Love your Heart Back With These Simple Diet Changes
In honor of February being Heart Health Awareness Month and Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share some quick ways to help keep your heart healthy!
First on the list is fiber! If you’ve noticed from our past blogs this is a nutrient we love and for the purposes of this blog, so does our heart! There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Simply put, soluble fiber dissolves in fluid and is broken into a gel-like substance in our colon and insoluble fiber.Yup you guessed it, fiber passes right through without being fully broken down (hellooo corn, I know you know what I mean!). Foods like whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts are some excellent sources! Soluble fiber in particular can help to reduce LDL (bad) and total cholesterol by binding with cholesterol particles in your digestive system and moving them out of the body before they are absorbed. When you replace refined grains (i.e. white bread, white pasta, etc.) with fiber-rich whole grains like oatmeal, whole grain cereal, etc., research has shown that you can help to reduce your risk of stroke by up to 36% and the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%. Each of these conditions are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Women under 50 years old should try to at least get 25 grams of fiber per day while men should aim for at least 38 grams of fiber. For more information on what this looks like, our past blog You May Be Lacking This Very Important Nutrient for Weight Loss explains more in depth.
Besides fiber, it’s also helpful to reduce saturated and trans fats and replace them with healthier fats. Consuming too much saturated fats can increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood, which has shown to increase your risk of heart disease. When we reduce red meats and whole fat dairy sources and replace them with fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olive oils, and avocados, we can help to reduce our risk of heart disease! It is also helpful to choose leaner protein sources of protein such as chicken, turkey, pork, etc. Try to reduce saturated and trans fats as much as possible.
Last, but certainly not least, it is important to reduce salt and increase potassium intake for a healthy heart. When we consume a diet too high in salt it can increase our blood pressure, which puts us at a greater risk of a heart attack or stroke. In order to help reduce this risk try to use only salt free spices when cooking, reduce highly processed foods, and do not add salt after cooking. Consumption of less processed foods and more whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and unsalted nuts/nut butters, can help to keep our blood pressure in normal range.
Keeping our heart healthy is important! When we reduce our sodium and saturated fat intake, as well as increase our fiber intake we are on our way in decreasing our risk of heart disease!
Until Next Time,
Katherine Ancona, MS, RDN, CDN