Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and in the U.S. takes the life of approximately one woman every minute.

But we can change those statistics by exercising regularly and eating heart-healthy foods. Curious about what foods are healthiest for your heart? We consulted with Julia Zumpano RD from the preventive cardiology department at Cleveland Clinic, ranked the nation’s number-one heart hospital by U.S. News and World Report. Here are Zumpano’s picks.

Choose fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, and lake trout. Omega-3s help decrease triglycerides (fat) in your blood, reduce the stickiness of blood platelets and the risk of blood clots, prevent plaque from forming on artery walls, and lower blood pressure.

Eat well:
• Aim for two 3- to 4-oz servings a week.
• Don’t stop at salmon–eat a variety.
• Skip the fryer. Broil, bake, grill, braise, or steam fish, or add it to soups or stews.

Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and mustard and collard greens are mighty indeed, packed with healthy-heart nutrients including iron, vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, and folate along with fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.

Eat well:
• Low in calories and loaded with nutrients, greens are a dieter’s delight. Eat them every day.
• Toss together a big salad of mixed greens with a little bit of low-fat, low-calorie dressing, but keep in mind that you can throw greens into almost any dish: omelets, soups and stews, sandwiches, pasta, meatloaf.
• Make kale chips: remove the stems and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces, sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt, mix, spread on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees until crispy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Researchers examining data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Adventist Health Study, which, combined, included the diets of more than 110,000 men and women, found a link between eating 5 ounces or more of nuts a week and a 35 to 50 percent drop in risk of coronary heart disease and death from heart disease. Nuts contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and they are also a good source of fiber and heart-healthy nutrients.

Eat well:
• Zumpano recommends unsalted almonds, walnuts (rich in heart-healthy omega-3s), hazelnuts, pistachios, and peanuts.
• If you are watching calories, remember that nuts are packed with them. Here’s what 1 ounce looks like 24 almonds (164 calories), 12 hazelnuts (178 calories), 14 walnut halves (185), 35 peanuts (161)
• Enjoy nuts plain as a snack, chopped in cereal or oatmeal, or tossed into a salad.

Beans are good for your heart, as are peas, lentils, and other legumes. Legumes are high in plant protein, and rich in heart-healthy nutrients, including zinc, B vitamins, and iron, and they are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.

Eat well:
• Try to include 3 to 4 cups of legumes a week in your diet.
• There are a bazillion ways to enjoy legumes—in side dishes, soups, stews, salads, and many Mexican meals.


Oats, quinoa, barley, millet, spelt, buckwheat, amaranth, and rye. “These grains pack a nutritional punch,” says Zumpano, delivering protein, fiber, magnesium, iron, manganese, vitamins B6 and B12, copper, phosphorus, tryptophan, and the list goes on.

Eat well:
• Cook with fresh whole grains that retain all those good-for-your heart nutrients.
• Zumpano suggests enjoying 4 cups of oatmeal (not instant) a week. You can change it up by adding fruit, nuts, or yogurt.
• Be creative. Ancient grains make great sides but they’re also terrific as the base for a salad, in soups and stews, and as warm breakfast cereals.

To help fight back against the statistics, simply commit to your Curves workout 3 or 4 days a week, and pick up your fork and dig into these heart-protective foods every day. As you can see, there’s a wealth of delicious options to help you stay in good health.



By Claire Kowalchik
Ever notice how after a really stressful period in your job or family life, you come down with a cold, the flu, or some other illness? Scientists have long pointed out that stress weakens the immune system, making us more susceptible to illness, and that chronic stress weakens our bodies in the face of serious diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.

But don’t take this news lying down. Recent research shows that a healthy lifestyle may keep you strong and healthy under the battering of life’s difficulties.

Researchers at UC San Francisco collected data on physical activity, diet, sleep, and incidence of stressful events for 239 post-menopausal, non-smoking women over the course of a year. They learned that those women who were physically active, ate a nutritious diet, and slept well had stronger cells under stress than those whose lifestyles were less healthy.

Besides proper exercise, diet and sleep, why not strengthen yourself against stress with a hug?

In a study out of Carnegie Mellon University, researchers, recognizing that the stress of ongoing personal conflict weakens immunity and makes people more susceptible to sickness, wanted to find out if the opposite—if feeling support from friends or family–would have a protective effect against stress-induced illness. They asked 404 healthy adults to fill out a questionnaire about their feelings of social support and then interviewed them over 14 consecutive days about the number of interpersonal conflicts they experienced as well as the number of hugs they had received. Then, the researchers intentionally exposed the volunteers to a cold virus. The result? Those who received more hugs and felt more social support were less likely to get sick, or if they did catch the bug, suffered fewer symptoms than men and women who reported fewer hugs and less support.


By Cherri Megasko
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, the change in routine can make it difficult to stay on track with fitness. Not only can it be more challenging to fit in time for a workout, but watching what you eat can be more difficult as well. Taking the time to plan ahead can help you stay on track and give you the extra momentum you need to have an enjoyable and healthy trip.

Talk to your Curves coach prior to your trip.
At your monthly weigh and measure appointment with your Curves coach, let her know that you have a trip coming up. Tell her the specifics of your schedule and discuss ways to stay healthy on your travels. She can help you find a Curves location near your destination and set you up with a travel card so you can fit in a workout!

