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4 Ways To Show Your Heart Some Love

4 Ways To Show Your Heart Some Love

by Sarah Whitson, BS, RD

Love is in the air this February, and I’m not just talking about all the heart-shaped candy covering the shelves at the stores! Check out some great ways that you can show your heart some love this Valentine’s Day (and every day!).

  1. Eat your fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals that help our bodies work their best. They also contain substances that prevent cardiovascular disease. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, but high in fiber so they keep us full longer and aid in digestion.

    Fresh, frozen, or low-sodium canned vegetables are all good options to add to your meals. Try out some new ways of cooking them to maximize flavor, like roasting some Brussels sprouts in the oven or throwing some peppers and onions in your air fryer!
  2. Focus on fiber! You’ve heard it a thousand times – EAT MORE FIBER! But why should you really be making this a priority in your foods? The main thing fiber is known for is “keeping us regular” and preventing constipation. But it does so much more than that!

    Fiber can keep our blood sugars stable when we eat carbohydrates. It also lowers our bad cholesterol (LDL) and can reduce blood pressure. Going for weight loss? Choose high fiber foods to keep you full longer and prevent over-eating. You can find fiber in fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, legumes, and nuts/seeds.
  3. Move your body! Setting up an exercise routine is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart. Some benefits of regular exercise include: lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, improved lung function and heart muscle strength, and reduced risk of heart attack and heart disease.

    We should aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, with strength training at least two times per week. If that seems overwhelming, start small! Any amount you can do is better than none. The most important part of establishing an exercise routine you can stick with is finding something you ENJOY doing, so try some different things until you find what you like!
  4. Choose healthy fats! You may remember the low-fat diet craze of the 90s, but I am happy to report that those days are over! What we know now is that the TYPE of fat is what matters most. Try to eat more of the “good” unsaturated fats that come from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish. Limit the “bad” saturated and trans fats that you can find in red meat, butter, cheese, and ice cream.

    Coconut oil is also high in saturated fats, so use in moderation. Saturated fats can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL), which puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Some ways to swap out the bad fats for the good fats include ordering a piece of salmon at a restaurant instead of a steak, or using olive oil in your frying pan instead of butter.

    But remember, all fat (whether good or bad) packs twice as many calories as carbohydrates and protein, so consuming high amounts of fats can lead to weight gain if that is something you are concerned about.