A few months ago, we were reminded during "heart month" about how heart disease kills way too many women. As the seasons change and some of us feel reinvigorated to revamp their diets and routine, we want to urge you to remember these super-simple steps to reduce your chances of heart disease. By employing these easy strategies, you're helping to make sure you don't wind up a statistic.
1. Engage in at least 30 minutes of structured physical activity, 5 days/week. This isn't for weight loss but basic heart health. Whatever exercise you like -- walking, cycling, weight lifting, swimming -- works, though variety is ideal. No matter how busy you are, everyone has the time, so try to make it!
2. Stand up. Sitting is the new smoking. Where can you find time in your day to stand and move , beyond structured physical activity? Maybe rather than watching TV, you go for a family walk before or after dinner. Start a walking group at work or investigate stand-up desks if you work at home. If you have dogs, take them for a walk instead just letting them out back. There are a lot of opportunities to move -- you just need to be creative, take control and make a conscious effort to make you a priority.
3. Eat more omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are amazing for us. The best way to get them in the diet is from foods like wild seafood (salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies), among others.
Being in Louisville, we don’t quite have the seafood variety as some others on the coast may have, so in the Mohr house when we want the super fresh, never frozen wild seafood, we often shop at Pure Food Fish Market out of Seattle. Different than the omega-3s in fish, but also healthy, are the omega-3‘s we get from foods like nuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds. Try sprinkling some chia seeds on your oatmeal and salad.
4. Fit in the fiber. The typical American eats about half the recommended amount of fiber each day. One of the many problems with this is those who don't eat enough fiber are at higher risk for heart disease. Some of the best high fiber foods are vegetables, fruits, and beans. In addition, replacing fiber free carbohydrates (such as white bread, pitas, tortillas. etc), with their whole grain alternatives is smart too. Try oatmeal for breakfast, swap the white bread in your sandwich for whole grain, and try quinoa, barley or wheat berries instead of the more traditional rice.
5. Drink less calories. The typical person drinks around 450 calories each day from liquids alone. Most don't offer much in the way of nutrients and instead are loaded with sugar. Since too many calories can lead to weight gain, this weight gain then increases your risk of heart disease. So swap out the liquid calories with their calorie free alternative - herbal tea, water and seltzer are all great options.
6. Snack Swap. Chips, pretzels, and rice cakes? Blech! There are much better options that actually offer nutrients and keep you satisfied, which is what snacks are supposed to do. We’re huge fans of the Cabot Cheese Serious Snack Cheese bites (each individually wrapped bite has 6 grams of protein and the reduced fat just 50 calories). Pairing those with an apple or grapes is quick, easy and convenient. We also love KIND Nut and Spice Bars, with 5-7 grams of satisfying fiber and protein in each and Luna Fiber & Luna Protein bars, the first which offer 7 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein respectively. Of course, cottage cheese and fruit never disappoints, nor does some Greek yogurt, which provides double the protein of regular yogurt.
There you have it -- 6 simple heart health tips that may also help you lose fat as an added bonus!