Show your Heart some Love As we celebrate National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day this February!

Love your heart during National Heart Month

As we celebrate National Heart Month and Valentine’s Day this February, it is the perfect time to show your heart some love. Be proactive and try new ideas to optimize your Heart Health!

Love Me . . .

Anti-inflammatory foods, herbs and supplements…
· cardiovascular disease involves inflammation. To help minimize inflammation, increase eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA):
· EPA can be produced from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in flaxseed, flax oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, soy foods and walnuts.
· The best food sources of EPA are salmon, mackerel, anchovy, herring, lake trout, chunk-light or yellow fin tuna and sardines. Try to consume at least two servings of EPA-rich fish per week or talk with your health care provider about fish oil supplements.
· Consume grass-fed animal meats or omega-3 enriched eggs.
· Anti-inflammatory botanicals include ginger, rosemary and turmeric.
· If you are vegetarian, consider a supplement of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids derived from algae.

Mediterranean style diet…
· includes a focus on whole plant-based foods, fish, olive oil, and moderate alcohol intake. (Want an easy way to follow this way of eating? Try our Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan!)

Heart healthy fats…
· choose monounsaturated fats including extra-virgin olive oil and cold­ pressed, preferably organic or canola oil as your cooking oils. Additional monounsaturated fat sources include olives, avocado, nuts, seeds and oils made from these foods.

Vegetables and fruits…
· contain antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber and other plant compounds which help to protect against disease, including heart disease. Including more of these heart healthy foods can help to minimize the amount of unhealthy fats you consume. Eighty percent (80%) of Midlands residents do not consume enough vegetables and fruits daily. ChooseMyPlate recommends 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day. Other plans suggest even more veggies and fruit in your daily diet.

Nuts…
· at least 1 ounce (1/4 cup) of nuts a day has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Choose from almonds, pecans, walnuts or your favorite raw, unsalted nuts. Lightly toast raw nuts at home if you prefer roasted nuts.

Fiber…
· especially the soluble type, binds total cholesterol in the intestinal tract and promotes cholesterol excretion. Best sources include oats, whole grains, flaxseed, and beans. Fiber supplements such as psyllium or konjac root can also be beneficial.

Antioxidants…
· Protect the blood lipids from dangerous oxidation.
· Increase intake of colorful vegetables and fruits
· Best fruits: strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate, blueberries, concord grapes, dried plums, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos and oranges.
Best veggies: tomatoes, red bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, eggplant, kale, purple cabbage, spinach, sweet potatoes and winter squash.
· Drink green tea
· Enjoy small amounts of dark chocolate regularly (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Vitamin C…
· can help raise HDL cholesterol. Good sources include berries, citrus, kiwi, leafy
greens, peppers and tomatoes.

Whole grains…
· include the bran, germ and starch portion of a grain. Valuable nutrients and fiber reside in the bran and germ portions of a grain.

Low glycemic index foods…
· can lower triglyceride and insulin levels.

Lean protein sources…
· skinless poultry, well-trimmed meat, low-fat dairy products.

Meatless meals…
· plant-based legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are good sources of protein, contain less fat and no cholesterol. Substituting plant protein for animal protein can reduce your total fat and cholesterol intake.

Alcohol in moderation…
· up to 1 drink per day in women and 2 drinks per day in men can lower cardiovascular risk, as alcohol decreases the stickiness of your plate and is a source of antioxidants. Red wine contains more antioxidants than other forms of alcohol such as beer, spirits or white wine.

Regular aerobic exercise…
· to help achieve and maintain healthy weight as well as raise HDL levels.

Leave me…

Excess weight…
· being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing many diseases, including heart disease. Decrease your risk by limiting caloric intake and increasing your daily physical activity.

Super-size portions..
· .eating modest portions helps to control your weight and limits the total amount of fat, cholesterol, saturated fat trans fats you consume- all factors that aggravate heart health.
Visit www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for ideas on portion sizes.

Unhealthy fats and cholesterol…
· Saturated fat, trans fats and cholesterol can elevate total and LDL cholesterol.
Sources include:

  • full-fat dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • fatty red meats
  • deli meats
  • organ meats
  • butter, margarine and shortening.
  • deep fried foods
  • foods that have partially hydrogenated fats in their ingredient list

Arachidonic acid…
A pro-inflammatory fatty acid found in visible meat fat, all animal foods including lean meat, poultry, shellfish and egg yolks. Trim all visible fat from meat and eat smaller servings of these foods.

Linoleic acid…
An omega-6 fatty acid, found in some foods. It is the primary fatty acid in most vegetable oils and can be transformed into arachidonic acid.

Excess sodium and salt in your food…
· significant sources of sodium are prevalent in processed, packaged and fast food; limit your intake of these foods can protect against heart disease. Season with salt-free and sodium-free seasonings such as fresh herbs. Choose reduced-sodium or salt-free versions of soups, salad dressings, canned goods and seasonings. Rinse canned food to remove salty liquid. Try to eat less than 1,500 milligrams.

Simple sugars and refined or processed grains…
· as they are high glycemic, elevate triglyceride levels aggravate blood sugar control and contribute to weight gain.

Excess alcohol…
· while a little alcohol may be good, excess quantities are not and can elevate triglyceride levels, decrease inhibitions and potentially promote weight gain as well as other health related issues.

Carolina Nutrition Consultants wishes you a Heart Healthy Valentine’s Month!