Nutrition-Bites-Think-of-Your-Heart-on-Valentines-Day

Nutrition Bites: Think of Your Heart on Valentine's Day

February is packed full of celebrations: Heart Month, Valentine's Day, and this year, Mardi Gras.
When most people think of Valentine’s Day, they think of rich and decadent food – chocolates, candy, and fancy restaurant dinners. However, Valentine’s Day can also be an opportunity to make heart healthy choices with the ones you love.
Added sugars, such as from candy, soda, sports drinks, ice cream and cereal are a large part of many Americans' diets. Recent research shows that when 10 percent of your daily calories come from added sugar, it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease significantly. In fact, the same study found that people who consumed 25 percent or more of their daily calories as added sugars were twice as likely to die from heart disease as those who ate 10 percent. Added sugars are also linked to weight gain, high blood pressure and dental cavities (Yang, Zhang, Gregg, Flanders, Merritt & Hu).
Instead of caramels or chocolates, consider getting a different treat – dark chocolate. It has less added sugar and fat than milk or white chocolates and the plant-associated chemicals in dark chocolate called flavanols have been connected to decreased blood pressure and inflammation. In a 2009 research review, the antioxidant properties of cocoa were shown to protect against cardiovascular disease (Galleano, Oteiza & Fraga).
Another great option is homemade fruit leather. It can be made with any fruits to fit any preferences or design ideas. Blueberries, strawberries, apple, and pear are most common, but it can easily be made with a unique creative spin. This treat is great because it has less added sugar and more fiber than candies and it's homemade, which is always nice on a budget. Cut into shapes or made into rolls, fruit leather is pretty and easy to arrange into a beautiful display, making it ideal for Valentine's Day.
Most grocery stores start displaying their sugary treats in early January, but this year consider doing something different. Your heart and your loved ones will appreciate it.

By Bailey Specht, Tulane Dietetic Intern
February 2018

(Photo by: Bailey Specht)

Fruit Leather Roll Ups – Recipe Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:
Fruit (see fruit combinations below), 1 1/4 lb
Granulated sugar, 1/4 cup
Honey, 1/4 cup
Lemon juice, fresh, 1 1/2 Tbsp

Preparation:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
2. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to boil until it reaches a jammy consistency.
3. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then blend until smooth. If using strawberries or raspberries, some seeds will remain intact; this is fine.
4. Line a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a rubber spatula to spread the fruit into a thin layer. Bake until barely tacky, 3 hours to 3 hours, 30 minutes.
5. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let the fruit leather cool completely. Peel the leather off of the paper. If the leather is still moist on the underside, return it to the oven, moist-side up, until dry, about 20 more minutes.
6. Lay the leather smooth-side down on a sheet of wax paper and use kitchen shears to cut it into strips on the paper. Roll up the strips and store in air-tight containers, such has sealable plastic bags, for up to 1 week.

Fruit Combinations:
Plum: 5 medium, unpeeled, chopped
Peach or nectarine: 5 medium, unpeeled, chopped
Apple: 3 large (Gala or Granny Smith), peeled and chopped
Strawberry: 4 cups, hulled and chopped
Raspberry: 5 cups
Grape: 3 1/2 cups (preferably Concord), seeded if necessary
Mango: 2 large, peeled and chopped
Strawberry-Banana: 3 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped, plus 2 medium bananas, peeled
Carrot-Ginger: 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
Spicy Mango: 2 large mangoes, peeled and chopped, plus 1/8 teaspoon each salt and cayenne pepper

Works Cited:
Galleano, M., Oteiza, P. I., & Fraga, C. G. (2009). Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular disease. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 54(6), 483-490. http://doi.org/10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181b76787
Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt R., Hu, F. B. Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516-524. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13563

(Nutrition Bites is a recurring feature that will appear regularly in the Tulane PRC’s e-newsletters and will cover nutrition and health tips from Kelsey Shanklin, MS, RD, LDN. If you have any suggestions for Nutrition Bites topics, please contact Naomi Englar at nking2@tulane.edu or 504-988-7410.)

Topics:   diet , nutrition , food environment , food marketing , obesity , health communication , farmers market

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