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Heart health through the ‘invincible’ years

February 14th, 2014 · No Comments · nutrition

Carol Berg Sloan, RD
Columnist

I am now a preceptor for the Individualized Supervised Practice Pathway at Cal State San Bernardino. In working with dietetics students, I encourage them to translate science into practical language for consumers. Bailey Fisher is a dietetic intern there and is the guest columnist for this issue.

A look at heart health
in young adults from
a nutritional standpoint

by Bailey Fisher

The optimal time to adopt healthy lifestyle habits is in your early adulthood. Young adults (here defined as age 18 to 30) tend to think that they are “invincible.” It’s great to think that you can take on the world and live carefree regardless of your actions, but in reality, our behaviors and choices come along with repercussions and consequences. This article shares ways young adults can protect their heart and prevent disease with good lifestyle habits.
As a young adult you have the freedom to make your own choices, especially when it comes to food. You are no longer told what to eat, and you buy and prepare your own food. Now is the time to stop and actually think: What should I buy? What is healthy? What will satisfy my hunger?
Need some heart-healthy ideas? Here are five delicious yet nutritious foods to help you maintain a healthy heart.

Walnuts are full of plant omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, folate and fiber. They work to lower cholesterol and increase “good” cholesterol (HDL).

Black beans are full of B-complex vitamins, niacin, folate, magnesium, calcium and soluble fiber. The magnesium in beans, legumes, and lentils acts as a calcium channel blocker that actually fights hypertension. Talk about a one-two punch!

Oranges, with their great aroma and juiciness, are packed full of beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids), vitamin C, potassium, folate, and soluble fiber. The soluble fiber that this fruit contains actually soaks in the cholesterol from food and prevents it from being absorbed. In addition, the vitamin C helps boost your immune system, and the potassium helps keep blood pressure in check.

Whole grains such as brown rice and oatmeal are packed full of B-complex vitamins, fiber, niacin, magnesium, fiber, phytoestrogens and phytosterols. These nutrients help lower risk of heart disease and help to reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL).

Dark chocolate is packed full of flavonoids that improve the flexibility of blood vessels. The higher the cocoa content the better!

Instead of always eating out or grabbing fast food, try having friends over to cook a healthy meal and sit as a group. Slowing down your eating time frame and actually enjoying a healthy meal will allow you to still socialize but be health-conscious at the same time.
No time to sit down? Think ahead before leaving home, and pack a nutritious lunch or healthy snacks.
Lastly, young adults, and adults in general, should get a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity a day, five days a week. Doing this will help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your cholesterol, reduce your blood pressure and prevent diabetes.
Simple changes and lifestyle choices and habits will allow you to live a happier and more fulfilling life.
Use your “invincible” outlook and attitude in a positive way. Go live it up, explore, find your independence, but do so in a responsible and beneficial way. Don’t let your heart down now, and it won’t let you down later.

Heart-healthy chili
Ingredients
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 large white onion, diced
1/4 cup water
2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
Optional: shredded cheddar cheese and cilantro

Directions
1. In large pot, cook the turkey and onions.
2. Drain the mixture, put back into the pot and add chili powder.
3. Add the beans, water and diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a slow boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low; simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Ladle chili into bowls and serve hot. Top with a little cheddar cheese and cilantro, if desired.

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