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Heart Healthy Food for National Heart Month

Alyssa Simon • Jan 14, 2016

When people think of colors that represent the month of February, they often think of red, pink, and white for Valentine’s Day. But did you know that February is also National Heart Health Month? According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease every year. Heart disease can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which can be controlled through healthy lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, weight management, and not smoking.

Heart disease results when plaque builds up in artery walls, making them narrow and reducing the amount of blood flow throughout the body. Plaque buildup can be caused by blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, both of which may be controlled by diet.

Foods that may raise blood cholesterol include:

  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Full-fat dairy
  • Chips, cookies, crackers, pastries, fried foods

Foods that may raise blood pressure include:

  • Deli meats and cheeses
  • Sandwiches with cold cuts or hotdogs
  • Canned soups and frozen dinners
  • Chips, popcorn, crackers, pizza

Show your heart some love this month by incorporating foods that may lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure!

Foods that may lower blood cholesterol include:heart healthy foods for children blood pressure

  • Fruits and vegetables such as apples, bananas, carrots, grapes, leafy greens, and avocados
  • Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, whole grain cereal
  • Unsaturated fatty oils such as olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, and safflower oil
  • Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, sardines, and mackerel

Foods that may lower blood pressure include:

  • Fruits and vegetables, particularly potassium-rich including bananas, oranges, raisins, melons, tomatoes, squash and potatoes
  • Beans and legumes such as garbanzo beans, kidney beans, white beans, and lentils
  • Low-fat milk and yogurt
  • Meats (not cold-cut or deli style)

Now that you know what foods to include more of and what foods to include less of for a healthy heart, the next step is how to incorporate them into your family’s diet. Try these ideas below!

Breakfast: Oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with skim milk, a banana, and a glass of orange juice

Lunch:  Peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread with baby carrots and low-fat string cheese

Snack: Low-fat Greek yogurt with walnuts

Dinner: Whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce, broccoli, and a side salad with lettuce, tomato, garbanzo beans, and olive oil dressing

Dessert: Apple with peanut butter and a dark chocolate square

This month and Valentine’s Day, show yourself and your family some love by choosing a heart-healthy diet!









See All Our Nutrition Articles


Written by Alyssa SimonWritten on Jan 14, 2016Last updated on Apr 04, 2016




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