Take Heart with Proper Nutrition

February 2024

February is American Heart Health Month. One of the easiest ways to help keep your heart in prime condition is to enjoy a diet that meets its needs.

The Mayo Clinic offers several tips on making your diet more heart-smart.

Portion Size

Did your mother ever say “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”? She had a point. No matter how hungry you think you are, never pile food on your plate. Instead, know what a serving size is for each item and stick to that. A serving size of fish, meat or chicken is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. Try using a smaller dish or bowl to make the portions appear larger. Drink a glass of water before your meal to provide a fuller feeling.

More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide a cornucopia of essential vitamins, so emphasizing them helps add fiber to your diet. Loading up on them also helps you keep high-calorie foods at a minimum. Limit fried or breaded veggies or fruits in high-sugar heavy syrup.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide more fiber, which helps regulate blood pressure and heart health.

Be Mindful of Good Fats and Bad Fats

You should limit fats in your diet, but keep in mind there are good fats and there are bad fats. Among the good fats are olive, canola, vegetable and nut oils; nuts and seeds; avocados and trans-fat-free margarine. Bad fats include cocoa butter; coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-nut oils; bacon fat and lard, and butter.

Proteins

It’s important to have proteins in your diet but make sure they’re low in fat. These include cold-water fish, fat-free milk, skinless chicken and legumes such as beans, peas and lentils.

In addition to these suggestions, try to keep your daily sodium intake no more than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon of salt). Ideally, adults should limit their daily intake to 1,500 mg.  Create daily menus so you can plan ahead, but be sure to allow yourself an occasional treat so you don’t feel deprived.

 


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