This past week in Canada has brought about the debate of whether certain foods are ok to have for a heart-healthy diet, specifically red meat. Many doctors agree that eating red meat is linked to cancer and heart disease, but are the risks big enough to give up burgers and steak? This has been a hotly debated issue ever since this story came out suggesting that it’s alright to have it once in a while, going against established advice.

Although it’s always good to have a discussion around what is good and what isn’t good for a heart-healthy diet, we believe in proven and long-standing recommended methods. Below are some of these heart-healthy diets.

Dash Diet

Researchers and heart-related organizations have developed a dietary plan called, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or what is known as the DASH diet. The diet consists of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and a lower level of salt.  Dietitians of Canada states that DASH can even be as effective as some medications in helping keep blood pressure levels in a normal range.

To help walk us through this diet, we’ve asked our Registered Dietitian, Marsha Rosen, to explain its components and what a normal day would be like on the DASH diet.

The DASH diet emphasizes making meal and snack choices from the following Food Groups:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Low Fat or No-Fat Dairy Foods
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish
  • Nuts, seeds and dry  legumes
  • Fats and oils

The DASH Eating Plan outlines what you would eat normally if you followed a 2000 calorie a day diet.

Food GroupNumber of
daily servings
Example of serving size
Grains6-81 slice whole grain bread   ½ cup cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta *Choose whole grains like oats, millet, barley, bulgur and quinoa most often*
Vegetables4-5½ cup any raw or cooked vegetable   1 cup raw leafy vegetable ½ cup low sodium or reduced sodium vegetable and tomato juice
Fruit4-51 medium fruit
¼ cup dried fruit½ cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit or juice
Low-fat milk products2-31 cup skim or 1% milk   1 cup low-fat yogurt (2% milk fat or less) 1.5 oz low-fat cheese (19% milk fat or less)
Lean meat, poultry and fish6 or less1 oz cooked lean meat, skinless poultry or fish
1 egg
Nuts, seeds and legumes4-5 times per week1/3 cup unsalted nuts (almonds, walnuts)   2 Tbsp peanut butter 2 Tbsp seeds (sunflower, pumpkin) ½ cup cooked legumes (kidney beans, chickpeas)
Fats and oils2-31 tsp non-hydrogenated, unsalted margarine   1 tsp oil (olive, canola, etc.) 1 Tbsp low-fat mayonnaise or salad dressing
Sweets and added sugars5 or less per week1 tbsp sugar, jelly or jam   ½ cup sorbet

Minerals

In addition to focusing on these key food areas, the DASH eating plan encourages you to eat foods that are high in potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Potassium – Good sources of potassium include tomatoes, bananas, oranges, potatoes, nuts, lentils, beans, milk and fish.

Magnesium – Good sources of magnesium include spinach, whole grain cereals, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, soy and lentils.

Calcium – High amounts are found in milk, yoghurt, canned fish with bones mashed in, leafy green vegetables, beans and tofu (manufactured using calcium salts).

And finally – all of this is a wonderful beginning to lifelong healthy eating habits – the one other key step is to introduce some regular exercise that is personally enjoyable and done regularly. Get some professional help if you need it to start you on an appropriate program.

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. While there is no single definition of the Mediterranean diet, it is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nut and seeds, and olive oil.

The main components of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats
  • Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
  • Moderate portions of dairy products
  • Limited intake of red meat

Other important elements of the Mediterranean diet are sharing meals with family and friends, enjoying a glass of red wine and being physically active.

Plant-based, not meat-based

The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans and whole grains. Meals are built around these plant-based foods. Moderate amounts of dairy, poultry and eggs are also central to the Mediterranean Diet, as is seafood. In contrast, red meat is eaten only occasionally.

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. They’re eaten instead of less healthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, which contribute to heart disease.

Olive oil is the primary source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil provides monounsaturated fat, which has been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fat.

Fish are also important in the Mediterranean diet. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and lake trout — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that may reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids also help decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting, and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure.

Eating the Mediterranean way

Interested in trying the Mediterranean diet? These tips will help you get started:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim for 7 to 10 servings a day of fruit and vegetables.
  • Opt for whole grains. Switch to whole-grain bread, cereal and pasta. Experiment with other whole grains, such as bulgur and farro.
  • Use healthy fats. Try olive oil as a replacement for butter when cooking. Instead of putting butter or margarine on bread, try dipping it in flavored olive oil.
  • Eat more seafood. Eat fish twice a week. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy choices. Grilled fish tastes good and requires little cleanup. Avoid deep-fried fish.
  • Reduce red meat. Substitute fish, poultry or beans for meat. If you eat meat, make sure it’s lean and keep portions small.
  • Enjoy some dairy. Eat low-fat Greek or plain yogurt and small amounts of a variety of cheeses.
  • Spice it up. Herbs and spices boost flavor and lessen the need for salt.

The Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way to eat. Many people who switch to this style of eating say they’ll never eat any other way.

Do you have any diets or recipes that you’d like to recommend to us? Send us a message!

