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Heart-Healthy Snacks

February is Heart Health Month and National Snack Food Month! It celebrates a powerful organ that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the entire body and the foods that help it work at its best!

Beyond keeping your upper thoracic spine in proper alignment with regular chiropractic adjustments, there are many natural ways to keep this amazing organ working in its prime, including and especially when it comes to nutrition. The right foods make all the difference; they help lower blood pressure, reduce risk for diabetes, and make maintaining a healthy weight easy when combined with frequent activity… all important things for a fully functioning heart.

Snacking Myths:

  1. Don’t snack: WRONG. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re not, and eat good foods; it really is that simple
  2. But I can lose weight that way: NO. It may take time to understand your body’s cravings, but denying yourself food leads to overindulgence the next time you eat, making it easy to gain too much weight
  3. Fats and oils are bad: NOPE. Good fats and oils are necessary for proper muscle function, and the heart IS a muscle! Eating foods drenched in processed fats (like partially hydrogenated vegetable fats) makes digesting those foods much harder, and the human body was not built that way. The less processing the fat or oil has undergone, the better it is for you; avocados, coconut anything, and grassfed meats are great sources of the right balance of fats
  4. “Snack” means “junk”: NUH-UH! If you think snacking means eating cheap foods (we’re talking quality too, and not just monetary value), then you’re mistaken. Healthy foods are just as convenient and inexpensive as that bag of greasy potato chips you stare at in the grocery store

 Healthy Snacks:

  • Tree nuts like almonds and walnuts— good sources of  protein and/or Omega 3 oils*
  • Carrots— try brushing them with olive oil & black pepper and baking them on higher heat for 20 minutes until they’re browned and crispy
  • Berries— they’re tasty and versatile, and can be added to salads, entrees, trail mixes, shakes, and more!
  • Sweet potatoes— slice up as fries, and these are a simple and tasty snack anytime! Also good for helping active muscles recover, so if you’re working out regularly, load up on these

*Omega 3 oils are one of the more important components of a heart-healthy diet. A balance of Omega 3s and Omega 6s keeps blood at the ideal consistency, making it easier for the heart to pump, which reduces strain on the most valuable organ in our bodies. Please click the link above to read more about Omega 3s.*

Foods to Avoid:

  • anything in processed fats or oils! Fats and oils get an unfair reputation; if they’re processed like crazy, then yes, they are bad. If they’re coming from quality sources and go through incredibly limited processing, then they’re not nearly as bad as you’ve been lead to believe
  • cereals: some of the most common breakfast foods are drenched in sugar and made up of simple carbohydrates– cinnamon buns, cereals, strudels and pastries– and some of these are somehow considered to be “comfort” snacks. “Oh, I can eat it for the most important meal of the day, so I can eat it as a snack too!” So very wrong. These foods aren’t really good for you any time of day
  • replacements: cooking alternatives like margarine and Crisco were supposed to be so much better for us than butter and lard, but it turns out the human bodies work better when NOT loaded up with artificial sugars and refined carbs… like those found in, you guessed it, margarine and Crisco! Eat the real thing in the right portions, and you’ll be amazed at how much easier things process through the body
  • soy: soy undergoes a tremendous amount of processing, especially in forms like tofu, because in its raw state, it’s poisonous! One of its effects is clotting, making blood much thicker than it should be, and therefore more difficult for the heart to pump

It’s important to understand that snacking is not a substitute for regular quality meals, but rather a way to keep your blood sugar consistent in between those meals.

Learn how to listen to your body’s messages!

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