Heart Healthy Foods to Favor
by Chelsea Garcia, MEd, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist
It can be hard to know what foods to favor when trying to eat healthier to lower cholesterol, blood pressure, triglyceride levels, etc. If your doctor has told you to eat less salt that's great, but how much are we talking? The following are some more specific guidelines from the American Heart Association on what types of food you should be eating to keep your heart healthy!
Make sure to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. The more color the better! You should eat a range of fruits and veggies so your plate looks vibrant and colorful. Also make sure to avoid any fruits or veggies that come with added salt, sugar, or high calorie sauces like in canned or pre-packaged containers. Use fruits and veggies to replace any high calorie foods like pasta to make the most of your meal.
When eating any grains make sure to only pick fiber rich or whole grains. The fiber helps fill you up and helps your body digest your meal easier. Try to get in 25-35 g of fiber in each day. To get up to 10 g of fiber in ONE meal check out our featured recipe this week!
Choose poultry or fish without the skin. Make sure to prepare it in healthy ways like grilled or baked instead of fried. If you choose meat, make sure to pick the leanest of cuts to get the most out of it.
Eat fish every week! At least two 4oz. servings per week to get plenty of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for the heart. They can decrease risk of arrhythmias, triglyceride levels, slow plaque formation in the arteries, and can slightly lower blood pressure. The highest level of omega 3's are in salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, and albacore tuna.
When buying or eating dairy products, be sure to get fat free, skim, or low fat.
Avoid foods that contain hydrogenated oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
Cut back on any foods or beverages that have added sugars in the ingredients.
If you struggle with high blood pressure try lowering salt intake to 2,300 mg/day. For reference just one cup of spaghetti sauce has 1,200 mg of sodium! Just one tablespoon of teriyaki sauce has almost 700 mg of sodium. When preparing meals, use more herbs and sodium free spices and always check the label on the foods you buy. If it is possible to lower your sodium intake to 1,500 mg/day that would be even more ideal to help lower blood pressure.
If you drink alcohol, always make sure to drink in moderation. That means women may have a glass of red wine per day and men may have two per day.
If you are out to eat at a restaurant ask them to prepare your meal without sodium and don't use extra salt after you receive your meal. Don't forget to watch your portion control because portions can be much larger at restaurants. If you know portions are large at a specific place try splitting your entree with a friend or your spouse. Always ask for your food to be grilled/baked instead of fried for it to be a healthier option.
If you would like some more information about how to keep up your health and well-being during National Heart Month give us a call to schedule your FREE Nutrition Consultation at 310-582-8212 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.