Heart healthy eating. What does this mean besides the basic understanding that a heart-healthy diet leads to a strong and healthy heart? It seems that every week there is a new “super food.” So how are you supposed to develop long-term heart-healthy eating habits? Read on for some helpful real-life tips.
- Add Fiber. In the typical American diet, we do not consume enough fiber. Increase your fiber intake by adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. More fiber helps fill us up and keep us satisfied for longer. Next time you go grocery shopping select the whole grain version of your favorite pasta; it tastes great and fills you up with a smaller portion.
- Eat More Omega 3 Fats. Another heart-healthy tip is to eat more omega 3 fats, twice a week. Some good sources are sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna. If you are not a fan of seafood, other sources of omega 3s include flaxseed and chia seed. Try the yogurt parfait recipe (below) to learn how to incorporate these vegan omega 3s.
- Eat Less Salt. You can protect your heart by eating less salt. Salt or sodium is found in processed foods such as lunch meats. This mineral helps preserve foods for a length of time; however, our heart has to work harder to push the extra water each salt molecule holds throughout our body. Next time you go to the grocery store, look for canned food with the tag ‘no salt added’. This recent change by manufacturers allows you to still buy your canned foods but with a fraction of the salt content. Beware that not all canned foods have switched to this new trend of lower salt.
- Limit Saturated and Trans Fats. Along with limiting added salt, we want to limit saturated and trans fats such as butter and whole milk. These foods can be substituted with heart-healthy fats like reduced fat spreads and skim milk. Look for poly- and mono-unsaturated fats on food labels to protect your heart. A good rule of thumb is to choose foods that have less than 5 total grams of fat in a single serving.
Remember that if you take care of your heart, it will take care of you!
Yogurt Parfait Recipe: 6 oz plain greek yogurt, ¼ cup granola, 2 tbsp ground flaxseed, ½ cup raspberries.
Nutrition content: 311 calories, 26 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 168 mg sodium.
Article contributed by Sereen Zawahri Krasuna, MS, RD, LD, Program Coordinator and Dietitian, Mercy Weight Management