All this week we are talking about heart health on 11 News. One area that plays a significant role in overall prevention of heart disease is a healthy diet.
"The average person is not following a heart healthy diet," said Sharon Jacob, a dietitian at St. Francis Medical Center. "Typically the American diet is too high in fat, too low in fiber and not high enough in fruits and veggies."
Sharon says unfortunately getting away from that high fat, low fiber diet can be hard and it usually takes something catastrophic like a heart attack for someone to change the way they eat.
It all starts with less fat, this means saturated fat and trans fat. One example, choosing margarine over butter. "Low fat or light margarine that does not have trans fat is more heart healthy,” Sharon says.
Another hidden danger in our food is salt. “We have sodium in all our foods, it's too high," said Sharon.
At St. Francis she offered us up some heart healthy choices.
"Foods can taste wonderful and be heart healthy," she said.
And they can help lower cholesterol. Take a salmon salad for example. "The salmon offers omega three fatty acids and the leafy greens offer B vitamins," Sharon said.
Almonds are also a great snack. “About 23 almonds a day would help to provide vitamin E, fiber and plant sterols."
Soy protein that can be found in hot dogs, milk and noodles are also important, along with a high fiber cereal and eggs that are higher in omega levels.
The good news is that you can still have dessert. Dark chocolate is also good for your heart. "Looking for that chocolate that does have at least 60-percent of the cocoa solids is helpful in heart health and to lower blood pressure,” said Sharon.
Combined with daily exercise eating better will not only make your heart healthier, it will make you feel better.
For more heart health information click on the link below.