By: Ashmar Mandou
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 610,000 people die from heart disease each year, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths. In addition, approximately 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack. Heart Disease is an issue most people need to pay attention to as it is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. According to the CDC, some of the risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, being overweight or obese, having a poor diet, being physically inactive, and using alcohol excessively. February is Heart Health Month, which makes it the perfect time to re-assess what you eat to lead a better, healthy life. Improving the diet is likely to also help with the weight and diabetes issues. Here are some tips for helping to re-think your eating for better heart health:
- Breakfast. Reach for whole grain toast, whole grain cereals and don’t forget a serving of vegetables and/or fruit. To get in even more servings, try a quick and healthy fruit and veggie smoothie.
- Lunch. Pack a quick and healthy lunch that includes items like salads, hummus and veggies, tuna salad with wholegrain crackers or bread, or homemade low-sodium soups that you can make ahead of time and take a couple of days in a row.
- Dinner. Opt for seafood, which has heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Other good options include beans, salads with dressing, quinoa, whole grains, veggie burgers, chickpeas, lentils, and filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Try to reduce processed foods, and fast food (which is often loaded with sugar and salt), high sodium foods, and unhealthy oils by cooking more at home.
- Snacks. Skip the chips and cakes and opt for food like unsalted nuts, fruits and veggies, seeds, bell pepper slices, vegetables and hummus, or whole grain toast with all natural peanut butter.
- Drinks. Leave the sugary drinks behind, and opt for water, sparkling water, plain soymilk, unsweetened coffee and tea, or water steeped with fruit.
- Dining out. When dining out, opt for dishes that are lower in sodium and fat content, such as those that are baked, grilled, or broiled, rather than ones that are fried. Minimize the sugar intake by opting for unsweetened beverages and sticking to mostly fruits for sugar cravings. Choose seafood, fish, lean meats, vegetarian options, vegetable dishes, and beans. Portion sizes for restaurant meals tend to be oversized, so box a portion of your meal for lunch the next day.