Sunday, 23 February 2014

A Healthy Heart

In honor of American Heart Month, I wanted to showcase THE most heart-healthy sandwich I think I have ever eaten. Monounsaturated fat from the avocado, lycopene in the tomatoes and soluble fiber from many of the vegetables, all which can aid in heart health. This sandwich was amazingly tasty and left me feeling good after eating it. 

While cardiovascular disease is currently the #1 cause of death in the United States, it is preventable and there are many ways to keep your heart healthy through what you eat.  Here is a list of a few tips to help support your heart!

-To help lower cholesterol, focus on consuming foods high in soluble fiber, which can help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the blood.  Soluble fiber is found in foods like oatmeal, apples, beans, carrots, barley and citrus fruits.  

-Reduce the intake of high saturated fat foods such as fatty red meats and full-fat dairy.  Instead, make the switch over to 1% or skim milk and yogurt, use olive oil over butter and choose leaner cuts of beef (ie sirloin, tenderloin).  Other healthier protein options include chicken breast, tofu, egg whites and fish.

-Eat more omega-3's! These are fatty acids that can help increase the good cholesterol (HDL) while reducing triglycerides (fat in the blood) and lowering blood pressure.  Many omega-3 sources come from fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, whitefish and halibut.  If fish isn't your thing, you can get your omega-3 fix from foods like olive oil, walnuts, and flax seed however it isn't absorbed as easily as omega-3's from fish. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week. 

-Consuming more unsaturated fats (mono and polyunsaturated fats) can also help to improve cholesterol levels.  Most oils with these fats will be liquid at room temperature (olive oil, canola oil, safflower oil). Other great sources include all nuts, seeds and avocados.

-No more trans fat! While NYC has been off trans fat for a number of years, there are still many areas across the country that support its use.  Mostly, trans fat is man-made and created to help increase the shelf life of products. Consuming this type of fat has been shown to lower the good cholesterol (HDL) while raising the bad (LDL). It also has been associated with a higher risk of developing diabetes. No good all around!   

These are just a few of the ways to help reduce the risk of heart disease.  Along with diet, focusing overall on a healthy lifestyle is key. Reducing alcohol intake, minimizing stress and not smoking also are impactful on health.  Know your cholesterol numbers and see a doctor and a registered dietitan to help make your heart health a priority!


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