The expression “Eat your heart out” is usually meant to imply that someone is better, or has it better, than someone else. It often signifies envy or longing. However, in honor of American Heart Month, we are using it here with a much nicer, more positive meaning – we want you to eat heart-healthfully for a strong and healthy heart.
It seems that every week there is a new “super food” list touting everything from chocolate to Chia seeds. So how are you supposed to develop long-term heart-healthy eating habits? Read on for some helpful real-life tips from author and celebrity dietician Keri Glassman, MS, RD:
Go Nuts! Especially almonds – they have the “right” kind of fat and have been proven to protect against heart disease – just watch your portions and stick to 10 almonds at a time. The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that women who ate more than five ounces of nuts each week lowered their risk of heart disease by 35% compared to women who didn’t eat nuts.
Go Fresh! Fresh foods have nowhere near the same sodium levels as prepared foods. Try to shop the “edges” of the grocery store for more fresh foods and stay away from prepared items when you can. And beware of buying the “lower sodium” versions, they have 25% less sodium than the original, but can still have high sodium levels.
Go Exotic! You can load up on powerful antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals by including exotic fruits like Guava, Mangosteen, and Acai berries in your diet. Acai berries are among the most nutritious foods of the Amazon, rich in B vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Acai berries also contain oleic acid (omega-9), a beneficial fatty acid (often mistakenly referred to as essential).
Go Fish! Don’t get rid of fats altogether; but replace the “bad” fats with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, like the ones in nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s can reduce your “bad” cholesterol and increase your “good” cholesterol. Good sources of omega 3s are fresh water fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week.
Go Gorgeous! Recent research has shown that resveratrol has been identified as an activator of an enzyme that is responsible for the extension of lifespan in many species when they’re placed on calorie-restricted diets. This new research may explain why grapes (and foods made from grapes) have potent anti-inflammatory properties and protection from oxidative stress damage. So, we know that grapes help protect our hearts – but it turns out they may help us look better, as well!