Reading List: Improving Heart Health & Dirty Bagged Greens

In this week’s nutrition news: Kicking off Heart Healthy Month, understanding good-for-you fats and how the Super Bowl can bring on a heart attack.

In this week’s nutrition news: Kicking off Heart Healthy Month (that's February!), understanding good-for-you fats and how the Super Bowl can bring on a heart attack.

Super Bowl: A Heart-Wrenching Game

You might be pumped for Super Bowl Sunday, but did you know the game could be stressful on your heart? A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that the number of heart attacks went up when the Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers during the highly charged 1980 game. However, when the Raiders easily beat the Washington Redskins in 1984, the level of heart attacks dropped. In addition to a stressful game, poor food choices and lots of alcohol may contribute to heart trouble come game time. Think about adding some healthier options to your Super Bowl spread — here are our favorite nibblers.

Top States for Heart Attacks

Speaking of heart attacks, if you live in the southeast, you’re living in the “Heart Attack Belt.” Studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that folks living in this region have the highest risk for heart attacks -- Mississippi came in at the top. Southern states often show up on lists ranking American obesity and other unhealthy habits. Considering a high-fat diet, being overweight, high cholesterol and/or smoking increases your risk for heart attack, no doubt diet and poor choices are playing a part here. Find out where your state ranks.

Understanding Heart-Healthy Fats

We often use the term “heart-healthy fats" but do you know what that means exactly? It’s the unsaturated fats (mono- and polyunsaturated) -- from olive oil, canola oil, nuts, fish and more -- that studies have found to be best for your heart. Here's a good explanation of what foods to pick up at the market so you get your fill.This month make a resolution to incorporate more of these foods into your diet.

Michael Pollan’s New Food Rules

The author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food is back with a new book -- Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. Oprah recently interviewed Pollan and he give tips on how to reduce processed foods and add more fresh foods to your diet. Pollan’s motto in this quick read is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I’ll be picking up a copy on my next trip to the bookstore.

Packaged Greens Loaded With Bacteria

New tests released from Consumer Reports show that packaged leafy greens (like spinach and lettuce) may contain certain harmful bacteria. How'd it get there? Courtesy of poor personal hygiene and sanitation practices (we won’t go into the icky details). A few tips to keep in mind if you opt for the bagged stuff: Buy packages that have a use-by date furthest in the future, wash the greens even if they’re “pre-washed” or “triple-washed” and make sure raw meat and poultry juices don’t get on your greens (a form of cross-contamination).

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