An assortment of different colored fruits and vegetables with some in the shape of a heart.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Each February, we take time to think about our hearts. After all, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s American Heart Month.

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is the leading cause of death in the United States. In some cases, these deaths could be prevented if people make lifestyle changes, like eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of low-fat proteins and high-fiber foods that are low in sodium and sugar.

The best way to begin eating heart healthy is to be prepared when going grocery shopping.

Grocery Shopping Tips:

  • Come prepared – plan meals and make a list ahead of time
  • Shop the outer aisles of the store first – fresh foods like vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy and whole grains are usually located there
  • Read Nutrition Facts labels
  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach – we tend to make worse choices when hungry
  • Buy frozen or canned fruits and vegetables to avoid food waste
  • When buying grains and bread products, look for the ones with whole grains listed in the ingredients
  • When you get home, divide snacks into portion sizes to prevent overeating

Have the Heart to Change Your Life

The American Heart Association recommends adults on a 2,000-calorie diet eat the following:

  • Grains: Six servings daily (at least half should be whole grains)
  • Vegetables: Five servings of fresh, frozen, canned or dried vegetables daily
  • Fruits: Four servings of fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruits daily
  • Dairy: Three servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy per day
  • Meat, eggs and poultry: Eight to nine servings of lean or extra lean meat, poultry or eggs per week
  • Seafood: Two to three servings of fish and other seafood per week
  • Beans, nuts and seeds: Five servings per week
  • Fats and oils: Three servings per day (aim for unsaturated fats)

Based on these guidelines, here are a few foods from each category you may want to add to your shopping list for optimal heart health:

  • Grains: Whole oats, brown rice, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta
  • Vegetables: Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale and collard greens; also look for yellow, orange and red vegetables that are full of vitamins, fiber and carotenoids like bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, squash and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits: Berries and fruits high in beta-carotene and fiber like oranges, papaya and cantaloupe
  • Dairy: Low-fat or fat-free yogurt, nonfat milk, calcium-fortified soymilk, low-fat cheese
  • Meat, eggs and poultry: Chicken (white meat) with skin removed, low-fat meat and eggs (serving size is about the size of a deck of cards for chicken and meat, or one egg or two egg whites)
  • Seafood: Salmon, tuna, trout and other oily fish high in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Beans, nuts and seeds: Dried beans/lentils, flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts
  • Fats and oils: Choose oils low in saturated fat like avocado, canola, corn, grapeseed, olive, peanut, safflower, sesame, soybean or sunflower oils 

In addition to committing to a heart-healthy diet, make sure you get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week; stop smoking; quit drinking alcohol or drink in moderation; and get a regular checkup from your primary care provider.

Even if you follow these heart-healthy tips, we know that you and your family may get colds and other illnesses throughout the year. If you need medical advice for certain minor illnesses and want to stay in the comfort of your home or office, log on to Norman Regional Virtual Care and visit with a provider 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a flat rate of $55.

Healthy Heart Events

Norman Regional is hosting two events aimed at improving heart health. The Healthy Heart Fair is Feb. 18 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Norman Regional Hospital Education Center located at 901 N. Porter Ave. The free event includes information booths, blood pressure screenings, and heart attack risk assessments. Attendees can also attend a panel discussion and cooking demonstration. 

The second event, Be Sweet to Your Heart, takes place on Feb. 27 at the Countdown Events Center located at 480 24th Ave NW, Suite 132 in Norman. It includes a sushi-making class and panel discussion on the prevention of heart disease. The $35 event fee includes the tools and ingredients needed to make the California and veggie rolls, light bites, and two alcoholic drinks. Attendees must register in advance.