7 Heart Healthy Habits

Broaden Your Carbohydrate Repertoire

If your carbohydrate intake comes primarily from whole grain breads, cereals and pasta, you are moving in the right direction by choosing 100 percent whole grain foods, but you are still lacking the fiber and antioxidants you would get from a more varied diet. Starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and beans are generally lacking in our diets. Try something new this week, so that you can work toward the goal of eating a flour-based grain (cereal, bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) only once a day. Here are some ideas for simple sides to swap out pasta and bread.

  • Starchy veggies: Roasted sweet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes, mashed acorn squash or a handful of corn tossed onto a salad
  • Intact whole grains: Quinoa cooked in part water and part coconut milk, brown rice tossed with diced veggies and an olive oil vinaigrette, or homemade oatmeal packets made ahead for a quick breakfast
  • Beans and lentils: Hummus, lentil soup, black beans scrambled in eggs, lentil or bean salad mixed with diced veggies and olive oil vinaigrette

Prioritize Your Proteins

Choose fish most often, skinless poultry often and red meat least often. Aim for at least one or two palm-sized servings of fish each week. Skinless poultry and eggs are also great options for getting protein. Egg yolks have developed an exaggerated bad reputation due to their cholesterol content. Choose omega-3 whole eggs and mix in a few egg whites with one whole egg for a heart-healthy high protein breakfast. Limit red meat, which includes beef, lamb and pork, to one palm-sized serving or less per week. Red meat carries the highest risk of heart disease, cancer and overall mortality compared to other types of protein.

Take an Omega-3 Supplement

Salmon, sardines and herring are examples of oily fish that provide a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Most Americans are deficient in these essential omega-3 fatty acids, which increases the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and stroke.  If you aren't eating oily fish at least once a week, consider a molecularly distilled omega-3 fish oil supplement. Molecular distillation is a process that removes mercury and other toxins in the supplement.

Assess Your Personality

Do any of these personality traits describe you? Each of these factors is associated with heart disease—and the strongest risk of heart attack is found in people with a clustering of these characteristics. Depressed. Anxious. Hostile. Angry. Impatient. Competitive. Uptight.  The links between heart disease and certain personality traits are clear and teach us that we must learn how to cope with emotions and stress. Channel your energy into something positive. Learning how to effectively and healthfully cope with life allows you to make better food and exercise choices.

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Hana Abdulaziz Feeney, MS, RD, CSSD is a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and virtual nutrition coach who specializes in weight management, diabetes, celiac disease, food allergies, eco-friendly eating and sports nutrition. Visit her website for more great ideas at www.nourishingresults.com. Contact her at 520-429-3418 or nutritionist_hana@msn.com to learn more about her private practice and how she can inspire, educate and motivate you to change your life, one bite at a time.

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