6 Easy Steps to a Healthier Heart
In honor of American Heart Month, BoomShop's nutrition expert Peta Cohen shares her top 6 tips on how to improve heart health with a few small changes to our diets. Make this a February to remember by taking control of your well-being and building eating habits that will improve your lifestyle for years to come. It's easier – and more delicious – than you'd think.
1) Choose heart-healthy fats
All fats are not created equal. Omega-6-rich oils such as corn and soybean oil negatively affect health, while olive oil and avocado oil are rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Tree nuts – like macadamias, almonds, cashews, pecans, and pistachios – are also excellent sources of healthy monounsaturated fat.
2) Eat abundantly from the earth
Eat at least one bowl of raw salad a day – play with combinations of greens, spinach, baby kale, arugula, watercress, endive, radicchio, shaved fennel, and fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, and basil. Create your own signature homemade dressing from ingredients like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice, and add extra flavor with Dijon mustard, Himalayan salt, herbs, garlic, or shallots.
Add at least one cruciferous vegetable to your diet daily – choose from broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, or Brussels sprouts. Snack on raw vegetables like organic peppers, peeled and sliced cucumber, celery, fennel, and baby carrots.
3) Cook with heart-healthy proteins
Fatty fish such as wild-caught salmon and sardines are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against inflammation. Chronic inflammation is known to be at the core of many age-associated degenerative diseases, including heart disease. Fish also contains less saturated fat than red meat – another heart-related benefit – and is more easily digestible.
Legumes – lentils and beans – are staples of the Mediterranean diet. Rich in fiber and protein, they can be added to salads and vegetable dishes to create heart-healthy vegetarian meals.
4) Trade wheat for low-glycemic, high-fiber grains
Wild rice, quinoa, and buckwheat have a lower glycemic index than common grains like wheat, and are rich in healthy fiber. Combine 1/2 cup of cooked grain with 1/2 cup of cooked legumes for a complete-protein vegetarian meal.
5) Flavor with turmeric to reduce inflammation
Turmeric, a spice typically found in curry, has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to flavor vegetables, grains, legumes, and proteins. To maximize its benefits, warm oil gently on low to medium heat, add in chopped garlic and turmeric powder, and cook gently before adding additional ingredients.
6) Splurge with healthy sugars
The polyphenols in dark chocolate (at least 72% cocoa) and red wine also offer cardio-protective qualities, so don't feel guilty about splurging! However, like all the best sweets, they should be consumed sparingly and occasionally.
Our nutrition expert Peta Cohen has been a clinical nutritionist and metabolic specialist since 1996. Peta specializes in addressing underlying metabolic changes that occur as a result of lifestyle choices and aging to prevent diseases, and deals with root causes of complex and chronic health issues. Her extensive clinical experience and research have led her to share her knowledge at seminars and conferences worldwide. In Peta's posts for the BoomSpot, she shows that great health starts with you and gives practical tips on how to improve it right now.