Healthline is a great website that has a list of interesting facts on all kinds of subjects. Of course, we think the most interesting list is the Heart Facts. Here’s just a sample of the cool things we’ve learned:

  1. The average heart is the size of a fist in an adult.
  2. Your heart will beat about 115,000 times each day.
  3. Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day.
  4. An electrical system controls the rhythm of your heart. It’s called the cardiac conduction system.
  5. The heart can continue beating even when it’s disconnected from the body.
  6. The giraffe has a lopsided heart, with their left ventricle being thicker than the right. This is because the left side has to get blood up the giraffe’s long neck to reach their brain.
  7. A woman’s heart beats slightly faster than a man’s heart.
  8. Death from a broken heart, or broken heart syndrome, is possible but extremely rare.
  9. The fairy fly, which is a kind of wasp, has the smallest heart of any living creature
  10. If you were to stretch out your blood vessel system, it would extend over 60,000 miles.

Visit https://www.healthline.com/health/fun-facts-about-the-heart#2 for more interesting heart facts!

We sometimes feel that in order to be healthy, we need to cook up a storm of healthier concoctions. This doesn’t have to be the case.

Here are  5 superfoods that barely need any preparation or time – just your time in the grocery store.

1. Blueberries: A few blueberries in the morning can do wonders for your heart. Blueberries are high in fiber, which ultimately helps lower cholesterol, maintain a healthy sugar level, and lowers blood pressure. In our opinion, that’s a triple win situation for your heart-health!2. Apples: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is a true saying! Apples are not only delicious but they are packed with healthy nutrients. They can help lower cholesterol, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and will lower your risk of cancer and heart disease.

3. Broccoli: As much as you may want melted cheese on it to get rid of that icky taste, it actually has many health benefits. Here’s the good thing about broccoli- you can eat it in three ways, boiled, sautéed, and raw. Whichever way you choose to eat it, it is high in fiber and helps strengthen your immune system, bones, and eyes. It’s nutrients can also help fight certain cancers.

4. Avocado: You can eat avocado in any which way you like and it’s just a simply delicious fruit! Just throw on a bit of salt and pepper and you’re good to go! Avocados are packed with healthy fats and nutrients, which ultimately helps stabilize your blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. This will help prevent heart disease, stroke, circulatory disease, and high blood pressure.

5. Coffee: Last but not least, a good ol’ cup of Joe! Studies show that 4 cups of coffee a day can decrease the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes! Although, it is important to remember to drink in moderation- too much caffeine can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure. This is why it is important to drink coffee during the day compared to the night to prevent health issues and eliminate it from your system before bed. You also want to consider decaf.

Now that you know these  5 super-foods, all you have to do is pop into a grocery store, buy a few items, and you’re good to go! Being healthy doesn’t have to be difficult.- There are many ways to be healthy which don’t include much time or effort.

Resources:

 

This past week the parents of Corporal Trevor O’Keefe have donated a MIKEY defibrillator in his memory to the Burnt Cove-Bauline-St. Micheal’s Community Centre.

Corporal Trevor O’Keefe was recognized for his community-focused volunteer work. Members of the Witless Bay Volunteer Fire Department, representatives from the Burnt Cove-Bauline-St. Michael’s Community Centre and residents of the Southern Shore were on hand along with O’Keefe’s parents, Pierre and Biddy O’Keefe to present the MIKEY defibrillator.

His parents selected the community centre to receive the defibrillator, to keep the equipment close to where he grew up.

The MIKEY defibrillator is part of an initiative in support of fallen first responders by Canada’s 911 Ride, Atlantic Region.

With much of the country already experiencing plenty of snowfalls this winter, we thought that it would be a good time to talk about how the cold weather can increase the risk of a heart attack or a sudden cardiac arrest. More importantly how you can protect your heart and reduce that risk.

Although shoveling can seem like an easy chore, it can easily become a strenuous activity leaving you with plenty of fatigue. Lifting snow with a shovel back and forth across a driveway can take a lot out of those who are not regularly active. This can also be the case for those who have snowblowers, as the act of pushing the heavy machine can cause the same amount of strain.

In addition to the activity, the cold weather is another contributor to an increased risk as it can boost blood pressure, interrupt blood flow to part of the heart and make blood more likely to form clots.

Follow our tips below to make sure that you’re well prepared for shoveling your home this winter.

Before you shovel snow

  • If you’re recovering from a recent heart attack or have any doubts about shoveling affecting your health, please contact a doctor.
  • Look to avoid shoveling early on in the morning. Your blood is more prone to clotting due to the lower temperature. Aim to do it at a warmer point of the day if possible.
  • Do not eat a heavy meal before shoveling, as your blood will be diverted from the heart to the stomach.
  • Treat shoveling like a workout and warm up your body before you begin. Even something as simple as walking to the end of the street will be beneficial.
  • Do not drink coffee or smoke for at least one hour before or one hour after shoveling. These are stimulants and elevate your blood pressure and heart rate.

While shoveling snow

  • Use a small shovel that you can comfortably handle, rather than one that can pick up a lot of snow. Having a smaller shovel will allow for more loads, and won’t stress out your body.
  • Give yourself a lot of time to shovel. Plan to make frequent, 15-minute breaks.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Dress in the appropriate amount of layers. Dress so you avoid hypothermia, but not too much and overheat. You could sweat a lot with too much clothing, which could result in the opposite effect of what you’re hoping for.
  • Make sure to cover your head and your neck.
  • Cover your mouth (breathing cold air can cause angina or trigger breathing problems).
  • Watch for the stereotypical signs of a heart attack: lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if you have tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you or you think someone is having a heart attack, call 911 right away.

We hope that you’ve found these tips valuable. Stay safe and happy shoveling!