Most of us know that moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise is a wonderful way to keep your heart healthy (so sign up for those Cycletique classes regularly), but how much do you know about which foods are the most beneficial?
Heart Healthy Goodies
It’s easy to remember that dark chocolate and red wine both have heart health benefits, but here are the daily staples that you want to make sure you include in your diet as often as possible:
- Whole grains (oat, whole wheat, quinoa, brown rice, etc): at least 3, 1-ounce servings each day. Whole grains provide more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals than refined (or white/processed) grains. Don’t be afraid of carbs – they keep our brain functioning and power us through our tough workouts!
- Plant-based fats: Rather than worrying about omega 3 and omega 6 and AHA and DHA (who has time to memorize all that!?), try to stick to plant based sources of fat. They are typically higher in the heart healthy fats (unsaturated) and can help improve our cholesterol values. Choose avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts and seeds more often than foods like butter, whole milk, bacon, and red meat.
- Fruits and vegetables: You’re thinking, duh, of course. Have you thought about varying which ones you choose each week? Try something you’ve never purchased before and research fun recipes. You’ll be surprised how delicious oven baked rutabaga fries are–I promise!
And as far as the chocolate and red wine are concerned—there can be too much of a good thing. Aim for 70% or higher dark chocolate, not the caramel marshmallow pretzel bars, and limit your portions to one ounce a few times a week. When it comes to red wine, limit it to one 5-ounce glass per day to obtain the benefits without adding too many calories.
One last tip–watch your weight. Even if you have a family history of heart disease, losing 10% of your body weight (if you are overweight) can drastically improve your lab values. Not sure how many calories you should be consuming? Talk to your doctor, or to one of the registered dietitians at Cycletique. We’re here to help you meet your goals.
Bonus Recipe: Baked Rutabaga “Fries”
As a bonus, here’s a fun, healthy recipe.
- 1 rutabaga
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt free seasoning of choice (Mrs. Dash, paprika, garlic granules, etc)
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Peel (this can be a workout in itself) and chop the rutabaga into ½ inch square segments, like you would a potato.
- Toss with olive oil and seasoning and bake 35-45 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and crispy.