn them into french fries- so many options! Not to mention DELICIOUS options. Potatoes contain iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. In fact- a medium 5.3 oz skin on potato has 620 mg of potassium per serving, which is 15% of the daily value and more than a medium-sized banana! They are also a good source of antioxidants- such as flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids. All of which provide your body with fuel it needs to take on the day ahead!

Now knowing these nutritional facts about just 4 different vegetables has to have you somewhat intrigued right? These are 4 tasty- versatile veggies that can be made and consumed in so many yummy ways- and provide your body with ample nutrition.

Try to incorporate a veggie with each meal if you can. Even something small-remember- just because they are small doesn’t mean they aren’t mighty!

Our heart is what keeps us going, it is the glue that holds us together. If our heart is not functioning at its best, our bodies and minds suffer. A healthy heart is imperative to overall health and wellness. Proper heart health will help protect you from heart disease and work to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Of course, eating well and exercising are vital for good heart health, but there are actually certain foods you can eat that are like fuel for your health.

So by now you are likely asking yourself, ok so what foods can help me?
Well, wonder no more!

Here are 10 foods that work to support a healthier heart, while of course also tasting great!

1. Salmon
This plentiful and protein packed fish is full of nutrients for the heart and is especially rich in Omega 3’s.  Omega 3’s work to reduce inflammation in the blood vessels and can lower your level of blood fats called triglycerides. The American Heart Association recommends eating 2 servings of salmon (or any fatty fish) 2 times a week.

2. Walnuts
Walnuts are an exceptionally healthy nut. They are rich in heart-healthy fats and high in antioxidants. Walnuts also contain a significant amount of Omega 3’s, substantially more than any other nut. They are also known to work to reduce bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. 

3. Edamame
This food may seem less common, but this nutritious soybean actually has 8 cups of fibre per cup and works to lower cholesterol. They are also rich in antioxidants and vitamin K. If you are vegetarian and worry about your iron, Edamame is also a good source of vegetable based iron.

4. Oranges
It’s no secret these delicious, citrus fruits are good for us. Being loaded in Vitamin C, we know they can help build up our immune system, but they are also an excellent source of fiber and also contain potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure.

5. Flaxseed
These small but mighty seeds are rich in Omega 3- fatty acids, fiber as well as phytochemicals-called lignans. Lignans are known to help lower the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis as well as symptoms of menopause. 

6. Leafy Greens
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and collard greens are widely known for being stocked full of healthy nutrients while also low in calories.. They are high in antioxidants and contain vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure.

7. Avocados
These yummy fruits contain rich amounts of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats, as well as potassium. All working together to promote a healthier heart and lowering our blood pressure and cholesterol.

8. Almonds
Almonds are loaded with fiber, healthy fats, anti oxidants and magnesium, which work to lower blood pressure. Almonds are also known to lower bad cholesterol as well as prevent harmful oxidation of ldl (bad) cholesterol.. What does this mean? Well, “Bad” LDL cholesterol can actually become oxidized, which can be dangerous in the development of heart disease. Almonds have been shown to significantly reduce oxidized LDL.

9. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of fiber, potassium as well as an array of vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, selenium, and they’re a good source of most of our B vitamins and vitamin C. With this list, it makes us wonder, what AREN’T sweet potatoes good for!?

10. Dark Chocolate
We saved the best for last! You read that right! Chocolate IS good for you! Of course, dark chocolate is, in moderation. Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but it also comes with benefits like being able to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.


There you have it!

10 of the best foods to help your heart get the nutrients it needs to keep you performing at your best, and living your best life.

Remember, you’re never too young or too old to take care of your heart.


References:

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-to-save-your-heart

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6429205/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods#TOC_TITLE_HDR_8

Summer has come to an end, which means shorter days, longer nights, leaves are changing colors, and of course- back to school!

Now granted this school year is different for almost all of us, adults and children alike, but what doesn’t change is your child’s need for proper nutrition.

Whether your child is physically going back to school, or if they are doing online learning from home, proper nutrition and healthy eating is crucial for giving them the fuel they need to conquer the day. 

Ensuring they are consuming healthy food throughout the day will help them grow and develop optimally. They are also more likely to be energized and motivated, which will help support their ability to learn and stay while they learn.

Children require a wide variety of nutrients like protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins, to support their daily growth and development and even to help protect them from childhood illnesses.

So now you might be thinking, what kind of snacks would be ideal for your child to keep them nourished but also delicious!

Here are some simple yet tasty snack ideas your child will love- whether at home or school!

Fruit: Instead of just adding a banana to their lunch, try to make it exciting and more enticing

  • Watermelon slices and yogurt dip.
  • Mixed berries and granola. 
  • Apple slices with peanut butter. 
  • Fruit kabobs- add your child’s fav fruit to a mini skewer for them to enjoy!

