ó "You canít fix your health until you fix your
Sheah Rarback, a registered dietitian on the faculty of the
Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami and a
Miami Herald columnist.
you put into your body, like that in your car, will determine
how well you run. The heart is critically essential to the
bodyís function as it controls the circulation of blood.
When you clog its pathways with poor food choices you gum up
the works and this can lead to a host of health problems,
including death by heart attack.
is there to do?
is not one single food that will help you lower or raise your
cholesterol. Variety is the key. The less processed the food,
the better," said Sonia Angel, registered dietitian and
coordinator of the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Memorial
foods in their most natural form is one way to avoid eating
added sugars hidden in packaged foods and beverages,"
said Lucette Talamas, registered dietitian with Baptist Health
South Florida. "The American Heart Association recommends
daily limits of six teaspoons (24 grams) for women and nine
teaspoons (36 grams) for men of added sugar from both food and
forget the healthful benefits of exercise, Talamas said.
"A daily serving of moderate intensity physical activity
can decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides and blood
pressure while also increase HDL (good) cholesterol."
Angel, Rarback and Talamas for a list of 10 heart healthy
foods. Here are their suggestions:
Salmon. Wild salmon, not farm raised, is rich in Omega-3 fatty
acids, which help boost the immune system. The good fats in
salmon reduce inflammation, keep blood flowing and lower
triglycerides. Other heart healthy fish are sardines,
barramundi and tuna. Two servings a week is a good start.
Ground flax seeds. Rich in fiber and vegetarian Omega-3 that
is easily added to a variety of foods like soups and salads.
Try them in cereal, yogurt and protein smoothies. Helps reduce
Walnuts are loaded with vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids and
are a delicious source for magnesium. These nuts help reduce
cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends eating
four servings of unsalted, oil-free nuts a week as part of a
balanced diet. Note: These are high in calories. Moderation is
and legumes. Include red kidney beans and black beans,
chickpeas and lentils. These are all rich in magnesium,
vitamin B complex and are a good source of soluble fiber,
which reduces cholesterol. These also add folate and magnesium
to the diet. Soy is a lean vegetarian protein that may lower
cholesterol. Edamame is loaded with fiber that keeps
Berries. Berries in general are good, but especially
blueberries, which are a good source of ellagic acid, an
antioxidant that protects blood vessels, lowers blood pressure
and reduces LDL. Oranges are rich in flavonoids, vitamin C,
potassium, folic and fiber. Oranges also help lower blood
pressure and protect blood vessels. (Eat the whole fruit, donít
just drink the juice or you miss out on the heart-healthy
fiber.) Other good sources are cantaloupe and papaya.
wine. The antioxidants like catechins and resveratrol in red
wine appear to increase HDL and reduce LDL. Limit to one
four-ounce glass of wine a day. (If youíre a teetotaler, you
can get these benefits in fruits and vegetables.)
Oatmeal has Omega-3 fatty acids and is also rich in soluble
fiber, magnesium, potassium and niacin. Oatmeal helps to lower
LDL. Try steel cut oats for the highest fiber.
Avocado. Packed with healthy monounsaturated fat, which lowers
LDL. They promote the absorption of carotenoids that improve
heart health. Replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat
sources may improve LDL numbers. An example would be to use
vegetable oil (unsaturated) instead of butter (saturated).
(black or green) is rich in flavonoids, which is an
antioxidant that protects cells from damaging free radicals.
chocolate. The high flavanol content has a blood thinning
effect that the heart loves. A compound in dark chocolate
called epicatechin boosts nitric oxide, which dilates blood
vessels and lowers blood pressure. Pick carefully at the candy
counter. The dark chocolate has to be 70 percent pure cocoa or
higher to be beneficial. The recommended portion is two small
pieces a day.
all, changes in diet must become a lifestyle modification, not
just a temporary fix to help you squeeze into your clothes for
a 30th high school reunion or a wedding.
must consider changing our lifestyles for heart health,"
Angel said. "We recommend that people practice moderation
in their diets, including a variety of foods such as lean
protein, fiber and low saturated food. Foods rich in fiber can
help you stay fuller, and therefore may help reduce
watch the salt.
your food with herbs and spices to prepare delicious
sodium-controlled meals that wonít raise your blood
pressure," Talamas said.