Nutrition News: Eating Well Is Key
In keeping with February being heart-healthy month, I want to continue to think about the foods we choose most often. Most of us tend to eat the same foods over and over, so it's important we make healthy choices more often. The foods we eat most often can affect future diseases such as high blood pressure (too much salt), high cholesterol (too much animal fat), being overweight (too many calories) or Type 2 diabetes (inconsistent carbohydrates).
When it comes to healthy eating, there are several foods to choose more often -- whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. On the other hand, you want to choose less refined grains, sugar and sweets, fatty meats, sodium and full-fat dairy. Slashing sodium can help reduce blood pressure.
A few foods have heart-healthy power, according to Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian and author of the book "Joy Bauer's Superfood! 150 Recipes for Eternal Youth."
While there aren't perfect foods, there are foods to choose more often. Bauer's top choices to include in a heart-healthy plan feature bananas, apples, lentils, salmon, oats and avocados. Nearly all help lower inflammation. Inflammation can harm the heart by irritating blood vessels or promoting plaque buildup in arteries.
Here's why these foods make Bauer's list:
Bananas are high in potassium, a mineral that can lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium. Bananas can also substitute for sugar to sweeten foods, helping lower added sugar consumption.
Bauer chooses apples because of their pectin, a type of soluble fiber (like oats) that blocks cholesterol absorption. And apples are rich in polyphenols, which are antioxidants that reduce inflammation.
Lentils contain fiber and protein and are high in magnesium and potassium, which work together to lower blood sugar and keep blood vessels healthy.
Salmon is particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, a heart-healthy fat shown to lower inflammation and reduce harmful fats in the blood.
Oats contain fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals that help keep inflammation under control.