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Showing Our Hearts Some Love: Hearty Heart Nutrition & Lifestyle Tips

By YWCA Minneapolis Registered Dietitans
February 11, 2021
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February 11, 2021

February is American Heart Month, which means it is a good time to put a little more emphasis on protecting this important organ. According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is still one of the leading causes of death for people in the United States. Some of the most common risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating patterns. Although this can sound intimidating, the benefit is that many of these things can be prevented and treated with lifestyle changes.

The Importance of Physical Activity

With the fitness centers open and YWCA Minneapolis following the guidelines for keeping members safe and healthy, increasing physical activity is becoming easier again. For those still not comfortable with visiting the gym in person, there are also many recorded and live virtual workout classes offered.

nutritious foods like blueberries, almonds, olives and avocado shaped into a heart

Daily Nutrition to Keep Your Heart Healthy

However, exercise alone will not be enough to protect your heart from potential disease and damage progression. How you nourish your body plays a huge role in not just protecting your heart, but also improving your overall health and well-being. Below is a list of simple modifications that you can make to your daily nutrition that will help you work toward a more heart-healthy diet. Try not to overwhelm yourself with taking on too many changes at one time; start by focusing on 2-3 modifications and when those become routine, then start on the next couple.

  • Amp up the produce: Including more fruits and vegetables daily will help introduce nutrients that naturally help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Watch the sodium: A diet too high in sodium can contribute to high blood pressure issues.
  • Cook at home: Processed foods from fast food and other restaurants can be loaded in sodium and even harmful chemicals. Many of these foods also lack essential nutrients that the body needs to protect itself.
  • Slow down on the sugar: Excessive intake of processed sugars can cause inflammation as well as lead to the development of diabetes.
  • Push the water: Many people do not drink enough water and drinking more water can help control blood pressure and promote better health.
  • Include healthy fats: Focusing fat intake on unsaturated fats can help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as help the body better control inflammation. Some healthy fat sources are avocados, fatty fish, nuts/seeds and certain oils (ex: avocado, olive, grapeseed, sunflower, etc.).
  • Balance your plate: Balancing meals with a mixture of different food groups can help keep portions in check while making sure the body is better able to process the different foods more efficiently.
  • Switch to whole grains: Making the switch from processed carbohydrates to whole grains will increase fiber and other nutrient intakes that help the body improve health and reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol.

Begin your path toward better health, higher energy and improved quality of life with nutrition coaching! Meet with our registered dietitians virtually to discuss your nutrition goals, build a custom plan and learn how to make choices that lead to long-term success.

Learn about Nutrition Coaching