HOUSTON – February is American Heart Month, and it’s a time where we really try to bring attention to positive changes we can make as a society, but also individually to improve our heart health and reduce our risk of developing heart disease and associated complications.
So, today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics… snacking! And some tips we can all incorporate into our daily lives to improve our heart health.
Add more fruits and vegetables to your day
Research has shown over and over again that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is protective against many chronic illnesses including heart disease. But, many people still struggle to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. So, one of my favorite ways to increase consumption is with a good dip!
Here’s some recipes to try:
• Low sugar peanut butter fruit dip with fresh fruits. A low sugar dip that also offers a protein source at snack time.
• Garlic Dijon Aioli with raw veggies. This dip uses Greek yogurt or kefir instead of mayonnaise, for a lower fat option.
Eat a serving of nuts each day
Nuts contain unsaturated fats and other nutrients. And they’re a great snack food - inexpensive, easy to store and very on-the-go friendly!
Research tells us that nuts may play a role in:
• Lowering LDL (aka, the bad) cholesterol
• Improve artery health
• Decreasing heart-disease related inflammation
• Reduce the risk of blood clots
Choose nuts that are raw or dry-roasted, with little or no salt. You can eat them on their own, as part of a trail mix, or try them in an energy ball recipe like these Simple Pecan Energy Bites.
Choose packaged snacks that are higher in fiber and lower in sodium
Packaged snacks are a fact of life, and while it would be great if we all made homemade versions of everything that’s just not possible… so what heart healthy options exist when it comes to packaged snacks? We want to look for snacks that are higher in fiber, and lower in saturated fat and sodium.
The information above was provided to Houston Life by Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD. She’s the owner/registered dietitian nutritionist of Milk & Honey Nutrition, and the author of “The Easy Diabetes Cookbook.”
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