Anticipate being active and take what you’ll need.
Especially if you’re traveling on business, you may not think to bring your sneakers or workout clothes. But many hotels have fitness centers on-site, and you never know when an opportunity might arise to walk to dinner rather than taking a cab. Be sure to bring appropriate shoes, socks, clothes and even special items for quickly refreshing your hair or makeup after your activity.
Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise, and there’s a good chance your hotel will have a pool. Check it out before you leave and if they do, bring along a bathing suit and cover-up as well.

Don’t forget to pack a snack.
One of the pitfalls of traveling is getting hungry at odd hours. At home, we can always hit the fridge for some crispy veggies or fresh fruit. In a hotel, however, our only options may be the vending machine down the hall. Potato chips and candy bars can wreak havoc on our fitness plan, so be prepared by taking along some healthy snacks. Curves protein shakes are an excellent choice.

Schedule some healthy, local activities.
Check the internet or with your hotel front desk for walking tours of the area. They can be a great way to get in some good exercise while seeing the sights and learning more about the area. If you’re on vacation, be sure to schedule some activities that get you out and moving, like taking a local hike or kayaking on a nearby lake.

You don’t have to put your fitness plan on hold just because you’re going on the road for a few days. With thoughtful consideration you can remain active and eat healthy. Doing so is likely to make your travel that much more enjoyable. Don’t forget to jump right back into your Curves routine as soon as you’re back home. Safe travels!

Spring Cleaning: Pantry Overhaul

Before you start ANY weight loss program—regardless of the time of year—it’s wise to do a thorough “spring cleaning” to get rid of potential temptations.  But during the colder months, when our bodies are programmed to want more calories AND we’re spending more time indoors, it’s easy for your once-pristine pantry to collect comfort foods and other tempting items. Here’s a suggested guide for getting your kitchen supplies back to a healthier place.
What to toss
Let’s start with the biggest no-brainer: junk food. This includes all those tantalizing cookies, candy, chocolate, chips, crackers, snack mixes and other empty calories.
You can also get rid of boxed dry meals, including instant flavored pastas or rice blends; even if they’re not high in fat, they’re usually loaded with sodium, which can derail your weight loss efforts. The same goes for any pre-mixed flavor blends you might have, like dry salad dressing mixes or taco seasoning. And, while you’re in a cleansing mood, you might as well get rid of all your regular soda as well.
What to keep
No healthy kitchen is complete without olive oil; its plentiful antioxidants and healthy fats make it an excellent companion to your weight loss program. Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds are also good to have on hand; their high protein and “good fat” content makes them a smart snack in small amounts.
Dry rice and pasta can be a slippery slope; you don’t necessarily have to toss these, particularly if you share your house with other hungry humans. But be prepared to enjoy these (and other starchy foods, like potatoes) in limited amounts and simple, healthy preparations. Your consultant can guide you here. Definitely keep (and stock up on) a variety of ground spices, which will be key to making all your foods more interesting and enjoyable, Just be sure to check your expiration dates.
Can’t stand waste?
It can be really challenging to throw away food that’s perfectly good—even if it’s not necessarily good for you. Consider donating any unopened items to your local homeless shelter. If you have “undesirables” that are already open, set them out on the kitchen counter, take inventory, and get creative. Could those sandwich cookies and dry pudding packets become a delicious pie you can share with your co-workers? Could those flavor packets be transformed into a tasty dip to bring to your next neighborhood party? Naughty-list items need not go to total waste, but they don’t need to go straight to your waist, either.

Spring Clean Your Diet and Exercise Routine

Often we get so wrapped up in marking things off of our spring cleaning checklist – wiping down the walls and trim, laundering curtains and bedding, and sweeping the front porch – that we forget we might need to do some spring cleaning of our own diet and exercise routine, too. After you’ve let the fresh air in the house and thoroughly dusted, mopped, and scrubbed every nook and cranny, here are a few tips to get started on another spring project, a new healthier lifestyle for you.
Clean the pantry and refrigerator
If Valentine’s Day chocolates are still sitting around in the pantry, throw them in the garbage. Review the boxes of snacks, crackers, and chips you keep in the pantry and toss anything that is past expiration, stale, and, of course, is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Eliminate fattening, high-calorie foods from your refrigerator, too. Then, replace these unhealthy eats with fresh spring fruits and vegetables, like asparagus and strawberries.
Spruce up your gym routine
Are you stuck in an exercise routine rut? The treadmill and elliptical can get boring quickly, so this spring, make it a fitness goal to try at least three new fitness classes. Take a shot at the circuit machines for some resistance training that will target and tone your muscles. Give a group exercise class a try for cardio training that’s more exciting than running on the treadmill for an hour. You might even meet a new workout friend that will help keep you motivated. Or, skip the gym altogether and take advantage of sunny spring weather by going on a bike ride, jog, or hike. Bring the family along, too, for a fun outdoor activity!
Workout wardrobe sweep
During your household spring cleaning, you probably donated a box of old clothes, but did you take a look at your workout clothes, too? Pants that are too big, socks with holes in the heel, and tank tops with stains need to go! Clean out old gym clothes and then purchase a few new key pieces to refresh your workout wardrobe. Even a pair of new running shoes can be just enough motivation to get you started on a new weight loss journey this spring.
Refine your rewards
If the new season isn’t incentive enough to begin a new diet and exercise routine, take a look at how you reward yourself along your weight loss program. Select new, exciting springtime-themed rewards that interest you, like a new swimsuit for summer, a new pair of strappy sandals, or a manicure in spring’s hottest shade after you’ve reached one of your goals.