Eat your way to a healthy heart with this advice
We asked Cleveland Clinic registered dietitian Elizabeth Pash Penniman for ways we can protect our hearts while doing something most of us love to do – eating. Here are her recommendations for keeping our tickers healthy and happy:
1. Consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Not only are they are high in antioxidants and fiber, they protect cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals, which are reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body. “For example, when low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is oxidized, it can become glued to arteries and cause coronary heart disease.”
2. Consume omega-3 fatty acids two days per week.
Found in oily fish such as salmon as well as in flax seed and chia seed, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body, benefiting healthy people and those at risk for – or who have – cardiovascular disease. “Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure.”
3. Eat three servings per day of whole grains.
“This will help decrease the bad cholesterol and decrease blood pressure.”
4. Consume one ounce of healthy nuts daily.
“Nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, are a good source of unsaturated fat and antioxidants, in addition to fiber, to help keep you feeling full and less likely to overeat.”
5. Use olive oil in place of other fats and oils on salads or when cooking.
“Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which help reduce total cholesterol and LDL (the bad cholesterol). Olive oil also contains polyphenols, which act as antioxidants.”
Ms. Penniman, MS, RD, LD, is Manager of Nutrition Therapy, Center for Human Nutrition, Digestive Disease Institute.
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