February is Heart Month! This month provides the perfect opportunity to spread awareness about the importance of heart health and provide information on how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
A healthy heart is very important for thriving, and small and consistent changes to diet and lifestyle can support it.
With busy schedules, it is easy to fall into the same eating routine, but it is important to remember that variety is the spice of life when it comes to our health. During this month, let’s take the opportunity to include a variety of food that help support and boost cardiac health.
You may have heard of omega-3s, in particular EPA and DHA. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are so important for overall health, including the health of our skin, brain, and heart. Incorporating foods that are high in omega-3s is a great way to improve and promote heart health. Here are some simple suggestions to help you enjoy more heart-loving foods every day.
Swap out the classic eggs and bacon for a little lighter fare. Oatmeal, yogurt, and fruit are great choices. Berries are full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber, and oatmeal is great for supporting already healthy cholesterol levels, promoting arterial health, and aiding in weight loss. Yogurt adds protein and good probiotics to boost your gut microbiome and improve overall health.
For many, a quick lunch consists of a cold-cuts sandwich, yet preserved meats are some of the worst offenders when it comes to heart health. Instead, swap in a fresh salad with leafy greens, like spinach or kale, which are high in vitamin K, a key nutrient to support arteries. Include beans or lentils in your salad, which are great sources of satiating protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins; and sprinkle with nuts or seeds to add a boost of healthy fats. Be sure to generously douse your salad in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, and avoid processed oils like safflower, sunflower, and canola oils.
Dinner is the perfect opportunity to introduce some heart-healthy omega-3s into your diet. Swap out your red meat and potatoes with a beautiful serving of fish, paired with roasted sweet potato and whole grains like quinoa. Oily fish like salmon are the perfect choice, though all seafood contains heart-healthy fats.
Supplementing with omega-3 is an excellent insurance policy; however, incorporating whole foods like fish regularly into your diet means you get just the right balance of EPA and DHA, as well as protein, iodine, vitamin A, and vitamin D.
Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, which helps reduce sodium levels and maintain already healthy blood pressure, while whole grains provide lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. All these crucial nutrients are bioavailable in whole foods. They work together as a cardiac health powerhouse.
Do you reach for a cookie or chips when the afternoon munchies hit? Processed foods like these are full of sodium, trans fats, and artificial additives. They possess little nutritional value. Instead, reach for a nutrient-dense snack that’s satiating and good for your heart.
A great choice is an avocado with whole-grain crackers. Research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association discovered that simply eating two servings of avocado each week (equivalent to one avocado) can directly support heart health.
Regularly consuming sugary drinks can impact health. The best substitute is always water; if you’re looking for something more fun, try adding fresh fruit like strawberries or cucumbers and mint to flavor your water.
Carbonated water with a slice of lemon or lime is also a tasty and hydrating option. In addition to making some swaps to your daily eating routine, regularly incorporating 15–30 minutes of moderate physical activity into your day can promote heart health by 25% and maintain healthy blood pressure levels by 33%.
Connecting with friends and family is also important. It reduces stress and cortisol levels and improves mental health.Take the opportunity this February to show yourself some love – focus on heart health by making these small, simple changes so you can reap the rewards for many healthy years to come.