Eating For A Healthy Heart

Health & Wellness

This heart month, we have encouraged community members to assess their heart health, make doctor appointments and put a “reset” on the commitment to living a healthy lifestyle. However, changing your lifestyle can be difficult without specific guidelines. You know that making choices like eating heart-healthy foods and exercising regularly can prevent heart disease, but where do you start? JRMC Registered Dietitians, Sarah Brown, Rebecca Powell, Michael Turley and Laura Drinkwater put together a healthy heart nutrition guideline to help beginners and seasoned healthy-eaters (no pun intended) in the journey to a healthy heart.

1. Eat plant-based protein and less red meat – focus on eating foods such as these:

  • Low-Sodium Nuts
  • Beans – such as soybeans, black beans, etc. When buying canned beans, make sure they are low in sodium
  • Quinoa
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole Grains (and not just bread, pasta, cereal and refried products) – focus on eating brown rice, oatmeal, barley and products that are stated to be whole grain

2. Eat Soluble Fiber

  • You can find this in foods like oatmeal, beans, apples, lentils and peas
  • Soluble fiber helps lower your overall cholesterol levels, which means lowering the risk of heart disease

3. Eat foods containing Omega – 3

  • Omega-3 is found in fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, albacore tuna), flaxseed, wheat, pumpkin seeds, spinach and liquid eggs
  • Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory and reduces risk of heart attack

4. Eat foods containing Potassium

  • Potassium is found in vegetables and fruits: bananas, avocado, sweet potatoes, orange juice, peppers, tomatoes, milk, yogurt, dates, cantaloupe, broccoli, halibut, tuna, cod, snapper, beets and pumpkin seeds
  • Potassium helps lower blood pressure

5. Avoid eating fast foods and fried foods

  • They are high in sodium, saturated fat & cholesterol. Choose healthy options like baked, steamed, broiled, grilled foods (rotisserie chicken, for example)

6. Limit sodium intake to less than 2 grams per day, or 1.5 grams if you have hypertension

  • Choose other herbs, spices or vegetables to season food, like onion powder, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash seasonings, lemon pepper, vinegar, lime juice, black pepper, ginger, garlic, parsley, curry or turmeric

7. Choose healthy beverages: water is the gold standard – soda and diet soda are high in sodium
8. Choose healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil, sunflower seed oil and avocado (“Nature’s Butter”)

  • When choosing dairy, choose low fat products like skim milk, low fat cheese, low fat Greek yogurt, light yogurt (or just skip the dairy altogether and opt for almond milk)

9. Cook from home as often as possible

  • Cooking from home provides you the opportunity to choose what goes in your foods and onto your plate – you also get to control your portion sizes

Talk to your family about healthy eating habits, which are vital for heart health. Encourage them by setting a good example, and don’t get discouraged! Changing your diet can be difficult, but it’s always worth it.


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