Heart Healthy Foods

Heart Healthy Foods

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as well as the American Heart Association endorse a heart healthy diet called the DASH diet. D.A.S.H. stands for (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It’s also the basis for the new USDA MyPyramid. The foundation of the DASH diet is probably not news to you. It involves things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low saturated fats. Like I said, “It’s not glamorous”! Read on for a more in depth look at the new and improved diet that’s heart healthy and did I mention it can help shed unwanted weight and protect against cancer?

The foundation of a heart healthy diet is:

Total fat: 27%

Saturated Fat: 6%

Protein: 18%

Carbohydrates: 55%

It also has no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day (1500mg is better), and at least 30 grams of fiber. If you’re like me, this means very little to you and you’d rather just know what foods to eat and which ones to avoid. So I’ll put the DASH diet on the bottom shelf for you.

Foods To Eat:

Oily fish and/or lean protein is important. Salmon, tuna and mackerel are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to improve the elasticity of your blood vessels and can also thin the blood protecting against clots. Chicken and turkey breast are always good choices of protein if fish is not your forte’.

Fruits and Vegetables are high in antioxidants which protect against heart disease by neutralizing damaging free radicals in your blood vessels. It is a proven way to aid your body’s defenses against atherosclerotic heart disease. Fruits and vegetables are also naturally high in fiber, which have a cleansing effect.

Nuts and Seeds are rich in the good fats (unsaturated) and more importantly high in vitamin E, which protects against “bad” fats (saturated/trans). Nuts fill you up and are a great alternative for a healthy snack.

Foods To Avoid:

Fried Foods are among the worst foods for your heart. They are high in saturated fats, which raise cholesterol. Most people are aware of the health risks involved with fast food, but restaurant food can be just as bad for you.

Red Meat has gotten a bad reputation for a good reason. The marbled cuts are worse and carry with them a higher concentration of fat. Try limiting your intake to once a week or less if you can, and trim as much fat as possible before cooking.

I think most people are not surprised at the advice above, but have a hard time implementing these practices into their every day life. Here are some Superfood tips that make eating healthy easy.

• Buy whole grain bread and cereals.
• Learn healthy recipes and try new things.
• Substitute olive oil for butter or shortening.
• Leave fresh fruit out on the counter.
• Buy 1% milk or skim

The research is conclusive. Cholesterol and hypertension have been linked to our diet. Heart healthy food is not rocket science, but it does require some discipline. You might be surprised how easy it is to start eating better and your heart will thank you. Arm yourself with the DASH diet for a comprehensive defense against heart disease and start choosing heart healthy foods.

June 2015

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