Weeks 3 & 4: Lowering Cholesterol Naturally using Nutrim: Moving Forward towards Healthy Lifestyle Changes

October 3, 2012 – My mom continues to have a great momentum with her Nutrim regimen.  She continues to experience peak energy levels regardless of small pitfalls like not making enough effort to increase her water in-take. Cecile continues to become creative in the kitchen with Nutrim as she introduces more of the oat beta glucan powder into her cooking.  Find out other ways my mom tried Nutrim this week by watching below!

Cecile’s Nutrim Benefits this Week:

While watching my mom go through her Nutrim challenge, I too have been striving to make small lifestyle changes to better adapt to the healthier culture of my company, FutureCeuticals.  I purchased a 32 oz., Green, Tritan- BPA-free water bottle. In the mornings, I fill it all the way to top keeping in my personal, daily goal of drinking at least 1-32 oz. bottle of water Monday through Friday.  If I succeed, it calculates to 160 oz. of water per week.  Why is it so much easier for me to adapt a change like drinking more water during the workday?  For the last couple of videos, we have heard my mom discuss her lack of success in drinking water.
Have you ever been faced with the challenge of needing to drink more water?  If you’ve succeeded, how did you do it?

My mom also mentioned mixing Nutrim with Farina along with adding a few tablespoons of sugar to create flavor.  In my opinion, adding the sugar could be counter-effective to lowering cholesterol naturally while taking Nutrim.  So I decided to ask my co-worker Joe (our local BioMedical Health expert), what my could mom could do to the Nutrim + Farina that can add some flavor without tipping the heart health scales.

Here is what Joe says regarding add-flavor dependency:

We all need to break free from our heavy dependence on sweet taste to offer enjoyment from food. This means cutting down on all sweeteners.  I like raw, unrefined honey and      maple syrup as good alternatives to adding refined sugar because they can offer some other benefits. Even evaporated cane juice crystals, brown sugar or turbinado sugar can be ok since they are not as refined. Stevia can also be used in combo with these other sweeteners to boost sweetness and cut out some sugar.

One main point and goal could be to start using less and less to get our palettes to readjust to the subtle flavors food offers. It has almost become a competition between companies to add salt, fat and sugar to food in order to make food taste good. The whole process happened slowly overtime, but now we depend on the sweet taste too much.  It ends up masking the other, subtle flavors in food. Slowly decreasing the addition of salt, fat, and sugar will help you readjust your palette, so that you won’t even miss as much to get the same enjoyment.

Got a question for Joe?  Call Customer Service at (800) 862-0438  Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m to speak with him!

A Daughter’s Journey to Help Save her Mother’s Life

August 10, 2012 – July 2008 was unlike any summer month I had ever experienced. After agonizing for almost four long weeks, I was being rushed into emergency surgery from the Hospital’s ER with the diagnosis of an aggravated hernia. I didn’t realize it at the time, but recovering in a hospital was the least of my worries.

My mother, sister, and boyfriend had all been to visit me in the ICU, but there was one visitor missing.  Hours passed before I discovered who my next ICU visitor was . . . the Kankakee County Coroner’s office??? My hospital room was the last number dialed on my father’s cell phone, which emergency workers fished from a car wreck boiling down the last memories of my father to a voice heard over a 2 minute phone call.  He was calling to say that he was driving down to see me and visit his grandchildren. That phone call would be the last time I would speak to my father – EVER.

The Daily Journal reported “the driver [being] southbound on I-57 near the Bradley-Bourbonnais interchange at 12:09 p.m. when the vehicle crossed the median strip, crossed the northbound lanes, ran through a fence and hit a crane” (“Two Killed…” 2008).

Later, it was revealed that what took the life of my father was not the accident itself, but what transpired seconds before the accident took place.  Charles J., 57, suffered a heart attack that caused him to lose control of his vehicle (Byrns 2008).   Yes, a HEART ATTACK!  The coroner’s prognosis completely blind-sided our family. And yes, we knew for years that our father was not a true picture of health.  However, there was never any indication of heart disease, other than knowing that his father had died of a heart attack at the golden age of 50. My father’s primary cause of death, as indicated on his death certificate, was Atherosclerosis.  I learned that you could develop this condition due to: elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.

Last month marked, the 4th “angel-versary”, of my father’s horrific passing from Coronary Heart Disease.  When I landed a job working at FutureCeuticals Direct in 2011, and found out that they were on the brink of expanding the distribution of their heart-health product, Nutrim, which helps lower cholesterol naturally; I knew this had to be a sign from above.  With one parent gone, I only have one left—my mother.  This weekly video series will document a Nutrim–beginner’s journey–starring my mother, Cecile.

