Upgrade what’s on your plate, and you have the power to prevent America’s #1 cause of death. February is American Heart Month, a time to turn the spotlight on essential heart health.
Every year, too many American families are affected by heart disease and stroke. More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined, and it is still the leading cause of death for all Americans. One in every 3 people in the United States has some form of heart disease – that’s 80 million adults. It often develops silently, without symptoms until it’s too late.
That’s why it’s so important to make heart-healthy changes today. Let this February be the start of – or revitalized commitment to – leading a heart healthy life. It’s good for you, and it’s good for your loved ones.
Eating right is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Some of the healthiest foods for your heart are vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts, legumes, seeds, and fruit. (You’ll find my hand-picked selection of seasonal heart-healthy foods at Healthy Living for Less.) Here’s a list of my favorite heart-healthy foods:
|What to Eat||Serving Suggestions
|Dark green and orange vegetables||Eat at least 4.5 cups of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day|
|Healthy fats from seafood, nuts and flax||Eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings every week|
|Soluble fiber from beans, oatmeal, and other whole grains||Eat at least three servings of whole grains every day (a serving looks like a slice of bread, a half-cup cooked grains such as brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal, quinoa, or whole grain pasta)|
|Nuts, legumes, and seeds||Eat at least 4 servings a week (a serving of most nuts is a small handful)|
|Antioxidants from nutrient-rich foods like dark chocolate||Foods like dark chocolate, herbs, and spices are antioxidant-rich and can help add flavor and nutrition to your favorite foods.
Eat dark chocolate in moderation (1oz square). For cocoa powder, herbs, and spices, my recommendation is to use to taste.
You don’t have to do it all at once. Maybe you decide that this week you are going to eat orange vegetables every night with dinner: try garnet yams, butternut squash, or carrots. Maybe next week, you go for the green and you can take your pick from kale, Brussels sprouts, rainbow chard, and more.
My personal goal this year is to make sure my family eats seafood at least twice a week. I try to get a jump start on checking it off my list for the week by getting started over the weekend, before the week even starts! This past time, I ordered the Local Ocean Dorade and the Verlasso Salmon, which took care of deciding what to do for at least two weekend meals.
In addition to eating nutrient-packed foods for a healthy heart, health experts recommend that Americans get active, lose weight, don’t smoke, control cholesterol, manage blood pressure, reduce blood sugar, and manage stress.
Some foods that will do more harm than good are worth cutting back on:
|What to Limit||Maximums|
|Processed meats||No more than 2 servings per week|
|Sugar-sweetened drinks||No more than 450-calories worth (36 ounces)|
|Sodium||No more than 1500mg per day|
|Saturated fat||No more than 7% of total calories per day (that’s 15.5g for a 2000 calorie diet)|
- My Life Check™: Take a quiz to find out how heart-healthy you are
- Million Hearts™: A national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years
- American Heart Association Nutrition Center: Tips for healthy cooking, recipes, dining out and more
- Let’s Move!: Help to support healthy moms, families, schools, and communities.
For more healthy eating tips, and savings on delicious, fresh, seasonal heart-healthy foods, check out my Healthy Living for Less page.