February is heart month! Yes, I know February is almost to an end, but a healthy heart should be promoted all year, not just for one month. Did you know that 1 of every 4 deaths are caused by heart disease? Small changes in your diet and lifestyle can have a HUGE impact and help prevent heart disease. Simple things like replacing salt with seasonings on your food and having 20 minutes of physical activity per day can help your heart stay healthy.
Cutting salt is one of the easiest things. You don’t even have to exercise for this change. Technically you have to do even less than you have to do now since you no longer have to reach for the salt shaker at dinner. Yesterday, Runner’s World posted this article providing 6 Super foods that can protect your heart. In summary (ok…mostly word for word… I wanted to get my facts right!):
SPRING SALAD MIX
These delicate salad greens are rich in phytonutrients and the B vitamins folate and B6. Together, these nutrients help protect blood vessels from damage that leads to clogged arteries.
Not a salad fan? Stuff greens into sandwiches and wraps or stir a handful into soup and allow them to wilt.
Soy contains compounds called isoflavones that studies show help lower blood cholesterol. Additionally, people who regularly eat soy have a lower risk for heart disease.
Put it in what you already eat: Use soy milk in your morning cereal, blend into fruit smoothies, and substitute it in recipes calling for regular milk.
Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and the like contain heart-healthy fats that won’t elevate circulating cholesterol levels. Nuts are also rich in an array of phytonutrients that help lessen the inflammatory response in arteries that may lead to the progression of heart disease.
Eat it Aside from eating nuts as a snack, they add delicious crunch to salads and yogurt (including frozen yogurt!). BONUS: Throw them on your spring salad mix.
From canned tuna to fresh salmon, seafood contains essential omega-3 fats. These fats help moderate the inflammatory response that occurs inside arteries, which is one of the reasons why eating fish twice a week has been shown to lower heart disease risk.
Eat it Canned salmon is an easy way to boost the protein and healthy fats in any meal. Add it on top of a salad or stir it into a soup for a quick “chowder.” SUPER BONUS: Eat with your spring mix salad with nuts.
The rich red color of this fruit (and juice) provides protection to your heart by lowering the likelihood that circulating cholesterol will clog arteries. One study showed that drinking pomegranate juice daily improved blood flow in heart disease patients.
Drink it Mix with sparkling water as a refreshing, re-hydrating drink after a run. This of it as a heart cocktail.
This super cereal is rich in soluble fiber that helps block cholesterol absorption. Studies show that simply eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can significantly bring down cholesterol levels.
Eat it Oatmeal makes a great recovery meal any time of day—add savory flavors, like herbs, vegetable broth, and a sprinkle of nuts or Parmesan to tailor it for lunch or even a quick dinner. Or try adding a scoop of protein powder and Greek yogurt, along with a piece of fruit to round it out. HELLOOOOO OVERNIGHT OATS I LOVE YOU.
The best part about this list? For me, I eat half these things daily. However, if you are a picky eater, you can hide almost all these items in other foods. It’s like magic. Be a wizard.