If you haven’t read it already, check out last weeks post ‘Love Your Heart – Step 1’ to get up to speed on this subject. Since February is National Heart Month, we at the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA feel like its a great time to show your heart some love. Heart disease is something that can affect anyone and it is the leading cause of death in the United States according to the CDC. But it can be prevented with some simple steps to better health.
As a review, Step 1 is to Get Active. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise most days of the week. It can be many kinds of activities, you can even break it up into smaller amounts, say 10 minutes at a time 3 times a day. Little changes can make a big difference in the end.
Step two: Eat For Your Heart
Heart healthy foods are foods that include antioxidants, lean proteins, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants help remove free radicals that can cause damage to heart cells. Fiber fills you up, slows down your digestion, and is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids because you need them and your body can’t make them on it’s own so it’s important to get them from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
A heart healthy diet should be based around fruits and vegetables, but you do need some protein also. Some great heart healthy foods are; coldwater fish like salmon, tuna or halibut are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and other nuts (salt-free) are high in omega-3 fatty acids BUT they are also high in calories so stick to a hand full. Walnuts also lower a chemical called endothelin that contributes to the inflammation that causes plaques to form in coronary arteries. Nut oils are one of the highest sources of dietary omega-3 fatty acids for heart health. Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, just make sure that they are actual blueberries and not just something containing blueberry flavoring. Spinach has just about everything your heart needs, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber. When it comes to protein chicken or turkey without the skin are great sources of lean protein, almost as lean as fish, but watch out for pre-marinated or self-basting options because they may have lots of added salt and calories. Other than poultry the best lean meat for heart health is pork tenderloin, but if you just have to have some red meat, round steaks, roasts, tip loin, top sirloin, and chick shoulder are better for you than other cuts.
-Britney Lingl Health & Wellness Director
-Alex Flipovitch Health & Wellness Coordinator