Ask a Nutritionist: American Heart Month

It’s the new year, and we are happy to announce we are continuing our Ask a Nutritionist series featuring the Wel Nourished team! This year we will work through another four-part wellness series, answering all your burning health questions, debunking food myths, and sharing resources to help you discover a happier health journey! In part one, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at Wel share their wellness tips and advice for living a heart-healthy lifestyle!

Alyssa Justice, RDN

In honor of American Heart Month in the month of February, the Wel Nourished team shares practical ways to care for your heart health through food choices and consistent movement. Read more from each of the Registered Dietitians at Wel below!

What is one tip you have for people who are wanting to improve their heart health?

Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re not sure what a healthy weight looks like for you, you can use the BMI scale as a tool to help guide you there. If you’re wanting a more concrete answer, speaking to a healthcare professional may help. At Wel, our Dietitians work to help you lose weight in the healthiest way possible.

Can adequate nutrition prevent heart disease?

Yes! According to the American Heart Association, 80% of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease, can be prevented. Eating healthy is a huge part of trying to maintain a healthy weight and there are also certain foods that have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. If your diet is full of fruits, vegetables, high-fiber carbohydrates, whole grains, and healthy fats, you are on the right track to preventing heart disease.

What is one nutrition tip you have for people who are trying to improve their heart health?

A heart-healthy nutrient that is often overlooked is fiber! When dietitians and other health practitioners look at heart health we are often monitoring labs that have to do with lipids, or fat, in the blood such as cholesterol. Cholesterol is often a point of conversation for many health providers because it plays a vital role in the way blood flows throughout the body. High-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, help lower cholesterol. Simple additions of fiber, such as berries in yogurt, veggies in your egg scramble, or a small handful of almonds for a snack could make a big impact on your heart health. 

What is a good lifestyle habit someone can easily start today that will promote heart health and prevent heart disease?

Exercise! Exercise is one of the best lifestyle habits we can implement to promote heart health. Physical activity not only strengthens the heart muscle it also promotes a healthy weight, helps to control high blood pressure, and lowers physiological, mental, and emotional stress. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week. Achieving 150 minutes per week does not have to be done through a strict exercise regimen. In fact, achieving 150 minutes doesn’t require a gym membership or fancy exercise equipment. Simply adding a 30-minute walk 5 days a week meets your 150-minute goal and sets you on a path to improved heart health.

What is one nutrition tip you have for people who are wanting to improve their heart health?

Be sure that you are including healthy fats in your diet. Healthy fats are called unsaturated fats and they are needed for so many functions throughout your body. Healthy fats can replace “bad cholesterol” (LDL cholesterol) in your bloodstream with the “good cholesterol” (HDL cholesterol) your body needs to function. Unsaturated fats can be found in foods like salmon, avocado, nuts, and seeds. Add some more of these foods to your diet to decrease the “bad cholesterol” circulating in your body and replace it with “good cholesterol” to improve your heart health.

What is your favorite heart healthy snack?

My favorite heart healthy snack is pairing some nuts, like almonds, with a fruit, like HGO’s table grapes. This pairing gives you the healthy fats like we previously talked about and also some fiber, which also benefits your heart health.

We hope that you found this conversation on heart health to be educational and gave practical ways to incorporate something new into your routine. In case you missed our series last year, head over to the rest of our blog posts. Stay in the know with all the organic happenings over on Instagram and give the team at Wel a follow for more wellness and nutrition tips. If you have questions to ask a nutritionist, leave a comment below!