To listen to Cecile’s story, watch below.

Video Highlights:
Name:  Cecile
Gender: Female  Age: 58
Marital Status:  Widowed (4 years)
Occupation:  Nurse, (30 years)
Youngest of 5 siblings (1 male, 4 females)
Cholesterol Total: 265; LDL:183; HDL: 61
Gained 22 lbs over past year; weighs 220.

Family History: 
Mother died at age 57 – suffered from chronic hypertension– issues with cholesterol unknown.
Father at age 79 – died of massive heart attack with no prior heart conditions known.
1 Brother; age: 65- 2 yrs ago suffered a 5 bypass coronary; 90% occluded due to high cholesterol.
1 Sister; age: 62 currently suffering from chronic hypertension on-going for the past 20 years and has a history of high cholesterol.

 Cecile’s Personal Goals while taking Nutrim: lower cholesterol naturally, lose weight, gain energy, avoid side effects and be able to live a long life without taking prescription meds.

“Two Killed in Interstate 57 Crash.” E-Editions. Daily Journal, 1 Aug. 2008. Web. 25 July 2012. <http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=424991>.
Byrns, Bill. “Grassy Medians Meant to Contain Accidents Have a Fatal Flaw.” E-Editions. Daily Journal, 6 Sept. 2008. Web. 25 July 2012. <http://daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=424991>.

Federal food safety regulation a slippery slope: Part II- Small Local Farmers vs Large Agribusiness

One Size Fits all Regulation

More centralized power for food safety may sound great in a world where I can buy a food item with 100 ingredients, grown in 100 separate counties, states, and countries and that has been process in 100 different counties, states and countries.  But what if I want to buy an apple from the farmer down the street?  Should they be subject to the same rules and regulations as corporate factory farms that sell food items that end up in millions of products all over the world.

While we do need to stop large companies from carelessly contaminating our food, we also need to consider the dramatic difference in the types of farming that are done in America.  It is important to keep our food safe, especially when it passes through many hands.  But what if food just passes from one set of hands to the next.  Should both small, local farmers and larger corporate farmers be required to follow the same federal food safety regulations.

Current examples of large scale food safety regulation generally don’t do enough to protect us from pathogenic microbes from food mass produced on multimillion dollar corporate farm operations.  But these same regulations may be overkill for a small farmer who sells his produce locally.

“Raw” Pasteurized Almonds vs Raw Almonds

Almonds in the US are a great example of how large scale regulation in the end actually benefits large farmers by potentially destroying small farmers.

In the name of food safety, almonds sold in the US must be pasteurized.    All pasteurized almonds are cooked which can destroy beneficial properties or they are chemically processed using a probable human carcinogen.  After they go through either of these processes they are then labeled raw.  I guess one part of the pasteurized almond regulation that I don’t understand is that I thought the word raw meant not cooked or processed.  Who wants to live in a society where words lose all meaning?  Since only roadside stands are exempt from pasteurization, almost all US almond farmers are encouraged to lie by calling their almonds raw.

Not only do we have mandatory regulations creating less healthy almonds in the US but the pasteurization equipment is so expensive that it could easily bankrupt a small or medium sized farmer.  $1,000,000+ in pasteurization equipment either puts smaller farmers out of business or makes them subject to the larger almond farmers that can afford the equipment.  Sounds like a lose-lose situation for small and medium sized almond farmers.  This is a shame since small and medium sized farmers are our strongest hope for real healthy food in the future.

Rewarding the Culprit

All of this pasteurization regulation, that is putting stress on small almond farmers, is the result of 2 outbreaks of salmonella in North America.  The only outbreak that occurred in the US was from the largest supplier of pistachios and almonds in the world.  The ironic part of this story is requiring both small and large farmers to pasteurize their almonds actually help the companies that are having trouble with these outbreaks.  By putting a burden on the small and medium sized farmers that is similar to larger corporate farmers, you end up wiping out the competition for the large farmers, thereby opening us up to more safety issues in the future.

It sounds counter intuitive to say new safety regulations can increase safety issues in the future, but if new regulations wipe out small farmers that is exactly what we’ll get.  It will not be impossible for small farmers to keep up with regulations but it will mean they will have a harder time competing.  Eventually small farmers will not be able to keep up and will be forced out of business.

