Make Heart Health An Everyday Habit

One can hardly pick up a frozen dinner, boxed cereal, or any prepackaged food and not notice the “Heart Healthy” label splashed all over the item. Relying on these marketing ploys alone will typically NOT provide much that is truly heart healthy.

You don’t have to scrupulously count calories or become obsessive about your diet to lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Here are 5 practical ways to make heart health an everyday thing.

Read Labels heart health

Certain fats and dietary choices can increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  It’s easy to fall for the heart healthy label, but to really discover whether a product is good for your heart health, read the small print.

If you notice ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils, saturated fats or trans fats, it’s better to put it back on the grocery shelf. Look instead for monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. We all may need to include these convenience foods in our daily life from time to time, but reading labels and checking sugar content as well as sodium levels can really help to increase our awareness of what we are truly putting into our bodies.

Eat Real Food

Limit your intake of pre-packaged processed foods, and eat the real stuff. Natural foods provide the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy heart. Some examples of natural whole foods include:

  • Protein like turkey, skinless chicken, lean cuts of beef, eggs, salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds.
  • Vegetables including spinach, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and carrots. Some frozen varieties are acceptable as long as they have no sauces or added sugar.
  • Fruits should be part of any heart healthy diet since they contain natural sugar. Eat apples, oranges, pears, bananas and grapes.
  • Whole grains including plain oatmeal, high fiber cereal, whole wheat breads and pastas along with brown rice.
  • Legumes, lima beans and kidney beans
  • Dairy that is low fat or fat free like yogurt, skim milk and cheese.
  • More healthy fats like olive oil and canola oil along with avocados.

Including all of these food groups in your daily diet help to control the risk of heart disease.

Manage Portions

Yes, there can be too much of a good thing. Eating the right foods is optimal because frequently overeating may lead to obesity and raise the risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

When eating out, ask for a container before you start to eat. Knowing the portions are enormous, you can overcome the instinct to clean your plate even though you are full. Sometimes the appetizer portions are a more reasonable choice.

At home, use smaller plates. You are less likely to pile on too much food with a smaller plate.

Get Up And Move

Exercise must be part of any heart healthy lifestyle. Whether you choose walking, running, or riding a bike, you can boost your metabolism as well as lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. It only takes 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week to improve heart health.

Throw Salt Over Your Shoulder

That’s a much healthier pursuit than using the shaker in all your food. The American Heart Association recommends we consume less than 2300 mg of sodium a day, with less than 1500 mg being best.

Look for low salt soy sauces, herbs, and seasoning, and only use the salt shaker for good luck.

If you’re concerned about the health of your heart, or would like to know more tips on healthy living, speak to Dr. Ulin Sargeant about what else YOU can do.