February is National Heart Month so why not show your heart some love this month? The American Heart Association recommends a diet low in sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol as well as a diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and fiber. Here are some tips to help you keep your heart healthy.
- Cook with Healthy Fats: Avoid using solid fats like butter, shortening, lard and stick margarine as these can contain a lot of saturated fat. Look for oils such as olive, canola, safflower,and avocado oil.
- Go Lean with Protein: Choose lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, lean meats, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes. Decreasing animal fat in your diet can help remove some of the cholesterol from your diet, try eating vegetarian once per week!
- Get a little nuts: Nuts may be small but they are packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats. Try snacking on a small handful of almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, or pistachios. Nut butters are also a good option, look for the jar with the least amount of sodium and sugar. My favorites are Justin’s Almond Butter and Teddy Peanut Butter. Watch your serving sizes as these can be very high in calories.
- Increase your Fiber: Diets rich in whole grains and soluble fiber may protect your body against heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and reducing inflammation. Choose whole grain or whole wheat options, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and oatmeal.
- Go Fish: Fish is a great source of lean protein. Certain types of fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and may lower the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish into your diet per week.
- Add Some Color to your Plate: Vegetables are filled with good-for-your-heart vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Adding just one extra serving per day can add significant benefits. Be sure to fill half of your plate with colorful veggies like kale, yams, broccoli, peppers, or carrots.
- Watch the Salt: When sodium intake is too high for your kidney to process, sodium accumulates in the blood. This rise can cause an increase in blood pressure. High blood pressure raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Main sources of sodium include processed foods, cured meats, frozen dinners, marinades and soups. Choosing fresh foods whenever possible, removing the salt shaker from your kitchen table, and reading food labels can help remove extra sodium in your diet.
Stay tuned for some heart healthy recipes this month on my blog and on my Instagram (IG: DietitianCarly) !