31 Days of Health. Day 25: Indulge in Salmon

You need salmon in your life. If you’re not eating it regularly now, today is the day to start. Including other types of fish is smart too!

Salmon is a fatty, cold-water fish containing a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a rather unique food in this regard, where not many other foods can quite compare. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in walnuts and flaxseeds, however, these fatty acids come from alpha-linoleic acid (ALA, for short). The omega-3’s found in salmon come from eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The general difference between the three is that they all offer different health benefits. What is fabulous about all of them, collectively, is that they are anti-inflammatory compounds…less inflammation means reduced risk for chronic disease, meaning higher quality of life!!! Particularly from salmon: the heart, brain, eyes and joints reap those anti-inflammatory benefits thanks to EPA and DHA.

With regular salmon consumption comes healthier cholesterol levels, along with reduced risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Additionally, salmon can lead to improved thinking and concentration, decreased depression, and may even reduce the risk for cognitive decline in older age!

In addition to the omega-3’s in salmon, just 4oz will supply you with approximately 125% your daily recommended intake for vitamin D! And because salmon is a fatty fish, it is certain your body will do a good job absorbing the fat-soluble vitamin, which promotes strong bones, a strengthened immune system and even controlled blood sugars.

I love grating some lemon and lime zest, sprinkling a little salt and freshly ground pepper, along with a squeeze of fresh lemon and lime juice over a raw fillet of salmon and broiling it for about 10-15 minutes. I typically purchase wild-caught fish. I prefer, and appreciate eating food that has lived life uncontrolled – the fish ate what it naturally eats, it swam where it naturally swims, and contributed to other life sources in the ocean, river or lake in which it lived. I find I enjoy the flavor – and color – of wild-caught fish more than farm-raised.

However, after some research, it is apparent there isn’t a whole lot of black-and-white when it comes to which is better: wild-caught or farm-raised. Therefore, rather than promoting one over the other, I leave that decision to you for now. You will find that farm-raised is much more affordable, likely due to the ease of mass-producing a population of fish. Currently, it seems to be more of a personal decision, and clearly a topic we must discuss in greater detail another day! In the meantime, include whatever type of salmon that makes you happy – or other fish that pleases your palette! – in your diet at least a couple times a week.

alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 19: Pump up the Potassium

I am very excited to talk about potassium today! Potassium is a mineral that many people are not getting nearly as much as they need. And a very interesting fact about potassium is that most folks typically associate bananas with potassium. But guess what!? Bananas have LESS potassium per ounce than MANY other foods!!!

The daily recommended intake (DRI) for potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg). Most Americans are consuming about half of that. (Getting to the why you need potassium in just a sec! But first, let’s compare!) One medium banana weighs about 4oz and contains 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium. Now check out the quantities of potassium in the following foods, each weighing 4oz:

Beet Greens: 1,072mg
Fresh Spinach: 658mg
Swiss Chard: 647mg
Potato: 631mg
Yellowfin Tuna: 621mg
Sweet Potato: 560mg (remember Day 5?? 😊)
Lima Beans: 473mg

Other foods that contain about the same amount of potassium, if not more, as bananas per ounce include bok choy, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, and papaya. You’ll find there is quite the trend here for fruits and vegetables being great sources for potassium….Another benefit of a plant-focused diet!

Consuming plenty of potassium daily is associated with normal blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to high sodium diets, and interestingly, a diet low in fruits and vegetables while high in heavily processed foods contains excessive sodium. Alternately, diets high in fruits and vegetables, hence high in potassium, are linked with regular blood pressure, and therefore a reduced risk for stroke. And let’s think back to Day 13’s healthy challenge to eat a plant-based diet – remember all the benefits that come with limiting animal products!? Are you starting to see the connection to an improved quality of health??

I hope you value your life more than enough to avoid risking a stroke.

Pack in that potassium! Eat more fruits and veggies!
Alyssa

If you need some help getting your potassium intake straightened out, I LOVE talking heart health. I believe in following your heart, so I believe in taking care of that baby. Get in touch with me if you’re ready to get to work. Thanks for being here!

31 Days of Health. Day 15: Fuel up on Healthy Fats

When I was working toward my BS/MS in dietetics, I was taught that a healthy diet included low-fat or fat free products. While it was understood that some fat is necessary, it was always an accomplishment when a meal or snack (on paper) did not contain much fat. However, in my own life, it didn’t exactly look like that. I added fat whenever it felt necessary for cooking or for flavor. Then I would instruct overweight clients to eliminate fat here and reduce it there. And you know what, that advice never came with much success.

