7 Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating

February is National American Heart Month, so it’s a good time to consider taking charge of the health of your heart.  If you made the New Year’s resolution to eat healthier this year, then you’re doing something good for your heart. Healthy eating habits will help reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Good health fostered by healthy eating habits improves not only the length of your life, but also the quality of your life as well. Here are some simple pointers for heart-healthy eating so that you can enjoy better health:

Watch the serving size.

It’s easy to consume more calories than your body needs, especially when the food is right in front of you.  Restaurant portions can be large, so consider splitting with a friend or boxing up some of it right when it comes to you. It’s better not to eat snacks right out of the container; rather, look at the portion size on the nutrition facts panel to understand and follow what a serving size is for that food.

 

Pack your snack.

Plan ahead for healthy snacks to enjoy throughout the day such as fruit and veggies. Fruit and veggies are low in calories and high in nutrition.

 

Make a whole-grain swap.

Whole grains contain more nutrition and fiber, so they’re great for heart health. Trade your white bread for whole wheat or substitute brown rice for white.  Aim for half of your grains to be whole grains.

 

Try a “meatless Monday.”

Or a Tuesday or any day. Just try a day of substituting vegetable protein for animal sources.  Beans, legumes and tofu are good options.

 

Reduce salt.

Having too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is bad for the heart. Prepared foods such as frozen dinners and soups often contain a great deal of salt, which is listed on the nutrition facts panel as “sodium.” Compare products and choose those with less salt, or better yet, prepare meals at home using herbs and savory seasonings such as onions or onion powder.

 

Choose your fats wisely.

Select lean protein like skinless chicken or very lean cuts of meat, such as the loin, and trim visible fat. Use healthy oils for cooking such as canola oil, and opt for olive oil in salad dressings. Be mindful of portion sizes!

 

Plan your meals.

This is the greatest defense against the drive-thru.  Plan and shop for all meals (and snacks!). Make half of your meals fruits and vegetables. This way, you always have healthy ingredients at home and can make a meal in the same amount of time as waiting at the drive-thru window.