Physical activity is an important part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. When you move your body, your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to fuel active muscles. This helps increase your heart’s strength and endurance. A stronger and fitter heart is more efficient and healthy, which can reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke. The slang term “cardio” get’s its name from cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic physical activity. Let’s explore the connection between physical activity and cardiovascular health. Continue reading
This post was written by VT Dietetic students Amanda Carter, Erica L Hess, Kim Colicchio, and Kelly Richards.
Being a mother is never an easy feat! Every mother wants their child to be strong and healthy. One way to ensure your child grows up healthy is to prepare your meals at home with oils instead of solid fats, like butter and margarine.
Oils are an essential part of our diet. Canola oil is one of the best fats to use for cooking! Using canola oil in place of butter or margarine can add heart-healthy, monounsaturated fats to your diet. It also has a good amount of Omega-3 fats. Lastly, canola oil is usually cheaper than other oils, so it can be a great alternative if you are on a tight budget!
It’s easy to incorporate canola oil into your diet. Oils are a great alternative to solid fats and can help your family become heart healthy! If you are going to use butter, reach for the oil instead. Canola oil has a neutral flavor and is great to cook with. You can also use oil to make your own salad dressings! Homemade salad dressing is simple to make and will help save money.
These MyPlate, MyWins tips from VT Dietetic students will help you to make these changes more easily!
Erica: “I love to use canola oil to make my own salad dressings. Not only does it taste great, but it is a much cheaper option than buying name brand dressings from the store. “
Kelly: “I used to make my vegetable stir fry with butter, but now I use canola oil. The stir fry still tastes great and it provides me with healthier fats!”
Amanda: “I choose to use canola oil because it is a cheaper option than other healthy oils, but does not sacrifice the flavor. “
Kim: “I started substituting canola oil for (melted) butter or margarine when I bake because it provides the same great taste with less of the guilt.”
What changes have your family made to live more heart healthy?
This post was written by VT Dietetic students Samantha Banks, Andrea Delorito, Sarah Fortunato, Erica Hess, and Caitlin Pessig.
Eating a diet high in saturated fat can impact your heart health. A few health benefits of eating less saturated fat are:
- Lower cholesterol
- Lower risk for heart disease
- Healthier heart
It is easy to make simple shifts in your normal meals to lower the amount of saturated fat while keeping food delicious.
When Cooking: Try using canola oil or olive oil instead of butter. To keep the food tasty, experiment with different spices and herbs.
When Making Meat/Fish: Instead of frying food, try to bake, roast or grill it. These are all great methods that will decrease the amount of saturated fat while adding flavor.
For Breakfast and Snack Ideas: Spread peanut butter or avocado on toast instead of butter. Reach for different types of nuts as a pick me up like almonds or cashews.
When Eating Dairy: Drink low-fat milk with your meal or eat low-fat yogurt mixed with fruit and nuts.
For more information on lowering the saturated fat, read about the best fats for cooking. Other strategies from VT Dietetic Students:
Caitlin’s Strategy: One of my favorite snacks is popcorn, but the butter on it can make it higher in saturated fat. Instead of adding butter, I buy unbuttered popcorn and experiment with seasonings to make it flavorful but also low in saturated fat. Try cinnamon for sweet or Italian seasoning for savory!
Andrea’s Strategy: I often crave sweets, but desserts like scones and apple pie are made with a lot of butter. To curb my sweet tooth, I have a cup of greek yogurt topped with crushed graham crackers, apples, cinnamon, and a touch of honey.
Sarah’s Strategy: As an easy weeknight dinner, I love making tacos but the ground beef can be high in saturated fat. I swap out the beef for pulled chicken breast and pair it with lettuce, avocado, beans and tomato for healthy and delicious meal.
Erica’s Strategy: Sometimes I find myself craving fried foods. One of my favorite ways around this is to slice up some potatoes and bake them in the oven, instead of traditional french fries! I also like to use a variety of spices. Italian seasoning is always my go to!
