NDSU Extension - Sargent County

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Nourish Your Heart with More

Nourish Your Heart with MorePart of the approach to nourishing our heart involves eating less of certain things: less saturated fat, as little trans fat as possible, and less sodium.  But today, let’s talk about eating more! 

Some foods and food components can help lower our risk for heart disease and several other diseases, so make it your goal to get plenty of them. 

Go for more of these things:

  • fruits and vegetables of all colors
  • low-fat or fat-free dairy foods and beverages
  • soluble fiber
  • whole grains
  • fatty fish
  • physical activity

Fruits and vegetables are virtually fat free and sodium free.  They are naturally low in calories and high in protective antioxidants, so be sure to eat lots of different colors of fruits and vegetables, including the edible skins such as on apples and potatoes.

Eating about 4 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables a day provides many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs.  Having fruit with breakfast, lunch, supper, and as a snack, in addition to having two vegetables at both lunch and supper, and as a snack, helps you reach that daily goal of 4½ cups.  Having easy access to fruits and vegetables, and adding extra veggies to soups, salads and pizza are practical ways to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables. 

Dairy foods contain calcium and potassium, which play a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure.  Choosing the low-fat or fat-free version of dairy foods and beverages gives you the benefits without the extra calories.

Fiber, especially soluble fiber found in barley, oatmeal, legumes such as cooked beans and produce such as carrots and apples, can reduce blood cholesterol levels if eaten regularly and in combination with a diet low in saturated fat.

Enjoy more whole grains, such as whole wheat bread and whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal.  One of the best ways to determine if a grain food is a WHOLE grain food is to check the ingredient list.  Look for the words “whole grain _____” as the first words on the ingredient list and check elsewhere on the package for the approved health claim, “Diets rich in whole-grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.”

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, bass and halibut contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered more heart healthy. Grill or broil the fish to avoid adding extra fat. Fish oil dietary supplements don’t appear to have

the same positive effect.

Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to your brain, strengthens our heart, may lower blood pressure, and may increase HDL levels.  Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week can be as easy as taking three 10-minute physical activity or exercise breaks each day.  Turn on some music and dance to a few of your favorite songs!  For each hour of regular exercise you get, you’ll gain about two hours of additional life expectancy, even if you don’t start until middle age.

Source:  Nourish and Exercise Your Heart, NDSU Extension.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/apple-fruit-heart-love-red-1228374/ (downloaded 5/19/21)

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