We may spend lots of time taking care of our family, house or car. How much time do we take for ourselves? The number one killer of Americans is heart disease. By mid-life (ages 40-60) almost one third of women have 2 or more modifiable risk factors for heart disease. These factors include lack of physical activity, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Having two or more of these risk factors quadruples your risk of developing heart disease.
Eat Heart Healthy
Taking care of our heart includes eating more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Most Americans are not eating enough of the foods that help our heart and eat too much of the foods that can increase our cholesterol levels and cause plaque build up in our arteries.
Foods that Help Our Heart
- Fish – Try fish twice a week*. Salmon is an especially good type to eat.
- Nuts – Nuts are good for you, but they have a lot of calories. Limit your portion size by dividing your nuts into mini baggies with one ounce in each container.
- Beans – Eat them 2-3 times per week. Beans can easily be added to so many dishes: soups, stir-fries, casseroles, marinated salads or fresh green salads.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains – Amaranth, Brown & Wild Rice, Buckwheat, Bulgur, Corn Meal, Millet, Popcorn, Quinoa, Oats, Rye, Spelt, Teff, Triticale, Whole barley, Whole Wheat Pasta are all examples.
- Olive oil and canola oil
Salmon with Broccoli and Rotini Pasta
This recipe has several heart healthy foods salmon, whole grains, fresh vegetables and olive oil and makes for a quick, but elegant dinner.
- 8 oz. whole wheat pasta, rotini
16 oz. fresh broccoli, chopped in bite size pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup dry white wine or reduced sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons onion, minced
3⁄4 cup dry white wine or reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 lemon, grated lemon peel
1⁄4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1⁄4 cup fresh flat parsley, chopped
3⁄4 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
Cook pasta in a soup pot according to directions; omit salt and fat. Add broccoli to pasta during the last 7 minutes of cooking time. Drain pasta and broccoli. Return to stock pot and add olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat add 1⁄4 cup white wine and the onions. Cook 3-4 minutes until onions are softened. Add 3⁄4 cup wine, lemon peel, half of the fresh dill, half of the fresh parsley and the salmon fillet. Add enough water to cover the fish. Cover skillet with lid and cook fish 7-10 minutes or until done.
Mix in remaining dill and parsley with pasta and broccoli. Serve pasta on individual plates; add the salmon fillet to the side and ladle with 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce.
Servings: 4 NUTRITION INFORMATION FOR 1 SERVING: 495 calories, 29g protein, 53g carbs, 16g fat, 47mg chol, 3g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 8g fiber, 98mg sodium
Add More Activity
Become active and try a Zumba class; it is a fun way to exercise while learning Latin dance moves. If dancing is not your style and you want to keep it simple, then walking is the easiest way to stay active. Taking care of your heart means giving it regular exercise; ideally work up to 150 minutes per week or 30 minutes 5 times per week. Yoga, tai chi or meditation are nice supplements to your exercise routine and are beneficial in reducing blood pressure and releasing tension.
Know Your Numbers
Taking care of your heart includes knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Discuss your levels with your doctor. If above ideal range then a Registered Dietitian can work with you to help lower your levels.
Are you ready?
Begin to take care of your heart by taking 1-2 small steps. Taking care of your heart really is a 2 for 1 special. The good news is research has shown what is good for our heart is also good for our brain. Making changes today reduces or prevents our chances in the future for heart disease, Alzheimer’s and memory loss.
* Pregnant and lactating women and children under 5 should avoid swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel and limit fish and seafood to 6 ounces per week.