An Avo a Day: Heart Check Advice for Women

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According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer in women - it causes the death of 1 in 3 women each year, killing approximately one woman every minute. The reality is that only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is their greatest health threat. Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from various forms of heart disease. When compared against the national average for the entire population, heart disease kills 1 in every 4 people.


The symptoms of heart disease are often misunderstood and can be different in women vs. men. With that, the gap between men and women's survival continues to widen, as women are far less likely to call 911 when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack themselves. It just does not occur to them to do so, as of the media attention on the disease focuses almost solely on men.

 

What causes heart disease?

Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Numerous problems can result, many of which are related to a process called atherosclerosis. This is a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the arterial walls. This buildup narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can stop the blood flow, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.

 

Prevention

Many things can put a person at risk for heart problems – one's you can control, and others that you cannot. However, with the right information, education, and care, heart disease in women can be treated, prevented, and even ended.

 

The good news is that some studies show that healthy choices have resulted in 330 fewer women dying from heart disease per day. So, for the sake of your heart, here are a few lifestyle changes you should make:

 

  • Don’t smoke

  • Manage your blood sugar

  • Get your blood pressure under control

  • Lower your cholesterol

  • Know your family history

  • Stay active

  • Lose or manage your weight

  • Eat healthy

 

A Good Start – Eating Right

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend eating a variety of nutritious foods from all food groups. Consuming a diversity of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. In addition, consuming foods rich in fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

 

To start on the path to eating right, consider a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados. This tasty green fruit contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beneficial plant compounds that can enhance the nutrient quality of any diet. Avocados can be eaten alone or used in a variety of delicious recipes – from soups to salads to smoothies – all of which can fit into your sensible eating plan.


Substituting fresh avocado in sandwiches, on toast or as a spread in place of many other popular foods may help reduce intake of calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. In honor of American Heart Month, here are some simple recipes to help get you started:


Avo Lox on Rye

Avo Chia Smoothie

Spinach, Avocado & Tangerine Salad

Veggie Buddha Bowl

Hawaiian Tuna Avocado Poke Salad

Cilantro Chicken Avocado Burritos



5 Healthy Ways to Add Avocados into Your Holiday Meal

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Give your holiday menu a tasty heart-healthy twist by inviting avocados to your festive occasion. Always in season, this favorite green fruit is available alongside other traditional winter produce favorites like sweet potatoes and acorn squash. Try avocados in tempting seasonal salads, vegetable dishes, and dessert or as a spread for appetizers or dotted throughout your main course. To help set your table in healthful style, we’ve assembled five new ways to introduce avocados to your family this holiday season.

5 #HolidayReFRESH Recipes With Avocado

#HolidayReFRESH Checklist

Let’s Go Shopping

We’ve assembled a handy holiday shopping list to make sure that you have everything needed to cook up a feast. If you make any substitutions or change proportion, be sure to adjust your list accordingly.

Dairy:

  • 5 large eggs

  • low fat milk

  • crumbled feta cheese 

  • low fat cream cheese

  • lite whipped topping

  • low fat sour cream

  • grated Swiss cheese (may use Vegan or non-dairy shredded cheese of choice)

Produce:

  • 8 avocados 

  • 1 bunch broccoli

  • 1 tomato

  • 1 package baby spinach or mixed greens 

  • 1 large red apple or green granny smith

  • 1 Lemons

  • 6 Limes

  • 1 pomegranate 

  • 4 small acorn squash

  • 1 yellow onion

  • 2 sweet potatoes

  • 1 garlic bulb

  • 1 bunch scallions

Frozen Foods:

  • 2 cups thawed lite whipped topping

  • 2 cups fresh or 1 small bag frozen strawberries

  • pastry crust 

Bread:

  • 1 French baguette bread loaf

General

  • 1 package long grain and wild rice mix 

  • 1 package quinoa

  • 1 14-ounce can black beans

  • 1 small package pumpkin seeds

  • 1 package dried cranberries

  • 1 package toasted almonds (can substitute for walnuts or candied pecans)

  • 1 box graham crackers (can substitute with gluten-free cookies) 

  • 1 packet strawberry gelatin

  • 1 small bag or box granulated sugar

Spices:

  • kosher salt

  • pepper

  • garlic powder

  • cumin

  • ground coriander seeds

  • crushed red pepper flakes

Ready to get your #HolidayReFresh going? Snap & share photos using the hashtag above & tag @Iloveavos_ on Instagram for a chance to be featured!

Feta, Avocado & Pomegranate CrostiniS

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Ingredients

1 French baguette bread loaf, sliced ¼-inch thick 

¼ cup olive oil 

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted

½ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese 

2 limes, juiced

salt and pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. water to thin spread, if needed

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Mix olive oil with garlic powder and lightly brush onto bread slices. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges turn a slight golden brown. Set aside.

Add avocado, cheese, and lime juice to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add up to a tablespoon of water until mixture is spreadable. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture onto toasted bread slices, top with pomegranate seeds and more cheese if desired. Enjoy. 


Photo courtesy Monique Volz and Sarah Fennel.


Acorn Squash Stuffed with Avocado & Quinoa

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Ingredients

4 small acorn squash, halved

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp. Tabasco (or other hot sauce)

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander seeds

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1½ cups cooked quinoa

1 14-ounce can black beans, drained, and rinsed

¼ cup scallions, choppedw

¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

¼ cup crumbled feta cheese 

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced

1-2 limes, juiced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Directions

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut acorn squash in half horizontally and scoop out the insides. Brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast acorn squash with the cut side up for 35-45 minutes or until squash is tender in the middle and brown on the edges. 


While squash is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook onion until translucent and then stir in garlic, cumin, and coriander. Add the quinoa pilaf, black beans, scallions, red pepper flakes, pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, lime, Tabasco sauce, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Remove skillet from the heat, let mixture cool, then stir in the diced avocado. Scoop the filling into the acorn squash halves and serve. 


Photo courtesy Jeanine Donofrio

Roasted Sweet Potato, Avocado & Wild Rice Salad

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Ingredients

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 package long grain and wild rice mix 

1 large red apple or green granny smith

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

2 tsp. lemon or lime juice

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sliced and toasted almonds (can substitute for walnuts or candied pecans)

8-10 ounces baby spinach or mixed greens 

Dijon Balsamic Dressing

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into cubes. Toss the sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil adding a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 25-35 minutes flipping sweet potatoes occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare the wild rice according to the package directions. Combine the roasted sweet potatoes with the cooked wild rice in a large bowl and place in the fridge.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small blender or a food processor. Blend until completely combined and set aside.


Chop the apple and avocado and toss with lemon juice to keep from browning. Add the apple and avocado combination to the sweet potato and wild rice mixture and then toss. Add lettuce, dressing, cranberries, and almonds, toss again and serve. 

Photo courtesy Chelsea’s Messy Apron