In Benton and Franklin counties, about one in five deaths in 2014 were because of heart disease. This statistic is tragic, because heart disease is highly preventable.
More than 80 percentThe Harvard School of Public Heath estimates this amount of heart disease cases can be eliminated by diet and lifestyle changes.
Although the focus of dietary guidelines used to be decreasing fat consumption to reduce heart disease risk, it is now known that added sugar consumption also contributes to this risk. This is why the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children under age 2 eat no added sugars and kids ages 2 to 18 and women consume less than six teaspoons a day. For men, the recommended limit is 9 teaspoons daily. These guidelines are in addition to those for saturated fats, as the AHA recommends limiting these to 5 percent to 6 percent of total calories for those needing to lower cholesterol levels.
Added sugars include syrups, honey, molasses, cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, and words ending in “ose.” Approximately six teaspoons, or the recommended total amount of sugar for women and kids in a day, are in each one of these choices: eight ounces of soda, eight Hershey’s Kisses, an eighth of a pumpkin pie, two cups of Honey Nut Cheerios, or 2/3 cups of ice cream.
Never miss a local story.
Added sugars include syrups, honey, molasses, cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, and words ending in “ose.”
Instead, focus your diet around foods that are high in nutrients without added sugars. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seed, and other sources of lean protein. The dessert recipe below relies on dates for sweetness instead of sugar.
For AHA saturated fat recommendations, it is helpful to consider people who maintain a healthy weight on 2,000 calories per day. For them, the limit is about 13 grams of saturated fat per day. Choosing to eat one of these is about the daily limit: two ounces of cheese, two tablespoons of butter, one tablespoon of coconut oil, or four ounces of 70 percent lean beef. Healthier protein sources are skim milk, egg whites and most beans, which contain protein without saturated fat. Other healthy choices, with about two grams of saturated fat in each, are 12 ounces of skinless chicken, 3 ounces of king salmon, 1 cup of soy beans, ¼ cup of walnuts, and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
Healthier protein sources are skim milk, egg whites and most beans, which contain protein without saturated fat.
Although there have been news reports suggesting that saturated fats do not raise cholesterol levels, this is because studies can be designed to yield misleading results to purposefully confuse consumers. However, well-designed studies are conclusive: When saturated fats are replaced with foods like whole grains, vegetables, beans and skim milk, cholesterol levels drop.
The Harvard School of Public Heath estimates that more than 80 percent of heart disease cases can be eliminated by diet and lifestyle changes. Therefore, establish the AHA healthy eating recommendations when your children are young to provide them with the best chance of avoiding our nation’s number one killer.
Preparation time: 80 minutes. Servings: 6.
1 ½ cups fat-free evaporated skim or non-dairy milk
2/3 cup packed pitted dates, or about 10 medjool dates
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
Place the milk and dates in a blender and allow to sit for 15 minutes for the dates to soften slightly.
Preheat your oven to 350.
Pureé the dates and milk. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until mixed thoroughly.
Divide the pudding among six ramekins (individual serving oven-proof dishes). There’s no need to spray first, as you will serve the flan in the ramekins.
Bake for 70 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out nearly clean. Allow to cool and then serve.
Nutrition information per serving (with evaporated skim milk): 156 calories, no fat or cholesterol, 62 mg sodium, 119 mg potassium, 36 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 28 grams sugars, 5 grams protein, 130 percent Vitamin A, 24 percent Vitamin C, 19 percent calcium, 4 percent iron.