February is American Heart Association Heart Month and Valentine’s Day has just passed us by. Since Heart Disease is the leading cause of men, women, and people of most ethnic groups in the United States, I wanted to address some modifiable risk factors that can help decrease the risk! I was able to get in contact with a local Registered Dietitian, Gina Garrett from Permission Nutrition, a telehealth based nutrition service, about heart healthy diets and ways to include great foods into your diet! She has some great, easy recommendations about ways to keep your heart healthy:
By Gina Garrett, MPP, RD, LD
Nutrition for a healthy heart-the easy way!
You don’t have to do anything extreme to be kind to your heart. You can simply add delicious and nutritious foods that can make a world of difference to your heart health. By adding foods, instead of subtracting them, you can make a heart healthy diet sustainable. Below are several key nutrients to focus on with examples of foods that include them.
Fiber in your diet helps your heart health by reducing bad cholesterol in your blood. Fiber can also help reduce the development of plaque in your arteries and lower your risk of a heart attack.
You can find fiber in foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, oats, nuts, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain breads.
By adding polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats to your diet you can reduce your risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation, cholesterol, development of plaque in your arteries, and your blood pressure. Omega-3s are an especially important type of fat to include.
You can find polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in foods such as olives, olive oil, canola oil, nuts, peanuts, avocados, ground flax, and chia seeds. Certain types of fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and tuna contain omega-3s. You can also add omega-3s by taking fish oil supplements.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other compounds in foods that counteract free radicals in your body. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation, reduce development of plaque in your arteries, and lower your cardiovascular risk.
You can find antioxidants in green tea, colorful fruits, colorful vegetables, and leafy green vegetables. Berries are a major source of antioxidants, so it is okay if you don’t like vegetables.
Simple ways to add these foods
Start where you are and slowly make changes that work for you. Try experimenting with cooking at home more. Add condiments and seasonings to your food to make it taste better. Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be a healthy substitute for fresh if you are worried about food waste. Smoothies can be a great way to pack in many of these nutrients. Make a smoothie with fruit, chia seeds, avocado, and leafy greens (such as spinach) and you have included fiber, healthy fat, and antioxidants all in one tasty drink.
*If you are on medications for your heart, please consult your medical provider on usage of omega-3 supplements and dietary intake of leafy green vegetables.
If you have further questions about nutrition, reach out to her on her website, www.permissionnutrition.com. She has a free 15- minute consultation and does take insurance!
Thank you Gina for this great advice!