Valentine’s Day might be over but there is still time to show your heart some love this February!
Here are a few ways that you can keep your heart healthy!
- 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..
- 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 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.
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! You can find a wide range of plant based recipes on the Vine Ripe website. You can also sign up for my newsletter for even more idea!
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!
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 heart month is a great time to do some soul searching about heart health! 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 fro 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!