Smart eating habits to help your heart and your mood

Eating right is one of the smartest ways to protect yourself from heart disease and doing so is easier than you may think. Here are seven heart-healthy habits that are easy to adopt and can make a big impact on your overall health and mental wellbeing.


Pay attention to portion size

Not only is the type of food you eat important, but the amount you eat matters too. Cooking at home lets you measure out your foods and can help you become familiar with portion sizes for your favorite foods. Eating the right amount of foods not only helps your waistline, but also can make you feel more alert and energized.

Load up on heart-healthy foods

Consider picking up some of the following foods on your next trip to the grocery store: salmon, flaxseed, oatmeal, black or kidney beans, almonds, walnuts, tuna, tofu, brown rice, soy milk, blueberries, carrots, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato, red bell peppers, asparagus, oranges, tomatoes, acorn squash, cantaloupe, papaya, and dark chocolate.1 These foods are packed with the vitamins and minerals you need to protect your blood vessels, and ultimately your heart.

Write down what you eat

This simple trick can help identify what you are putting into your body. It can also help you plan healthy, dynamic meals for the week so you don’t get bored with what you’re eating.

Add fiber to your diet

A high-fiber meal makes you feel full for longer and can help weight loss goals. Fiber can also lower your cholesterol.

Consume less sodium

Eating less sodium puts you at less of a risk for developing heart disease. Besides lessening the amount of salt you use in the food you cook, avoid using canned foods and vegetables, which often contain more salt. Remember to take a look at the amount of sodium per serving on all packaged foods when you are grocery shopping.

Avoid foods with added sugar

The recommended consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is 450 calories, or 36 ounces a week. 2 Consuming additional sugar can lead to weight gain, thereby reducing heart health.

Cut back on saturated and trans-fats

Foods high in saturated and trans-fats can cause blockages in your arteries. Consider reducing your intake of foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils—such as butter and margarine—to help reduce your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

By making heart-healthy nutrition a part of your day-to-day life, you are taking big steps to prevent heart disease and improve your overall health.

1. Web MD, "25 Top Heart-Healthy Foods," accessed February 24, 2014, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/25-top-heart-healthy-foods.

2. The American Heart Association, "Getting Healthy," accessed February 24, 2014, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Healthy-Diet-Goals_UCM_310436_SubHomePage.jsp.

Sources

The Mayo Clinic, "Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease," accessed February 24, 2014, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702?pg=1

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