How to Look After Your Heart
How to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Here are a few ways on how to look after your heart!
- Choose healthy fats that are liquid at room temperature. Limit the ones that are less healthy like saturated/trans hydrogenated fats. Healthy fats can help improve blood cholesterol and triglycerides while less healthy fats may can elevate them instead. Healthy fats may also boost the healthy HDL cholesterol. Here are a few fat facts:
-Heart healthy monounsaturated fats include olive oil, olives, pecans and avocados
-Choose healthy polyunsaturated fats with a focus on omega 3s such as wild salmon, farm raised trout, walnuts and flax.
-Corn oil and soy oil (often called vegetable oil) although high polyunsaturated fats is also high in omega 6 fats which is in many processed and fast foods. Too much of this fat may suppress the immune system. Since they are so readily available in the American diet, it is best to limit them when you can.
-Saturated fats include animal fats such as fatty meats, high fat dairy, butter and tropical fats like palm and coconut oil. These fats are healthy in small amounts, but many people get too much fat from these sources.
-Trans or hydrogenated fat are fats that are chemically altered in a lab. They were once a healthy and liquid at room temperature but become the worst type of fats to eat for a healthy heart after they are processed. Check ingredient list carefully on crackers, baked goods and margarine. They are also common when going out to eat.
2. Eat less high sodium foods. Prepare more fresh foods seasoned with herbs and spices.
-Too much sodium can elevate blood pressure. Health experts suggests having no more than 1500-2000 milligrams a day, but most Americans have between 4-6 milligrams a day.
Canned, processed and fast foods are a high source of sodium in the diet. A teaspoon of salt contains 2300 milligrams of sodium. Cooking fresh food from scratch can be much lower in salt. Herbs, spices, vinegar and fruit juices can be a great way to add lots of flavor to foods without excess sodium.
Herbs and spices, vinegars and fruit juice can be a great way to season foods without the extra salt. Here are a few seasoning ideas to add more flavor. how to make your own seasonings (vineripenutrition.com)
3. Choose more plant-based recipes that include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and even whole grains. Plants are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, soluble fibers, plant stanols which are beneficial for the heart!
Having a collection of healthy recipes is an important part of food love for your heart. You can find a wide range of plant-based recipes on the Vine Ripe website. how to make your own seasonings (vineripenutrition.com)
4. Maintain or achieve a healthy weight. Extra weight is linked to elevated blood pressure and increased blood lipids. It can add strain to the heart. As little as a 5-10% weight loss can make a big difference in heart health! Here is some guidance from the American Heart Association on weight and a healthy heart. Keeping a Healthy Body Weight | American Heart Association
5. Exercise your heart. Moving the body more can be protective to the heart. The Center for Disease Control has some great resources on physical activity to help get you started! This is some additional helpful information from Harvard. The many ways exercise helps your heart – Harvard Health
Lots of Good Reasons to Love Your Heart
This heart month is a great time to learn how to look after your heart! Show some food love for your heart! Make a personal commitment to take better care of yourself.
Tobacco and alcohol also take a toll also. Sometimes long-term habits are hard to break! If you need information and support from a dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I would love to work with you and help you with lifestyle changes that improve heart health and creative a healthy eating plan! I encourage clients to eat more whole food and use an integrative nutrition approach. You can find out more about what we can work on together here!