Nutrition is key to help prevent heart disease. To help you make food simple, here are 3 positive steps you can take to lower your risk of heart disease. These tips are based on recommendations from the National Lipid Association, American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Wow, that is a mouthful! So, how can we make this simple?  Food can help you lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides.

Prevent Heart Disease graphic of healthy foods

Prevent Heart Disease With These Changes

1. Lifestyle changes

You may have heard a lot about lifestyle changes, and are wondering what that involves. Lifestyle factors are things that are part of your daily life, that impact your health and well being.  Some lifestyle changes that you can make to help you reduce your chances of getting heart disease include:

  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Moderate use of alcohol
  • Physical activity
  • Getting more sleep
  • Stress management

Since we are in the business of making food simple again, we will focus on food and nutrition for heart health.

lifestyle changes vs diet graphic

2. Food and Nutrition

What CAN you eat?  So many times, I see lists of food that you CANNOT eat for heart health.  I like to focus on the positive.  What can you eat for heart health?  Here is my spin on it, based on all the professional research.

Fish is heart healthy photo of salmon on white plate

Foods to help prevent heart disease

Healthy eating is key for heart health. This is true whether you are on medications to lower your cholesterol (statins) or not.

  1.  5 servings each day of fruits and vegetables
    1. Eat a variety of deeply colored fruits and vegetables
  2. Heart-friendly fats for heart health
    1. Use more canola, corn, olive and safflower oil
  3. Fish
    1. Enjoy fish twice/week. Not sure how to prepare fish? Here is a recipe.
  4. Fiber
    1. Focus on including high fiber foods in your diet like oatmeal, beans, lentils
  5. Use spices instead of salt
    1. Try our favorite homemade spice blends
  6. Try vegetarian foods
    1. How about our recipes for homemade black bean burgers? Or how about 5 bean vegetarian soup?
    2. Have you tried tofu? Here is a simple favorite recipe for BBQ tofu?
  7. Plate up for heart health
    1. Use a smaller (9 inch) plate so your food looks more plentiful
    2. Fill 1/2 of plate with non-starchy vegetables including dark green, yellow, orange, red colorful foods
    3. Next, fill 1/4 of your plate with a lean meat or plant protein ask your dietitian for recommendations
    4. Lastly, fill 1/4 of your plate with whole grains including quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, green peas, corn and legumes

Fish is part of a heart healthy strategy including sushi

3. Tools for Heart Health and to prevent heart disease

Some people may find getting a little bit of extra support helpful on their journey to heart health. Try:

  1. Journaling- write down what you eat and you will probably make better choices. Bring your food diary into your dietitian for feedback and suggestions
  2. Education and support from RD- your Registered Dietitian can help you make food simple again.
  3. Mayhem to Mealtime Meal Planning Program
    1. Need help with meal planning for your and/or your family? find out about our program to help you

Be kind to your heart this month and make one of these steps above a priority for you until it becomes a heart healthy habit!  Reach out to us at 301-474-2499 or contact us here to set up an appointment with one of our nutrition professionals!

Rebecca Bitzer loves to empower Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) and their clients.  Co-author of Welcome to the Rebelution: Seven steps to the nutrition counseling practice of your dreams and  Taste the Sweet Rebellion: Rebel against dieting.