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Nutrition and Your Heart: 10 Healthy Eating Tips

Mom and Daughter holding groceriesScience is discovering what we’ve been told by our mothers for decades: eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may be the best preventative medicine of all. In fact, the American Heart Association says “a healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease.”

A study by University of California, San Francisco, also confirmed this. It focused on people who had suffered a heart attack and then switched to a low-fat diet, started exercising regularly, stopped smoking, lowered their stress and increased their social connections. It showed that most of the participants lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reversed some of the blockage in their arteries and even lowered their blood sugar.

So what can you do to eat healthier and decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease and other chronic health conditions? Start here with these 10 tips:

10 Healthy Eating Tips for Your Heart

  1. Have at least two servings of fish per week, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, trout and herring.
  2. Get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  3. Eat whole grain breads and cereals in lieu of white bread, rice and noodles.
  4. Get your soluble fiber. Beans, oats, barley and prunes are a few examples.
  5. When eating meat, choose lean cuts of beef, pork or skinless chicken breast.
  6. Add healthy fats and oils to your diet. These include olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados, olives and foods that have natural oils over those made with hydrogenated fats.
  7. Cut out foods that are high in saturated fats, such as full fat whole milk and other dairy products, high fat cuts of meat and tropical oils, and trans fat that is typically found in margarine, baked goods, crackers and fried fast foods.
  8. Make sure to get plenty of fluids. Drink up: water, juice (non-sugary ones) and low-fat milk.
  9. Limit sodium intake and read food labels. The American Heart Association recommends lowering salt consumption to 1,500 mg / day. To put that in perspective, ¼ teaspoon of salt is equal to 575 mg of sodium and 1 teaspoon of salt equals 2,300 mg of sodium.
  10. Don’t forget the antioxidant-containing foods. Some good food sources of antioxidants include green leafy vegetables, legumes, papaya seeds, soybeans, sweet potatoes, wheat germ, carrots and tomatoes.

Taking these recommendations to heart could protect yours today and down the road. Plus, as a bonus, you might just see an increase in energy to fuel more physical activity. That’s a win-win-win.


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