You may be treating your sweetheart this February, but remember it’s also American Heart Month — the perfect time to give your own heart some love.
One of the keys to heart health is to pay attention to the kind of fat in your diet. Fat is a necessary nutrient for your health. While various fats in foods have different effects on health, some fats offer health-protective benefits. Consider including foods with these fats (in moderation) to your meals.
Omega-3 fatty acids may help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health.
Fatty Fish: Current dietary recommendations are to include fish in your meals at least twice a week. Fish high in omega-3 fats are salmon, albacore tuna (fresh or canned), sardines, lake trout and mackerel.
Walnuts: Walnuts are rich in Vitamin E and an excellent source of omega -3. Add walnuts to cereal, salads or muffins. Try walnut oil in salad dressings with flavored vinegar.
Canola Oil: Replace solid fats like butter or margarine with canola oil when cooking or baking. You can substitute 2 ½ teaspoons of oil for every 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine in most recipes. It also works well for sautéing and stir-frying.
Flaxseed: Add ground flaxseed to breakfast cereal, yogurt, baked goods like breads and muffins, or casseroles. You can purchase flax seed already ground or grind your own. Your body cannot break down whole flaxseeds to access the omega-3 fats.
Eggs: Some chickens are given feed that is high in omega-3 fat so their eggs contain omega 3 fat. Check the package label when buying eggs.
Monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease.
Nuts: In addition to heart-healthy fats, nuts are a good source of protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Just keep the portion size in mind. One portion of nuts is equal to one ounce or 1/3 cup and provides approximately 160 to 180 calories.
Olive Oil: Use olive oil in place of saturated fats, such as butter. Use it in salad dressings or to sauté vegetables, seafood and poultry.
Avocado: Avocadoes not only contain monounsaturated fat, but they are also packed with folate, vitamins E, C, and B6, potassium and fiber. Try adding avocado to salad, pizza, salsa and sandwiches.
Peanut Butter: Nearly half the fat in peanut butter is monounsaturated fat. Resist the urge to pour off the heart-healthy oil that’s separated out of the natural peanut butter. Stick to the two tablespoon portion size to control calories.
By switching to these healthy fats you’ll be on your way to a healthier heart.
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics