Appreciate Thy Heart with a Healthy Diet

Appreciate Thy Heart with a Healthy DietJennifer Seleem use

By: Jennifer Seleem, MS, RDN

The all mighty heart! The heart beats around 100,000 times a day, 36,500,000 times a year. Beating tirelessly every day to keep nutrient and oxygen rich blood circulating to the top of our heads, down to our toes. Beating around the clock to keep our organs healthy, which in turn keeps us healthy. Imagine doing something 100,000 times a day, doesn’t it get you tired just thinking about it? We need to appreciate our hearts for all the work it does to keep us going!

Diet plays a major role in keeping our heart healthy. A heart healthy diet means incorporating variety in the diet which includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and low fat dairy. Fat is essential but should be limited to 25-35 percent of the calories you eat. (Example: If you eat 2,000 calories per day, your fat can be 50-75 grams per day).

The following are key changes that can be made to your diet to help keep your heart healthy:

  • Incorporate at least 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease.
  • Get 20-30 grams of dietary fiber per day. Fiber found in whole grains, brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa, fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans can help lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
  • Choose low fat (1%) or fat free dairy products. Including milk, yogurt, and cheeses.
  • Incorporate healthy fats (Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids) like:
    • Fish (goal 2x per week); specifically Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines
    • Walnuts
    • Olive oil, Canola and soybean oils
    • Flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
    • Avocados
  • Choose foods low in sodium. To lower blood pressure aim for less than 2400 mg per day of sodium. (<140 mg sodium is a low sodium food)
  • Limit unhealthy fats (Saturated and trans fatty acids) in the diet. Beware of:
    • Fatty meat
    • Poultry skin
    • Bacon
    • Cold cuts and other deli meats like Sausage, salami, bologna, hot dogs.
    • Whole milk
    • Whole fat cheeses
    • Whole milk yogurts
    • Ice cream
    • Cream
    • Butter
    • Stick margarine
    • Shortening
    • Fried foods
    • Sour cream
    • Tropical oils like coconut oil and palm oil
    • Foods made with hydrogenated oils like cookies, donuts, muffins
  • Limit the amount of cholesterol that you eat to less than 200 mg/day. Foods high in cholesterol include:
  • Egg yolks ( 1 egg yolk, 212 mg)
  • Fatty meat
  • Whole milk
  • Cheese
  • Shrimp
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Cut back on sugar sweetened beverages.

Appreciate thy heart and feed it the things it needs to thrive! Following these tips will reduce your risk of heart disease and help you maintain a balanced diet. When you appreciate thy heart, it keeps on beating!

Jennifer Seleem is a registered dietitian/nutritionist with the Institute for Weight Loss at Raritan Bay Medical Center – Old Bridge, a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health family. The Institute provides weight loss surgery and support for individuals seeking weight loss, who have been unable to lose weight through conventional dieting, exercise or weight loss medication. To attend a free seminar, which occurs twice monthly, call 855.TIME.4.ME.

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