By Mayson Marshall, nutraMetrix Program Coordinator
We constantly hear about how important nutrition is to our health, but why does it play such a big role? Good nutrition promotes our immune system, provides us with more energy, helps maintain a healthy weight and promotes our general wellbeing. When it comes to cardiovascular health, the food we consume daily can alter the way our heart functions. Although cardiovascular exercise is a great way to keep your heart healthy, eating heart healthy foods is an adequate way to ensure good heart health.
You might ask, what does a heart healthy diet look like? The six essential nutrients the body needs to function correctly are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Specifically for cardiovascular health your diet should consist of heart healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, seafood, poultry, and lean meats. (1)
What foods should you avoid? (1) (3)
Foods high in saturated fat such as pizza, ice cream, cookies, and hamburgers. Less than 10% of your daily calories should consist of saturated fats.
Foods that consist of trans fats such as baked goods and fried foods. You should choose foods with no trans-fat as often as you can.
Foods high in cholesterol such as bacon, whole milk, cheese made from whole milk, yogurt, and eggs. You should consume less than 300 milligrams per a day.
Foods high in sodium like bread, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, condiments. You should consume less than 300 milligrams per a day.
Food and drinks that consist of added sugars like sodas, sports drinks, and sweets.
What is an example of 15 specific heart healthy foods you should include in your diet? (2) (4)
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole grains
- Leafy green vegetables
- Fatty fish
- Unsalted nuts
Switching your diet is not always easy, but making small transitions is a good start. Things you can do to start improving your diet and implementing heart healthy foods can be as simple as making sure you consume a fruit and vegetable every day, start packing your lunch, plan out meals that are nutritious, ditch eating out or become more cautious with how often you are eating out. Lastly, remember that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have the things you enjoy, but it is important to remember moderation.