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Good eats for strong beats

Nutrition: Seminar will focus on the best food for seniors

Posted: July 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 11, 2011 1:57 a.m.

Grilling, rather than frying. Adding more fresh produce to your diet. Cutting back on salt.

These are a just a few of the tasty examples seniors can use to combat heart disease and stroke.

On July 21, Shannon Camaing, LVN and Facey Medical Group case manager, will present a free workshop on “Senior Nutrition, and How to Reduce Your Risks for Heart Attack and Strokes” at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center in Newhall.

“Heart disease is really prevalent, as are strokes. A lot of it is due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight and diabetes,“ Camaing said. “Proper nutrition can be lacking in the senior population due to lack of money, education and transportation.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, while according to The American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee, stroke is the third leading cause of death.

Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

“Nutrition is an easy tool that everyone can use to prevent these diseases,” Camaing said. “Eating more fruits and vegetables, lowering sodium and fat intake, consuming more whole grains, and switching to low-fat dairy products are just some of the steps you can take.”

Additional steps Camaing will review at her workshop include:
- Replacing butter and shortening with unsaturated fats and oils, such as olive oil. Cooking spray is also a great alternative. Stay away from coconut oil or palm and palm kernel oil, which are high in saturated fats.
- Avoiding processed snacks.
- Cutting out fatty or processed meats.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 4.5 cups a day of fruit and vegetables, consuming two portions of oily, fresh fish per week and limiting sodium to 1,500 milligrams a day.

The organization also suggests eating leaner, light meat cuts of chicken and to remove the skin, which contains an immense amount of fat, as well as substituting two egg whites for each egg yolk in recipes that require eggs.

“We’re trying to stick to those foods that are recommended. It can be hard when dining out, especially with fast foods, but remember to order vegetables with your meal and don’t eat anything fried,” Camaing said. “Portion control is also very important to avoid becoming overweight.”

When it comes to cooking at home, there are steps seniors can take to ensure the healthiest possible preparation.
Cooking tips from the American Heart Association include:

Stir-frying — Vegetables, poultry or seafood in vegetable stock, wine or a small amount of oil.

Roasting — Make sure to use a rack so fat drips off the meat. Try basting with fat-free liquids like wine, tomato juice or
lemon juice and avoid using fat in any sauces.

Grilling and broiling — Use a rack so the fat drips away from the food.

Baking — Cover foods and baste with a little extra liquid.

Poaching — Immerse meat or fish in simmering liquid until cooked.

Sautéing — Use a nonstick pan or a little vegetable spray to brown or sauté foods.

For a burst of flavor, finish foods with a sprinkling of fresh herbs, a shot of vinegar or lemon or add some dried chili pepper, cherries, cranberries or currants.

Dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary and marjoram can be used sparingly to add pungent flavor to dishes.

In addition to the nutrition advice, Camaing will also offer information on the signs and symptoms of stroke.

“If symptoms are present, you need to get to the hospital quickly. I stress that you need to act fast and not try to sleep it
off. Lost time means damage to the brain,” she said.

“Senior Nutrition, and How to Reduce Your Risks for Heart Attack and Strokes” will take place on July 21 at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market St., Newhall. For more information, call (661) 259-9444 or visit


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