Heart-Healthy Diet Tips
SmartBox Company is a proud partner of the American Heart Association, and each year we take steps to spread the important message on taking care of your heart health. Although you might know that eating poorly can increase your heart disease risk, it’s tough to change habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips that will improve your life:
Control your portion size
The recommended number of servings per food group varies depending on gender and age, as well as the guidelines of specific diets. A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces or pieces. By straying from these guidelines and overloading your plate, you consume more calories than you should. Portions served in restaurants are oftentimes much more than a person should eat.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Vegetables and fruits contain powerful nutrients and antioxidants that help prevent cardiovascular disease and also help to cut back on higher calorie foods made with meats and cheeses. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredients, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads. You’ll feel lighter and healthier, and your heart will thank you later.
Select whole grains
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventurous and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain farro, quinoa or barley.
Limit unhealthy fats
Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you consume is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Choose low-fat protein sources
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.
Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You’ll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.
Reduce your sodium intake
Excess sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, and that creates an added burden on the heart. Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet because too much of it is responsible for stroke, kidney disease, osteoporosis and stomach cancer. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 mg a day moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1500mg.
Plan your meals by the week
Create daily menus using the six strategies listed above. When selecting foods for each meal and snack, emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and healthy fats, and limit salty foods. Watch your portion sizes and add variety to your menu choices.
Allow yourself the occasional treat
If overindulgence is the exception, rather than the rule, you’ll balance things out over the long term. What’s important is that you eat healthy foods most of the time. Allow yourself an indulgence every now and then. A candy bar or handful of potato chips won’t derail your heart-healthy diet. But don’t let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your healthy-eating plan.
Our goal at SmartBox is to make healthy snacks available to you at all times, so that you can maintain the highest standards of living and treat yourself without derailing your health. Try out your first box today to start your journey in mindful snacking.