Who do You want in Charge of Your Food Safety

It is important to also remember that new regulations will just put a quality control person in charge of food safety.  This person can be so separated from the end consumer that their motivation will not necessarily be safety, but it will be to keep their job.  When the local farmer, who coaches the local little league team, is in charge of quality control of food safety there is more of a direct desire to see that food is safe for the end user.

Why Federal food safety regulation is a slippery slope: Part I- Safe Food vs. Healthy Food

The senate is trying to push through a bill that would increase the power of the FDA to be able to control food that is grown by farmers.  This food safety bill is in response to multiple food recalls on beef, eggs, and even spinach.  If you have seen news on any of these recalls you would probably not question the need for a federal food safety bill.  I would say there are 2 questions that need to asked before we would pass such sweeping legislation: 1) what affect does federal food safety regulation have on the health of our food and 2) what affect does federal food safety regulation have on the health of small, local farmers?

In part I of this blog series we will answer the question 1) what affect does federal food regulation have on the health of our food.

Does Safe Food= Compromised Freedom, Unhealthy Food

Judging on how food safety has been viewed so far in this country it seems the only safe food is food that has been stripped of anything that can sustain life.  It’s easy to keep food safe when you process the food so much that not even bugs will eat it.   I think if food safety people had their way we wouldn’t grow food in dirt anymore because it’s just too dirty.

I agree that the food landscape has changed dramatically in the last 100 years and needs new legislation to help deal with those changes.  But what about those farmers who grow food the way we did before the industrial revolution?  Should they be subject to the same laws as agribusiness, factory farming done by corporations?   As in other regulations that promote safety, will federal food safety regulation compromise our freedoms as Americans.  I am especially concerned about our freedom to have access to healthy foods.

Let’s take a look at one of the oldest food safety regulations and how it has affected health and the freedom to access healthy foods.

Pasteurized Milk as a Model

Originally used to kill off pathogenic microbes and extend shelf life; pasteurized milk is now consumed by almost every citizen in the US.  Only 150 years ago, everyone on the planet was drinking raw milk.  Today, if I want to get a glass of raw milk in Illinois; I need to own part of a cow or goat.  Neither grocer nor farmer can sell it to me.

Now, I do understand that we need regulation on pasteurized milk if we want people in the cities to have it, but what if I have a farmer friend next door.  Can’t I buy a gallon from him every week without risking him or myself with legal ramifications?  Today pasteurization of milk is so much the norm that few would question its “benefits” for society.  But can the pasteurization of milk have negative effects on health?

During pasteurization the bacteria in milk are destroyed, this includes the good bacteria that are beneficial for human health.  Based on how much milk we drink, milk could be one of the best sources of good bacteria, probiotics, in the diet.  We also are consuming less of other sources of good bacteria, such as raw foods and fermented foods.

Couple the disconnection with raw foods that we have as Americans with medications designed to destroy bacteria in the body, and we have opened ourselves up to a plethora of digestive health issue.  To top that off we add antibacterials to the food we eat and the water we drink.  The hope for healthy bacteria in the system is all but crushed, and now we face an era of poor digestion and immune health, both of which are improved by good bacteria.

We don’t think about it much now, but pasteurized milk is truly a case of both infringement on our freedom to have access to healthy food and a destruction of beneficial properties that make food healthy.  Now I can’t have access to milk with naturally occurring probiotics and I have to go to my local health food store and pay for probiotics.

We alter food so it doesn’t “kill” us or make us sick but we destroy its medicinal properties.  So much for let your food be your medicine.

Keeping Food Safety in Perspective

Speaking of medicine, did you know that pharmaceuticals that are taken as prescribed kill over 20x as many people as food-borne illness.  Over 100,000 people die every year due to properly taking their medication.  This doesn’t include medical errors or drug abuse, nor does it take into account the other side effects of medications.

We are more scared of healing foods than we are of deadly medicines.  We will destroy or remove beneficial portions of food that promote health for the sake of possible pathogens that are primarily an issue at large manufacturing facilities and factory style farms.  We are moving toward a model of replacing healthy food with safe food.  If a food loses its disease fighting properties is it safe?  If a food is “safe” according to food regulators does that mean it will help us fight disease?

So we remove or destroy the disease fighting properties of food and take deadly poisons for our medicine.  This all just seems a bit too ironic.

Dangerous Food Additives

I also find it ironic when we legally mandate that beneficial properties of food be destroyed but in the same system it is completely legal to add in dangerous chemicals to our food that increase our risk for disease.   Let’s take trans fat for an example.  We now know that this type of fat is the only one proven to increase heart disease, even though fat in general takes the blame.  Trans fat also has been shown to increase the incidence of  certain types of cancer.  The criminal act of adding trans fat to food goes unpunished while local and federal agents with guns drawn are stopping people from selling wholesome, raw milk.

Healthy and Safe Food

One important key to moving forward with safer foods should be to consider how a  food increases health and decreases the risk for disease.  Part of that equation is making sure food does not contain dangerous microbes.  But the food safety picture is incomplete if we are not taking into consideration the effects of food safety processing on the risk for disease and effects on overall health.  We are a very intelligent society.  You would think we could control the adulteration of food without limiting people’s freedom to access healthy food.

Be on the lookout for part II of this series when we talk about the effects of federal food safety regulations on small farmers.

How much does Marketing influence our Health?

A recent study about teens believing sports drinks are healthy really got me thinking. How much of our food choices are made because of clever marketing, especially marketing that would make us falsely believe something is healthy. And we are no different from teens.

It is surprising how much we take the food companies word for it. For example, I was reading a nutrition label for a multigrain cracker that was in our company’s break room. The first ingredient was whole wheat, which is a whole grain. A good start. But to find the next grain (not wheat) I had to skim to the fourth ingredient. To find the next real grain, not just a grain byproduct, I had to go 9 ingredients past the 2% or less ingredients. Literally they are sprinkling other grains over the top and claiming multigrain.

I wouldn’t have been so upset about the whole issue except they had this picture of a big wooden scoop with all these different grains pouring out of it. Great, now I’m all upset about it again. Give me just a second…

I guess it never ceases to amaze me to see all the tactics that are used to try and trick us into eating food that is not healthy, and by my personal standards, not even real food. These tactics are regularly being exposed, but before we figure out what tactics they are using they are already on to the next one. Some marketing tactics are here today and gone tomorrow, but some can linger on for years, even decades.

A great example is margarine. Most people can remember when margarine was not only promoted as healthier than butter, but they were so good at their message some people would have considered it a health food. Sometimes the issue is not only good marketing, but in this case the government backed the promotion of margarine. We now know that the partially hydrogenated oils that made up margarine are the most unhealthy oils you can put into your body. They are especially bad for heart disease, increasing bad cholesterol and decreasing good.

So if the junk food and fast food industries are pumping 10s of billions of dollars into marketing and sometimes getting government support to promote their unhealthy food than what are we to do? How can we possibly overcome such a huge deficit of misinformation. The answer is actually easier than you would think. We need to learn how to buy and eat real food.
The most basic step you can take is start reading labels. Stop believing the commercials and the marketing jargon on the front of the label. Go straight to the back of the label and read the ingredients. Avoid processed oils, grains, and sugars, as well as food additives and preservatives.
If you need a refresher on what real food is here is a fairly comprehensive list: beans (legumes), whole grains, nuts, seeds, whole fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy. If you spot one of these ingredients on your label than you have found something that contains real food. The question is how much of these real food ingredients are in there?

The only way to overcome false marketing is understand true ingredients. If you can’t understand the label, probably because the food companies don’t want you to, than you should just leave that food alone. Breaking free from sly marketing tactics will not happen overnight, but if you start to look to the source of truth- the ingredients label- than you are well on your way.


From Grain to Glucan

Food.  We all eat it.  We all love it.  It’s a vital part of our well-being, and in many ways, it is a part of identity and culture.  Food is important.  Food can even influence mood and outlook.  Food also usually has a story.  It may not sound exciting or interesting, but food has an adventure of its own, from its start to finish.  Nutrim takes a long journey from a little oat seed to a fine powder in a can or a chewable capsule.

It may be hard to understand, but the same powder that can help lower cholesterol, started in a field just like any other crop.

We strongly promote whole foods, those foods that are as class to their natural state as possible.  We suggest you use fresh garlic, rather than garlic salts and powders.  Try some real tarragon, rather than “Italian seasoning-flavored” mixes.  Use the real thing.  I’m sure this raises confusion as to Nutrim, and what it is.

Nutrim® is the easy way to supplement your diet with the Power of Oats.  It’s 100% oats.  It’s just cooked and ground down according to a USDA process.  And you won’t find another oat bran as pure and rich in oat beta glucan fiber as Nutrim.

So, next time you drink your 100% pure orange juice, think about the fact that several people worked long and hard to get that juice to you as safe, secure, and nutritional food.  Origin of food is an interesting topic, one that I love talking about.  Do you every stop to think about the fact that your whole wheat bread used to be a grain on a plant in a field somewhere?  Or the fact that your favorite soup comprises of several different products that had to be produced?

