October 2019

Owning a Dog Can Increase Your Lifespan

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If you own a dog, you probably find yourself gushing to others about how great your four-legged furball is. Now, there are compelling new scientific studies that prove just how amazing they really are!

Published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, the evidence shows that dog owners have a lower risk of death over the long term and are less likely to die from heart disease when compared to non-owners.

Researchers also determined that dog owners who experienced a heart attack or stroke had a significantly lower risk of dying from these causes when compared to non-owners.

The research shows that for dog owners:

  • The risk of all-cause mortality is lowered by 24%, and the chance of dying from heart disease is reduced by 31%.
  • The risk of death for heart attack patients living alone was 33% lower, and 15% lower for those living with a partner or child.
  • The risk of death for stroke patients living alone was 27% lower, and 12% lower for those living with a partner or child.

The studies were originally used to see whether dog ownership was associated with reducing cardiovascular mortality, but the data showed that it fought off other causes of death as well.

“These two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality,” said Glenn N. Levine, MD, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association. “While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.”

So what is causing dog owners to live longer than non-owners?

There have been many documented mental and physical health benefits to owning a dog. When it comes to mental health, dogs have been known to reduce stress and increase social interaction.

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“Dogs offer companionship, reduce anxiety and loneliness, increase self-esteem, and improve overall mood,” said cardiologist Dr. Dhruv S. Kazi, in an editorial that accompanies the studies.

Previous studies have also shown the physical benefits of owning a dog. Just petting a dog can lower a person’s blood pressure! In addition, “Dog ownership may increase time spent outdoors, which has an independent positive effect on cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Kazi.

In fact, owning a dog can end up improving other health measures such as blood pressure and heart rate. By walking a dog 20 to 30 minutes a day, owners will meet the American Heart Association’s recommended 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise to improve their cardiovascular health.

If you were on the fence about adding a furry family member to your household, remember, walking your dog isn’t just good for your pup — it’s very, very good for you too!

Creating Comfort Food With Added Nutrition

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For years, parents have been figuring out ways to sneak nutrition into meals, creating a generation of kids who didn’t know their brownies had actually been spiked with veggies.

And that’s a good thing! Food doesn’t have to necessarily taste healthy in order for it to be good for you. From gooey side dishes to decadent desserts, we all have our go-to dishes when we just need a little comfort.

Here are some popular meals that adults and kids agree are delicious — with a few tricks to boost their nutritional content:

Mashed Potatoes

We all know there’s nothing better in the world than a pile of velvety-soft mashed potatoes, layered with butter, milk and perhaps, a bit of sour cream. But you don’t have to take out any of your favorite ingredients. Instead, try adding mashed cauliflower. Cauliflower blends smoothly with the flavor of the potatoes and is loaded with vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

Casseroles

Lasagna, green beans, cheesy hash brown breakfasts — there are so many delicious casseroles out there! The only problem with them is they tend to be weighed down by a lot of cheese, carbs and fats (of course, that’s what makes them comforting and delish).

But did you know that you can doctor up your casseroles with plenty of healthy ingredients to make them both palatable and healthy? Some examples include using steamed fresh veggies instead of canned, brown rice instead of white, whole-grain pasta and low-fat sour cream or milk.

“A casserole gives you an opportunity to mix a whole bunch of cancer-protective foods in a single dish,” said Melanie Polk, director of nutrition education at the American Institute for Cancer Research to WebMD. “It’s a way to combine beans, whole grains and vegetables.”

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Ground Flaxseed Meal

An easy way to get a little more fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet is by adding ground flaxseed meal to your food. There are plenty of ways to add a teaspoon here and there — try putting it in your meatloaf, baked goods or oatmeal.

It also tastes great (and by that, we mean undetectable) in an old lunchbox staple, the peanut butter sandwich. Just plop a spoonful in the peanut butter, stir it up … and voila!

Desserts

There’s many ways to make desserts a little more nutritious without losing the treat factor. Have you ever tried adding pureed carrots and spinach to a brownie mix?

One simple way to add protein to your dessert is to slip in some vanilla or chocolate plant-protein powder. You can add this to a milkshake, pumpkin pie or a batch of cookies for a sweet flavor boost that’s as good for you as it tastes.

We’re always sharing recipes for sweet, nutritious treats. Check out our recipes for Vegan Berry Nice Cream, Angel Food Cake, and Buttery Pecan Protein Cookies at home today!

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Remember — watch your serving size, eat a variety of foods and remember that treats, even comfort foods, should be enjoyed and not fully avoided. The key is moderation. Bon appetit!