February is American Heart Month, and it’s a great opportunity to focus on adopting a healthier lifestyle to prevent cardiovascular disease. Proper nutrition can play a huge role in building a resilient heart, which is why it is important to make healthy food choices, be active, manage stress, and embrace a plant-based diet.
Northeast Missouri Health Council’s Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Carrie Snyder, says eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring or bland. “A heart-healthy diet begins by choosing more fruits, vegetables, and foods with whole grains and healthy proteins and eating fewer foods with added sugar, calories, and unhealthy fats,” explains Snyder.
Top Three Heart Healthy Eating Tips
1. Eat more fiber. Dietary fiber can help lower cholesterol, saturated fats, and excess sodium in your body. It can be found in oatmeal, whole-grain cereals such as Cheerios, brown rice, quinoa, legumes, seeds, and multi-grain crackers and breads.
2. Build a colorful plate. Choose foods high in antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds because antioxidants can decrease the inflammation that causes oxidative damage impacting the strength and quality of your cardiovascular system. Building a plate with lots of colorful foods can be a great step toward consuming more antioxidants. You can start by swapping one meal to a simple salad that contains spinach, shredded carrots, tomatoes, dried nuts, heart-healthy, and fresh fruit such as blueberries or strawberries.
3. Add heart healthy fats to your diet. Heart-healthy fats also reduce inflammation and are a good protective barrier from the unhealthy foods that contain excess sugar, salt, preservatives, and toxins. Foods such as avocados, almonds, and walnuts are fresh and healthy choices that are rich in antioxidants to protect against inflammation, which can directly contribute to heart disease and risks for a heart attack or stroke. Mediterranean diets have become popular because they provide ample heart-healthy fats found in fish, hummus, legumes, and olive oils.
To learn how you can improve your health with lifestyle changes, call Northeast Missouri Health Council's Diabetes & Nutrition Center for more information: (660) 627-4493, Ext: 412