Veggies: Again, try and make them more intrigued to eat- but remember-kids like simple!

  • Veggie sticks and hummus- this is great for carrots, cucumbers and celery.
  • Stuffed peppers- adding some cheese makes almost all kids want more! Try some stuffed peppers with ricotta.
  • Thinly sliced, uncooked zucchini topped with a small piece of cheddar cheese.

Other Tasty Ideas:

Trail Mix: Try combining pretzels, raisins, pumpkin seeds, their favorite nut and even chocolate chips for that little extra sweet kick!

Rice Cakes: There are many yummy flavors available, ketchup, dill pickle, salt and vinegar- the list goes on!

Lunch meat rolls with cheese: Roll up your child favorite lunch meat and add some cheese chunksEach of these snacks are full of nutrition and minerals to help support a healthy diet for your child. Helping your child maintain a healthy lifestyle now will support lifelong healthy eating habits.

The sky’s the limit! Play around and see what your child likes the most and make it fun for them. Not only will they get the nutrition they need, but you can feel good knowing your child is healthy and fueled for the day of learning!

Their bodies and mind will thank you!

whole-foods-processed-foods

Eating healthy does not have to be complicated!

Once you understand this one simple concept, you will KNOW which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.

There’s a few very simple nutritional guidelines that will always steer you in the direction of optimal health and vitality. These fundamental rules could save millions from a life of obesity and disease.

One major guideline to follow is… Stay AWAY from processed food. Period.

And this is the major mistake so many of us make, often without even realizing it. We buy and choose processed foods over the real thing, over whole foods and home-cooked meals, but because processed foods contain so much salt and sugar (and things like trans fats), we inevitably gain weight and become very unhealthy after eating them.

Despite being calorically dense, these foods are often nutritionally void, even if they have been ‘fortified’ with vitamins and minerals. This simply isn’t the same as getting them from their natural sources.

The principles discussed below will help you change your diet, so that you can avoid the pitfalls that lead to unhealthy dietary habits.

Let’s get started…

If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it’s made in a plant, avoid it

There’s a lot of talk about which plants and whole foods to eat—which ones are healthy enough to be considered “superfoods,” why you should or shouldn’t eat fruits, legumes, or veggies.

But here’s the bottom line: choose a wide variety of real, plant-based foods instead of processed, packaged foods, and your health is sure to benefit. All nutrition arguments aside, this should be one principle on which everyone can agree.

This is where trending diets can be dangerous. They allow us to convince ourselves that processed foods are healthy, simply because they fit the mold of the latest and greatest dietary fad.

The low-fat, Atkins, and other subsequent dietary crazes have all seen a surge of processed and packaged foods suited to the “rules” of each diet. Gluten-free and low-sugar products suffer from the same false logic—these cookies must be good for you, as long as they’re gluten-free, right?

Choosing whole foods over processed foods takes some thought. After all, food corporations make sure that their products are as convenient and addictive as possible. And because it’s so easy to become addicted to these foods (due to the excessive amounts of salt, fat, and sugar used to make them), people begin to rationalize their reasons for eating them (even calling their diet-branded foods healthy, when they are not!).

I once conversed with a woman who warned me of the dangers of my kale salad while she liberally applied processed cheese spread and cold cuts onto packaged crackers (you may recall the hullabaloo in recent years about the oxalates that kale contains). The reality is that the “dark side” of kale is easily neutralized, and in no world is eating kale all day less healthy than eating processed foods all day.

So how do we avoid the endless temptations of perfectly crafted processed foods?

Cook your food at home!

Committing to making as much of your food as possible at home is an excellent way to reinvent your relationship to food.

Here’s why: because of how much time and effort is required to make homemade fries, chips, and refined desserts, you simply won’t be able to eat as many of them. You’ll find that whole foods (and simple recipes made with them) are much more time-efficient, so you’ll naturally eat more of them by confining your diet to home-cooked.

Here’s Michael Pollan explaining this principle…

Break your food addictions

The key to gaining mastery over your health is to break the food addictions that keep you locked in the same unhealthy eating patterns. Processed foods are designed to be drugs and entertainment tools, not nourishment. And because instant dietary gratification is so easily obtained from the nearest grocer or corner store, too many of us end up as the puppets of our cravings.

But breaking these addictions is as easy as following the suggestions above. As Michael Pollan says, “Eat anything you want; just cook it yourself.” Stop counting calories. Stop fretting about following the “best” diet, especially if you’re just beginning the process of taking control of your health and nutrition.

Instead, simply eat a wide variety of organic whole foods, avoid processed foods, and anytime you crave some kind of comfort food or dessert, make it yourself at home (I guarantee you won’t have them as often).

Before long, cravings will give way to the genuine desire for nourishment. And once your relationship to your diet has shifted in this way, the hardest part of the battle against obesity and poor nutrition will already be over.

 

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