Today is Wear Red Day for heart disease awareness, one of the many efforts to kick off National Heart Awareness month this February. This is the perfect time to honor all of the doctors, nurses, surgeons, cardiac techs, nutritionists, rehab specialists, and so many others who work daily to help keep hearts healthy. It's also a good time to assess our own efforts at heart health, no matter what your age, exercise routine, or family history. Like so many chronic conditions, heart disease is a hidden problem---it can build slowly like a sneak attack on your health. I've actually lived with an imperfect heart valve my entire life, but it took preparing for and recovering from open heart surgery to really dive into the February and year-round heart awareness efforts.
You might wonder how heart month is relevant to food allergies, or to kids at all. Actually, kids with allergies could have up to twice the risk of heart disease, according to a large study published about a year ago in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Other research makes connections between asthma, allergies, and heart health, too, in kids and adults.
Luckily, kids aren't forgotten by the American Heart Association, and neither is family time in the kitchen. The AHA's Life's Simple 7 for Kids helps families teach kids to make good food and lifestyle choices as part of their daily routine, setting them up for a lifetime of good self care in so many ways. And their Simple Cooking With Heart for Kids models their adult recipe collection and starts teaching kids the tools they need to enjoy making homemade healthy meals for the rest of their lives. These and other tools aren't just good for kids with heart disease risks or allergies; they're good for all kids, anywhere.
Although the processes---including inflammation from allergies potentially damaging healthy tissue or lifestyle choices from immune conditions leading to obesity or poor food choices, for example---are still unclear, the bottom line really is that all of us should consider ways to keep our hearts in the best conditions possible. And the food choices we make play a large role in that condition.
So, on a practical level, both food allergy and heart disease patients need to keep a careful eye on their diets. Whether the concerns are cholesterol and sodium content or a top-8 allergen, learning to plan every meal can be daunting at first but ultimately lifesaving for both groups.
My family now adapts to a plethora of dietary needs: we avoid a long list of food allergens (different for each of the four of us, naturally) and we try to make low-cholesterol, low-sodium options, too. Sometimes that means reworking a recipe that is allergy-safe but uses a vegan margarine or salt into one that uses a healthy oil or herbal flavorings instead. Our mealtimes usually work out pretty well; snacking turns out to be the most challenging time for food choices.
I've found that my favorite snacks need to have a crunch to them to stay satisfying. My top three heart-healthy, allergy-safe munchies right now are carrot sticks, air-popped popcorn with light olive oil and different seasonings, and our personal homemade unbaked chex mix.
All three are quick to make and portable. I'm always on the lookout for something else to add variety, though. What are your favorite healthy snack ideas?
Hi, I'm Nicole.
ABOUT THE BLOG
An apothecary is a person or a place. Either one implies healing and relates to pharmacy in its truest sense, as a source of treatment and advice.
This blog is my way of uniting my pharmacy training with my efforts to provide a healthy and safe lifestyle for my family. In true apothecary form, I research and prescribe alternative ingredients that work just right in each specific recipe, and I would like to share the results with anyone who needs help making their own family’s kitchen allergy safe and heart healthy.
Nicole Van Hoey's books on Goodreads
Bakery Bites: Breads and Treats Without Dairy, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds, or Soy
ratings: 1 (avg rating 5.00)
Kitchen Adventures With Multiple Food Allergies: A Recipe Collection for Celebrations Without Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Seeds, or Soy