February is designated as American Heart Month, making it the perfect time to raise awareness about the importance of eating heart healthy foods. Meals on Wheels recognizes the impact of reducing the risk of heart disease and offers a variety of heart healthy meals that are delivered right to the door of meal recipients.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide. There are several risk factors that can impact heart health including: lifestyle choices, family history, age, and health conditions. Some of these risk factors are out of your control, but reducing your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity are all ways to ensure better heart health.
Eating to Boost Your Heart Health
Taking steps to improve your heart health can be difficult, but a great place to start is through diet. Once you know how nutrients affect your heart, you’ll be on your way toward maintaining a healthy heart! Use this additional resource from the Mayo Clinic for helpful tips.
Include more of the following in your diet:
Fruits and Vegetables: Both food groups are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, which are necessary for heart health. Best practices include eating across the rainbow (selecting different colored fruits and vegetables) and choosing fresh or frozen when possible. If buying canned vegetables choose low-sodium, rinse before cooking, and opt for fruits canned in water or 100% fruit juice.
Omega-3s: This is a type of unsaturated fat or “healthy fat” that is essential for heart and brain health. Your body cannot produce it so it must come from your diet. Omega-3 fats can be found in certain fish (i.e. salmon, tuna, trout, sardines), edamame, walnuts, soy, flax seeds, and chia seeds.
Soluble Fiber: Soluble fiber not only keeps you feeling fuller for longer and aids in digestion, but also helps to lower your LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol.” Great sources of soluble fiber include black beans, lima beans, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, apples, and oats.
Include less of these in your diet:
Saturated Fat: This is a type of fat that causes your body to make more LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol.” High saturated fat foods include fatty meats, poultry skin, full fat milk, and other full fat dairy products (i.e. butter, cheese, yogurt).
Sodium: Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which damages your blood vessels. Reducing the amount of salt you add from the salt shaker helps, but limiting your intake of high salt foods is important too. Foods high in salt include processed meats and cheeses, condiments, restaurant meals, canned foods, and convenience foods such as chips, crackers, and pretzels.
Added Sugars and Refined Carbohydrates: A diet high in these food sources can lead to elevated blood fat levels making blood more likely to clot. Limit your intake of candy, regular soda, juice, desserts, and anything baked with white flour such as white bread, crackers, rolls, most baked goods as well as white rice and most cereals.
About Our Heart Healthy Meals
Meals on Wheels works with registered dietitians at Open Arms of Minnesota to guarantee all our meals meet the current nutrition standards to be considered heart healthy (and diabetic friendly).
We provide meals served hot daily, as well as convenient weekly frozen meal deliveries. We offer gluten-free, lactose-free, vegetarian, and vegan meal options and can accommodate most medical diets. Check out our different menu options here.
Sign Up for Hearth Healthy Meal Delivery Service
Meals on Wheels provides fresh and nutritious meal delivery services to older adults and people living with disabilities. Our team is committed to supporting the community and is here to help get meals delivered directly to you or a loved one’s home with help from thousands of friendly volunteers.
To get started with Meals on Wheels today, you can call us at 612-623-3363 or order here!
This is post is part of an occasional series on nutrition as it relates to Meals on Wheels by Erin Hargens. She is a registered dietitian, as well as the volunteer and development coordinator at Metro Meals on Wheels.