Diet

5 Steps for a Healthy Heart

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro May 31, 2012
  • You don’t have to begin a drastic diet in order to achieve your heart health goals. Big results can be achieved by improving your daily habits one step at a time.

     

    Here are 5 steps you can implement now for a healthy heart:

     

    Step 1 – Add fruits and vegetables to your daily diet

     

    That’s right, I’m not telling you to eliminate a food, but to add foods. Fruits and vegetables are essential. Add a fruit and/or vegetable to every meal or snack to boost your intake of this necessary food group. It’s estimated that our intake of vegetables is usually only 59% of what it should be and fruit only 42%.

     

    Step 2 – Switch processed grains for whole grains

     

    Start buying whole grain breads, grains, tortillas, pastas, etc. You can slowly make the switch as you run out of items in your pantry.

     

    Step 3 – Decrease your salt intake

     

    I don’t just mean taking the salt shaker off the table. When it comes to salt you MUST watch food labels. Processed food is very high in salt (sodium). Read the labels, select products in low/reduced sodium options. You may need to eliminate some canned items and think about preparing the item from scratch instead.

     

    Step 4 – Watch your serving sizes

     

    It is way too easy to “super size” our servings right in our own home. Try to curb your servings by not eating directly out of a bag or box. For example, if you snack on whole grain crackers (I’m being optimistic. . .I realize it’s probably chips!), put a serving in a bowl and but the box away. Don’t rush back for seconds. It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your mind it is full. Eat slowly and give yourself time to feel hungry. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes, then go ahead and get a little more.

     

    Step 5 – Cut back on added sugars

     

    Beverages are one main source for an excessive amount of added sugar. One 12 ounce can of regular soda provides 33 grams of sugar. Thinks about all the things you drink – lemonade, mixed drinks, soda, fruit punch, Hi-C, Sunny  Delight, chocolate milk, coffee with added sugar – this sugar adds up. Work on cutting back your high sugar drinks as well as high sugar foods, such as candy and desserts.

     

    Simple implementing the above 5 steps and make a world of difference for your cholesterol levels, blood pressure readings, and overall heart health.

     

    Be sure to sign up for the free ecourse “How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps” at http://lowercholesterolwithlisa.com.