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Heart-Healthy Diet for a New Year

Heart-Healthy Diet for a New Year

 

            Many, many Americans make New Year resolutions but the percentage that keep them is very, very small.  Resolutions relating to nutrition, weight and health in general are some of the most popular resolutions. The American Heart Association share several ideas for healthy, heart eating in 2016.

            Control your portion size - How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to consuming more calories than you should. Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions. Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed or fast foods.

            Choose veggies and fruits more often -Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you'll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredients, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.

            Select whole grains -Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventuresome and try a new whole grain, such as whole-grain farro, quinoa or barley.

             Limit unhealthy fats -Limiting how many saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Saturated fat should be less than 7% of your total daily calories, or less than 14 g of saturated fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet

Trans-fats should be less than 1% of your total daily calories, or less than 2 g of trans fat if you follow a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet  The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.

            Look for low-fat protein sources - Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. You'll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.

            Reduce the amount of sodium in your food - Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. Healthy adults should have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt) People age 51 or older, African-Americans, and people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should have no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day

Although reducing the amount of salt you add to food at the table or while cooking is a good first step, much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can reduce the amount of salt you eat.

            Plan to eat healthy- Create daily menus using the six strategies listed above. When selecting foods for each meal and snack, emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and healthy fats, and limit salty foods. Watch your portion sizes and add variety to your menu choices.     

            Treats are allowed - Allow yourself an occasional treat. One candy bar or a handful of potato chips won't derail your heart-healthy diet. But don't let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your healthy-eating plan. If overindulgence is the exception, rather than the rule, you'll balance things out over the long term. What's important is that you eat healthy foods most of the time and you'll find that heart-healthy eating is both doable and enjoyable.

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