Five Easy Ways to Love Your Heart

February 3, 2019

Clinical Contributors to this Story

Laura Giménez, RDN contributes to topics such as Nutrition.

By Laura Giménez, RDN

As the color red appears everywhere this February, make this month not only about Valentine’s Day, but celebrate hearts all month long during American Heart Month! American Heart Month aims to promote awareness of heart disease in addition to promoting habits that aid in prevention. Look below to make this February your heart-healthiest yet, by incorporating some of these preventative, effortless tips into your day-to-day life!

  1. Incorporate Chia and Flax Seed

TIP: Add 1 tbsp of chia or ground flax seed to foods such as oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, cottage cheese, cereal, baked goods, etc. The possibilities are endless- be creative!

Both chia and flax seeds boast impressive nutritional profiles including being high in both fiber and omega-3 fatty acids! This is great news for your heart as omega-3 fatty acids are known to lower LDL, or lousy, cholesterol and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Furthermore, both contain fiber, which has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol, promote fullness and satiety, promote gastrointestinal health, and balance blood sugar.

  1. Go Nuts for Nuts

TIP: Combine 1 oz. nuts with fruit of choice for a satisfying and heart-healthy snack or sprinkle 1/8 cup sliced nuts on salads, yogurts, or oatmeal, etc.

Nuts (ex. Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, etc.) are rich in poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, both of which aid in lowering LDL cholesterol. Nuts also contain a combination of both protein and fat, which will help you stay satisfied for longer!

  1. Switch to Whole Grains

TIP: Read your labels- make sure your breads, cereals, crackers, etc. contain minimally 3g of fiber per serving!

In order to incorporate more heart-healthy fiber, switch all of your grain products to whole grain. Whole grains contain not only more cardio-protective fiber, but also boast more b-vitamins, antioxidants, and protein than their refined grain product counterparts.

  1. Incorporate More Fruits and Vegetables

TIP: Leave clean and sliced fruit available in your fridge. Keep chopped frozen vegetables in your freezer to quickly add to stews, rice, pastas, etc. when cooking.

In addition to a long list of antioxidants, fruits and vegetables also contain high amounts of heart-healthy fiber! Moreover, fruits and vegetables form part of a healthy-eating plan which may help you better manage a healthy weight.

  1. Snack Smart

TIP: Try the following balanced, easy snack combinations:

  • Roasted Chickpeas
  • Edamame and hummus
  • Greek yogurt with ½ cup berries
  • Crackers and cottage cheese
  • Apple and 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • Whole grain tortilla chips with guacamole
  • 1 oz. dark chocolate with walnuts
  • Cherry tomatoes with 1 oz. mozzarella

Incorporating a healthy snack can help boost your metabolism and curb hunger before the next meal, preventing over-eating at meal time; this is important when trying to maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your snack contains both a carbohydrate and protein source in order to give you energy and keep you satisfied!

Registered Dietitian Laura Giménez, RDN, practices at Hackensack Meridian Health Raritan Bay Medical Center on an outpatient basis. She also provides nutrition counseling as part of the Institute for Weight Loss at Raritan Bay-Old Bridge. To schedule an appointment for nutrition counseling, call 732-324-3236. To find a provider near you, visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.