With the holiday season behind us, it is time to refocus your goals and get back on track with healthier eating and more activity. What better time to start than National Heart Month? Did you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans? Check out these 10 tips below to help improve your heart health today!
1) Get moving! Incorporate more physical activity every day, outside of scheduled workouts. Walk when possible, take the stairs, and park further away from the entrance. Wearing a pedometer to challenge yourself!
2) Maintain a healthy weight. Research shows the higher your BMI, the more at risk you are for heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
3) Ditch the saltshaker! Trimming your sodium intake to 1500 mg or less a day can help keep your blood pressure levels within normal range. (Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg.
4) Increase the Omega 3’s. Aim for at least two servings a week of an oily fish such as salmon or a heart healthy nut such as almonds or walnuts.
5) Aim for 5 (to 9) a day! Fruits and vegetables pack quite the punch! The more produce you eat, the higher your intake will be of heart healthy soluble fiber and antioxidants. Your fruits and veggies help fill you up, as well as helping to ward off that hunger.
6) Quit smoking! Smoking can damage your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for coronary heart disease among other problems. Enlist the help of your physician or contact your local Quit Now program.
7) Maintain healthy cholesterol/blood sugar levels. Many people do not realize how much of a role your cholesterol levels and blood sugars play in your heart health. The Heart Association considers diabetes one of the six major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Aim to reduce or keep your fasting blood sugar under 100 mg/dL.
8) Fiber is your friend! Did you know that a diet high in fiber can actually reduce your blood cholesterol levels? For men aim for 30 grams/day, and for women 25 grams/day. Oatmeal, produce, nuts, whole grain cereals, breads and pastas are a great source of fiber.
9) Watch the Fats! We cannot talk about a heart healthy diet without discussing fats, the good vs. the bad. Aim for most of your fat intake to come from heart healthy sources such as nuts, seeds, vegetable based oils like canola or olive, and avocados. Decrease the saturated and Trans fats when you can that are found in high fat animal products and processed foods.
10) Keep a log. Keep a log of your foods can help you determine what lifestyle choices you need to focus on. By writing down everything you eat and drink, you become more aware of what foods you are consuming. You can also try an electronic app such as Lose It! Or MyFitness Pal.
Devine Nutrition Heart Healthy Recipes
Pasta with Zucchini and Roasted Garlic
• 1 pound Rotini, Twists or Spirals, uncooked, whole grain
• 8 medium cloves garlic, peeled
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
• 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
• 3 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (about 5-6 cups)
1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 450. Place your garlic on a 12-inch square piece of foil on the counter. Sprinkle with thyme and rosemary. Pour the oil over the garlic and herbs. Draw up the edges of the foil and make a sealed packet. Bake 20 minutes.
2. While the garlic is baking, cook pasta according to package directions. Two minutes before pasta is done, add the zucchini to the pasta cooking water. Cook two minutes. Drain zucchini and pasta.
3. Open the foil and mash the garlic lightly with a spoon. Toss with the pasta and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Sides: Serve with a side salad and whole-wheat dinner roll. (Add baked or grilled chicken breasts to add more protein).
Balsamic Pesto Chicken
Serves 4 Serving size 4 oz Prep time 10 minutes, cook time 4 minutes
2 oz pkg. fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1. Place all pesto ingredients in processor. Process until
smooth, set aside.
2. Preheat grill or broiler.
3. Pound chicken to 1/2 in thickness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Grilled chicken on each side until done.
5. Drizzle with pesto
Whole grain pasta, quinoa, small red baked potato, grilled or roasted