Eating for a Healthy Heart, This Month, and Beyond

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By Krystal Paramo & Latreka Staten

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Diet and lifestyle have a significant impact on many of the risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and excess weight gain. As we conclude Heart Health month and leap into March, which is National Nutrition Month, we want to find ways to continue to eat a healthy diet.

Proper nutrition improves your chances of maintaining a healthy lifestyle while working to protect your heart from cardiovascular diseases. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables while avoiding foods that are processed, have added sugar, or are high in calories is key! While making dietary changes can be challenging, you don’t have to do it alone. Engage the entire family when setting goals and planning out meals.

Below are 3 tips for how to eat for a healthy heart, this month, and beyond!

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

With our sometimes-busy schedules, we often grab food while on the move and forget to focus on the portion size. It is important to make sure that we are providing our body with the appropriate nutrients, but also to make sure that we are not over eating. Portion sizes at your favorite restaurant might be larger than the recommended amount which causes you to eat more calories than you realize. Next time you grab dinner at your favorite restaurant, ask for a to-go box in the beginning and save half for the next day! Check out the My Plate website to learn more tips about eating a balanced diet. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate

  • Add Color to Your Diet

Eating healthy doesn’t have to plain. Adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet will help you meet the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 4 to 5 cups a day. Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet will reduce the amount of calories, sugar, and sodium that you take in daily. This also leads to better heart health when combined with daily exercise.

  • Rethink Your Drink

Sometimes it’s all in what you drink. Try substituting your favorite sugar-sweetened beverage for fruit or vegetable infused water. Infusing your water is a great way to increase your water intake and allows for you to find the combination that works best for your taste buds!

References:

What is MyPlate? (2018, December 14). Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate

Add More Color. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/add-color/how-to-eat-more-fruits-and-vegetables

Know Your Limit for Added Sugars | Nutrition | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/know-your-limit-for-added-sugars.html Healthy Weight. (2016, September 08). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/index.html

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