February is recognized as National Heart Month and we want to educate you on ways that you can keep your heart healthy through good nutrition and diet. There are 2 main diets that are recommended for heart health-the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating habits similar to Mediterranean countries including more fish and oils, and the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension that is high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Hypertension, or high blood pressure as it is commonly known, puts us at additional risk for heart disease.
There is a new diet known as the MIND diet that combines aspects of both the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. In recent research, this MIND diet plan led to a 54% reduction in Alzheimer’s in adults that followed the plan all the time and a 35% reduction in risk for adults that mostly followed the plan. I personally like this plan because it gives you specific recommendations to follow that I think are easy to incorporate into your daily living. Here is what is recommended on this plan:
· 3 servings of whole grains each day
· Eat a salad each day
· Eat one other vegetable every day that is ½ cup serving
· Include 2 servings of berries each week that equal 1 cup servings each
· Eat beans every other day that are ½ cup serving
· Snack on nuts 5 days a week so you have 5-1 oz servings per week
· Eat poultry 2 times per week
· Consume fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut or herring once a week
· Drink a glass of wine each day
· Red meat no more than 4 times per week
· Fast food, fried food, cheese less than 1 time per week
· Less than 1 Tbsp of butter per day
· Limited consumption of pastries and sweets
My personal favorite part of this diet plan is the inclusion of a daily glass of wine! While this plan might sound overwhelming and make you think you have to include more foods and calories than you are used to, think about ways that you can include some of these foods together. For example, make a salad for lunch that includes cooked quinoa and beans for the proteins vs. animal source of protein. For an afternoon snack, have ½ cup berry mix and 1 oz of nuts. A great breakfast would be oatmeal from rolled oats (not instant kind) with berries mixed in. To help you get started, we have included a checklist that you can print out and post on your refrigerator as a reminder. Start with something small like purchasing vegetables for salads that you can pack for lunch. The key is to prep them on the weekend, and pack your salad either the night before or in the morning for a quick and easy lunch but don’t forget your protein-either salmon or tuna, grilled chicken, or any bean.
Choose this diet plan as a way to protect both your heart and your mind!