February is Heart Health Month and it goes with out saying just how crucial it is to keep your ticker healthy and strong.
We here at Merchant’s Reserve would like to share some info with you to promote a heart healthy conscious diet. Our Friends and neighbors at Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia shared with us some things in foods you might want to avoid or enjoy in moderation and things you may want to look for in foods and where to find them.
A heart healthy diet is an eating plan low in total fat, unhealthy fats, and sodium (salt). A heart healthy diet helps decrease your risk for heart disease and stroke. Limit the amount of fat you eat to 25% to 35% of your total daily calories. Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg each day.
Its important to differentiate the bad fats from the good and limit your consumption of bad fats in your daily meals. The ones you want to keep an eye on are Saturated Fat and Trans Fat.
Saturated fat is found in meats, such as bacon and hamburger. It is also found in chicken or turkey skin, whole milk, and butter. Limit saturated fat to less than 7% of your total daily calories. Limit saturated fat to less than 6% if you have heart disease or are at increased risk for it. Trans fat is found in packaged foods, such as potato chips and cookies. It is also in hard margarine, some fried foods, and shortening. Avoid trans fats as much as possible.
Unlike Saturated and Trans fats unsaturated fats are our friends. They contain omega-3, which can help bring down your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart disease. Some common foods where we can find these fats are fish, soybeans, and nuts like almonds, cashews and pecans.
Foods high in fiber are recommended as well. Fiber helps lower cholesterol levels. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Eat 3 ounces of whole-grain foods each day. Legumes (peanuts and beans) are also a good source of fiber.
So in all be sure you avoid bad saturated and trans fatty foods, sodium and any added sugar. Processed bagged foods like chips and cookies and fast food are best enjoyed on a limited basis. Make an effort to boost your consumption of fruits vegetables and items high in omega-3’s and fiber (Like Nuts!), and of course exercise regularly and you’ll be well on your way to a Heart Healthy lifestyle!
Special thanks to Elizabeth V. Trum, RN at Sentara Heart Hospital for sharing her expertise with our readers.