22 February 2012

Heart Healthy Food Choices

We all know that heart disease is a factor we all need to worry about, especially us women!  Are you eating for optimum heart health?  There are many simple changes you can make to your diet that will greatly reduce your future risk of getting heart disease.

1)  When shopping the produce aisle, think color!  
Think berries, oranges, yams, broccoli, carrots, spinach, and more!  These colorful fruits and veggies are  a great low fat and cholesterol free addition to a healthy heart diet.

2)  Focus in on your dairy/calcium habits.
Low fat and reduced fat milk, cheese, and yogurt are wonderful additions to any diet.  If you're a vegan, make sure to fill any Vitamin D gaps in your diet with options like calcium fortified orange juice and fortified cereals.

3)  Get your grains!
Specifically, whole grains that is!  Substitute your average white bread, pastas, and cereal for whole wheat versions for a healthier heart.  Make sure you are buying bread that is truly whole grain wheat bread, not bread labeled "wheat" that is simply white bread in disguise!

4)  Eat lean meats and up your protein intake.
Lean meats such as chicken, pork tenderloin, and turkey breasts are another great addition to a heart healthy diet.  To up your protein intake, (especially for you vegetarians like me!) choose protein rich beans like kidney, black, soy, and garbanzo beans.

5)  Omega 3 rich foods are a plus!
These days upping your intake of Omega 3 rich foods is easier than ever!  Options are found in cold water fish such as salmon and tuna.  If you don't eat fish you can also find Omega 3 in walnuts, flaxseed, soy products, and even some Omega 3 enhanced cereals and breads!

Now let's zero in on what is not heart healthy:

  • Too much salt!  Make sure you are reading sodium content on labels.  2,300-2,400 mg of sodium a  day is what is considered "average".
  • Steer clear of too much sugar.  This one can be hard to resist, but keeping an eye on your sugar intake is key!
  • Watch out for unhealthy fats!  Try to minimize your intake of unhealthy fats such as trans and saturated fats to keep your heart healthy.

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