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CAT | Heart Health

After a busy day, the last thing you want to do is worry about cooking dinner. The good news? Using a slow cooker is a convenient way to prepare a warm and delicious (and healthful!) meal for you and your family. It’s also a great way to prepare your own meats for protein-rich snacks. Try these simple slow cooker recipes today:

stewSlow Cooker Beef Stew
8 servings
2 pounds boneless beef sirloin, cubed
One 14-oz. can stewed tomatoes
One 14-oz. can spicy fire-roasted tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef stock
1 pound carrots, sliced
8 ounces frozen or fresh green beans

Directions: Place beef in slow cooker. Cover with tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves, and stock. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours. Add carrots and green beans; cover and cook for 2 additional hours on low heat. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Zesty Lemon Herb Turkey Breast
8 Servings
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp. crumbled dried sage
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 turkey tenderloin (approx. 2 lbs.)

Directions: To prepare marinade, mix all ingredients except turkey. Place turkey in bowl and coat well with marinade; refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Place turkey and marinade in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours, or until tender. Serve with vegetables or salad, or thinly slice to eat as homemade deli meat.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana
8 Servings
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 large egg
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
3 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced or grated
One 24-ounce jar marinara sauce (no added sugar)

Directions: Coat bottom of slow cooker with olive oil. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and spices in a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat egg. Dip each chicken breast in egg then spice mixture, coating both sides evenly. Place breasts in slow cooker. Cover chicken with mozzarella cheese; top with marinara sauce and cover. Cook on low heat for 6 to 7 hours (or on high heat for 3 to 4 hours). Serve with salad.

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burgerFifty is a decade or two away. Why worry about managing your cholesterol now? Because, say scientists at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in North Carolina, the longer you live with high cholesterol—even slightly higher than normal levels—the greater your risk of developing heart disease.

Using health data from the long-term Framingham Heart Study, researchers were able to determine that if you are between the ages of 35 and 55, every decade spent with borderline high cholesterol increases your heart disease risk by up to 40 percent.

Specifically, one to 10 years of elevated cholesterol levels was associated with an 8.1 percent risk, while 11 to 20 years of exposure boosted the risk to 16.5 percent. To put that in perspective, for those individuals who did not show signs of high cholesterol at the beginning of the study, their future risk of heart disease was only 4.4 percent—meaning long-term high cholesterol can nearly quadruple your chances of heart disease.

The study results, published last month in the journal Circulation, are important because they point out that how long a person has high cholesterol is directly related to his or her risk of developing heart disease—highlighting the need for middle-aged adults to pay better attention to their cardiovascular health.

Study author Dr. Ann Marie Navar-Boggan recommends adults in their 30s should consider getting screened at least once for high cholesterol. In addition, she believes a healthy diet and lifestyle should be a priority early on.

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