February marks American Heart Month, and it’s a great time to consider small changes that can make a big difference! One effective way to help prevent heart disease is through diet. Rebecca Lewis, in-house RD at HelloFresh, the leading meal kit delivery brand globally, shares her picks for heart-healthy eats and recipes featuring ingredients that promote cardiovascular wellness. Rebecca says, “The simplest way to jumpstart a heart-healthy diet is by increasing fiber intake and limiting consumption of sodium, saturated and trans fats. The best way to take control of what you’re eating is by cooking your own food at home, which is where HelloFresh steps in to help!”
Rebecca’s Top 3 Heart-Healthy Diet Tips
“Fiber is beneficial to heart health because it slows down the absorption of food in our stomachs, which prevents spikes in blood sugar, and helps keep us full for longer. The foods with the most fiber also contain nutrients that play a vital role in regulating blood pressure.”
- Swap out refined and overly processed grains for whole grains. Remember if the first ingredient isn’t “whole grain,” then isn’t one!
- Whole grains include brown rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, faro, wheatberries, whole wheat breads and whole wheat pastas.
- Use the 10:1 rule – for every 10 grams of carbs, make sure there is 1 gram of fiber.
- Keep washed and cut fruit in the fridge so that it’s easy to quickly grab when a craving strikes.
- Give fruit the main stage on your counter so you see it often and remember to eat it.
- When plating your dinner, make half your plate fruits and veggies.
Limit Saturated & Trans Fats
“Limiting these unhealthy fats is important in reducing blood cholesterol and lowering your risk of coronary artery disease. This is because when your blood cholesterol is high, it can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries – this, in turn, can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.”
- Choose monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
- Choose polyunsaturated fats like fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
- Select leaner meats like bison and chicken.
- Select reduced fat dairy: low-fat milk, low-fat cheese (but watch out—often, when the fat is pulled out, sugar and sodium are added in).
- Still choose healthier fats in moderation!
“Over-consumption of sodium increases blood pressure, which, in turn, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
- Cook at home more to control any added salt.
- Select fresh foods over those that come in a can, bag or box.
Try these heart healthy HelloFresh recipes!
They are high in fiber, full of veggies, low in fat and also low in sodium. They bust the myth that healthy eating can, in fact, equal delicious!
“Beans are low in fat and also have a very high antioxidant content. They are an excellent source of vegetarian protein and fiber – two nutrients that help you stay full and satisfied (a bonus when watching your weight). The protein and fiber in beans also stabilizes the rise in blood sugar that occurs after eating, which can also help stabilize mood. As a meat substitute, beans are a rich source of iron, magnesium and potassium – nutrients that work together to lower blood pressure, maintain healthy cholesterol, and keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.”
“New dietary recommendations are for 8 ounces of fish per week, because they are a lean source of protein and so much lower in saturated fats – both aspects to a heart healthy diet. Additionally, the red bell pepper in this dish is a rich source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C (more so than in one orange!), plus other phytochemicals like beta-carotene, which provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.”
“In addition to being a leaner yet still incredibly flavorful meat, this pork chop is complemented with ripe red tomatoes. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene, which, together with the high content of Vitamin A & C, helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Tomatoes have also been shown to lower cholesterol. Bonus: they keep our skin looking healthy as well.”
This article originally appeared on HelloFresh and is being used with permission.