The foods and beverages we put in our mouths play a large role in the health of our hearts.
With February being American Heart Month, it’s a good time to revisit any lapsed New Year’s resolutions to eat better.
Southeastern Med offers the following advice to eat in a way that will – especially when combined with increased physical activity – help your heart be stronger and more healthy.
Don’t Consume More Calories Than You Burn
It’s a simple formula: If you want to lose weight, you have to burn off more calories than you consume. If your regular diet consists of double cheeseburgers and potato chips, you’d better be doing some pretty rigorous exercise every day. Watching athletes play football on the couch isn’t going to do the trick.
Most of us like to snack, and that’s OK – as long as you make smart choices between meals. Reach for fruits and vegetables instead of processed, pre-packaged snacks. Healthy-but-tasty options include:
- Bell pepper slices
- Roasted chickpeas
- Whole-grain crackers
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole-grain toast with peanut butter
It’s impossible to maintain a truly heart-healthy diet if you’re still drinking the sugar-laden sodas and coffees you’ve always reached for. Opt for the following instead:
- Water, plain or sparkling (add some fruit or cucumber to it to increase flavor)
- Unsweetened coffee or tea (avoid sugary flavored creamers)
- Small glass of 100% fruit juice
- Low-salt tomato or mixed-vegetable drink
Change Your Concept of Dinner
If you typically go to the drive-through or reach for processed frozen foods, you will want to change your thought process about what constitutes cooking or a meal.
- Increase the number of vegetables and fruits you consume – fresh, frozen or canned
- Select fish and poultry without skin and prepare them in ways that don’t add saturated or trans fat; limit red meat and choose lean cuts when you have it
- Ease up on alcohol consumption (one drink a day for women and two drinks per day for men)Choose low-fat dairy options
- Look up recipes online: You can find delicious, healthy recipes for virtually anything in your pantry or refrigerator
It does take some effort to eat healthier, but your heart (and loved ones) will appreciate your dedication to living a better and longer life.