Reduce Body Weight While Supporting Heart Health: 4 Smart Dietary & Lifestyle Choices to Start Today by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
American Heart Month (February) has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prioritize a heart-healthy diet to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight year-round. Carrying too much body fat may increase your risk for heart disease – the larger and heavier you are, the harder your heart works to supply blood to all your cells. But healthy diet and lifestyle changes can help control weight and promote heart health, too.
- Low-fat proteins from a combination of plant and animal sources helps keep saturated fat intake down, while satisfying hunger. Choose nonfat or low-fat dairy, lean meats, fish and poultry to keep calories in check. Plant-proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu are naturally cholesterol-free, and seafood provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA.
- Colorful fruits and vegetables, and whole grains, should be your go-to carbohydrates. They’re nutrient-rich, relatively low in calories and their fiber and water content help to fill you up. Focus on these “good” carb sources and you’ll wind up eating fewer foods that are filled with sugar and refined carbs.
- Small amounts of beneficial fats, like a sprinkle of nuts, a drizzle of olive oil or a few slices of avocado, can boost flavor and nutrition in calorie-controlled meals. Since fats are more calorie-dense than either proteins or carbohydrates, using them thoughtfully and sparingly helps with calorie control.
- Cardiovascular exercise that boosts your breathing and heart rate is a great way to promote heart health! Walking briskly, jogging and swimming are just a few exercises that can help your heart become more efficient at pumping blood. And while you’re exercising, you’re burning calories which helps you lose and maintain your weight. Regular exercise also helps keep blood pressure under control and is a great stress reliever!
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