NEW YORK — February is American Heart Month, and a great time for a heart-healthy eating check! Heart disease, including stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in America. Check out these six simple suggestions for eating heart smart:
1. Shave the sodium: Use herbs, spices, citrus, nuts, vinegar, seeds and other flavor boosters instead. Limit intake of high sodium convenience foods and read labels.
2. Figure the Fat: Choose unsaturated fats found in salmon, trout, flaxseed, olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Avoid trans fat found in prepackaged cookies, cakes, pies, shortening and many other packaged foods. Limit saturated fats found in butter, full fat dairy products and marbled and high fat meats.
3. Meat Free Meals: Cut back on saturated fat by going meatless more often. Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of eating a more plant based diet — and with a little finesse in the kitchen, you won’t miss the meat.
4. Fill Up on Fiber: Studies link a high fiber diet with a lower risk of heart disease. Fiber in whole grains, oats, beans and citrus fruits helps reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.
5. Feast on Fish: Research suggests that eating fish twice a week can reduce risk of heart disease up to 30%. Omega-3 fats in fish lower triglycerides and blood pressure and also can help prevent irregular heart rhythms.
6. Heart your Cart: Fill up with a variety of colorful fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and unsaturated oils.