Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and hypertension) remains the leading cause of death in America today. Lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular activity and maintaining a healthy body weight can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease.
Start by Maintaining a Healthy Weight. Are you carrying a few “extra pounds”? Loosing those pounds can help lower your blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and keep your blood sugar levels normal. All of these factors are important to heart health. Use these tips to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Eat Breakfast. Studies demonstrate that breakfast eaters consume fewer calories and are thinner than non-breakfast eaters. Simple grab and go breakfasts include:
o Kraft BelVita Breakfast Biscuits, a fresh banana and a cup of fat free milk
o Dole Fruit Smoothie Shakers
o Meijer Whole Wheat toast with a touch of Promise Buttery Spread, and a cup of V-8 Vegetable Juice (reduced sodium).
- Don’t pass on lunch. Enjoy foods that are packed with antioxidants and nutrition, but low in calories. Use NuVal™ at Meijer when you shop. NuVal™ scores are found on the self price tags and tell you how nutritious a food product is—the higher the NuVal™ score, the better the nutrition. Scores range from 1-100. Include these high NuVal™ scoring foods in your lunch box:
o Dole Bag Salads topped with reduced fat dressing. For a protein source, add grilled chicken, beans (a great soluble fiber source), or Meijer omega-3 rich hard cooked eggs to your salads.
o Soup is the perfect lunch food. Find recipes at Meijermealbox.com or simply bring along healthier can soups such as Progresso Light and Reduced Sodium Soups.
o Hot or cold, tea is an anti-oxidant rich beverage to enjoy with your lunch. Skip the sugar to sweeten your tea and opt for other natural low-calorie sweeteners such as Truvia Sweetener.
- Balance your dinner meals. Make the most of your meals by packing in plenty of vegetables, fresh, frozen or no-salt added canned all provide heart healthy antioxidants. Use “MyPlate” as a guide for healthy and balanced meals:
Food Choices for a Healthy Heart:
Eating for a healthy heart goes beyond watching the amount of fat and cholesterol in your diet. Current research suggests many other factors in our diet may play an important role in heart health. Incorporating these foods into a low-fat meal plan, along with adequate exercise will help promote a healthy heart.
• Fill-up on fiber. Dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber, is good for the heart. It is recommended that Americans include between 25-35 grams of total fiber a day from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. At least 10 of those fiber grams should be supplied by soluble fiber. Rich food sources of soluble fiber are oatmeal, barley, beans like kidney, navy and pinto, apples, pears and cabbage. The bulk of your fiber should come from whole foods that are naturally high in fiber. Also, one or two servings of fiber fortified foods like Fiber One Bars and Cereal can also help you achieve your daily fiber goals.
• Do Eat Dairy. Vitamin D found in fortified dairy foods plays an active role in promoting overall heart health, including healthy blood pressure. Eat 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy every day. Make one of those a low fat yogurt, such as Dannon’s Natural or Activia, which help reduce the effects of inflammation.
• Eat fish at least twice a week. Fish is low in saturated fat and some types of fish, like salmon, sardines and trout, are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Recent studies all showed that omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils protect people from irregular heart beat and sudden cardiac events (heart attacks).
• Eat more plant sources of omega-3 fats. Other sources of omega-3 fats include fats and oils (canola, soybean, and walnut oils), wheat germ, flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans. For a hearty breakfast option, sprinkle one teaspoon of ground flaxseed in Yoplait Greek Yogurt, the extra protein in the Greek yogurt combined with the added fiber from flaxseed, will help to keep you fuller longer.
• Eat nuts. Studies show that eating 1-2 ounces of nuts high in polyunsaturated fats a day, like almonds and walnuts, can help lower cholesterol levels. Since nuts are high in calories, be sure to adjust intake of other foods to keep calories in balance and maintain a healthy weight. A one-ounce serving (one small handful) of almonds or walnuts provides about 180 calories. Planters® Nutrition Bars and Nut Blends are great snacks to enjoy for a healthy heart.
• Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is the minimum number of servings you should eat, but research has shown higher amounts can help lower blood pressure and protect your heart. Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and high in fiber. They are also good sources of antioxidants that help protect our cells from damage. Choose whole fruit and vegetables for maximum health benefits. Dried fruit and Juices in moderate amounts can fit in your heart healthy eating plan. Emerging research indicates that cranberries, including 6 ounces of Ocean Spray cranberry juice daily can reduce risk for bacterial infection and other factors that contribute to heart disease.
Sun, February 5, 2012
by Healthy Living Dietitians filed under