11 February Heart Health Tips
February is American Heart Month sponsored by the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; 1 in 4 Americans fall prey to heart disease.
Heart disease can often be prevented by making healthy food and lifestyle choices. Below are my TOP TIPS to help you makeover your diet. They will put you on the road to heart health.
1. Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal
Oatmeal not only tastes delicious but is also good for the heart as it is rich in soluble fiber, shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Beta glucans, the kind of fiber in oatmeal, may be particularly beneficial for heart health and for weight control.
Oatmeal also contains magnesium and potassium, minerals which contribute to a healthy heartbeat. I love adding one scoop of MTS whey to balance out the meal with some added protein.
Try the heart health stack featuring MTS Machine Greens and Nimbus Nutrition Cadence.
2. Watch your portion by using a smaller bowl and spoon
A simple way to practice portion control is to trick your mind by using smaller plates; we tend to eat less when we use smaller plates and bowls. Even try using a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon — you will probably eat even less (this is a great tip for any nut butter addicts like myself).
3. Top your oatmeal with blueberries
Blueberries are high in antioxidants and polyphenols, which help fight chronic disease and cancer. A recent study in the journal Circulation suggests that sprinkling just a few more blueberries in your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie may help reduce heart attack risk.
4. Include more beans with your meals
Beans contain soluble fiber which help lower cholesterol. They are also filling and help keep you satisfied.
5. Snack on a handful of mixed nuts
Nuts contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats and have been shown to reduce heart deaths in the elderly. Nuts also help to control weight. The key is to snack on nuts instead of chips, and practice portion control. Aim for approximately ¼ cup or one layer of your palm.
Want a healthier heart? Make sure to eat these foods every week: Mixed nuts, oatmeal with blueberries and colorful salads.
6. Start your dinner with a colorful salad
Starting your meal with a colorful salad is a great way to boost heart healthy nutrients in your diet. Vegetable salads are full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and low in calories. The different colors provide different nutrients so throw in dark greens which are high in folate, tomatoes high in lycopene and yellow peppers which are full of vitamin C.
7. Dress it with olive oil
Olive oil contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Best to use an olive oil based dressing over creamy varieties such as blue cheese. However, it’s important not to over pour; aim for 1-2 tablespoons, or a shot glass worth.
8. Cook dinner at home
People who cook dinner at home tend to eat healthier and take in fewer calories. No surprise. Restaurant portions are huge and full of all sorts of hidden ingredients which are loaded with calories.
9. Enjoy grilled salmon as your main course
Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids which are known to be good for the heart. Grill your fish with your favorite spices and a drizzle of olive oil.
10. Have cauliflower as a side dish
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, a cousin to broccoli and Brussels sprouts, high in fiber and low in calories. It is an excellent, low-calorie source of potassium. My favorite is making mashed cauliflower with garlic.
11. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert
Saving the best for last, research found that people who eat dark chocolate have lower rates of heart disease than people who do not. Chocolate contains flavonols, phytochemicals which may reduce heart disease risk. However, remember that amounts count and aim for one small square.
Editor’s note: For great recipe ideas, make sure to visit Kara Corey’s Youtube channel.