February is Heart Health Month!
February is heart health month and for good reason. Did you know that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States? Approximately every 40 seconds, someone suffers a heart attack and in that same amount of time, a stroke. High blood pressure and cholesterol continue to be on the rise and raise the risk for the above events.
While exercise and healthy lifestyle behaviors are key to promoting and maintaining heart health, nutrition plays an important role as well. Follow these tips to keep your heart in tip top shape this season!
1. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids every day by including foods like salmon, trout, herring, flaxseed, chia seed, hemp seed, and walnuts. Other sources include olive oil, avocado, nuts, and nut butters. These can help improve blood cholesterol levels and lower the risk for heart disease.
2. Limit saturated fats. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal products, especially the highest fat cuts of beef, pork, bacon, sausage, and even the skin on chicken or turkey. These are responsible for raising your LDL or bad cholesterol, which can increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Make sure to choose lean proteins like chicken, turkey, fish, and at least 90% lean ground meats. Consider trying a meatless protein option, like beans, lentils, tofu, or tempeh.
3. Increase your intake of fiber. Fiber is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, and any plant-based foods. Fiber can help lower cholesterol and aid in weight management by helping you feel full and satisfied. Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, which is a great combination for improving blood pressure. Research currently being done on fiber suggests that there are numerous health benefits just waiting to be uncovered!
4. Keep your sodium low by reducing your intake of processed foods. Try making your own soup or stew, use herbs and spices for flavor, and choose low sodium versions of your favorite foods. Your taste buds will adjust to not having as much salt, I promise!
In the meantime, here’s a salmon recipe I made over the holidays and a couple of times since. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Artichoke and Caper Topped Salmon
4 6-oz salmon filets
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
2-3 Tb capers
2 Tb parmesan cheese
2 Tb olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 400F. Place salmon on lined baking sheet. Chop artichokes finely and mix with remaining ingredients. Top salmon with artichoke mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes until salmon flakes easily with a fork. Enjoy!