Nutrition tips to support heart health
February is American Heart Month, and we are doing all we can to promote heart health. In partnership with the American Heart Association for Go Red for Women, we are working hard to spread information about heart disease – which kills a woman in the United States every 80 seconds. But lifestyle changes like better nutrition can help keep your heart healthy. In fact, eating right can reverse heart disease and even help prevent strokes.
Follow these tips to keep your heart in the best possible shape:
Stay away from sugar and processed foods
Reducing or eliminating sugar from your daily diet is a sure-fire way to help your heart. Research shows a sugar-heavy diet increases your likelihood of dying of heart disease, regardless of your weight, physical activity or sex.
About one in ten Americans people take in at least 25 percent of their calories from added sugar. In the study, participants who took in that amount were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10 percent added sugar. That’s an amazing statistic and one we can easily take control of in our diets.
One way to achieve this goal is by reducing the amount of processed foods you eat because they contain significant added sugars. Try to stay away from soda for this reason. One can of soda contains more sugar than you are supposed to consume in an entire day!
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Anti-inflammatory foods, such as those on the Mediterranean Diet, can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. This diet primarily consists of vegetables, fish, olive oil, whole grains, legumes and nuts. Dark chocolate and red wine are also included as part of this diet.
You’ll notice that meat is not included in this diet. While it’s still up in the air how much and what kinds of meat are healthy to consume, many cardiologists and nutritionists believe that no or very low meat consumption is best for the heart.
The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, provides great recipes for this nutrition plan, including more beneficial health information.
Consume healthy fats
Salmon, sardines and mackerel are excellent sources for keeping your heart healthy. That’s because these fish contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3’s are now well-known for lowering the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the arteries). Omega-3s also decrease your triglycerides – those important cholesterol numbers.
Certain nuts and seeds are high in omega-3’s, such as flaxseed. You can also get your omega-3 fatty acids through supplements.
What to drink or not to drink
Research goes back and forth on the health benefits of coffee. But when it comes to the heart, a recent study shows coffee may actually help lengthen your life. The research shows that heavy coffee drinkers are less likely to die – up to 15 percent less. This statistic included the likelihood of dying from heart disease. Based on this study, you can feel free to enjoy that extra Cup of Joe.
Red wine is also thought to be good for the heart. Apparently, this is because of its high concentration of resveratrol, which white wine does not have. But remember – more than a glass or two a day does more harm than good.
Top heart-healthy foods to eat
There are many foods that nutritionists and scientists agree contribute significantly to your heart’s health. They are:
- Salmon and other oily fishes
- Olive oil
- Blueberries (and berries in general)
- Whole-grain bread (including oatmeal)
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Chia seeds
- Red wine
Moderation is key
There are very few things that will negatively impact your health if you consume them on a rare occasion. You can of course enjoy your birthday cake, knowing that you eat good foods the other 99 percent of your life.
Rely on these tips for heart healthy nutrition, along with other positive lifestyle choices – regular sleep, exercise and meditation. You want to try the Heartmath app to find and maintain your inner balance. Give it a try, and let us know what you think!