6 QUICK TIPS FOR A HEALTHY HEART
February is heart-health month, and nope, this post has absolutely nothing to do with roses or Valentine’s Day. We’re talking about your ticker, that vital organ that pumps blood to your entire body. By now you may have heard that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; as a cardiac transplant dietitian I’m here to share some diet and lifestyle tips you can do today to help improve your heart-health. Your heart will thank you down the road.
1. Hold the salt: Excess salt or sodium contributes to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. Salt lurks in loads of processed foods like canned soups and sauces, frozen dinners, packaged ramen noodles, cheeses, sausage, bacon, and deli meats (just to name a few). Read nutrition labels carefully to become a sodium sleuth, and try capping you daily intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams. Some good news? Oat My Goodness has no added salt, and each flavor has less than 10 milligrams of sodium per serving!
2. RELAX: It’s no surprise that stress can have a detrimental affect on your heart and overall health. Find ways to cope with your daily pressures -- whether it’s by meditating, exercising, or taking an extra ten minutes to enjoy your Oat My Goodness breakfast.
3. Get the 411 on fats: To sum up the most recent research, aim to limit foods high in saturated fats (like whole milk and red meat) and avoid trans fats (found in stick margarine and some packaged pastries). In their place, focus on eating beneficial unsaturated fatty acids that play a role in lowering your cholesterol levels and reducing risk of heart disease. Foods like fish, nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and olive oil can help you get your daily dose.
4. Fill up on fiber: Found in fruits, vegetables, oats and whole grains, fiber binds to cholesterol and takes it out of your body before it is absorbed. It also helps you feel full and maintain a healthy weight. Looking for a fiber-rich breakfast? Try pairing your Oat My Goodness granola with plain Greek yogurt, berries, and chia seeds.
5. Stand up for your health: Literally, stand up. Many studies suggest that more time sitting is linked to increased risk for heart disease. Find ways to stay on your feet during the day like standing while talking on the phone, waiting for the subway, or sending work emails.
6. Schedule a checkup: Head to your doctor and ask about your blood pressure and cholesterol. Optimal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm/Hg and total cholesterol should ideally be less than 200 mg/dL. Don’t forget to talk to a Registered Dietitian for more specifics on how your diet affects your overall health.
By Rebecca Forman MS, RD