With February being American Heart Month, it is a time to focus on new habits and behaviors that are heart healthy. While many people are affected by heart disease today, nutritious foods and exercise can prevent and manage this disease. A heart healthy lifestyle focuses on whole foods like fruits and vegetables, leaner meats like fish and chicken, whole grains, and daily exercise.
Half of your plate should consist of non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Non-starchy vegetables contain lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are important for bodily functions. These include green beans, tomatoes, chayote, mushrooms, asparagus, Swiss chard, artichokes, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber, collards, and kohlrabi. Starchy vegetables contain more starch than non-starchy vegetables and they are also rich in vitamins and minerals. Starchy vegetables should take up a quarter of the plate and these include potatoes, corn, winter squashes, cassava, sweet potatoes, and peas. The last quarter of the plate should contain lean meats like fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, lean cuts of pork and beef, and plant-based protein. It is important to focus on consuming leaner meats because they contain less saturated fat.
Daily physical activity doesn’t have to be a full-blown workout or trip to the gym; walking even 15 minutes or taking the stairs can help. Other alternative activities include taking a walking break at work, walking to the store, riding a bike instead of driving, parking farther from the store entrance, dancing, and yoga. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day to support heart health.
For a heart healthy side dish, opt for this Raw Beet and Pear Slaw – perfect for sandwiches too!
Ellie Goddard, Dietetic Intern