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Put Your Heart into Healthy Eating

February 10, 2015 by Sophia Baker-French, Registered Dietitian

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A healthy heart can beat stronger for longer - something appreciated at any age. Heart health is affected by our daily lifestyle choices like eating healthy, being physically active and choosing not to smoke. Put your heart in the right place with simple daily healthy eating practices.

  • Eat mostly plant foods. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytochemicals that help keep your heart healthy.
    • Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit and aim for 7- 10 servings every day.
    • Aim for 3 or more servings of whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and barley each day.
    • Choose meat alternatives like beans, lentils, nuts/seeds or tofu instead of meat to reduce your intake of animal fat. Think of meat as a garnish rather than the centrepiece of a meal.
  • Eat food sources of omega-3 fats. All types of omega-3 fats are healthy for your heart, but the fats in fish are considered the most beneficial.
  • Choose healthy vegetable oils. Oils, like olive and canola, are options that can help improve blood cholesterol levels. Canada's Food Guide recommends including a small amount (about 30-45 mL or 2-3 tablespoons) of plant-based or unsaturated fats each day. Avoid trans fat (shortening, hard margarine) and go easy on saturated fats from animals (lard, butter, ghee) and tropical oils (coconut oil or palm oil). Too much of these may increase your risk of heart disease. 
  • Choose fresh foods naturally low in sodium, rather than processed foods. Everyone needs some sodium, but too much can raise your blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease. Most adults need only 1500mg of sodium each day. Lifestyle Steps to Lower Your Blood Pressure offers great tips for reducing sodium.

Healthy eating is a skill that can be learned. Read about setting goals in 5 Tips for Success. We also have more on heart healthy eating, getting active and stopping smoking.

Contact a Registered Dietitian for free at Health Link BC by dialing 8-1-1 for more support making changes to your diet.

This Valentine’s Day, give your special someone a gift that will support a heart healthy lifestyle. Here are some ideas:

How do you plan to have a heart healthy Valentine’s Day?


Related blogs:

Nuts and Seeds: Nutritional Powerhouses
9 Oils to Know
Coo-Coo for Coconut Oil
Flavourful Vegetables All Winter Long

Recommended resources:

Healthy Families BC: What Makes Vegetables and Fruit So Special?
Healthy Families BC: Plan Low Sodium Meals
Healthy Families BC: From the Bakery
Half Your Plate: Recipes
Heart and Stroke Foundation: Recipes
Health Canada: What is a Food Guide Serving?

 

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