AHA Recommends 5 Easy Food Changes for Heart Health

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Wanna get healthier in 2013? One way is to get serious about protecting your heart. To do so, you can make small changes that can lead to big results.

    For instance, the American Heart Association’s “Go Read for Women” website recommends five heart healthy resolutions that are easy to make part of a woman’s busy lifestyle:

    • Drink more water. Consuming H2O is a key part of getting and staying healthy as well as lowering the calories you’d consume from drinking sodas and other sweetened beverages. Little (and manageable) steps that can help you drink more water include carrying a refillable water bottle; keeping a glass and a carafe full of water on your desk so you can fill it up with water regularly and easily; enjoying “spa” water by adding slices of oranges, lemons, cucumbers or limes to add a hint of flavor; or drinking seltzers or sparkling water with a bit of 100-percent fruit juice added.
    • Consume more produce – The American Heart Association encourages you to “go green” by keeping your refrigerator full of fresh fruits and vegetables, your freezer full of canned versions and your cabinets full of canned options. However, if you go with canned fruits and vegetables, be sure to rinse them before using since they may have salts and sugars that have been added during the canning process. Ideally, you’ll consume 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily as part of a 2,000-calorie diet. Easy ways to add more produce to your diet first thing in the morning includes adding fruit (such as bananas, raisins or berries) to your morning cereal or oatmeal, eating a piece of fruit with breakfast, and adding chopped up vegetables such as spinach, arugula or bell peppers to eggs or potatoes. During lunch, you can add a fruit or vegetable salad or enjoy a bowl of low-sodium vegetable suit. Add vegetables such as spinach, tomato, green peppers or cucumbers to your sandwich. Substitute raw vegetables such as carrots or celery instead of chips. Snack on fresh vegetable sticks or fresh fruit, or enjoy dried fruit, such as raisins, dates, peaches, apricots or prunes. At dinner, be sure to add a fruit or vegetable salad. Use chopped onions, garlic and celery when cooking sauces, soups or stews. Also enjoy a steamed or microwaved vegetable. And if you’re already eating lots of produce, start trying to focus on getting a more colorful plate since these different colors indicate a different nutrition profile.
    • Limit processed foods. These foods are full of added salt, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. What’s the easiest way of avoiding these foods? Primarily shop the perimeter of the grocery store, which means you’ll be filling your basket with fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs, fish, poultry, meat, and fresh baked goods. That way, you’ll avoid the aisles filled with the bad stuff.
    • Consume more fiber. Try to add whole grains and legumes to your diet, which help you feel fuller longer after eating them. These foods also are good for your digestive tract. And lastly, these foods are really good allies in managing your weight.
    • Eat seasonally. You can find in season produce at farmer’s markets or through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. These programs help you get food that is often fresher (and thus, more nutritious) than what you may find in grocery store. Furthermore, you will be supporting local farmers. I’ve been participating in a CSA for a little over a year. We buy a share of the farmer’s harvest and, thus, have a share of produce delivered to us for a 10-week period. I can tell you that there’s a definite difference in taste. In addition, participating in a CSA makes it much easier to understand what grows when. Therefore, I’ve learned to expect kale in the winter months and look forward to really tasty tomatoes in the summer. Plus, we’ve ended up trying (and liking) vegetables that we otherwise never would have tried, such as kohlrabi and mizuna.

    These are easy resolutions that can help you live a healthier life. Your heart will thank you!

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  • Sources for This Sharepost:

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    American Heart Association. (2012). Rethink your drink.

    American Heart Association. (nd). Eat more fruits and vegetables.

    Rodack, J. (2012). 5 heart healthy resolutions for the new year. American Heart Association.

Published On: December 29, 2012