By now you know that we are all about basing a diet around healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, lean protein, seafood and delicious herbs and spices. And you probably remember our dear friend and colleague, nutritionist extraordinaire Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, CSSD who shared this awesome blog with us about the incredible benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and now she’s got more great ways to help keep your ticker healthy and we couldn’t resist sharing her great blog with you below!
Here’s Marie’s fabulous article:
Americans seem to be living longer, but are we living better? When you choose a heart-healthy diet and active lifestyle, the effect on overall health can be profound. Since February is American Heart Month, here are some tips for a heart-smart diet:
Plant Produce in Your Diet
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are known to be heart healthy. Certain plant-based compounds in fruits and veggies support healthy arteries. Produce is also rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, which your body needs for growth, development and to function properly.
Steer clear of SoFAS
SoFAS are solid fats and added sugars. Solid fats are solid at room temperature and include shortening, butter, and the fat on meat and pork. These fats raise your LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. Replacing solid fats with polyunsaturated fats – the kind found in many oils or in fatty fish, supports heart health.
Overconsumption of foods with added sugars can also increase LDL cholesterol, so take a look at the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts panel and trade foods with higher amounts of added sugar for those that contain fewer grams per serving. You may be surprised to find out how much sug
ar is added to smoothies, yogurts, cereals, sauces and dressings.
Red Wine isn’t as Healthy as You Might Think it is
You’ve probably heard red wine is beneficial for your heart. This association between red wine and heart health may be due to the polyphenols (plant nutrients) found in grapes as well as grape juice made with Concord grapes. I bet you didn’t know that Concord grapes – which are used to make 100% grape juice — have many of the same polyphenols as red wine, making 100% grape juice a heart-healthy option. This is good news for those who do not or cannot drink wine. Note that eating whole Concord grapes versus drinking 100% grape juice may actually deprive you of getting the full polyphenol potential and health benefits of the grape. The Concord grape has a thick skin that slips right off and crunchy seeds. Most people discard the seeds and skin – but that’s where you’ll find the grape’s polyphenol power. As an advisor to Welch’s, I know that they make their 100% juice by crushing the whole Concord grape – skin, seeds, and all – to release healthy plant nutrients (or polyphenols) straight from the grape into the juice.
Also, know that just 4 ounces of 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes counts as one serving (1/2 cup) of fruit, with no added sugar and about 70 calories. One serving of wine is 5 ounces, but does not provide a fruit serving and has about 125 calories. Plus, the alcohol in wine can increase fats in the blood called triglycerides and may also lead to high blood pressure.
Take steps now to keep your heart healthy – eat more produce, opt for unsaturated fats, and drink 100% grape juice.