Bare with me! We’re almost through the dreadful, depressive months where you’re really white and just want to eat Cheetos and watch TV…
Did you know February is American Heart Health Month?? Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Eating right and hitting the gym is not only for weight loss and self esteem, it’s what your heart depends on for longevity. So what can you do today to ensure your heart will hold up down the road?
EAT FIBER – Fiber is found mostly in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and aids in digestive health as well. It makes your body work to digest it, and in turn, exercises your heart. The seeds and skins of fruits and veggies will contain the most fiber. As far as grains, try to make at least half of daily grains “whole grains.” What does this mean? It means that the individual grain from the plant was not processed or broken down in any way. When a grain is refined or processed (aka white or wheat bread) the fiber is lost. Many consumers confuse wheat bread vs. whole grain bread. Many breads or grain products can be died brown to suggest it is healthier, but in reality is just white bread. Make sure to read labels here! Ensure that the main ingredient reads “whole grain flour” and aim for at least 3g fiber per slice. You should aim for 25-30g of fiber daily!
EXERCISE – No I did not say apples pies…get your heart pumping! Many people are intimidated when they hear this word. It doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon or become a bodybuilder, it just means you should breath harder and feel your heart pump. This is called cardiovascular exercise, whereas lifting weights or yoga would be more resistance training. Cardio (hence the name) is what your heart needs to stay in shape. Take the stairs at work, take a walk on your lunch break or get online a find a used bike! You may find this to be a new hobby that you can enjoy with your friends or family.
LOWER SATURATED FATS – these are the fats from animals. Meat, dairy and cheese. Of course these products provide Vitamin D, Calcium and other important nutrients, but don’t go overboard due the high amount of “sat fat.” Try reduced fat or low fat products, go meatless for one day a week (perfect timing Lenters!), give non-dairy milks a try and when choosing a protein, aim for lean choices like turkey, chicken and fish!
INCREASE MONO/POLY UNSATURATED FATS – These types of fat include avocados, nuts and nut butters (my favorite things), seeds and olive oil. These aid in lowering cholesterol and keeping your arteries silky smooth.
SODIUM – YA YOU WITH THE SALTY LOOK. Sodium is everywhere. It’s what makes food taste delicious, right? The average person should consume no more than ~2000-2500mg of sodium DAILY. If you are already experience heart problems like a-fib, CHF or heart disease your doctor may restrict your sodium anywhere from 1500-1800mg daily. This can be a real struggle for consumers. What does this mean? 2000mg of sodium is ONE TEASPOON of salt! THAT’S IT! When reading a label, make sure to take serving size into account, then multiply that by the mg of sodium listed…MIND BLOWN, try it once. Your biggest culprits will be packaged foods, processed meats and cheese (yes that delicious pepperoni on your pizza) and canned good. Companies are realizing the struggle and working to produce lower sodium or “no salt added” products. Give these a try!
DISCLAIMERS: Three words. Chocolate, Red Wine, Coconut Oil. Bottom lines.
- None of these in excess will benefit your health and may even hinder it
- Chocolate consumed for health intents must be at least 60% cocoa and eaten in a 1 oz portion
- Red wine may have antioxidants, but so do grapes. Don’t abuse the system (yes I love that meme you’re thinking of)
- Coconut oil is and will always be a SATURATED FAT, so don’t go all foodie on me a purchase it in bulk at Costco.
Day off today and working on a sodium project for a heart health event a work tomorrow! What changes can you make to better fit a heart healthy lifestyle? My breakfast this morning pictured below > Oatmeal (whole grain…fiber..remember?) with dried cranberries, coconut shreds, mini chocolate chips, sunflower seeds and 1 tbsp pure maple syrup.