Eat Smart Foods for a Healthy Heart
February is American Heart Month, and the ideal time to begin to make healthier food swaps
Simple food swaps can save your life. That is the conclusion of a new double-blind randomized controlled trial published in the British Journal of Nutrition that found even small dietary changes can greatly improve your heart health.
Doing so can help to improve your and your family’s well-being so that you can reap the rewards proven in the study and combat heart disease, the US’ # 1 killer of men and women.
By switching a few regularly consumed foods for those with improved nutritional quality, participants in the study were able to reduce their total and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels by 30% in just 8 weeks. They chose foods that were higher in fiber and lower in fat.
In 2 months they showed significant improvement in overall cardiovascular health and had a better sense of well being according to the authors.
Dr. Craig Title, a leading weight loss physician in New York City, says that choosing healthier fats and adding more fiber to your diet not only reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease but also helps you lose weight.
“Even losing 5 or 15% of your body weight can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers,” he says. “Losing even 1lb of weight results in 4lbs of pressure being removed from the knees.”
A study in Finland, found that people who lost a mere 7% of their total body weight reduced their risk of diabetes by 58%. Similar improvements have been documented for hypertension and even sleep apnea.
Losing weight does not have to be an “all or nothing” endeavor, says Dr. Title. “Making small changes can yield big results.”
Here are his suggestions:
- Swap butter or margarine for a drizzle of EVO (extra virgin olive oil) on vegetables.
- Switch from whole milk to reduced fat or almond milk.
- Instead of indulging in ice cream, switch to low-fat, frozen yogurt for a snack.
- Opt for unbuttered plain popcorn instead of potato chips. Spray a little olive oil for flavor.
- Baby carrots make a better snack choice.
- Make your own healthier pizza by topping whole wheat toast or a whole wheat pita bread with cottage cheese and a slice of tomato and chopped basil leaves. Run under the broiler or heat in the toaster oven.
- Slather your bagel with a nut butter rather than cream cheese.
- Choose a lower-fat cut of beef.
- Switch to hummus instead of Ranch dressing for dipping veggies as a snack.
- Instead of eating a beef burger, try a leaner bison burger instead.
- Order your latte or coffee drinks without sugar.
When eating out, try these healthy swaps at the following restaurants:
- Order a Big Mac instead of a Whopper with Cheese to save fat grams.
- Try a Chipotle Chicken Crispy Taco instead of a Chicken Burrito to save one-half the calories and three times the saturated fat.
- Choose Outback’s Steakhouse Special Steak dinner, which has 20% of the saturated fat of the restaurant’s Herb Roasted Prime Rib and 33% of the calories.
- Choose Pizza Hut’s Thin ‘n Crispy Cheese Pizza instead of the restaurant’s Pan Cheese Pizza, save calories and fat.
Note:Experts say that it’s not just the calories and unhealthy fats that increase our risk for heart disease. And that dietary fiber is Key to a healthy heart, as well as digestion
Think about your fiber intake when you are concerned about bowel irregularity, there are 4 reasons why it is important for your heart, as follows:
- It helps promote healthy cholesterol levels.
- It helps support normal blood pressure.
- It supports healthy glucose levels. This is important for people at risk of heart disease, in addition to those who are diabetic.
- It helps with weight management by promoting satiety, reducing cravings and helping to reduce food intake.
Below are smart swaps to increase your daily fiber intake, as follows:
- Pass on the corn flakes, rice crisps and sugary cereals and opt for a high-fiber cereal.
- Use sprouted whole-grain bread instead of white bread.
- Swap sweet potatoes for white potatoes because they have more fiber and nutrients.
- Snack on nuts, seeds, and dried fruit instead of potato chips.
- Switch to brown rice instead of white rice or try the grains quinoa, barley, or farro for even more nutrition and fiber.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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