This May we are helping the American Heart Association raise money and spread the word about ways to keep you and your loved ones healthy.

Heart Healthy Foods

The right diet is a great way to stay healthy

The heart works non-stop to provide the necessary oxygen and nourishment the body needs. Our “ticker” seems tireless, but we shouldn’t neglect the fact that this vital organ is a muscle itself making it reliant to our lifestyle habits, especially food intake. Shifting to a heart-healthy diet may seem like it requires us to put in a considerable amount of effort and discipline. As one would expect, the first few stages of the process will be challenging, yet we can favorably look forward to satisfying outcomes when sticking to our health goals.

Knowing the Right Amount

When it comes to matters of the heart, the ideal menu is directed towards low-calorie and high dietary fiber foods wherein vegetables and fruits are the best choices to ward off unwanted cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart-related diseases. Before going into details on the kinds of food to include in your daily meals, let’s learn more about the lesser aspect, which is portion sizes. Apart from counting Calories for energy balance, Mayo Clinic emphasizes the importance of amount along with the varieties we put on our plate. Overeating can be the most challenging hurdle to overcome since most Americans are used to foods that are high in sugar and fat which tend to make us eat more.

Americans consume an average 3,600 calories which is more than the USDA recommended 2,400 and 3,000 for women and men respectively. We want to help ourselves with second servings or finishing an overfilled plate, especially when eating out. We can begin with controlling proportions without entirely turning our backs to the foods we love to eat. For starters, go for a small plate and fill it with larger amounts of healthier options, avoiding those sodium-rich and high-calorie preparations evident in processed food for example. Another strategy is to divide the usual three meals into five controlled portions a day to allow the body to adjust and not easily give in to hunger. That being said, a well-balanced plan that involves portion sizes can help in maintaining good body weight and a healthy heart.

Portion controlled plate for heart health

To better understand portions, Heart.org came up with an easy to follow serving size chart comprised of 5 vegetable servings, 4 servings of fruits, 6 servings of grains and 3 servings of dairy per day. Moreover, weekly portions of poultry, meat and eggs, fish and other seafood, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, fats and oils are also included. Here are some food items to add to your shopping list with their corresponding benefits to look ahead.

Oats and Cereals

Indulging to a hearty breakfast despite the daily hustle has more perks than just providing fuel that could last us the entire day. According to a study featured on MedicalNewsToday, eating oats may reduce the risk of a coronary heart disease by lowering concentrations of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) aka the bad cholesterol and total cholesterol yet not affecting levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) aka good cholesterol and triglycerides. In addition, the fiber present in oats and oats-based products are responsible for keeping the blood pressure low is called beta-glucan. The recommended daily fiber intake for middle-aged men and women is 38 grams and 25 grams respectively. Aiding this mechanism by increasing nitric oxide production in the bloodstream are polyphenol molecules known as avenanthramides that serve as antioxidants. It totally makes sense to claim that just by eating oats and obtaining that dietary fiber, we get a natural anti-hypertensive. Be sure to have those three portions first thing in the morning!

On another note, let’s not forget another heart-friendly and also kid-friendly staple, our cereals. Like oats, there are so many options to choose from. Cereals are a good source of protein, nutrients, fiber and energy even when we eat less. In general, if we skip meals, we go hungry and just grab anything within reach to eat, which is junk and ends up to be fat in the body that may again increase our chances of having cardiovascular diseases in the long run.

Dried Fruits

Another food selection also rich in fiber and minerals are dried fruits. Compared to its fresh counterparts, most of the water-soluble vitamins are lost upon drying and the calories are also 5x higher. Nevertheless, dried fruits can also yield the same benefits such as improved digestive health, blood flow, and also risk reduction of diseases. Fitday suggests ½ cup serving of dried apricots contain vitamin A, potassium, vitamin E and copper. Dark colored fruits like cranberries provide us with phytonutrients. Dried mangoes, a crowd favorite, aid in red blood cell production, can be a mood stabilizer, and good stress reliever. Since they are easily packed, this makes it convenient for us for snacking on-the-go anywhere. They are also perfect additions to salads and baked product ingredient.

Dried Cranberries for Heart Health

Honey

Abound with polyphenols, flavonoids, and other antioxidant micronutrients, these complex-sugar is not just the best choice to sweeten your drinks and meals, but is a heart-healthy food from nature. As stated by a cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, the antioxidants present in the raw honey prevents oxidation of the LDL Cholesterol and neutralizes the inflammation-causing free radicals in your blood stream. The result? Lessen the damage to the very delicate lining of your arteries as well as lessen inflammation. It’s is like putting the brakes on building up of plaques in your arteries, a good prevention from heart attack or stroke.

In addition to this sweet news, honey could affect positively the arterial function and blood’s viscosity due to the presence of micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium among others. The smoother the blood flows, the less likely to have high blood pressure and blood clots. But hold on, we cant just grab a honey jar, and gulp up. The heart-healthy daily dose is just a teaspoon a day to keep heart maintenance at bay. And only the “Raw” honey could give you these heart-warming benefits. Take note of these two. Be sure to avoid getting stung by fake honey, so only buy it from the legit, Bulk Nation USA.

Raw Honey added to your diet

Keeping your heart healthy is extremely important!

Keeping a healthy heart is just like keeping a rare diamond of the highest value. And the greatest news, we don’t need to dig a mine to have it. It is by simply choosing the best option from our physical activity, to the thoughts that we have, to the kind of drinks we cool ourselves with and to food that we serve on our plate. So no more excuses, just choose the heart-healthy way.

If you are interested in donating to the American Heart Association, we will be accepting donations during your cart check-out online or in store though the month of May.