Practice Heart Healthy Tips
February is National Heart Month and I think it’s important to be reminded that making small changes now can lead towards a healthier lifestyle. There are a few tips from the American Heart Association to help you on your way towards a heart-healthy diet:
- Eat a variety of fruit and vegetable servings every day. Dark green, deep orange or yellow fruits and vegetables are especially nutritious. Examples include spinach, carrots, peaches, and berries.
- Eat a variety of grain products every day. Include whole-grain foods that have lots of fiber and nutrients. Examples of whole grains include oats, whole wheat bread, and brown rice.
- Eat fish at least 2 times each week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best for your heart. These fish include tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.
- Stay at a healthy weight by balancing the amount of calories you eat with the activity you do every day. If you want to lose weight, increase your activity level to burn more calories than you eat.
- Eat foods low in saturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol. Try to choose the following foods:
- Lean meats and meat alternatives like beans or tofu
- Fish, vegetables, beans and nuts
- Nonfat and low-fat dairy products
- Polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats, like canola and olive oils, to replace saturated fats, such as butter
- Read food labels and limit the amount of trans you eat. Tran’s fat raises the levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol and also lowers high-density lipoprotein HDL, ("good") cholesterol in the blood. Trans fat is found in many processed foods made with shortening or with partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oils. These foods include yummy cookies, crackers, chips and many snack foods.
- Limit sodium. Most people get far more sodium than they need. Try to limit how much sodium (salt) you eat. For good health, less is best. This is especially important for people who are at risk for or already have high blood pressure. If you are African-American, have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or are older than age 50, try to limit the amount of salt you eat to less than 1,500 mg a day. If none of those things describe you, try to limit sodium to 2,300 mg a day. Watch out for hidden sodium in foods like ketchup, salad dressing, frozen meals, soups and canned vegetables.
- Limit alcohol intake to 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
- Limit drinks and foods with added sugar.
- Many people may be eating away from home but it’s good to stick to these heart-healthy guidelines when making menu selections.
Good luck and good hearts!