Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Living a healthy lifestyle has many positive benefits for your heart health. These include but are not limited to staying active, managing stress, and consuming a heart healthy diet. In this blog post, we will focus on following a heart healthy diet as it is the first key to preventing and managing cardiovascular disease.
Luckily, it’s not as hard as you may think! Keep in mind that it is the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Creating a new healthy habit takes time but following the simple steps below with help build long-term benefits to your health and your heart.
Creating a Heart Healthy Diet
A heart healthy diet can reduce many of the risk factors that can lead to heart disease. Studies have shown that it helps reduce total and LDL-cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, blood sugars, and triglycerides, and reduce body weight. Start by consulting a nutritionist or your doctor to learn how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain or lose weight so you can create a plan that works best for your body and needs. From there, here are some tips on creating a heart healthy diet:
- Swap out saturated and trans fats for poly- and monounsaturated fats
- Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to meet the recommended 5 servings a day
- Ensure half your total grain intake comes from whole grains.
- Choose lean proteins that come from poultry, fish or seafood, and even plant-based protein from legumes and nuts
- Use liquid, non-tropical vegetable oils such as olive or avocado oil
- Minimize processed foods as much as possible
- Monitor your sugar and salt intake
- Limit alcohol consumption
Healthy Foods on the Go
Our lives are busy and preparing healthy meals at home are not always an option. However, it is possible to follow a heart-healthy dietary pattern regardless of whether food is prepared at home, ordered in a restaurant or online, or purchased as a prepared meal. Simply read the Nutrition Facts and ingredient list on packaged food labels and choose tho option with the least amount of sodium, added sugars and saturated fat. Also, look for the Heart-Check mark to find foods that have been certified by the American Heart Association as heart-healthy.
When you are ordering online or at a restaurant, follow these tips:
- Look for balanced options that include a lean protein, whole grains and vegetables.
- Pay attention to key words and avoid meals that include the words: crunchy, crispy, fried, breaded, creamy or cheesy.
- Instead look for healthy options that include baked, steamed, roasted or grilled.
- Always ask for your sauces or dressings to be put on the side so you can control how much you consume.
Creating a heart healthy diet is one of the topics in our HD Heartbeat Newsletter! If you’d like to learn more about heart and health and other health related topics, contact us today to learn how you can get a copy! For even more information on American Heart Month and following a heart healthy diet, visit the American Heart Association!