A Day of Heart Healthy Choices
The average heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day, an incredible process for an organ just about the size of a fist. Keeping our heart healthy and working correctly is something we should all be thinking about. February is American Heart Month month; 28 days (or 29 this year) focused on the heart, but don’t forget heart health is important 365 days a year! Heart health is influenced by many factors including, race, age, lifestyle, diet, exercise, and comorbidities. Diet is one of the factors we have control over. While you may know some heart healthy diet tips such as eating more fiber and consuming less sodium, you may be at a loss for culinary inspiration. Here is an example of what a day of heart healthy eating could look like:
Breakfast: Eggs have been a controversial recommendation for heart health, but recent data shows that eating one egg per day does not increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, or any other type of cardiovascular disease. Try an egg with avocado on whole grain toast and crushed red pepper flakes to add flavor without increasing sodium.
Lunch: When planning your lunch put an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, which are loaded with heart healthy nutrients including fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Watch out for bottled or store bought salad dressings as they can contain extra sodium or added sugars, which are not so great for our hearts. Try creating your own vinaigrette:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard, a pinch of your favorite dried seasoning (basil, parsley, oregano) - whisk ingredients together and top your salad with this delicious and easy dressing.
Snack: If you are on the go, snacks can be important to hold you over between meals. Snacking on heart healthy nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.), dried fruits and a few dark chocolate chips can be a tasty and easy snack. Be sure to look for dry roasted and unsalted nuts to keep your salt intake in check.
Dinner: Meals at dinnertime might be harder to change but are a good opportunity to incorporate heart healthy foods. Limiting foods high in saturated fat (i.e., animal fats such as red meat and cheese) is recommended for optimal heart health. An example of an easy heart healthy dinner idea is a one sheet pan meal consisting of salmon, asparagus and potatoes. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid that plays a major role in heart health. An added bonus of this meal idea – super easy cleanup.
Sweet treat: After dinner, who doesn't need a little sweet treat sometimes? Try fresh fruit with dark chocolate. Both contain antioxidants and can help satisfy your cravings.
This guide shows just one day of eating and can be used to get you started on your heart healthy eating plan. There are tons of recipes catered to heart health available online and in specific heart healthy cookbooks. Don’t be afraid to try new flavors and be open to unique foods – heart healthy meals do not have to be boring!
Learn more about heart health with the wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Claire Rudden, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.
2. Mayo Clinic
3. Mayo Clinic