We’ve talked about the basics of smart choices for heart health before. In a nutshell, Eat Smart in line with MyPlate, Move More to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, and maintain a healthy weight. But knowing what to do is the easy part. Actually making those changes are where a lot of people struggle. So in line with the idea of MyPlate, MyWins, let’s talk about small shifts you can make for heart health.
Limit Added Sugar to less than 10% of calories.
This comes out to about less than 12 teaspoons a day for a person eating a 2,000 calorie diet. The biggest source of added sugar in the American diet is sugar-sweetened beverages – soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, coffee
milkshakes drinks, etc.
Limit Saturated Fat to less than 10% of calories and avoid Trans Fat.
Most of our saturated fat comes from animal products – meat and dairy, especially cheese.
- Shift to include more plant-based proteins and seafood in your meals and snacks in place of fattier cuts of meat.
- Shift to better cooking fats made of oils instead of butter, lard, or shortening.
- Shift to low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk instead of 2% or whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream for drinking or baking.
Limit Sodium to less than 2300 mg per day.
Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods, not the salt shaker. Check out this list of the Salty Six of the biggest sources of sodium in our diets and be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label when grocery shopping.
- Shift to no-salt-added and unseasoned versions of canned or frozen vegetables.
- Shift to fresh [lean] meat and poultry instead of processed hot dogs, lunch meat or sausages.
- Shift to cooking from scratch more often instead of packaged foods like flavored rice, instant noodles, or ready made pasta.
- Shift to adding flavor with herbs, spices, lemons, vinegar and other salt-free seasonings.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity Physical Activity.
This works out to about 30 minutes of activity 5 or more days a week. And remember, higher intensity activity counts double, so you’ll get as much benefit in half the time.
- Shift to shorter sessions throughout the day instead of feeling like you can’t squeeze 30 minutes into of your busy day.
- Shift to using our free Move More, Virginia! videos instead of feeling like you need to go to the gym.
- Shift to making fitness a family activity.
Add 2 sessions of muscle-strengthening activities each week.
Muscle-strengthening activities can help maintain muscle mass as you age and prevent weak bones. Be sure to work all your major muscle groups.
Add more Lifestyle Physical Activity to your days.
It’s not enough to exercise 150 minutes a week and sit on your bum the remaining 9,930 minutes of the week. Science is learning that too much sitting is bad for us, whether we exercise regularly or not. That’s where lifestyle physical activity comes in.
- Shift to finding ways to move more throughout the day instead of sitting.
- Shift to finding active hobbies for your family to enjoy instead of watching TV.
- Shift to active transportation as much as possible, depending on your neighborhood.
- Shift to stretch breaks instead of coffee breaks at work.
What are shifts you’ve made in your life to eat smart or more more?