Time for a Heart-Healthy Diet
It seems like everyone is wearing red these days, honoring the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (yes!). Some of the red is also a recognition of February as American Heart Month.
Along with the celebrations for both, February is a great time to put some focus on taking care of your heart with a healthy diet, tuned to minimize risks of Heart disease.
At Swope Health, we have some of the most trained and experienced local experts in the field of wellness. One of these professionals is Priscilla Schmid. Priscilla holds a Master’s degree in Public Health and is a licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist. She has eight years of experience, holds more than 10 professional certificates and is bilingual (Spanish and English).
Priscilla works with patients on setting up meal plans and schedules, including tips on food buying on a limited budget and personalized nutrient needs. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with her, please ask your Swope Health primary care provider to send a referral to Dietetic Services.
Some of the most positive steps you can take toward heart health involve intentional changes to your diet to address high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
Watching overall eating portions, eliminating smoking and reducing alcohol consumption are also positive steps – along with taking more steps, as in, literally, adding exercise like walking to your daily routine.
“Most issues related to cardiovascular health can be managed or prevented with healthy habits. Think about setting up consistent eating and sleeping routines, drinking plenty of water, daily physical activity and prioritizing mental health.” says Priscilla.
Choosing Healthy habits
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also encourage choosing healthy habits to develop a lifestyle that manages blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar.
You can start on building these habits right away. Priscilla suggests setting a regular schedule for preparing your meals each day. Just starting the routine at the same time each day can help cut down on pre-meal snacking and can help you with planning meals.
“Healthy food choices for the heart include consuming fresh vegetables and beans daily,” she said. “I also recommend choosing only ‘low-sodium’ or ‘light’ canned or boxed products. And, for protein, try eating baked fish or chicken about three times a week.”
Fish and poultry like chicken or turkey are good for heart health, according to the American Heart Association, because they contain “omega-3 fatty acids,” which are low in saturated fats and have been shown to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke.
Priscilla offers a favorite recipe from the American Heart Association that shows just how easy a healthy meal can be – there’s barely any work needed if you use a slow cooker. If you don’t have a slow cooker, no problem, just cook on medium-high heat for about 20 minutes.
Slow Cooker Vegetable Turkey Soup (Download PDF)
Garden vegetables and beans add color and flavor to this hearty comfort food. Prepare the ingredients in the morning or the night before, let them slow cook all day, and at dinnertime all that’s left to do is ladle the soup into bowls. Makes six two-cup servings.
1 pound ground skinless turkey breast, extra lean (93% lean)
3 large carrots, sliced crosswise into rounds
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 28-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 15.5-ounce can no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
Put all the ingredients in a slow cooker, stirring to combine and breaking up the turkey.
Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours, or until the turkey is no longer pink.
Download or print the recipe and find more recipes for Heart-Healthy Meals:
- Healthy Eating on a Budget from the U.S. Department of Agriculture
- Healthy Eating on a Budget Cookbook: 2-Week Sample Menus [PDF – 1.7M] from the USDA
- MyPlate Seasonal Resources from the USDA
- MyPlate Print Materials from the USDA
- Delicious Heart Healthy Eating from the National Institutes of Health – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Healthy For Good Recipes from the American Heart Association
Remember, you can always talk with a Swope Health provider about steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Call us at 816-923-5800 to schedule an appointment.
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