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    Now is the perfect time to take steps for better heart health

    Alyssa Welte Clinical Dietitian 02/27/2024
    When it comes to heart-healthy nutrition, the main nutrients to look at are fat, sodium, cholesterol, and fiber. Small changes can make a big difference in your heart health!

    There are different types of fats, and some are better for your heart.
    • Limit saturated fats.These are the types of fats mostly found in animal products like whole milk, butter, bacon, sausage and cheese. Opt for lower fat options like skim or 1% milk, 98% lean ground beef, reduced fat cheese, low-fat yogurt and skinless chicken breast to cut back on saturated fats.
    • Eat foods containing unsaturated fats.We often hear about Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These are good for your heart and found in foods like nuts and seeds, fish like salmon or tuna, and even some eggs contain Omega-3s if the chickens are fed a high Omega-3 diet – check the packaging label for this info!
    Cut back on sodium or salt. Too much salt is hard on your heart and kidneys. Limit the saltshaker at meals and while cooking, but also look at the sodium that’s already in your foods.
    • When cooking, you can often cut the salt in half (or more) without affecting the taste too much.
    • Look for reduced sodium or no salt added when buying canned vegetables or soup.
    • Season foods with salt-free seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cinnamon, black pepper, and cumin. Anything Mrs. Dash brand is salt-free.
    • Watch your sauces. Some condiments contain a surprising amount of sodium. Look for reduced sodium soy sauce, ketchup, pickles, olives, etc.
    Increase your fiber. Fiber helps to lower your cholesterol by reducing absorption in your bloodstream. Just 5-10 grams or more of soluble fiber each day can help lower your LDL cholesterol, which is sometimes referred to as the “bad” cholesterol since it can build up in your arteries.
    • Include fruits and/or vegetables in every meal.
    • Foods like apples and potatoes contain a lot of fiber in the peels, so keep the peel on for additional fiber.
    • Choose whole grains when possible. This includes whole grain bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, or whole grain crackers. Check out the ingredients list to make sure “whole grain” is the first ingredient. A lot of times foods will be listed as multigrain or something similar, and the first ingredient will be refined flour, which is low in fiber.
    • Try adding more plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
    For heart-healthy recipes, check out the American Heart Association website at And don’t forget that staying active and exercising are also an important part of heart health.

    If you are ready to make change and need a little help, have your doctor send a referral to meet with a Deaconess Dietitian.
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