Celebrate Antioxidants

By Michelle Plummer

February is the month to celebrate the heart!  National Heart Month, World Marriage Day, Valentine’s Day… Do you see a theme developing?  Hearts, family, warmth, babies being born (more babies are conceived in Indiana during February than other times of the year) are all parts of the February celebration.

Why am I telling you about this, because I love chocolate, drink wine and indulge in many delicious antioxidants daily!  NO, because every 34 seconds someone is dying from heart disease.  Can heart disease be prevented, to a degree.  Below I have listed some heart statistics, risks and ideas to not only increase your antioxidant levels but also your overall wellness using nutrient rich foods.

Heart Disease Statistics

  • Every 34 seconds a person in the United States dies from heart disease.
  • Every 20 seconds, a person in the United States has a heart attack.
  • The countries with the highest death rates from heart disease are the Soviet Union, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. The countries with the lowest are Japan, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Canada.
  • Every 33 seconds, a person dies from Cardio Vascular Disease in the United States.
  • Men suffer heart attacks about 10 years earlier in life than women do.

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February is National Snack Food Month!

There are a variety of foods to choose from when eating healthy snacks.

February is National Snack Food Month. Congrats Snack Food – you get a month all to yourself! The idea for National Snack Month was developed in 1989 as a combined effort between the Snack Food Association and the National Potato Promotion Board. Even though February is National Snack Food Month, that doesn’t give us the excuse to put anything we want in our grocery cart. Believe it or not there are HEALTHY snacks. Recently, manufacturers have produced lower calorie, lower fat and/or lower sodium snacks. Sugar is being reduced, as well, and nutrients are being added.

I agree it’s sometimes difficult to find healthy, tasty snacks. Shoppers may have to look high and low on the shelves and read the back of a product’s label to find out it is indeed ‘healthy.’ Fresh fruit and vegetables are always a great start. Fruit and vegetables can often be paired with other nutrient dense foods to add flavor. For example, apple slices are great with cheese, and celery is tasty filled with peanut butter or reduced fat cream cheese.

Great news! There are benefits to snacking, so no need to feel regretful about snacking. Healthy snacks are beneficial! Here’s how:

Binge control. If eating a piece of fruit or raw vegetables keeps you from taking second or third helpings at your next meal, you may actually consume fewer total calories for the day.

Extra energy and nutrients. Traditional, made-at-home meals often lose out to busy schedules. A grab-and-go snack can be the difference between some nourishment and none at all.

Control Hunger Pangs and Insulin Levels. Snacking helps you keep your hunger levels to a minimum and avoid feeling deprived.

Some other ideas for healthy snacks are:
• Air popped popcorn
• Lowfat or nonfat cottage cheese
• Frozen grapes
• Hard boiled egg
• Handful of walnuts
• Lowfat yogurt – or try the Greek yogurt too
• Tuna with 6 whole grain crackers
• A glass of lowfat or nonfat milk

With proper portions and healthy food choices, snacking can enhance, rather than hurt your diet. Think of a snack as a “mini meal” that will help you have a healthy diet, rather than as an opportunity to consume treats. Healthy snack foods are a great tool for permanent weight loss!