Protect Your Heart!
Sarah Warykas, Dietetic Intern
The human heart has a shape similar to that of an upside-down pear and is on average, the size of one fist. The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body and delivering oxygen and nutrients to surrounding tissues via the bloodstream. At its maximum, the heart beats around 100,000 times a day to help deliver both oxygen and nutrients to various organs throughout the body. In order to maintain a healthy heart, a person’s diet, physical activity level and lifestyle must be considered. Here are a few heart healthy tips that will keep your heart in tip top shape!
- Consume a balanced diet that consists of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and protein (i.e., meat, beans, lentils, eggs and oats). By consuming a balanced diet, this ensures that you are providing your body with a variety of vitamins and nutrients that are needed to support heart health
- Lean protein is a preferred option as compared to higher fat-containing options such as fried chicken and skin-on meats. Some lean protein sources include lean beef or pork that are 85% to 95% lean which contain 5% to 15% fat, as well as plant-based proteins that include tofu, lentils and chickpeas
- The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends using 1% or skim milk as lower fat dairy options. These lower fat dairy options are recommended when compared to whole milk-based products (i.e., yogurt, ice cream)
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is recommended that adults have at least 30 min/day of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (briskly walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming and hiking)
- Additionally, it is recommended to decrease consumption of high-fat bakery products (doughnuts, biscuits), instant cooking foods (mashed potatoes), fatty meats and foods with added salt (potato chips). These foods can increase your blood pressure which could increase the force of blood moving throughout the blood vessels
- Lastly, rolled oats are heart healthy as they contain soluble fiber which helps decrease cholesterol within the bloodstream. Soluble fiber is water soluble and traps bile salts which are precursors to cholesterol
The following is a heart-healthy recipe that contains 1% milk or a milk alternative (soy, almond), as well as heart healthy oats that contain soluble fiber. This recipe is quick and easy as it can be made the night before and consumed the following morning!
Heart Healthy Overnight Oats
- 1 jar with lid
- ½ cup rolled oats (half the jar)
- 1 cup milk (Soy, Almond or 1% milk)
- 1 tsp Cinnamon or vanilla extract
- 1 – 2 tsp honey or sweetener
- Combine all ingredients into jar and mix thoroughly
- Let ingredients sit in jar in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before consumption
- Consume 24 hours after prep (the morning after)
- Newman, Tim. “The Heart: Anatomy, Physiology, and Function.” Medical News Today, Med Lexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320565.php.
- Physical Activity and Adults.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 19 June 2015, www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/.
- “Take Fiber to Heart – Fiber Facts.” Fiber Facts, 15 July 2016, fiberfacts.org/take-fiber-heart/.
- “Dairy Products – Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese.” About Heart Attacks, www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/dairy-products-milk-yogurt-and-cheese.
- “Your Heart & Blood Vessels.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17057-your-heart–blood-vessels.