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Top 10 Heart-Healthy Nutrition Tips

Katie Mazzia

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide for men and women. Improving what you eat is just one of several lifestyle factors that can reduce your risk. The American Heart Association (AHA) reports the Mediterranean Diet is often close to AHA dietary recommendations, except it is higher in monounsaturated fat intake, thus calories may be higher.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet is another eating plan that has shown to reduce blood pressure. Alternatively, there are other vegetarian based diets such as "The Ornish Diet" or "Forks Over Knives." Remember: dietary patterns are more important than one single food or the croissant you ate yesterday. To start, aim for more daily servings of non-starchy vegetables (most people don't get enough), less animal protein and more beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh or edamame.
1. Eat two servings of fatty fish per week: Barramundi (Australian) or wild-caught sardines, salmon, tuna.
2. Use olive oil for salad dressing, low heat sauté or canola or peanut oil for high heat. 
3. Avoid  "hydrogenated oils" and select foods with just plain added oil in the ingredient list.
4. Increase soluble fiber: oats are a good start, although lentils and beans pack a bigger punch plus add more fiber and protein. 
5. Nuts: serving= ¼ cup or 2T nut butter (peanut or almond), choose unsalted and limit portion size to once a day. 
6. Fruit: 2 cups or 2 pieces + vegetables: 3-6 cups a day. Focus on higher fiber fruits and non-starchy vegetables.
7. Watch "added sugars." Limit to 28 grams a day for a female and 40 grams a day for a male (ex. 20 oz. soda = ~ 67 gm added sugar, 1 Nature Valley Oats and Honey bar = 11 gm).  
8. Limit red meat: beef, pork, lamb, bison, wild game, pork to 9 oz. or less per week (3 oz. = deck of cards). 
9. Limit processed red meat: hot dogs, bacon, sausage and avoid nitrites/nitrates.
10. Maintain a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI). Talk to your doctor first before starting a new exercise routine. 
Take Note: The AHA recommends limiting saturated fat to 13 gm per day for a 2,000 calorie diet. Read the Nutrition Facts Food Label and portion size to guide you.