Love Your Heart
Is your heart healthy? February is American Heart Month. Simple tests including blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood glucose and triglycerides can help you understand your heart health.
Use the following nutrition tips to keep your heart happy.
- Achieve a healthy weight — Excess weight increases your risk for cardiovascular disease. Healthcare professionals define healthy weight by body mass index (BMI), a correlation of height and weight. You can calculate your BMI by going to http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/ and clicking on BMI Calculator.
- Limit sodium — Restaurants, fast food, packaged foods, and canned goods all contain high amounts of sodium. Specifically choosing products labeled “low sodium” or “no added salt” will help to reduce sodium in your diet.
- Increase fruits, vegetables, nuts and low-fat dairy — These foods contain in potassium, magnesium, fiber and/or calcium which help decrease blood pressure and cholesterol. Remember, nuts are high in healthy fat and calories, so a small portion goes a long way for health.
- Lower saturated fat — Foods like animal fat, butter, cheese, lard, coconut oil and palm oil are high in saturated fat which is directly linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Instead, substitute olive oil, avocado, nuts, flaxseed or fatty fish like salmon to lower saturated fat intake.
- Limit alcohol — Alcohol and added sugar both contribute to high triglycerides in the blood. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. One drink is defined as a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.