Sammy’s Strategy: I’m usually on the go, because of this I find it hard to make a quick and healthy meal. I started baking chicken and sweet potatoes on Sunday night and portion them into storage containers as meal preparation. That way throughout the week I have a healthy lunch I can grab. It also gives me energy and is low in saturated fats. Baking these meats avoids adding unnecessary fat which could happen from deep frying or pan frying.
What are other ways that your family has limited saturated fat in your favorite meals?
Valentines Day isn’t the only holiday in February. It’s also American Heart Month, which helps raise awareness of heart disease and prevention. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, we should all be interested in healthy lifestyle choices we can make to protect our hearts. Thankfully, showing your heart some love means eating smart, moving more, and slimming down, the same lifestyle choices that help to protect against diabetes and breast cancer.
Eat Heart Smart
What does a Heart-Healthy diet look like? MyPlate! Nourish your heart with a balanced diet that features plenty of:
- Whole Grains
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Lean Proteins (especially plant-based proteins)
- Low-Fat Dairy
- Healthy Fats (especially nuts and seeds)
The DASH Diet in particular has been shown to be especially good for your heart. The DASH Diet is very similar to MyPlate’s recommendations with an even greater emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, nuts, and seeds, while limiting sodium, sweets, and animal protein foods.
Move More to Get Your Heart Pumping
Being active helps keep your heart in shape. It’s called cardio for a reason! Any amount of activity is better than none, but getting 30 minutes a day is recommended for good health. If you’re just starting out with moving more, build up slowly until you hit the goal. If you are a regular exerciser, getting up to 90 minutes a day has even more health benefits.
In addition to structured exercise, sitting less throughout the day is helpful for keeping your heart healthy, too. Think of ways to take quick activity breaks, like a walk around the office, a few quick squats, or some light stretching, for every hour or two of sitting. Find ways to walk more when running errands, like parking further away or taking the stairs. All of these small activities add up to a big benefit to our health.
Slim Down to Give Your Heart a Break
Carrying around extra weight is hard on your heart, making it work harder than it should to pump blood around the body. Being at a healthy weight is best, but losing even 5-7% of your bodyweight (just 9-12 pounds for a 175 pound person) is good for your heart health.
If you’re making progress in eating smart and moving more, you’ll likely be slimming down, too. If not, try keeping a food diary and using MyPlate’s Supertracker to see where your diet and physical activity could use a bit more improving.
This Valentines Day, be kind to your heart. Dark chocolate is a great option for a sweet treat that fits into a balanced diet. Plan an active date with your sweetheart, like a winter hike or trip to the roller rink for an old-school couples skate. Get creative to find ways to live heart healthy, this month and throughout the year.
Written by Elaine Meredith
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014
A breakfast for those with hypertension.
Why do you eat what you eat? Maybe because the food you eat now is what you grew up with. Possibly it’s because one restaurant is cheaper than another. Maybe it’s because it’s just plain tasty! Taste has a huge influence on food selection. Why eat a food that you don’t think will make your taste buds happy? Many people, including my father, don’t try healthier options, because they don’t think it will taste good.
My dad’s favorite breakfast meal is pancakes with a side of bacon and fried potatoes. Unfortunately, eating habits like this, have led to my dad’s high blood pressure. The recommended diet for people with hypertension (high blood pressure) is full of fiber and potassium and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. For many people, including my dad, this diet sounds like a foreign language and it’s hard to translate into what foods to pick up at the grocery store. For others these recommendations may not sound appetizing. So I listed substitutes for his favorite grocery items and provided him with a healthy but tasty breakfast alternative that will still satisfy his sweet tooth!
Whole grain bagel thin + spinach + egg + turkey slice + Muenster cheese +yogurt + grapes + bananas + orange = One healthy delicious breakfast!
What healthy foods are you fearful of trying? Make that healthy substitute, because healthy can always be tasty. Fear no fruits or veggies! The grocery store is your oyster!
How to prevent high blood pressure. (2013, May 09). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/what_you_can_do.htm