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Beyond Trim: Healthy eating for a happy heart – Shaw Local News Network

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February is Hearth Month and it’s a good time to remind ourselves about how important it is to eat a healthy diet for our heart health.

One of the best diets to follow for heart health is called the DASH eating plan. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it is scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two of the key risk factors for heart disease. It may also help you lose weight.

DASH doesn’t require any special foods, but it has guidelines to help you make healthier choices every day. These include:

  • Eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Including some fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and vegetable oils.
  • Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy foods and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel and palm oils.
  • Limiting sugar sweetened drinks and desserts.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is a great resource for those who would like to learn how to live a heart healthy lifestyle. They have developed recipes for many standard comfort foods and for different ethnic favorites. Recipes can be found at healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov.

NHLBI also offers the following advice to make it easier to follow the DASH diet for life:

  • Change gradually. Add one more serving of vegetables a day. Read nutrition labels to choose the food lowest in saturated fat, sodium or salt and added sugar.
  • Vary foods high in proteins. Try a mix of lean cuts of meat. Remove the skin from chicken. Eat fish once or twice a week. Eat two or more meals without meat each week.
  • Select healthy, tasty snacks. Have a piece of fruit, a few unsalted snacks such as rice cakes, fat-free or low-fat yogurt or raw vegetables with a low-fat dip.
  • Find substitutes. Try whole-wheat bread or brown rice instead of white bread or white rice. Try beans or seeds such as flax or sunflower seeds, if you’re allergic to nuts.

Other self-care activities can help you reduce stress and take care of your heart. Top of the list: Move more throughout the day, get seven to nine hours of sleep and try relaxation exercises such as meditation or yoga. If you smoke, try quitting, and develop a strong social support system to help keep you motivated.

Sherry DeWalt is the healthy lifestyles coordinator for the CGH Health Foundation in Sterling.

This post was originally published on 3rd party site mentioned in the title of this site

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