Eat healthier, exercise, avoid salt — most of us know the rules for maintaining heart health. Putting knowledge into practice is the hard part. How, exactly, do we eat a heart-healthy diet and keep moving amidst the myriad responsibilities of work, home and family?
Make heart health a natural byproduct of your daily routine by implementing these 10 healthy habits.
1) Fill your pantry with good fats.
Nuts are so healthy, the FDA is considering a special label: “Diets containing one ounce of nuts per day can reduce your risk of heart disease.” (1) Stock the pantry with unsalted nuts and seeds.
Replace butter and lard with canola, olive, sesame and peanut oils. (2)
To meet your body’s needs for omega-3s, fill the fridge with salmon, trout, catfish, mackerel, walnuts and flax seeds. The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish per week. (7)
2) Banish the salt shaker from the table.
Enhance homemade food with herbs and spices. Stay away from packaged processed food. Choose frozen veggies over canned.
3) Reduce sugar.
Reach for whole grain breads, brown rice over white, whole grain pasta over enriched wheat. Sweeten plain yogurt with a few berries. Replace soda with seltzers that are free of sodium and sugar, and substitute whole fruit for juice.
4) Start your grocery shopping in the produce section.
Increase fruits and vegetables. See an unfamiliar vegetable? Search for recipes on your smart phone. Spidery greens called garlic scapes can be used like green onions. Fill mini-peppers with a mixture of neufchâtel cheese and green chilies, then roast them.
Spread avocado instead of butter on your morning whole grain toast. Try a few nuts and berries instead of butter on oatmeal. Almost any vegetable, from sweet potatoes to cauliflower to squash, tastes good peeled, chopped and roasted with a little olive oil.
5) An aspirin a day?