Anyone who is interested in heart and circulatory health, whether or not you have a direct diagnosis or medical reason to pay particular attention, will benefit from learning about nutrition. March is National Nutrition Month, a great time to learn more – from an appointment with a registered dietician to review your own specific nutrition goals, or from browsing articles/ resources. Here are some options to check out –
A healthy diet and good nutrition play an integral role in heart and circulatory wellness. The American College of Cardiology’s CardioSmart website Eat Better has a lot of information on eating habits, family eating, reading labels, goals for diet (see managing hypertension). The American Heart Association Nutrition Center covers topics such as sodium’s impact on cardiovascular health and how we eat it (The Salty Six: Bread & rolls, Cold Cuts/meats, Pizza, Poultry, Soup, Sandwiches). Who thought Bread & Rolls and not Pizza were #1 for the most sodium we eat?
Being heart healthy includes maintaining a healthy weight; not always straightforward because of how work, life, & daily schedules interact with our available food which often comes high calorie, in large portions. Counting calories plays a role in considering weight and fitness. Dr. Sherry Pagato, a psychologist, writes about weight in her article, Do I Really Need to Count Calories to Lose Weight? She relates tracking calories to tracking spending (money) and gives a great example of the anxiety that can make both a challenge (here it is a conversation with a friend having financial difficulty). Attention to detail pays off for both finances and nutrition.
Counting vegetables to be sure you are eating the recommended servings will payoff with heart and circulatory health. Fruits and Vegetables, Are You Getting Enough? gives great examples for knowing portions, and ways to supplement the diet with more fruits/veggies. Examples include building a meal around a vegetable as main focus (rather than meat), adding berries to salads, even adding leafy greens to smoothies. Bottom line, counting servings of fruits & veg gives an objective assessment of your diet, much like tracking pedometer steps/activity.
Choose real food, try to eat local, keep it simple; track what you eat, and learn as much as you can about recommendations for healthy eating. Take your own dietary inventory for Nutrition Month; do you eat ice cream? Butter? Sweets? How many vegetables? Are you eating out? Are you at your goal weight? What healthy additions can you make?
The impact of what we eat – from cholesterol and trans fats, to sugar – on heart health is significant. Cholesterol, trans fats, and sugar contribute to atherosclerosis/hardening of the arteries as well as lead to obesity which further compromises heart and circulatory wellness.
We can choose to eat for heart and circulatory health. For those in central Ohio, check out the McConnell Heart Health Center’s Nutrition Month seminar 10 Ways to Improve Your Diet Now on March 18th.