A Healthy Heart Starts With Your Diet
While getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise daily can be instrumental in improving your heart health, watching your diet is also crucial. When choosing what foods to eat, it’s important to be strategic and think about what foods will most benefit your heart. After all, our heart is the powerhouse of the body. From being responsible for circulating blood to every organ, to ensuring oxygen and nutrients are properly distributed, our heart is steadfast and incredibly hardworking. Be nice to your heart and make its job a little easier by fueling it appropriately.
Choose Omega-3 Fats
Whether it be through supplements or by increasing the amount of omega-3 rich foods in your diet, eating omega-3s can have huge payoffs in terms of your heart heath. The biggest payoff is the decreased cardiovascular health risks. Other payoffs include increasing your levels of good cholesterol and reducing the amount of fat in your blood. You can find omega-3s in foods such as salmon, oysters, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
Increase Healthy Fats
Can fat be healthy? Most of us are conditioned to believe that any and all fat is bad. Saturated fat and trans fats are the two fats we want to try to avoid: think an overabundance of meat and dairy products or fried foods. Many snack foods and store-bought baked goods also have trans fat. These types of fat may increase your risk of cardiovascular health issues. Healthy fats, on the other hand, can improve cholesterol levels. Examples of healthy fats include avocados, nuts (almonds/pecans) and nut butters, olive oil, olives, dark chocolate, and tuna.
Bring On the Fruits and Veggies
Reach for green leafy vegetables, broccoli, red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, berries, oranges, and cantaloupe. Eating between 4-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day may reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular issues. Increasing your servings of fruits and vegetables also decreases the likelihood of putting other foods on your plate that may not be contributing to your overall heart health.
Be Wary of Salt
Especially when eating out or consuming processed foods, watch out for your sodium intake. While reaching for the salt may be a quick and convenient way to enhance flavor, it may also come at the cost of your heart. Sodium levels above the daily recommendation of 2,300 milligrams a day for an adult may result in increased blood pressure which puts undue stress and strain on your heart. Consider cooking more at home so you can more easily regulate your sodium intake and turn to spices to enhance flavor in lieu of salt. Also take note of the sodium levels in broths or sauces that you use to cook with.
“Health is wealth”, a mantra Jessica’s mother regularly repeated throughout her childhood. Jessica values achieving balance and wholeness in both arenas of mental and physical health. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a practicing mental health therapist, Jessica promotes healthy living, self-care, mindfulness, and above all, kindness towards self.