Heart disease is leading cause of death for both men and women. But with some small dietary and lifestyle changes, heart disease can be prevented and controlled.
Here’s what to do (it’s the usual suspects): lose weight, exercise, eat more vegetables and fiber, eat fewer fatty and processed foods. Sounds boring, but it works. And no need to get overwhelmed, since you can just start small.
For the next month or so, work on integrating the following five foods into your diet. You may find that you lose weight, feel better, and have the opportunity to enjoy some new delicious foods you weren’t eating before.
1. Salmon. Eating fish at least twice per week can have a big impact on the health of your heart, brain, skin, and more. High fat fishes like salmon are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids (the heart healthy part), and salmon’s other big bonus is it’s low in mercury, so it’s a great seafood choice. Choose canned salmon when you’re on a budget or when fresh salmon is not in season.
Tip: Replace 2 servings of meat (or cheese-based/ fried entrees) per week with a serving of grilled or baked fish.
2. Salad. Forget about iceberg lettuce with mealy yellow tomatoes. I’m talking about unique and flavorful salads that you will actually look forward to eating. Check out my 5 tips for making a great salad, and some of my favorite salads.
Tip: Make your own salad dressing – it’s easy and makes salads so much tastier!
3. Nuts. The unsaturated fat, protein, and fiber in nuts make them a great on-the-go snack. Eating a serving of nuts everyday can also help lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) which then reduces risk of heart disease.
Tip: Limit nuts to 1/4 cup per day, and instead of adding them to your diet, substitute them for something you were eating before so you don’t end up adding excess calories.
4. Oatmeal. Soluble fiber – found in oatmeal and many fruits and vegetables – can help “sweep” cholesterol out of the blood so plaque doesn’t build up in your arteries. Eating oatmeal every morning is a great way to improve your cholesterol levels. I used to feel very “blah” about oatmeal, but now I add all sorts of fun things to make it tastier as well as more satisfying. My favorite way to eat it is mixed with 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp chocolate chips, 1 Tbsp nut butter, and 1/2 a chopped banana. Get more oatmeal inspiration from this mouth-watering oatmeal photo gallery.
Tip: Make your oatmeal with skim milk instead of water so your high-fiber meal is also high in protein and calcium.
5. Avocado. This fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) is high in fat and calories, but like fish and nuts contains the type of fat that’s good for your heart (unsaturated). Avocado provides a great substitution for cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, or even meat when you add it to sandwiches, wraps, and dips.
Tip: Blend an avocado with 1 cup cooked edamame, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp salt in a food processor for a healthy guacamole-type dip.
Want to learn more or see what else you can do to fight off heart disease? Check out Go Red for Women, and schedule a heart check-up with your doctor!
**photo above pictures NatureBox‘s Chipotle Maple Almonds – yum!**