Saturday, January 2, 2010

Heart Health

I had a conversation with my sister that made me start thinking seriously about heart health and what to eat to promote a healthy heart. My grandma and grandpa on one side, and my grandpa on the other side all had heart surgery for blocked arteries and heart problems. My husband’s family has so many different heart issues, whether it be for defects or other problems. Knowing that there are heart problems on both sides of our families is a huge wake up call to me. What can I do to promote a healthy heart? I decided to do some research.

Mayo Clinic has come up with a List of 7 steps to promote a healthy heart diet. I have listed these seven steps along with steps that I can take to incorporate them into my life, some the Mayo Clinic Staff mentioned in the article, and some that I came up with myself.

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol

What I can do:

* Use Olive Oil when cooking. This is something that I already do, but something that I can continue.

* Watch prepackaged foods and avoid saturated fats. Watch out for hydrogenated oils in the ingredients.

* Get healthy fats from nuts and other natural foods.

* Continue using Smart Balance margarine. Look for margarine that does not have saturated fats, to replace butter with, while baking.

2. Choose Low Fat Protein Sources

What I can do:

* Eat more fish.

* Eat more legumes.

* Eat less red meat. While this would be a fantastic idea, we also get a freezer full of red meat every year from the in-law’s. It would not be practical to eliminate red meat, but it would be a great idea to find ways to make eat red meat healthier. I drain the fat and trim the fat when cooking red meat. It may be possible to substitute beans for half of the meat, or at least a portion of the meat in recipes. This would add veggies and fiber. Any ideas on this one? Or is there no way to avoid the unhealthy sides of red meat?

*Pay attention to the nutrition labels- go for the low fat options.

3. Eat More Vegetables and Fruits

What I can do:

* Get at least 5 a day in, sure wouldn’t hurt to get more! I have a problem with snacking, why not replace those unhealthy snacks with fruits and veggies?

4. Select Whole Grains

What I can do:

* Lately, I have been selecting the cheapest bread to try to save money. By choosing breads with whole grains, I could save much more money in the long run by avoiding medical complications. Once again, read the labels!

* Always buy whole wheat pastas and brown rice.

* Pay attention to the fiber content when selecting cereals. What is the cereal made from? Mayo Clinic recommends 5 grams of fiber or more.

* Buy whole wheat flour to bake with. Even if I substitute half of the what the recipe calls for with whole wheat flour, this still makes it healthier for the heart.

* Continue eating oatmeal for breakfast. I always eat the oatmeal from the can, not the packets. The packets are almost always filled with sugars.

5. Reduce Salt in Your Food

What I can do:

* Do not add salt while cooking. This is one thing that I have been faithful in since starting this journey to a healthy lifestyle. I have high blood pressure and I am on meds for it. I would LOVE to be off of those meds someday. Come on, I’m 24 years old. I shouldn’t be on blood pressure meds.

* Instead of buying canned soups, which come in so handy for work, make my own low-sodium soups and freeze them. Not only will they be healthier, they’ll taste better too!

* Whenever possible, buy the low sodium version.

* Look for salt substitutes.

6. Practice moderation

What I can do:

* I feel like this one is so important. I have the clean your plate syndrome. I have realized that using smaller plates really helps this. I have cute seasonal plates that are much smaller, but I should try using smaller plates year round.

* Continue to measure and count portion sizes. My husband and I have both learned a lot from doing this. Not only does it make for a healthier diet, but you save money by making foods last a lot longer!

7. Plan Ahead: Creating Daily Menus

What I can do:

* To help my husband lose 24 lbs, I created daily menus for him, knowing that I couldn’t be there to count his points for him and knowing he wouldn’t take the time to do it. He lost this weight in 2 months. It obviously works. He’s kept it off, by the way!

* This is about taking the previous 6 steps and putting them into action.

Reading this article and writing my own plan to incorporate these healthy habits into my own life has been most helpful. I encourage you to take a look at the article referenced above. There is so much valuable information out there and information is the key to success. This year, I want to focus on having a healthy heart!


  1. Wow, those are some really good tips. Thanks for sharing those! I could easily start doing better on all of them.

    Have a super day!

  2. Thanks for the tips, this article made me feel great about the changes we've made in the last year. I don't buy anything without reading the label, and I've grown to like whole grain better than the white versions of everything. I too need to eat veggies as snacks, I'll definitely have some today as I have some left from a party.

  3. I so want to read this but my eye is really sore tonight and running will come back tomorrow after a good nights sleep my eye will feel so much better, wanted to let u know i visited.



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