Joanne Usdavin, MS
February is American Heart Awareness Month and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United Sates for both men and women. However, with a healthy lifestyle, simple and easy nutrition tidbits, diet modifications, and exercise you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease and its complications.
Many diseases and other factors can increase your risk of developing heart disease including smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and an inadequate diet. Nevertheless, dietary factors and lifestyle changes can make a big impact on your health for the future!
Losing excess weight, reducing cholesterol and sodium in your food choices, creating an exercise regimen, and quitting smoking will all help to decrease your odds of developing heart disease.
Here is some diet and nutrition guidelines to help you get started on a successful eating plan:
- Choose reduced, low, or no sodium foods. When buying canned foods with sodium, rinse the item two or three times to remove any excess sodium. Instead of salting food try various herbs and spices including cinnamon, pepper, dill, thyme, marjoram, or your favorite spice mix blend.
- Limit or avoid consumption of the preservative nitrite/nitrate in cured foods including bacon, ham, hot dogs, and lunch meat and instead choose healthier versions such as lean meats and poultry without skin, grass fed beef, pasture raised chicken and eggs.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products. There are many alternative beverages available that you may enjoy such as unsweetened hemp milk, almond milk or soy milk.
- If you prefer a high quality cheese, remember portion size, and consume the suggested serving size on the package.
- Avoid trans-fat in packaged foods including cake, cookies, cereals, crackers, etc. If the label contains the words partially hydrogenated, this is a sign the product contains trans-fat and should be avoided.
- Consume alcohol in moderation (one drink per day for women/two drinks per day for men).
- Avoid processed or enriched foods including white rice, pasta, white sugar and white flour. Instead choose brown rice, whole grain pasta, flour, and maple syrup or brown rice syrup.
Foods that are beneficial for heart health include:
- Wild salmon, sardines, and other cold water, oily fish (omega 3 fats)
- Dark chocolate ~ choose 70% or higher and enjoy in moderation
- Fruits including apples, pears, berries, pomegranates, and citrus fruits
- Vegetables such as broccoli, dark, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, onions, garlic, squash (all varieties)
- Raw nuts and seeds ~ almonds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pistachios
- Whole grains ~ experiment with quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and oat groats
- Beans ~ full of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates
Here is a delicious recipe to try that utilizes many beneficial ingredients for a heart-healthy meal!
Wild Salmon Salad
Mindful Moment. Treat your kitchen as a sanctuary. Before preparing a meal, light a candle and take several deep breaths to clear your mind and center your body. Because this salad is so easy to prepare, pause to engage with each stage of the process-from opening the can of salmon to chopping the herbs-as if it were an extended meditation. To stay present, slow or exaggerate your movements.
1 7.5-ounce can wild salmon
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
¼ cup diced carrot
¼ cup diced celery
2 scallions, sliced into thin rings
2 tablespoons minced herbs, such as basil, parsley or cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Using the back of a fork, mix the salmon well.
Add the lemon or lime juice, carrot, celery, scallions, and herbs; mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve on a bed of greens, or use as a filling for a sandwich topped with sliced tomato, avocado, and sprouts.
Per serving: 173 calories, 34% fat (7 g; 1.7 g saturated), 15% carbs (7 g), 51% protein (22 g), 2 g fiber, 262 mg calcium, 1.4 mg iron, 616 mg sodium.
Recipe courtesy of Natural HealthMag.com. http://www.naturalhealthmag.com/healthy_eating/healthy_recipes/61.