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!
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
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:
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
* Go beyond salads and add kale to breakfast omelets, spinach to smoothies, or broccoli to homemade pizza.
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!