8 ways to eat your way to a healthy heart
health enews checked in with Michelle Remkus, registered dietitian at Advocate Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., for the 411 on heart healthy eating.
Remkus recommends the following tips:
- Reduce salt intake: Salt can increase your blood pressure. Try adding herbs and seasonings to flavor food rather than salt.
- Watch your portions: Learning proper portion sizes is important so you don’t overeat. This can lead to weight gain and increased risk for heart problems.
- Eat more whole grains: Eating whole wheat breads, rice, cereals and pasta can help lower blood cholesterol.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Produce has beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Avoid “Bad fats:” These increase your body’s cholesterol levels and increase risk for high blood pressure. Saturated fats come from fatty animal products like red meat, pork, bacon, butter, lard and whole dairy products. Trans fats come from hydrogenated oils and are found in margarine, baked products, shortening, snacks foods, frozen dinners, fried foods and salad dressings.
- Eat more “Good fats:” These fats help to lower bad cholesterol in our bodies and can help prevent heart disease. Monounsaturated fats include olive oil, canola oil, avocados, olives, nuts and peanut butter. Polyunsaturated fats are found in soybean oil, corn oil, walnuts, flaxseeds, fatty fish, soy milk and tofu.
- Learn how to read nutrition labels: Nutrition labels allow you to see how healthy or unhealthy a particularly food is. Knowing what nutrients to watch for will help you choose the best heart healthy food.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for heart disease.
Above all, Remkus says her motto is: “Live… don’t diet!” She says to allow yourself the occasional treat or indulgence.
“The most important factor in healthy eating is a having a balanced diet, watching portions, and eating foods you actually enjoy,” she says.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.