Like carbohydrates and protein, fat is a vital macronutrient necessary to support health. Dietary fat helps us absorb key vitamins from food, such as vitamins A, E, D...
You can’t beat a healthy heart - did you know your heart beats on average 115,000 times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood through the body each day? It’s quite an important organ!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. The good news? It is largely preventable with a heart-healthy diet.
February is designated "American Heart Month" to honor the importance of keeping a healthy heart. By taking preventive measures, you can lower your risk of developing heart disease and improve your overall health!
Jumpstart a heart-healthy diet with these 4 simple strategies:1. Fill Up On Fiber: Fiber is found in plant foods - vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes. It comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber soaks up water and becomes a gel-like substance, absorbing cholesterol in the digestive tract. It is especially helpful for reducing total cholesterol and balancing blood sugar. Insoluble fiber does not absorb water and works to move food through the digestive tract, promoting good gut health. Together, soluble and insoluble fiber work to lower risk of heart disease and improve overall health!
Foods high in fiber include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Wild rice
- Black beans
* Boosting total fiber intake is highly beneficial for your heart health. Try this Paprika Chicken Thighs with Brussels Sprouts recipe or make a plant-powered Kale and Black Bean Rice Bowl. The possibilities are endless!
2. Eat Healthy Fats: Not all fats are created equal - healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats are very beneficial for heart health. Monounsaturated fats reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, preventing the onset of heart disease and stroke.
They are found in:
- Olive, canola, peanut, avocado, or sunflower oils
- Peanut butter
Polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, lower inflammation, boost brain health, and prevent plaque buildup in arteries.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Flax meal
- Chia seeds
- Fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and halibut
3. Boost Antioxidant Intake: Tomatoes are rich in a powerful antioxidant called lycopene that reduces cholesterol and improves blood flow. Berries are also extremely high in antioxidants (and fiber!), which lowers blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.
Antioxidants are found in:
- Green Leafy Vegetables
- Swiss chard
- Bok Choy
* Go beyond salads and add kale to breakfast omelets, spinach to smoothies, or broccoli to homemade pizza.
* Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over freshly sliced tomatoes, or snack on a bowl of fresh berries to reap the benefits.
4. Flavor With Herbs & Spices: Consuming less salt reduces blood pressure and helps blood pump easily through the body. It doesn’t have to be flavorless!
Fill the pantry with powerful spices to amplify the taste of your food such as:
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic and garlic powder
* Sprinkle fresh cilantro over fish tacos, add dried oregano to tomato sauce, mix turmeric into mashed potatoes, or blend fresh ginger into smoothies.
Give your heart the love it deserves. A heart-healthy diet full of fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and heart-loving spices will do the trick. In tandem with regular physical activity, stress management, adequate sleep, and smoking cessation, you can give your heart the fuel it needs to keep beating!