February is American Heart Month, the perfect time to make changes that minimize the risks associated with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability among U.S. adults.
Overall, it is the collective pattern of your lifestyle and dietary choices that will make the largest impact on your long-term health status—and a simple first step is to eat healthy for your heart.
The American Heart Association (AHA) publishes general dietary recommendations that are quite doable for most of us. They include eating more healthy fats, vegetables and whole grains, and limiting salt, sugar and alcohol.
These kinds of changes not only support a straightforward approach to reducing risk factors and managing your weight, but they also make it easier to incorporate a medically-recommended diet into your everyday life. Because a heart healthy diet is just a healthy diet.
Here are a few easy eating tips and a tasty recipe to get you started!
Simple Tips to Eat Healthy
- Eat more colorful fruits and vegetables. Shoot for seven servings each day, especially green, orange, yellow, purple and red. Examples: spinach, chard, bell peppers, berries, apples, squash.
- Eat more fish, especially fish with lots of omega-3 fatty acids. Eat a serving at least twice a week. Examples: salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel.
- Strictly limit trans fats. Trans fats are most often found in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, or margarine. Foods to avoid: cookies, crackers, fried foods.
- Limit sodium. For a heart healthy diet, try for 1500 mg. per day.
- Limit added sugar. Avoid foods with added sugar as much as possible. Avoiding sweets and colas can help keep your blood pressure, body weight and liver functions in check—all important for keeping your heart healthy.
6 Servings–167 calories, 1.1 g saturated fat and 66 mg sodium per serving
Get the kids in the kitchen to help you whip up this tasty dish, perfect for lunch, snack time or even dessert. Tip: Try other toppings for these apple nachos: any dried fruit, chopped nuts, pumpkin seeds, granola, or unsweetened shredded coconut.
- ⅓ cup dried, unsweetened cranberries or raisins
- ¼ cup sliced almonds (unsalted)
- 2 Tbsp hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 3 red or green apples, cored and thinly sliced into about 12 pieces each
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp water
- ¼ cup reduced-fat, smooth peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp honey
- In a small bowl, combine dried cranberries/ raisins, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
- Core each apple and thinly slice into about 12 pieces each. Layer half the apples onto a large plate or platter. If the apple slices will be sitting out for a while, sprinkle a little lemon juice over them to prevent browning.
- Using the microwave or a teapot, bring 2 tablespoons water to a boil. In a small bowl, combine hot water, peanut butter, and honey. Use a spoon and stir until mixture is smooth.
- Use the spoon to drizzle half the peanut butter mixture over the plated apple slices; sprinkle with half the cranberry mixture. Layer the remaining apples on top and repeat with remaining peanut butter and cranberry mixture. Serve.
Recipe copyright © 2016 American Heart Association