Heart Health and Diet

Thursday, January 26, 2017
Tina Patnode, RDN, LD

February is heart month.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), improving your diet and lifestyle can help prevent heart disease which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Diet and lifestyle modification can improve your body weight, blood lipid levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

Check out Simple Cooking with Heart for delicious recipes and follow these 6 tips to achieve a heart-healthy eating plan:

Gradually add fiber to your diet.

There are two types of fiber in food: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is helpful in lowering LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Aim to eat 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber per day. Choose whole fruit rather than drinking juice, select vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and eggplant, and select high fiber whole grains such as oats, barley, and millet.

Cook up some fish.

The AHA recommends eating fish, such as salmon, at least twice a week. It’s loaded with healthy oils, protein, and minerals that lower blood pressure and help ward off heart attacks and strokes.

Choose soy protein.

Eating at least 25 grams of soy protein each day may improve heart health. Soy milk, edamame, and soy nuts are excellent dietary sources. Include one meat-less meal per week such as stir-fry made with tofu or tempeh.

Reduce salt consumption.

Limit processed meats like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, use fewer frozen entrees, and choose reduced-salt versions of canned vegetables. Look for foods that are low in sodium. Aim to eat less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium each day.

Limit saturated fat, trans fat, red meat, and sweets.

If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available. Eat minimal or no processed foods that have saturated fat, trans fat, high amounts of sugar or sweeteners. Switch from soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages to carbonated water.

Get moving!

Optimal health includes physical activity. Children should have 60 minutes of physical activity per day and adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Decrease time spent watching television and sitting at a computer.

Resources:

The American Heart Association

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Care Manual