In recognition of American Heart Month this February, the nutritionists at Giant are offering several tips to help customers get heart healthy. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Living a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating right and avoiding foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, is one of the main ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease.
“Helping our customers maintain heart health is an important priority,” says Lisa Coleman, in-store nutritionist at Giant Food. “Grocery stores are the perfect place to start, where shoppers can plan balanced meals for their families to support active lifestyles.”
Check out these tips from Giant nutritionists and try to include a couple in your daily routine this month:
· Maintain a healthy weight. Become familiar with your body’s caloric needs by visiting www.choosemyplate.gov or schedule a consultation with a Giant nutritionist. Tracking your calories is easier than ever with the use of smartphone apps and fitness websites. Meet your daily calorie needs by eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean
proteins, and healthy fats.
· An apple a day may actually keep the doctor away. Include a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables in your diet, as each color group holds its own unique benefits! By including red, orange and yellow fruits, green and purple vegetables, etc., you will be providing your body with a wide array of vitamins and minerals to help fight against heart disease. Aim for at least three servings of fruit and four or more servings of vegetables every day.
· Look for lean meats. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat no more than a total of six ounces (170 grams) of cooked lean meat, fish, shellfish or skinless poultry a day. When shopping for meat, look for the words “round” or “loin.”
· Go a little nutty! Most nuts and nut butters contain a bonus of heart friendly monounsaturated fats – the kind that help balance out the good and bad cholesterol floating around in your blood. The stand-outs in the nut category for your heart health are pistachios, walnuts and almonds. Add them to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or as a standalone snack!
· Remove the salt shaker from the dinner table. Americans take in nearly double the recommended amount of sodium per day. High sodium content is often found in canned goods, frozen dinners, restaurant meals, and many other processed foods. Reduce sodium in your diet by preparing more meals at home, limiting processed foods, adding more herbs and spices to your dishes, and rinsing canned vegetables under cold water before preparing. Keep sodium
under 2300 mg per day. For those with risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease; aim for less than 1500 mg of sodium per day.
· Include heart-friendly fats in your diet including omega-3 fatty acids. Research shows that these fatty acids can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Include oily fish such as salmon, herring, or trout at least twice per week. Prepare these fish by grilling, baking, or broiling. Walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed are also great sources of omega-3’s. Add grilled salmon to a salad, sprinkle flaxseed into a smoothie, or even stir a handful of walnuts into yogurt.
· Trans fats are artery damagers. Trans fats are considered harmful because they increase risks for heart disease by raising both bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL). These sneaky fats hide out under the ingredient known as “partially hydrogenated oils,” so check that ingredient list. The Nutrition Facts may declare zero trans fats if the amount is under ½ gram.
· Don’t forget the fiber! Soluble fiber helps to bind off circulating cholesterol in the bloodstream. Start the day with old fashioned oats or throw some beans on your salad or in your soup.