Love Your Heart

Think fats, fish, and fiber when improving your diet choices.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

February is the perfect month to be thinking of your heart – not only is it Valentine's Day, but it is also American Heart Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease and stroke. It is very important that you take all the steps needed to decrease this risk by controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Healthy eating can also play an important role in being heart healthy. Here are some ways you can start today:

  • Eat the Right Fats
    o Trans fatty acids are formed through a process called hydrogenation, which helps food have a longer shelf life - these fats can also raise cholesterol levels. Trans fat are found in margarine, shortening, and cooking oils that are used to make a lot of popular foods such as cookies, crackers, and french fries. Trans fat is now required to be listed on food labels. Read food labels and limit foods with trans fat. Many margarine products are now available without trans fatty acids.

    o Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may help to lower blood cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts, soybeans, sunflower and sesame seeds and their oils. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts such as almonds and pecans, olives, avocados, along with olive and canola oil. When you do eat fat, try to eat sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
     
  • Eat more Fish
    Some types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel provide a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may be helpful in lowering cholesterol. Certain fish do have higher mercury levels and the FDA recommends that women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or nursing, as well as young children should not eat these fish. Everyone else can eat up to 7 ounces of high-mercury fish per week. For more information on mercury and omega-3 fatty acid content of fish, visit the American Heart Association.
     
  • Choose Foods High in Soluble Fiber
    When eaten along with a low-saturated fat diet, soluble fiber may help lower your cholesterol. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a great way to increase the fiber in your diet. Food rich in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, and many fruits.

Being overweight can also increase your risk of heart disease. If you need to lose weight, don't ignore it – you can lose weight and a Registered Dietitian can assist you with the process. Physical activity also can't be ignored when talking about heart health. Have a health check-up to find out what activities are safe for you. Walking, biking, swimming, dancing – any way you can move more is great for your heart. Start loving your heart today.

 

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Last Modified Date: June 14, 2013

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