Balanced eating can help you keep heart strong
February is all about celebrating hearts. With Valentine’s Day behind us, now it’s time to focus on American Heart Month! Heart disease remains among the leading causes of death in the United States, but in some cases, there are modifiable risk factors to prevent this disease. Here are some tips for keeping your heart healthy and strong.
Focus on a balanced eating plan. A balanced eating pattern is made up of a variety of different foods from each food group.
Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which support heart health. So fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
Grains and starches include whole grains such as bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice as well as high-fiber starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn and beans. Carbohydrates serve as the body’s primary energy source. Plus, the fiber found in grains also provides special benefits to heart health.
Dairy provides calcium and vitamin D. Choose low-fat options when possible such as skim milk, non-fat or low-fat yogurt.
Protein choices should be lean if possible to lower saturated fat intake. Focus on lean meats, fish, seafood and plant-based options like beans, legumes, nuts and quinoa.
Choose fats wisely. Try to limit the amount of saturated and trans fat you eat as these forms of fat are more likely to cause issues with heart health by clogging the arteries. This type of fat is solid at room temperature such as the type of fat in meats, full-fat dairy, processed foods and baked goods.
Instead, focus on consuming unsaturated fats, which are anti-inflammatory and support heart health. These types of fats can be found in nuts, avocados, fish and non-tropical oils.
Cut the sodium. To help manage a healthy blood pressure, try to limit your sodium consumption to less than 2,000 mg per day.
Get active! Increasing your activity can help with weight management as well as cardiovascular health. Make it your goal to be active for 150 minutes each week or 20 minutes a day. Engage in mindful movement that you enjoy to help relieve stress.