Okay, this latest commercial just frustrated me. It comes just in time for National Heart Disease Awareness Month, how convenient. Please don’t be fooled by deceiving marketing, “Ensure Active Heart Health” is best if left out of your diet. The sugar & oils added to these processed drinks most definitely do not support a healthy heart. One bottle has nearly 5 teaspoons of added sugar! It is advised that women should not consume more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar in one day, and for men, that number is 9. (This recommendation by the way comes from the American Heart Association, how ironic). Not to mention the soy protein isolate, which is chemically engineered from soybeans leaving behind toxins such as aluminum and hexane. I cannot stress enough how important it is to always read labels, the more ingredients, the more processed the “food” is.
Support your heart health with REAL food. Get your potassium from nourishing food without all of the added junk. Fruits, vegetables, fish & nuts are all naturally high in potassium. We often think of bananas as being high in potassium but there are so many other great foods that are packed full with potassium! Clams, salmon, artichokes, spinach, kale, beans, beets, potatoes, papayas, pomegranates and avocados just to name a few! Embrace more anti-inflammatory foods like those rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, haddock and mackerel offer EPA and DHA. Omega-3 ‘s can also be found in some plant-based foods in the form of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. These foods include flaxseeds, Chia seeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Lastly, avoid trans fats, which are considered “toxic” fats. These are added to numerous processed foods including margarine, baked goods, chips, many frozen meals, non-dairy flavored coffee creamers, and many many more foods! You can identify them on a food label as “partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils.” Real food ALWAYS wins.
Fermented foods are becoming more popular and more available in grocery stores nation wide. Although fermented foods have been around for many centuries, they have somehow escaped our diet. Their recent growing popularity comes with good reason! Fermented foods provide beneficial live bacteria to the GI tract. When foods become fermented, it allows the nutrients in those foods to become more easily absorbed. About 70% of our immune system is found in our gut which is why the importance of maintaining a healthy gut should make sense right? Yet for many of us, our gut health is neglected. Stress, sugar and processed foods, alcohol, and toxins can all wreak havoc on our guts making us more susceptible to illness. Ever been prescribed an antibiotic? Your gut health just took a beating. While antibiotics wipe out those bad bacteria associated with infection and some illnesses, they are not selective and therefore wipe out all of the good beneficial bacteria as well! If taking an antibiotic regimen, I would recommend also taking a probiotic supplement or including probiotic rich foods in your diet to help compensate the effects of the medicine. This will help to replenish and maintain healthy gut flora.
If fermented foods are new to you, be sure to begin introducing them slowly, and gradually increase the intake of them into your diet. Yogurt is probably the most common fermented food that we eat. When choosing yogurt, remember to go for a plain yogurt and flavor it yourself to avoid the high amounts of sugar added to most commercial yogurts. (See previous post). There are many other fermented foods available as well, so why not give one of them a try!
Have you tried any of these fermented foods?
Kimichi -A traditional Korean dish made up of vegetables and spices, most often based on cabbage.
Kefir-A fermented milk drink similar to yogurt. It can come in flavors like strawberry and blueberry, just watch out for too much added sugar with these. For young kids, try adding it to their cereal or in a fun fruit smoothie.
Kombucha– A fizzy beverage made by fermenting tea, yeast and bacteria cultural that comes in variety of flavors.
Sauerkraut- Fermented cabbage most popular on hot dogs and stuffed in Reuben sandwiches in this country (Word of advice-skip the hot dog and try enjoying as a side dish).