Heart Health Tips - Registered Dietitian Approved!
With the holiday season behind us, it is time to refocus your goals and get back on track with healthier eating and more activity. What better time to start than National Heart Month?
Did you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans? Here are 10 heart-healthy diet tips on how you can reduce your risk of heart disease:
1. Get Moving!
Incorporate more physical activity every day, outside of scheduled workouts. Walk when possible, take the stairs, and park further away from the entrance. Wearing a pedometer can also increase your day-to-day activity. Check out these exercises you can do at home.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight.
Research shows the higher your BMI goes, the more at risk you are of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
3. Ditch that Shaker of Salt!
Trimming your sodium intake to 1500 mg or less a day can help keep your blood pressure levels within normal range (Normal blood pressure is less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic or <120/80).
4. Increase the Omega 3's.
Aim for at least 2 servings a week of an oily fish such as salmon or a heart healthy nut such as almonds or walnuts.
5. Aim for 5 (to 9) a day!
Fruits and vegetables pack quite the punch! The more produce you eat the higher your intake will be of heart healthy soluble fiber and antioxidants! Your fruits and veggies help fill you up as well helping to ward off that hunger. Check out these ideas for sneaking in more veggies.
6. Quit Smoking!
Smoking can damage your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease among other problems. Enlist the help of your physician and contact your local hospital for "Quit Smoking" programs.
7. Maintain Healthy Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels.
Many people don't realize how much a role your cholesterol levels and blood sugars play in your heart health. The American Heart Association considers diabetes one of the six major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Aim to reduce or keep your fasting blood sugar under 100mg/dL.
8. Fiber Is Your Friend!
Did you know that a diet high in fiber can actually reduce your blood cholesterol levels? For men aim for 30 grams/day and for women 25 grams. Oatmeal, produce, nuts, whole grain cereals, breads and pastas are a great source of fiber. Get to know the benefits of fiber.
9. Watch the Fats!
We can’t talk about a heart-healthy diet without discussing fats, the good vs. the bad. Aim for most of your fat intake to come from heart-healthy sources such as nuts, seeds, vegetable based oils like canola or olive, and avocados. Decrease the saturated and trans fats when you can, found in many processed foods such as fast foods, packaged snack foods, and fatty, darker meats such as pork, beef, sausage and bacon. Get tips for reading food labels.
10. Keep a Food Log.
Keep a log of your foods can help you determine what lifestyle choices you need to focus on. By writing down everything you eat and drink you become more aware of what foods you are consuming.
Bonus: Heart-Healthy Trail Mix Recipe
- 1 cup cereal, 100% whole-grain
- 2 tablespoons nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts or pecans)
- 2 tablespoons fruit, dried, assorted (such as raisins, cranberries or chopped apricots)
- 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips (optional)
Combine the cereal with the nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips (if using) in a sealable sandwich bag.
By Kelly Devine Rickert, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN
Registered Dietitian/Health Coach, Franciscan WELLCARE