Part of the benefit of farmer’s markets is the face-to-face contact that buyers have with the people that worked directly with the product.  That’s an underestimated benefit in a fast-paced world like ours.

Food comes a long way from start to finish.  Are you well-versed in your food’s journey?  Check it out, you may end up finding out some useful information.

Bringing Honesty to Menus

Eating out is a fairly American tradition.  It’s one of the most standard forms of celebration, whether it’s for your kid’s Little League win, your grandma’s birthday, your sister’s engagement, or the fact that you survived the work week.  We, as a nation, generally like to eat out.  This is one of the greatest traps for our health, too.  Even people who are health-conscious in the home may decide to binge a little when eating out.  Lawmakers on state and local levels, however, are contriving ways to combat this trap.

Taking Steps

California has been in the news quite a bit lately for their legislation on food menu labeling.  This new law, enacted on July 1st, states that fast food restaurants must post calorie counts on their menu boards.  In addition, chain restaurants must post calorie counts, as well as some addition information, in their menus.  The next phase of California’s health movements is to try and phase out the use of man-made trans fats.  These steps, as well as others, are also being pursued in other places like New York City and several counties across the nation.  Some other states are also in the early process of drafting similar bills.

Benefits, Obvious and No-So-Obvious

There’s some obvious reasons why this is great.  Now, people who use calorie-counting as a part of their healthy lifestyle can more easily plan for eating out.  However, there’s a shock value involved, as well.  Many people assume that eating that chicken and fish options are so much healthier.  However, manditory nutrition info postings on menus can help clear up the myths about “healthy” fast food, as well as the “light” options at chain restaurants.

Some Shocking Facts

For instance, did you know that the tuna salad subs at Subway generally have the more calories than a roast beef sub from the same place?  It’s the mayonnaise.  Even light mayo will jack up the calorie and fat count to be equal to or greater than that of beef.  And those fish sandwiches at Burger King that seem like such a healthy option?  They’re fried, which means they’re riddled with trans fats.  A better option would be the grilled chicken sandwiches (without sauces and cheese).

Some People Won’t Change

There will always be people who don’t care.  The farmer I do side jobs for during busy seasons shocked me by stating that he thinks it’s a bad idea.  His take is that “people who eat fast food generally don’t care anyways.”  I can’t help but think he has a warped view of the issue (and I promptly told him so).  There’s a degree of manipulation by the restaurant industry.  Even nice sit-down restaurants may cut some corners on their “light” menus.

The Facts Speak for Themselves

I can’t see a single way that this would be a bad idea.  If someone doesn’t care about the nutritional content of their food, then they can ignore the numbers.  Maybe some people who are in denial of their eating habits will see the light.  Health-conscious people will also get the benefits of having more knowledge of the options, and we all know that knowledge is power.  Knowing these facts about our food is a big step towards acting to create better habits as a culture.

The War on Salt

The U.S. government spends a lot of time and money on researching health.  A lot of this goes on in the FDA, or in the ARS section of the USDA.  Besides that, there are always educational institutions and various other bodies constantly working on new projects to learn more about the human body and health.  A major subject of many of these projects lately has been salt intake.  Yeah, salt.
Declaring War on Salt
Salt is most commonly tied to high blood pressure, often referred to as hypertension.  Then again, if you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you already know this.  Well, actions are being taken, in and out of the government, to reduce salt’s place in the public.  There are multiple approaches to this subject.
Government Restrictions
There’s speculations that a restriction could be put on salt use in restaurants.  This would be a pretty tricky task for the government, considering how hard it would be to monitor every burger joint, fast food place, and fine dining establishment in the country.  However, there are ways to definitely give the food industry a good scare.  Adding salt cuts to the idea of sticking caloric counts on menus could become a major one-two punch in favor or healthier lifestyles.
Another approach to the topic of salt is the idea of substitutes.  Sodium raises blood pressure, while potassium directly counteracts sodium.  The two must maintain a healthy balance with each other for your best cardio health.  The most common substitute for salt is potassium chloride.  It’s virtually impossible to tell apart from standard table-salt.  Moreover, it’s becoming popular on a more individual level.  Several people whose homes I’ve eaten at use it, and I really can’t tell much of a difference.  The one big risk with the potassium-swap is abuse.  Just like with sodium chloride, potassium-chloride should be used in moderation.  Just like sodium chloride will raise blood pressure, potassium chloride can lower it.
I’d eventually like to see a potassium chloride-sodium chloride blend on the market.  Just an idea, since an imbalance to either side could be bad.
In an Unsalted Nutshell
Overall, salt can pose a major problem.  Even with health consciousness on the rise, the occurrence of health problems is still very high.  A difference in salt usage can be a good step towards lowering the frequency of hypertension and other heart-related complications.  At this point in time, it’s in the government’s hands.  If they decide to make a major move to counteract high salt-intake, great!  If not, it’s up to us as individuals to be responsible about our eating habits.  Actually, even if the politicians change how salt is used in the food industry, we should all be a little more conscious of our health.  Even something so simple as that extra dash of salt each day can make a huge difference for your well-being.

