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Examiner
  • St. Mary Medical Center's Marco Mazzella: Have yourself a healthy holiday

  • The holidays are here, and with them come many occasions to celebrate with family and friends. From now until the end of the year we’ll be faced with a seemingly endless supply of incredibly tasty food, drinks and snacks that will test our willpower.

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  • The holidays are here, and with them come many occasions to celebrate with family and friends. From now until the end of the year we’ll be faced with a seemingly endless supply of incredibly tasty food, drinks and snacks that will test our willpower.
    Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything, except temptation.” This is true for many of us at this time of year, particularly those on diets or with chronic diseases. That said, you don’t need to be a scrooge about it, but keep your heart health in mind over the holidays.
    Two of the big ghosts of Christmas past and present are salt and fat.
    The American Heart/ Stroke Association is committed to improving cardiovascular health as part of its 2020 impact goal. Successful sodium reduction is just one of the contributing factors. It has labeled some foods you might not think contain much sodium, but actually do. They are called the “Salty Six.”
    • BREADS AND ROLLS: Breads may not taste salty, but one piece can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. That’s about 15 percent of the recommended amount daily sodium the AH/AS Association says shouldn’t exceed-2,300 mg for people 50 and under. For African-Americans and anyone with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the maximum daily sodium intake shouldn’t exceed 1,500 mg. The lower recommendation applies to about half of everyone in the U.S. – including children and most adults, according to the government.
    • COLD CUTS AND CURED MEATS: Salt is added to most cooked meats as a preservative. Deli and pre-packaged turkey can contain as much as 1,050 milligrams of sodium per serving.
    • PIZZA: Pizza is known to contain a fair amount of fat and calories but did you know that just one slice can have up to 760 milligrams of sodium? Keep in mind, on average, we eat about two and a half slices per meal.
    • POULTRY: It’s important to choose your poultry wisely. Reasonable portions of lean, skinless, grilled chicken are OK, but may still contain an added sodium solution depending on how it is prepared. Just three ounces of frozen and breaded chicken nuggets can add nearly 600 milligrams of sodium.
    • SOUPS: One glance at the nutrition label and you’ll see how soup can quickly turn into sodium excess. One cup of canned chicken noodle soup may have up to 940 milligrams of sodium. Consider also that a can of soup typically contains more than one serving.
    • SANDWICHES: Not only the breads and cured meats may be heavy on the sodium, but add condiments like ketchup or mustard and you can easily surpass 1,500 milligrams of sodium in one sitting.
    Like sodium, you may not be able to entirely avoid fat in the holiday parties, but you can reduce the saturated varieties with a little effort.
    • Substitute low-fat or fat-free versions of mayonnaise, cream cheese and sour cream to make dips.
    • Serve plenty of raw vegetables to accompany dips.
    • Make fresh salsas.
    • Serve lean cuts of meat, with plenty of vegetables. Steam, braise or roast them and use broths and herbs instead of butter. If mashed potatoes are a must, try reduced-fat or fat-free versions of sour cream and half and half to make them special.
    • Use reduced-fat and fat-free cream cheeses for desserts like cheesecakes or serve poached or baked seasonal fruits such as apples or pears.
    • If your holiday would not be complete without eggnog, use mostly egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs and fat-free half and half or evaporated fat-free milk instead of whole milk.
    Page 2 of 2 - And finally, though your holiday calendar may be filled, try to get in some exercise. Walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health. Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day provides heart health benefits and for every hour of walking, your life expectancy may increase by two hours.
    Just being aware of the holiday food hazards may give you a leg up on the New Year Resolution of a happier, healthier 2013.
    Dr. Mazzella is a cardiologist at St. Mary’s Medical Center and can be reached at 816-525-1600.
     
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