Through practice beyond these misunderstandings and failures, I found that when I threw the numbers away and focused on how our taste buds and body respond to the foods we eat, we achieve health more efficiently.

Fat is one nutrient you do not want to restrict! Dietary fat has a “high satiety value” meaning it keeps you feeling full as a result of slowing down the rate at which the contents of the stomach are emptied. This is a very interesting point to recognize in the case of weight management: if fat intake is significantly reduced there is greater potential for feeling hungry. No wonder why weight loss tends to be associated with hunger!

Here are a few additional benefits fat provides:

  • Plays a role in transporting other fat molecules throughout the body
  • Helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
  • Lowers lipids in the blood – therefore improving cardiovascular health
  • Is a component of some cell membranes and nervous tissue
  • Is involved in the creation of hormones
  • In cooking – provides flavor!

Obtain your healthiest fats from

  • Avocado
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olive oil, including extra virgin olive oil
  • Fatty fish – i.e. salmon

There has been plenty of controversy over coconut oil. Some research I have recently studied surprisingly spoke against the claimed health benefits coconut oil provides. The point made was that the saturated fats in coconut oil are still in the same shape as the saturated fats in any other food, and the body will manage all saturated fats in the same manner. This may or may not be true. The additional “argument” attached to this was one that sits better with me, and it is that isolation of any food is a lesser-quality option. What is, in fact healthiest, is to eat a whole food. Therefore, eating coconut is the healthier choice over coconut oil.

So rather than counting how many teaspoons and tablespoons of fat you are adding to the pan, or to your salad, let your taste buds and body be your guide. You can taste if there is too much oil, and you can feel good or bad after a meal. Working on your daily meditative practice from Day 12 will supplement your focus on these tells. Now, there is such a thing as excess as well, so I don’t want you to think you should have as much as you want. But don’t stress it – all of these skills will come with practice.

I hope you’re doing great with the first half-ish of this healthy challenge! Let’s go another 15 days, plus one extra for good measure 😉

Alyssa

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Farmers Market Adventures Part 1

Hello there and Happy Spring Finally!!!!

Spring came so late for many regions this year. It’s hard to believe it started in March because it hasn’t actually felt nice outside until . . . maybe a couple weeks ago. It is so awesome to finally enjoy some heat and sunshine – I am sweating at this very moment, indulging in a Starbucks decaf coffee on the patio! (My caffeinated coffee abstinence is still current and I am going strong). Also, I’ve never been so happy to be sweating.

I have been feeling so anxious to live life outside: ride a bike, go for a walk,  hike, check out some festivals, go to the beach, garden, grill – sheeit, you name it, I wanna do it all! I have especially been looking forward to the start of farmers markets!

Months ago I posted about my love for CSA’s and I was totally looking forward to a share this year. However, my cousin and I like to split it, and we both really couldn’t decide on one that worked for both of us. We are both very busy ladies, but each with different needs. While the drive out to the farm last year was a long one that required a whole week be planned around one evening, I enjoyed taking my daughter there for the experience. However, my cousin preferred a nearby pickup site. We didn’t exactly come to a decision; our last conversation about the CSA was just left hanging. However, neither one of us pursued the topic any further and I am confident that if it was that important to either one of us, one of us would have followed through.

One day I had an idea that if I am looking for an experience to get fresh, locally grown produce, the farmers market is the place to be! What better way to connect directly with multiple local farmers in one place, support those local farmers, have access to an even greater variety of local foods, and enjoy the wonderful social environment?! My intention is to visit several markets throughout the season, ideally one a week – the place to do a good portion of the food shopping.

My first stop – I hope, if my agenda is not too full – will be this Saturday, May 12 at the Elmwood Village Farmers Market in Buffalo. I want to fill you in on the foods I find, and show you how I prepare them (recipes 🙂 ). Look forward to a weekly post on my Farmers Market Adventures! I am so excited!! Let me know if you are too!

 

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Heyoo! So I NEED to get this info out to you now therefore please excuse any potential poor grammar. I really dislike poor grammar and bad spelling, but for the sake of informing you of something I feel very strongly about now, and doing it before my daughter wakes up, I’m not editing!!! Foggetabbotit. (PS, I just edited this line. MOVING RIGHT ALONG!)