February is National Heart Awareness Month. Nutrition can help protect you and your loved ones from heart disease and stroke. With heart disease the number-one killer in the U.S., it’s important to foster a diet that’s low in saturated fat and trans fat, and high in fiber and good fats such as Omega-3s.
Research shows that 80% of heart disease is preventable by simply living a healthier lifestyle, (better nutrition and fitness).
There are disease fighting, heart-healthy foods that should be in everyone’s kitchen. Even better, they are delicious, nutritious, prescription free, and have no side effects!
You are at higher risk of heart disease if you are:
- A woman age 55 or older
- A man age 45 or older
- Or a person with a family history of early heart disease
It’s time to take heart, and explore what we can do by understanding the risks and taking these steps to keep your heart healthy
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
- Watch your weight
- Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
- Get active for at least 30 minutes a day.
- Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin every day if you are a man over the age of 45 or a woman over 55.
- Make your calories count by eating a heart-healthy diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium and trans fat.
- Take control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.
Put these disease fighting foods on your grocery list today to replace other less healthy foods and you may cut calories and boost energy. Even small changes to your diet can make a big difference.
- Nuts — Studies have shown that nuts lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, reduce the risk of developing blood clots, and improve the lining of arteries. Almost every type of nut is healthy says the Mayo Clinic, but walnuts have been studied many times and have been found to contain high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. A daily handful of almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, or macadamia nuts are also healthy.
- Tea — Green tea dilates arteries in the heart and allows blood to flow more freely, which may help protect you from blood clots. But skip the milk. A German study found that although tea without milk prevents cardiovascular disease, adding milk counteracts the heart-healthy benefits.
- Fish — People who regularly eat fish as their primary source of animal protein have lower blood-glucose concentrations and a reduced risk of developing diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease, compared to other people. Shoot for at least 2 servings a week.
- Dark Chocolate — German researchers found that eating only one square of dark chocolate a day lowered the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39%. Other studies have also found that chocolate lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow.
- Antioxidants — Foods are still the best choice for antioxidants. Include foods high in Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, Selenium, and Whole grains.
Be sure to check out and print this week’s recipe for a great heart healthy lemon chicken salad. I substituted asparagus for the snap peas, and it was fabulous.
Check out this interesting video to find out how antioxidants work in your body: