“I love you with all my heart” one term of endearment you may hear or say this Valentine’s Day. But how healthy is your heart? Are you doing all you can to keep your heart beating strong for your loved ones? This Valentine’s Day show your love to your heart by speaking these five “love languages”!
1. WEIGHT – Yes, your weight plays a major role in your heart health. If your BMI is over 25 kg/m2 (that is the
overweight/obesity range) and/or if you have extra love around your midsection, you are at a higher risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. The good news is that you can improve your heart health by losing weight. To achieve weight loss, try to focus on exercise, food selections, and portion sizes.
2. FAT – Of course fat plays another major role in heart health! Be alarmed if your diet is loaded with higher fat foods, specifically foods high in saturated fat from animals including beef, pork, poultry fat and whole or 2% dairy.
Guidelines: Saturated fat should be limited to 7% of your total calories, due to its contribution to increasing your blood cholesterol. Following the American Heart Association’s guidelines, a heart healthy 2,000 calorie diet should be limited to 65 grams of total fat and 15 grams of saturated fat.
3. SODIUM– Our bodies need a little bit of sodium (a.k.a. salt), though too much sodium can raise your blood pressure – not in the heart throbbing, good loving type of way – and increase your risk of heart disease including, heart attack and stroke.
Guidelines: The average American takes in 3,800 mg of sodium per day, which is nearly 2 times the recommended intake of ~2,000 mg per day for a heart healthy diet.
Helpful Tips: To lower your sodium intake, be sure to read the labels of any food in a package, jar, or can. These processed foods have a lot of sodium to help preserve them to sit on the shelf. Look for foods with reduced sodium label claims, such as “Sodium-free”, “Very Low Sodium”, or “Low Sodium”. Another route is to go for the foods without packaging, especially the lovely colorful fresh fruits and vegetables!
4. CHOLESTEROL – Increased circulating cholesterol in your bloodstream can slowly make its home on the walls of your blood vessels, narrowing those important passage ways from your heart to your brain, lungs and other important parts of your body. Our bodies naturally make cholesterol; therefore, it is important to limit the cholesterol in our foods to keep our blood flown properly!
Helpful Tips: One of the most important foods to be aware of when limiting your cholesterol is eggs! One egg has 213 mg Cholesterol which is enough for your entire day! Try to substitute those eggs with a cholesterol free egg substitute, just as it claims 0 mg of cholesterol and no fat! Double heart loving bonus!
5. FIBER – Fabulous, functional fiber can also help keep that lovable fiber heart of yours healthy. Specifically soluble fiber, which binds with cholesterol and then takes a lovely ride out of the body, in turn reducing your blood LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” one).
Helpful Tips: To maximize the benefits of soluble fiber, include fruits, such as apples, bananas, pears, plums, peaches and citrus fruits, vegetables, such as carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and chick peas, whole grains, such as barley, oats, psylium, and beans in your diet.
Renew your love for your heart and commit to making these heart healthy changes!
Have questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us, we’re here to help!
By Emily Barr, MS, RD, CNSC