Community Service and Your Health

Helping Others Helps Yourself

I’m a strong advocate of community service.  I do work with FFA, 4-H, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and some other smaller, lesser-known groups.  I do it to help others, but also because of the feelings of fulfillment that I get from my work with these groups.  I also feel that the organizations I volunteer with are causes worth supporting.  These merits of community service combine to one major result:  my emotional health.  People who help others are generally happy people.  Research has shown that in many cases, happy people find it easier to stay healthy.

Physical Side-Effects

In addition to promoting your emotional health, there’s physical benefits of being active in your community.  I’ve noticed that when I’m out, working on a volunteer project, I’m hardly ever sitting.  At the end of the day, I’m tired, but it’s the good kind.  Many organizations involve a lot of light labor, like walking and standing for long periods.  Automatically, this is better for you than sitting around!

Plenty of Options

Some great ideas for involvement in the community can range from youth organizations, to fundraisers, to getting involved in your city or town’s government.  Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers, as well as homeless shelters, food pantries, religious youth groups, and city beautification projects, to name a few.  In other words, the demand for volunteers is massive.

Find the One That Fits You

Look into not-for-profit organizations in your area.  There’s a charitable or educational organization to fit anyone’s needs.  What’s more, these groups are always in need of help.  Consider it.  You won’t just be helping others, you’ll be helping yourself.If you want to do something good for your heart, do something that’s good for your soul.

Heart Healthy Barbecue

 The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising.  Summer’s almost here.  Even as I type this, I’m sitting outside in the sunshine.  One thing that automatically comes to mind when summer kicks up is barbecues.  People are going to cook out, and have fun doing it.

I wanted to let you know, there are ways to enjoy cooking out without hurting your health.  You don’t have to give up the summer favorites like hot dogs and burgers.  A few tweaks can make a big difference.

Health Alternatives

First of all, look at the type of meat you’re cooking.  While many people worry about losing quality in their burgers, turkey or pork burgers can actually just as good, if not better.  I have plenty of experience with these white-meat burgers, and they’re delicious.  It’s easy to mix things up, too.  Finely-chopped vegetables, fresh herbs, and ground spices (salt-free) can easily be blended into these burgers, adding flavor and variety.  You can also marinate burgers in things like fruit juices and special mixes of water, herbs, and spices, for added juiciness and flavor.

There’s alternatives for hot dogs, too.  There are turkey and chicken-based dogs, as well as tofu dogs.  Like burgers, many people assume they won’t be as tasty as the original.  Even if they’re a little bit of a difference, they are still incredibly delicious.  You can find low-sodium condiments, too.

Avoid Steak

One of the biggest things to avoid here is one of the most savory:  steaks.  Unless you’re willing to go for a lower-grade cut with less marbling, it’s a safer bet to go with skinless white-meat chicken or pork chops.  These alternatives soak up flavor easily, though, so it’s not hard to find fun, interesting ways to prepare them.  They’re lower in the cholesterol that’s often associated with red meats, and still have plenty of healthy protein.  A great tip to reduce overeating is to butterfly your chicken breasts and pork chops.  This reduces cooking time because the actual cut is thinner, but also gives the impression of eating more by filling up more of the plate.

Lay Off the Sauce

Something to keep in mind is that summer-time barbecues often include barbecue sauce.  This tends to be a bad thing, since barbecue sauce is incredibly high in sodium and sometimes fat.  Both of these are worth avoiding for your heart health.  Instead, find healthy alternatives.  An olive oil and herb brush goes well on just about any meat.  On chicken, try a salsa made with citrus juice, ground pepper, tomatoes, and herbs.  There are so many possibilities to pull in natural, heart-healthy flavor, that there’s really no need to use all that harmful stuff.