What we eat has a huge impact on our cardiovascular health. When we choose foods wisely, they can help decrease our risk for heart disease or better manage an existing condition.
Try just one or two of these changes and you’ll be on your way to a heart-healthy lifestyle!
- olive oil
- nuts & natural nut butters
- fatty fish like salmon and sardines
Avoid fats like trans fat, which increase inflammation. Always check the ingredient list for trans fats and avoid foods that contain them! Many experts also believe you should limit saturated fats, which you can do by choosing lean meat, trimming visible fat before cooking, and replacing some whole dairy products with 1/2%.
Around 75% of the sodium found in a typical American diet comes from processed foods! You can reduce the amount of salt you consume by choosing foods in their natural, whole state most often. If you have to buy prepared or processed food, look for low sodium, no salt added, salt free, and no sodium versions.
The best way to control your salt intake is to cook at home in your own kitchen. Replace salt with other seasonings, like:
- fresh and dried herbs
- lemon/lime juice
- seasoning blends
Fiber can help decrease cholesterol levels in your blood by acting sort of like a sponge in your intestines, absorbing cholesterol from your diet so it won’t be recirculated in your bloodstream. Choose foods that are full of fiber and colorful (which will also be full of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants that help protect your heart):
- sweet potatoes
- bell peppers
- beans and legumes
Whole grains also contain cholesterol-lowering fiber. Choose grains like:
- brown rice
- whole grain pasta
- whole wheat bread
Be Physically Active
Okay, we know it’s not a food thing… but getting your blood pumping increases your heart’s strength, decreases inflammation, and helps maintain a healthy weight!
- Try 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week, like walking the dog, yoga, or a light jog.
- OR, try 25 minutes of vigorous activity three times a week, like swimming, running, cycling, or hiking.
Even a little bit of exercise spread through the day can be very beneficial, like going for a 10 minute walk two or three times per day. The key is to find something you enjoy and stick to it!
Okay, Let’s Try It!
Sample one of our heart healthy recipes and see what you learn about cooking for your heart!
Meghan Perkins is Project Angel Heart’s registered dietitian. After a semester studying baking and pastry arts at culinary school, Meghan quickly found her passion for clinical nutrition and transferred to the University of Northern Colorado to earn her bachelor’s degree in dietetics. Meghan has worked in clinical and private practice settings, educating patients about how their food choices impact their health with an emphasis on CKD, diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, and weight management. In her free time, Meghan enjoys exploring Denver by bike with her husband, trying new coffee and tea shops, hiking in Crested Butte, and relaxing with her dog Barney.
Kevin Giles is Project Angel Heart’s modified meals assistant. Kevin grew up in Dallas, Texas where he spent most of his time working in kitchens and attending a technical high school that taught culinary arts. In 2011, Kevin made the move to Denver to attend Johnson & Wales, and graduated with his degree in Culinary Nutrition in 2015. Kevin enjoys spending time snuggling with his two cats and going to the gym.