5 Simple Tips to a Heart Healthy Diet
By Diana Mytroen, B. Sc in Human Nutrition, and Tenille Sonnichsen, RD
Do you want to adopt a heart-healthy diet, but aren't sure where to start?
Our mindset around a healthy diet is an important factor in our heart health. Adjusting our attitude around health can make a healthy diet more attainable. Our thoughts become our words, and later our actions. Where we focus our energy, our attention will go.
The pursuit of health is broad; there are many avenues one could pursue, including regular physical activity, healthy eating, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress. Goals are typically something you can measure or an endpoint we hope to reach. But our health and our perception or value of health changes throughout our lives.
“Health” is not something you reach once and check off your list.
Values are important to us and can frame our way of thinking and setting goals. When you value good money management, for example, you will likely track your income and expenses to pay off debt or save for a vacation.
When we label health as a value instead of a goal, it may allow for more growth and change throughout life. Habit changes will be required when we choose to uphold any value.
Several benefits can result when health becomes your value:
more restful sleep,
fewer trips to the doctor’s office,
and improved immunity to fight off harmful microorganisms.
Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it's often tough to change your eating habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are five simple heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you'll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.
5 ways to a Heart Healthy Diet
1. Plan your meals.
Create a daily meal plan that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and whole grains and limits high-fat foods (such as red meat, cheese and baked goods) and high-sodium foods (such as canned or processed foods).Meal planning is the most powerful thing you can do to make a heart healthy diet easier is to get organized with a plan and grocery list. Meal planning can be casual with some basic ideas of food to prepare, or a deeper dive into all the meals and snacks you want to eat during a given time. Choose recipes, outline items needed from the grocery store and communicate your plan with others in your household to reduce uncertainty and be ready for whatever the week holds. Meal planning can reduce stress and support a healthy diet.
Click here for a sample 7 Day Heart Healthy Meal Plan
2. Find healthy foods you enjoy.
You are more likely to stick with healthy foods if you enjoy them. Try out different foods and recipes. Attempt a new method of preparing a dish or cooking a vegetable such as baking or grilling vegetables and meats. Be willing to experiment and learn which flavours and cooking methods you enjoy. A fresh take on a food might surprise you with how easy and enjoyable it is.
3. Print out recipes for heart healthy meals and keep them organized in your kitchen.
Rather than searching several cookbooks or checking online for meal ideas, keep a folder or binder with your favorite recipes so they are always available. This also prevents the temptation of making a quick, but unhealthy convenience meal. Find heart healthy recipes online at Heart and Stroke Foundation, EatingWell, FoodNetwork, AllRecipes, or your favourite online recipe site or cookbook.
4. Swap out your fat sources.
Use olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, and unsalted nuts and seeds for best quality fats. Add unsalted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or chopped walnuts to your salad or bowl of oatmeal for added crunch and healthy fat. Trim extra fat from meats and remove chicken skin prior to cooking to protect your heart.
5. Share meals with other people.
Social meals encourages us to eat balanced meals and snacks, enjoy our food and connect with others. Visiting with others during meals can strengthen our relationships, enhance our communication skills, and improve our mental health.
For regular updates and nutrition tips to help prevent your next heart attack or stroke, sign up for Tenille's email newsletter at www.sendfox.com/Tenille.
Here is a heart healthy veggie-rich omelette recipe.
Baked Spinach & Chicken Omelette
Recipe source: Cookspiration.com
½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tsp olive oil
1 cup red onion(s), sliced
¼ cup plain yogurt, 2% MF
2 tsp horseradish, (optional garnish)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
4 cups spinach, fresh, sliced (or baby spinach)
1 cup carrots, grated
3 Tbsp Asiago cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350◦F (180◦C)
Cut chicken breast into ½ inch strips lengthwise and then cut again crosswise into ½ inch square pieces
Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium size non-stick pan over medium heat. Sauté chicken breast with red onion until starting to brown and is thoroughly cooked, approximately 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Add the rest of the olive oil to pan and heat on low.
Beat eggs with yogurt and horseradish (if using), Dijon mustard and salt until well combined. Add more horseradish if you like a zippier omelette. Pour into heated, ovenproof skillet or baking dish.
Top egg mixture with the spinach and grated carrot followed by the sautéed chicken and onion. Press spinach down into filling if it is sticking up as it will dry out during baking.
Bake in hot oven on the centre rack for 30 minutes or until the omelette is set and just lightly browned. The omelette is done when a knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Remove from oven.
Top with grated Asiago cheese. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. To serve, cut into 6 wedges and serve with salad.
How will you choose to support your heart health today?
Diana completed her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan in 2020. She looks forward to starting her career as a dietitian this year and is most excited for providing counseling, education and bringing about healthy changes in prairie communities. She enjoys hiking, baking, reading and playing with her niece and nephews.