Written by Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND
There’s a reason that there are so many books about preventing and treating heart disease – there’s so much to say about it! I’ll spare you statistics, long explanations and a lengthy list of heart healthy dos and don’ts. Instead I’ll share with you just a few simple and quick ways to be good to your heart. I’m all about practical, so each of these five heart healthy tips will take you just minutes to implement.
Heart Healthy Tip 1: Open a can of beans
Beans, beans really are good for the heart! Drain and rinse a can of any favorite bean to reduce the sodium by about 40%. Each night, spoon some over a simple green salad. Eating four servings of beans weekly is linked to a 22% lower risk of heart disease. Beans may lower the risk of suffering a second heart attack too. Refrigerate the leftovers for tomorrow’s salad.
Heart Healthy Tip 2: Combine low sodium convenience foods with the “regular” product
Too much sodium is linked to high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease and many other health problems. Fortunately, taste for salt is a learned preference, and it can be unlearned. To ease yourself – or your family – into lower sodium options, mix one can of no salt added tomatoes with a jar of regular pasta sauce. Or combine one can of no salt added green beans with a can of the traditional green beans. Easy peasy way to a nearly 50% sodium reduction.
Heart Healthy Tip 3: Stand, don’t sit
Some say that sitting is the new smoking. Even regular exercisers who are sedentary most of the day have higher levels of inflammatory markers in their blood and greater risks of several health problems. If you’re a sitter, why not got up once per hour for a 2-minute break? Stretch, do toe raises, walk to water cooler, do push ups against the wall. It doesn’t matter how you move, just move. Your heart will love you for it.
Heart Healthy Tip 4: Brew a cup of tea
Sip a cup of black, green, oolong or white tea. Hot or cold, tea may help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of both heart attack and stroke. Skip the bottled teas, however. They have little, if any, health-boosting compounds called flavonoids.
Heart Healthy Tip 5: Snack on a piece of fruit
Americans eat barely more than 40% of the recommended amount of fruit. Yet diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with better blood pressure, less stroke and coronary heart disease, healthier body weights, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and more. Keep fresh, frozen, canned (no sugar added varieties) and dried fruit on hand. A favorite trick of mine is to take 5 pieces of fruit to work every Monday for a health boost each afternoon of the week.
These simple tips will bring you closer to a heart healthy diet and lifestyle.
Cheers to happy, healthy eating!