Is this considered “heart healthy” or is that?
This is the one question I found myself asking a lot. I had heard “heart healthy” thrown around a lot. It was on food labels, weight loss was to include eating “heart healthy” foods, and nutritionists wanted me to add them to my diet. That was great that I was being told this was the way to lose weight. I knew what I had to eat.
Did I? I had no idea what it meant to eat a “heart healthy” diet. What was it? Where could I what I needed? I had to find the answers to these questions; otherwise I would never meet my weight loss goals.
Have you heard this phrase a lot? Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just eat more healthily, you need to know what “heart healthy” foods are. Today, I’m going to help you answer the question, “How do I eat a “heart healthy,” diet?
Once you are done reading this short article you will have a huge variety of foods open to you that will help you lose weight and live a heart healthy life.
First, I want to say that you do not need to consume (or shop for) exotic foods, imported nuts, or expensive supplements. You can begin exploring the foods you have at home, your local grocery store, or your local farmer’s market (when in season) to eat what are considered “heart healthy” foods.
Create your own heart healthy diet:
Include what I like to call freggies – fruits and vegetables
Focus on adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet. It is recommended that you eat 5-7 servings per day, yet most American’s do not even come close to that. Fruits and vegetables should take center stage in any healthy diet as they contain many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants along with the fiber that supports a “heart healthy” body including the immune system. Freggies are also filling and low in calories which encourages weight management.
The best way to include freggies in your daily diet is to eat them as close to fresh as you can. When buying frozen or canned always watch for sodium content and rinse the canned freggies before consuming to eliminate some of the excess sugar and sodium. In my opinion frozen is always better than canned. Also keep in mind that you can overdo it on juice and processed fruits. If you do drink juice, make sure it is 100% juice rather than concentrate.
Watch for hidden sugar and sodium – Read the ingredients and nutrition facts
Sodium is contained in many processed foods. If it’s in a box, can, or package there is a 99% chance that it contains hidden sodium. Our bodies do need a small amount of sodium as it is a mineral that our body used in its daily functions; however we only need about 1500 – 2000mg per day. On average adults consume about 4000mg per day (Time Health & Family 2013) that is double what is recommended. One of the best ways to avoid hidden sodium is to eliminate pop and cook your own food. Adding salt from the salt shaker will keep your sodium levels low as you really do not consume much sodium when you add it yourself.
Sugar is also added to most processed foods. It is recommended that women only consume about 6 teaspoons and men only consume about 9 teaspoons a day, yet one can of pop has 8 teaspoons of sugar. How many cans of pop do you drink in one day? That is sugar consumption not including sugary cereals and other sweets that the average person eats daily.
The best way to avoid hidden sugar and sodium is to cook at home. Use fresh ingredients and cook your own meals.
Choose the right type of fats – Yes, eat some fats
It is important that you cut back on fats as many adults consume way too many, whether they are good or bad. Choosing the right sources for fats can really help with this.
You can begin by baking or broiling instead of frying your foods to have lower fat options. When you do eat foods with higher “good” fat contents, limit the amounts. What are these good fat sources? Some include nuts, fish, lean meats, low-fat dairy products (these are just the products made with less cream which is the fatty part separated from the milk itself), and olive or nut oils. These are “good” fats because they are the monounsaturated and Omega 3 & 6 fats that your body needs to promote good heart health.
I know it may seem like I just gave you a lot of rules to follow; however it all comes down to one thing: be aware of what you are eating and aim for more fresh foods as opposed to those that come in cans, boxes, and restaurants. Keep your focus on those foods that you know are good for you such as whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and healthy fats while limiting the amount of fried foods, sweets, high fat meats, and empty calories that you put into your body.