Six Small Changes that Boost Heart Health
Small changes can make a big difference. Bee Nutritious registered dietitians Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke share their top easy-to-follow heart health tips.
Sink your Teeth into Sweet Potatoes:
One medium sweet potato contains 694 mg of potassium, or about 19 percent of the daily recommend amount (3500 mg). Research suggests that diets rich in potassium can help lower blood pressure, an important predictor of heart health. Other good sources of potassium include white potatoes, bananas, yogurt, and leafy greens like spinach and kale.
Track Your Fitness/Movement:
Moving more, ideally getting 30 minutes a day of a heart pumping activity, can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease. And studies show that when you regularly use a daily fitness tracker, like a pedometer, fitness app, fitbit, Apple watch, etc., you’re more likely to move up to a mile more a day. Fitness trackers provide motivation and can open your eyes to just how much movement you are, or aren’t, getting.
Nuts and seeds contain healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that can help keep arteries clear. Walnuts are particularly heart healthy due to their omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help fight chronic inflammation and improve heart health.
Exercise Your Kitchen:
Cooking more meals at home, even simple ones, means you’ll be able to keep your sodium intake in check more easily. Processed foods and dining out are two of the top reasons most Americans are getting too much sodium these days. The American Heart Association, and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend aiming for 2300 mg of sodium or less per day.
Fish, especially oily fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna, contains specific types of omega 3 fatty fatty acids that are important for good heart health. Fresh, frozen, or canned fish are all great options for meeting the recommended goal of eating 8-12 ounces (2-3 servings) of fish per week.
Add Extra Veggies:
Most Americans fall very short on veggie intake. Adding more vegetables and fruits to your day means you’ll be getting heart protective plants sterols and other important compounds to help keep your arteries clear and heart healthy. Aim for at least 2 cups of vegetables or more per day. An easy way to do this is to focus on making 1/2 your plate veggies at lunch and dinner.