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Healthy Eating for your Heart
Did you know: what you eat can affect your moods and energy levels, as well as your weight? And when isolated cravings become regular eating habits, nutrition can have a huge impact on your overall health. Now here’s some good news: by being part of the Jenny community, you’ve already taken the first step toward a healthy lifestyle. Along with a regular exercise program, these healthy eating guidelines can help you go the extra mile to support your body’s hardest-working organ.
Fruits & Veggies.
Fruits and vegetables are the ultimate superfoods—low in calories, high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. And, while most fruits contain natural sugars, you literally can’t have too many vegetables on your plate! Choose fresh produce whenever you can, and limit packaged produce to frozen vegetables and fruits without added ingredients, low-sodium canned veggies and water-packed fruit. Remember, every serving of fruit or vegetables you consume is one less serving of a more processed food, packed with sodium, sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. Keep cut-up vegetables in the fridge and a bowl of fruit in the kitchen, and you’ll be less likely to reach for the crackers or chips.
When it comes to grains, “refined” products aren’t actually more sophisticated—they’ve just been through more processing, which often removes the healthiest parts of the grain. When buying bread or pasta, look for products labeled “100% whole-grain.” If you’re cooking dishes that traditionally use white rice, substitute brown rice… or better yet, experiment with new grains like quinoa, couscous and barley, each of which has a unique character that may take your cooking to a whole new level. And for an easy DIY dose of whole-grain fiber, add ground flaxseed to your yogurt; the nutty taste and subtle crunch are sure to elevate your meal.
Limit Bad Fats.
We’ve all heard about “good fats” and “bad fats”—but what does this really mean? Unsaturated fats (olive oil, salmon, avocados, nuts and seeds) can be beneficial in limited amounts; as part of a heathy diet they can aid in the breakdown of sugars and are known to lower the risk of heart disease. By contrast, excessive consumption of solid, or saturated, fats (bacon, butter, cheese, shortening) can lead to the development of obesity, which is associated with diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Trans fats, which are hydrogenated solid fats, should be avoided at all costs—they are known to raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels, and lower your “good” (HDL) levels, putting you at high risk for the development of heart disease.
Now you know the essential ingredients of a healthy diet. When planning your meals and snacks for the week, watch your portions, emphasize whole foods, choose lean protein sources and limit fatty, salty foods. But by all means—leave room for rewards! A delicious little detour every now and then will go a long way towards keeping you on the straight and narrow.