February 13, 2019
American Heart Health Month
The month of February is known to be the month of love, so why not give a little to your heart? Since 1963, February has been declared as American Heart Month as a way to remind individuals and communities to become proactive in preventing this disease. To this day, heart disease remains the number one cause of death among American men and women. This February make it a priority to learn and raise awareness about the risks of heart disease and the steps you can take to prevent it from setting in.
Know the risks
While there are some risks of heart disease that are out of our control such as family history, race, and age, there are many that are preventable. These preventable risks include:
♥ Unhealthy diet
♥ Physical inactivity
♥ Heavy alcohol consumption
By being aware of the following risk factors, one can begin to make small lifestyle changes and reduce their risk of heart disease. Following a heart healthy diet can combat some of these risk factors. This diet is balanced, rich in fiber, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and low in sodium sugar, and saturated fats.
According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is one of the major contributors towards heart attack and stroke. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” as its symptoms are not always noticed. A low sodium diet is key to managing hypertension. The American Heart Association recommends consumption of no more than 2,300mg of sodium per day to prevent hypertension and no more than 1,500 mg to those who have hypertension. The saltshaker is not the only contributor to a high sodium diet. Many foods are naturally high in sodium. These include processed and pre-packaged foods such as deli meats and frozen dinners, canned soup, snack foods such as popcorn and chips, and pre-made seasoning packets and sauces. Limiting these foods from your diet can reduce the risk of hypertension. Smarter choices to achieve low sodium intake include purchasing low-sodium broth and sauces to cook with, preparing meals in bulk and freezing, and using Mrs Dash or a mixture of your favorite dried herbs to cook and season foods.
The word fiber is easily associated with gut health, but it also plays an important role in lowering cholesterol levels and supporting a healthy heart. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that passes through our digestive tract undigested. It comes in two forms: Soluble fiber dissolves in water creating a gel-like consistency as is passes moves through the body. It also connects to cholesterol inside the digestive system and removes it from the body. Sources of soluble fiber include oat bran, barley, nuts, beans, lentils, peas, apples, and blueberries. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve it water, provides bulk to stools, and promotes gut regularity. Sources include whole wheat bread, brown rice, and vegetables. The American Heart association recommends aiming for a daily fiber intake between 25-30 grams from all sources of fiber.
Fat is an essential part of the American diet and is needed a source of energy and helps to support many basic bodily functions such as cell growth and regulating body temperature. When it comes to heart health in is important to understand which sources of fats to eat more of and which ones to eat in moderation. Two forms of fat include:
Unsaturated Fats help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Unsaturated fats are in fish, avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oil.
Saturated Fats may raise LDL cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends that consumption of these fats should be no more than 6% of total calories. If you consume 2,000 calories per day this equates to about 13 grams of fat. Saturated fats are solid a room temperature and are primarily found in animal products such as beef, lamb, pork, butter, cream, cheese, and whole milk.
Roasted Ranch Chickpeas
This recipe is heart healthy as it is rich in fiber, low in sodium, and packed with flavor!
♥ 15oz can of chickpeas
♥ 2 tbsp olive oil
♥ Mixture of the following dried herbs: ½ tsp thyme, ½ tsp parsley, ½ onion powder, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp pepper, and 1 tsp dill
♥ Pre-heat oven to 400°
♥ Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Blot dry with a paper towel. Combine oil and seasoning mixture.
♥ Spread chickpeas over baking sheet and roast in oven for 30 minutes