February is Heart month and an ideal time to think about ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, or prevent your heart disease from worsening. Nutritious, balanced and healthy meals and snacks can help you to manage your weight, keep your blood pressure down, and lower your cholesterol. A healthy eating plan may also boost your overall feeling of well-being and give you extra energy for the day.
Here are 5 tips from Elena Jascolt, Almonte General Hospital Registered Dietitian, to be good to your heart:
1. Watch your Portions. Choosing smaller portions can help limit calorie intake which helps with weight control. Try using a smaller plate.
2. Cut Back on the Salt. Eating foods with too much salt may increase blood pressure. Try using less processed meats, canned soups and salty snacks.
3. For heart health, the type of fat you choose is as important as the amount of fat. Studies show that saturated and trans fats may increase cholesterol levels while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help reduce cholesterol levels. Look for soft non-hydrogenated margarine, canola or soybean, and olive oils. Try eating more fish, chicken and lean meat. Beans and lentils are very low in fat and have the added benefit of being high in fiber.
4. Enjoy Colorful Vegetables. Orange and dark green vegetables are the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. They are filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try and include one of both color every day.
5. Choose Whole Grains. The fiber in whole grains like oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice and whole wheat can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Do you choose whole grains more often than refined grains (white bread and pasta, white rice)?
Heart smart eating is all about choosing foods wisely and enjoying delicious, healthy food choices whenever and wherever you can.
Be Good to Your Heart!