Celebrate Your Heart with Healthy Nutrition

February is American Heart Month. Celebrating the heart for just one month is just not enough. Consider that the heart is working 24/7 to keep blood circulating through your whole body. No matter the condition; plaque, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, the heart does it’s best to get blood to every part of the body.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart disease-related event. Those are scary statistics and something needs to be done! February is a good start to make changes all year long. Making healthy choices is one of the best ways to celebrate your heart. Below are some tips to celebrate the heart this month, and every month!

    • Incorporate at least five 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).
    • Incorporate healthy fats (Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids) like:
      • Fish (goal twice per week); specifically Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines
      • Walnuts
      • Olive oil, Canola and soybean oils
      • Flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
      • Avocados

 

  • Choose low sodium foods. Limit sodium intake to 1500-2000mg/day. When choosing a food product look for 140mg or less which indicates a low sodium food.
  • Choose low fat (1%) or fat free dairy products. Including milk, yogurt, and cheeses.
  • 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 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.

 

  • Be physically active. American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination)

Use February 2018 as an opportunity to start looking out for your heart and everything it does for you every day. Make these healthy changes and your heart will be thanking you.

 

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

 

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