February is American Heart Month. Unfortunately, as we get older we need to work at keeping our hearts healthy. As we age, our risk factors increase for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Here are a few tips from our registered dietitians to help you lower your cardiac risk.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Five or more servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended per day. Fruits and vegetables provide great sources of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin A that may be linked to reduced risk of heart disease.
- Choose low- or non-fat dairy products. Skim or 1% milk is recommended.
- Choose lean meat, poultry & fish. Remember to remove skin from poultry and trim visible fat. Avoid fried foods.
- Cut back on sodium. Avoid table salt; use other non-salt seasonings to flavor foods. Remember that soups, processed meats and fast foods are loaded with sodium.
- Try for at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Legumes like dried beans and peas are loaded with soluble fiber; also include fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads and cereals.
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes most, if not all, days of the week. This could include walking your hallways or sitting in your chair and doing leg or arm raises using small cans. If unable to do 30 minutes all at one time, try 3 sessions of 10 minutes each. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
If your cholesterol is high, make changes in your diet and discuss with your doctor if a “statin” drug is right for you. Exercise also may help to lower cholesterol.
It can be very hard to maintain a healthy weight - requiring a combination of appropriate diet and movement that many struggle to find. Yet a healthy weight is crucial to good heart health and longevity. That's one reason why Meals on Wheels for WNY serves nutritionally appropriate meals to our 1,800 clients each day. All of our meals are low sodium, low fat, low cholesterol. As well, we offer several medically appropriate diets, including: diabetic, renal, bland, and ground.
Learn more about Meals on Wheels dietary options or review our eligibility requirements today.
Find tips on healthy eating, exercise and maintaing a healthy weight at:
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
* National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
* National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - Healthy Weight Tools