How to Eat Heart Smart

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There is no better way to show how much you care than to protect the hearts of your loved one. The American Heart Association says your sweetheart may have the key to your heart, but proper diet and exercise are key to a healthy heart. To take loving care of their hearts and yours:

  Heart-Healthy Guidelines

1.  Choose Healthy Fats

Use healthy oils high in monounsaturated fats such as canola and olive oil when cooking.

Go nutty with heart healthy nuts. Walnuts have been shown to be especially good for heart health (added bonus: they can also reduce your risk for diabetes). Tasty pecans and almonds also heart healthy nuts.

Get your omega 3’s! Try to eat two servings of fatty fish at least twice a week. Fatty fish such as salmon, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of plaque in your arteries, and can help lower blood pressure.

2. Curb Unhealthy Fats

Limit foods high in saturated fat such as whole-milk dairy products and fatty meats. You also want to limit foods high in trans fat. Trans fat can be found in commercial or packaged baked goods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and may include cookies, crackers, donuts, and pastries.

3.  Curb Added Sugars! 

It may surprise you that sugar is as bad for your heart as it is for raising blood sugar. Added sugars (sugars that aren’t naturally found in foods) should not account for more than 100 calories a day for most adult women and 150 calories for adult men. This is equivalent to no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons a day, respectively. To put this in perspective, a single serving of dessert can have as many as 18 teaspoons of sugar.

(Here’s some not-so-sweet information about sugar and your heart).

 4.  Easy on the Salt

Aim to eat less than 2,400 mg of sodium per day. To give you an idea, this is only one  teaspoon of added salt (total) per day (if you already have high blood sugar 1,500 mg may be recommended).

Up to 75% percent of the sodium we eat comes from resturants meals and/or processed food.

Remember that when you cook it yourself, you can control the sodium. Look for reduced-sodium versions of popular ingredeints like broths, tomato products, and canned beans (rinsing canned beans can reduce as much as 40% of he sodium) when shopping. When cooking, ramp up the spices, add citrus zest, heat (like black pepper or peppers) or even a bit of sweet, to create crave-worthy flavors with less sodium.

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