Tag Archives: healthy heart

Reasons to eat a Vegetarian Diet

1 Dec

Recognize that some of the health reasons to eat a vegetarian diet include reducing your risk of heart disease. Therefore, to obtain the benefits of a plant-based diet we just need to reduce the amount of meat we eat per day. Although, eating vegetarian may seem too extreme for some people. Nevertheless, a semi-vegetarian diet may offer a healthy alternative, and here are some reasons why this way of eating will improve so much of our health.

Understand that meats and full-fat dairy products, such as whole-milk cheese, contain saturated fats that raise the cholesterol levels in our body, which affect our heart health. So, decreasing the consumption of animal fat will decrease your saturated fat level.

When you are aware of meat playing the main role on your dinner plate, you will then be able to substitute with more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Realize that eating more high-fiber whole grains, beans and legumes, unsalted nuts, lower-fat and fat-free dairy foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other important phytonutrients, may help to decrease your risk of chronic diseases.

If meatless is not for you, it’s ok. Be aware that you can still adopt a heart-healthy eating style by eating skinless poultry and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids. These are good protein choices and are easy foods to prepare in healthy ways. Just remember, people who eat less meat tend to consume fewer calories, and foods such as beans are one of the most cost-effective sources of protein available. Meat typically costs more per pound than other protein sources.

Know that when you choose to eat meat, you may select the leanest cut available, or reduce your portion size to no more than 5 oz. (the size of the palm of your hand once the meat is cooked).

Begin by going meatless one day per week. Eat a bean burrito, Teriyaki rice with vegetables, whole wheat pasta with mushrooms, tofu and marinara sauce, or a burger made with portabella mushrooms. These are some of the many delicious vegetarian options now available in restaurants and supermarkets. Try some of these dishes and you will be amazed with the flavor!

American Heart Association Vegetarian

American Heart Association Main Dishes

Quick and Easy Low-Cost Vegan Menus

Vegan Recipes

February is American Heart Month

5 Feb

Cardiovascular disease CVD, runs in my family, but fortunately, most chronic diseases, including CVD are caused by modifiable behaviors.

The three most common risk behaviors for CVD are lack of physical activity, poor nutrition and inadequate weight management. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension encourages you to love yourself by making changes to decrease your risk for heart disease.

Change your diet. Most of us do not get the appropriate number of servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Having one fruit and 1.5 to 2 cups of vegetables at every meal can do wonders for your heart.

Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories, which aids in weight management. Try incorporating a variety of vegetables and fruits into your diet, like kale, asparagus, blueberries and cherries. I have found that drinking fruit and vegetable smoothies also increases fruit and vegetable intake.

Spice it up. When preparing food, reduce the amount of sodium to good heart health. We may be a society of foodies, and no one likes bland food, but there are ways to make foods taste great without adding sodium.

Spices and herbs add flavor. If you’re aiming for an Italian-inspired meal, for instance, try using garlic powder, thyme, oregano and basil. Switching from garlic and onion salts to garlic and onion powders is a small step that could bring big returns.

Make the effort. Physical activity takes effort on our part. Walking is a cost-effective, easy way to get moving. Walk the entire grocery store, to the mailbox or to the corner. Add a pedometer app to your phone to let you know the number of steps you take daily or if you are like Ines, set up your alarm early and do your physical activity in the morning, so it is out of your way and you have the energy to start the day!

Consider these Extension tips and make heart health a priority in February.  

Keishon Thomas and Ines Beltran.University of Georgia Extension family and consumer sciences agents.