Since February is heart health month, I thought it would be a great time to talk about how to prevent heart disease! Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, so it is important to incorporate nutritional changes to help prevent heart disease from hitting too close to home.
How can we do our part to prevent heart disease? Well, we can start by decreasing inflammation in our body.
Here are 5 tips for better heart health:
1. Incorporate omega 3 fatty acids into our diet
Omega 3 fatty acids include EPA, DHA, and ALA. EPA and DHA are animal sourced omega 3 fatty acids and ALA is a plant sourced omega 3. You might ask what do omega 3 fatty acids actually do. The real question is what don’t omega 3 fatty acids do. They are so important for optimal health! Omega 3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation, decrease triglycerides, improve mood, and improve joint health. There is even some data that supports their potential to help burn fat!
Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, flax seeds, and walnuts. Decreasing inflammation is the key for prevention, so go ahead and add cold water salmon into your diet a couple of days per week!
2. Increase fruit and vegetable intake
Most individuals do not consume enough fruits and vegetables. As we are trying to decrease inflammation, fruit and vegetables provide our bodies the vitamins and minerals we need to combat inflammation. I challenge you to consume 3 different colors of fruits and vegetables every time you have a meal. Every color of fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients that our bodies need for nourishment. We need a variety of vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Go ahead and fill that plate with red, yellow, orange, green, purple, and white vegetables!
3. Start replacing refined carbohydrates
When we talk about decreasing inflammation, it is important to regulate blood sugar. Number 3 and 4 impact blood sugar regulation. The more we can regulate blood sugar, the more we can manage inflammation.
Bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and desserts have become commonplace in the American diet. It is not that these foods are good versus bad foods, but we might be prone to eat large amounts of these foods which are all broken down into sugar. If we switch to foods that contain more whole grains and fiber, they are going to fill us up more effectively and not spike blood sugar as much.
4. Limit added sugar
Sugar is everything from fruit to dairy to cake to bread. Unfortunately, there is no distinction between natural and added sugar on a food label. A good rule of thumb is fruit and plain dairy usually contain natural sugars. Most other foods and beverages contain added sugar. We don’t need added sugar in our diets. It is not to say we won’t ever have it, but it is not providing health benefits. The more we can decrease added sugar, the more we can decrease inflammation.
5. Add stress management activities
We all have stress in our lives. There is good stress like exercise. There are also other kinds of stress whether it physiological stress, chemical and environment stress, emotional stress, or physical stress. Sometimes traffic may stress one person out while not being able to balance family and work demands might stress someone else out. Stress impacts us all differently, but we need to be able to manage it so it does not negatively affect our health.
It is important to incorporate stress management activities like meditation, yoga, massage, deep breathing exercises, stretching, reading a book, or going for a walk. We all have different stressors so find a stress management activity that works for you!
I hope you enjoyed these 5 tips to prevent heart disease! Have a great week!