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Piedmont HomeHealth News

Heart Healthy Eating Habits

heart healthy

February is the American Heart Association’s National Heart Month, a time to raise awareness of heart disease and prevention. According to the latest statistics, nearly half of all Americans have some form of heart disease, which is also the leading cause of death for men and women.

One of the ways to improve your health and lower your risk of disease is to eat a heart-healthy diet. We know it can be hard to change your eating habits, especially when they’re ingrained in your lifestyle over decades. But our caregivers at Piedmont Home Health are here to help you create new habits by helping plan and prepare healthy meals, and providing encouragement along the way. Here are a few things you can do to help make your diet more heart healthy.

· Make sure you eat from all food groups. Food provides the nutrients your body needs to have energy and stay healthy, and a well-rounded diet helps ensure you’re getting the variety of nutrients you need. Follow the My Plate guidelines for portion control and choose foods from each group to make up your meals: Low-fat dairy Lean meat Fruits and vegetables Whole grains Healthy fats

· Switch from refined to whole grains. Whole grains made the list of a complete diet above, and for a good reason. The fiber in whole grains helps lower cholesterol. Making the switch from white/refined breads and pastas to whole grain options, and switch from brown rice to white will have a positive effect on your health.

· Cut back on foods and beverages with added sugars. Refined sugars, or simple carbohydrates, are broken down quickly in the body, which causes a spike in blood sugar. This spike in turn causes the body to release more insulin to process that sugar, and the more insulin your body releases the greater your risk of obesity, which plays a role in heart disease. A recent study found that sugar-laden diets may raise your risk of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. So think twice before you reach for that sugar-laden soda or doughnut. It might be time to switch to flavored water and a healthy fruit snack such as an orange or a banana instead.

· Reduce your sodium intake. This is a no-brainer, as we’ve known for many years that salt has a direct effect on raising blood pressure. Salt also causes the body to retain water, worsening the fluid build up that happens with heart failure. It’s recommended sodium intake be less than 1,500 mg per day, and no more than 2,300. One way to do this is to steer clear of processed foods which are loaded with sodium, and try to substitute herbs and spices for salt when seasoning your meals.

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