Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

Did you make any new year’s resolutions/goals? Usually we start off well, keep on track for the first 30 days and then it all becomes forgotten in the hurry-scurry of life. Another good intention started with enthusiasm and soon gone by the wayside.

I did not make any personal goals this year until I received the following news.
On Jan 6th I had my annual physical and the Dr. informed me that I have high cholesterol. She explained that too much cholesterol in the blood could be serious and poses a risk of getting heart disease. This can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

I was surprised to learn that only about 20% of cholesterol comes from the foods you eat. Your body makes the other 80%. Things such as age and family health history affect how much cholesterol your body makes. Unfortunately, there are usually no signs that you have high cholesterol, but it can be detected with a blood test. 

She explained that this is a serious diagnosis and should not be taken lightly. 
I took a long look at this information and decided that I had to make some changes in my lifestyle. The doctor suggested a change in diet and exercise.
I do not eat meat and my diet is already low in cholesterol but I took a look at what I eat and realized that three things had to go: cheese, egg yolks and desserts.
I recently read that there are eight healthy foods that are essential to eat every day. So I plan to work these into my daily diet along with 30 minutes of moderate exercise.

Here is the list of eight:

1. Spinach: 
A rich source omega-3s and folate, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. 1-cup fresh spinach or a half-cup cooked per day. SUBSTITUTES: Kale, bok choy, romaine lettuce.


2. Yogurt:
Helps boost your immune system, provides protection against cancer. Make sure the label says “live and active cultures.” One cup a day. SUBSTITUTES: Kefir, cottage cheese. Plain fat free yogurt is also a perfect base for creamy salad dressings and dips. 

3. Tomatoes: packed with more of the antioxidant lycopene which can decrease your risk of bladder, lung, prostate, breast, skin, and stomach cancers, and coronary artery disease. Eight red cherry tomatoes or a glass of tomato juice per day. SUBSTITUTES: Red watermelon, pink grapefruit, Japanese persimmon, papaya, guava.

4. Carrots: are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as a reduced risk of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Aim for a half-cup a day. SUBSTITUTES: Sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash, yellow bell pepper, mango.

5. Blueberries: Host to more antioxidants than any other North American fruit, blueberries help prevent cancer, diabetes, and age-related memory changes. Rich in fiber and vitamins A and C can also boost cardiovascular health. 1-cup fresh blueberries a day, or a half-cup frozen or dried. 

SUBSTITUTE: Açai, an Amazonian berry.
6. Black Beans: All beans are good for your heart and brain. They’re full of anthocyanins, antioxidant compounds that have been shown to improve brain function. A daily half-cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber, and is low in calories and free of saturated fat. 

SUBSTITUTES: Peas, lentils, and pinto, kidney, fava, and lima beans.

7. Walnuts: Richer in heart-healthy omega-3s than salmon, loaded with more anti-inflammatory polyphenols than red wine. A serving of walnuts is about 1 ounce, or seven nuts. Substitutes: Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, (all unsalted).

8. Oats: Awarded the FDA’s first seal of approval. They are packed with soluble fiber, which lowers the risk of heart disease. Oats have 10 grams of protein per half-cup serving, they deliver steady muscle-friendly energy. 

SUBSTITUTES: Quinoa, flaxseed, amaranth, and pearl barley.

So now my goals are written down for the world to see. Change my diet and exercise. The pressure is on. I will report back to you (and my Dr.) in 90 days. ☺

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