Eating well is one of the most important steps we can take toward a healthy heart. In study after study, an unhealthy diet has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, but choosing the right foods can go a long way toward improving cardiovascular health.
According to experts at the American Heart Association, eating oily fish at least twice a week should be part of heart-healthy eating plan. The beneficial Omega-3 fats found in certain fish (such as salmon, trout and herring) promote heart health—in part due to their natural anti-inflammatory properties—and the AHA recommends eating two 3.5-ounce servings each week. Here are two quick and easy recipes to help you get started:
Baked Trout with Spinach & Tomatoes
Two 4-ounce trout fillets
One 10-ounce package fresh spinach
2 small plum tomatoes, sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. chopped pitted black olives
1 tbsp. drained capers
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 400°. Place fillets in shallow glass baking dish. Top with the spinach, tomatoes, shallots, olives, and capers. Drizzle orange juice over each fillet. Bake approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Remove from oven; sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.
Grilled Wild Salmon with Mango Relish
½ small mango (pulp removed), diced
2 tbsp. diced red bell pepper
1 tbsp. diced red onion
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. grated lime zest
½ tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
Two 4-ounce wild salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Directions: To prepare the relish, combine mango, red pepper, onion, parsley, cilantro, lime zest, garlic and lime juice; refrigerate 1 hour. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper; grill until fish flakes (about 4 minutes per side). Top fillets with relish and serve.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, accountable for 1 in every 4 deaths each year. The good news is that we are not helpless against it, and together we can help prevent heart disease by making smarter choices about what we eat and how we live.
Celebrated each year in February, American Heart Month is the perfect time to start making small but important changes that will have a lasting impact on heart health, and a great place to start is with the Life’s Simple 7™ Action Plan from the American Heart Association (AHA):
- Get Active: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as brisk walking) each day, five times per week, to help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Children should get 60 minutes a day, every day.
- Control Cholesterol: Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels protects your arteries and helps prevent blockages that can lead to heart disease and stroke. Get a regular screening, stay active, and eat foods that are low in cholesterol and unhealthy fats.
- Eat Better: A healthy diet is critical to preventing heart disease. Eat plenty of healthy fats (especially from fish and olive oil) along with low-sugar fruits, non-starchy veggies, protein, nuts and legumes. Eliminate added sugars, starchy carbohydrates and trans
- Manage Blood Pressure: High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range with the right diet and lifestyle helps protect your heart as well as the blood vessels supporting it.
- Lose Weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes—all of which may contribute to heart disease. Even losing five or 10 pounds can make a big difference when it comes to heart health!
- Reduce Blood Sugar: High blood sugar increases the risk of developing heart disease. Check your blood sugar levels regularly, and eliminate added sugars. Reduce your intake of carbohydrates from starchy foods such as breads, pasta and starchy veggies.
- Stop Smoking: Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing heart disease because of the damage smoking does to the entire circulatory system. Quitting is the one of the best things you can do for your heart!
This month, you can help raise awareness about heart disease and spread the word about the benefits of adopting the Life’s Simple 7™ Action for a healthier, happier heart. Be sure to get the word out in your community!