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15 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart

15 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart

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By    |   Thursday, 23 February 2017 10:04 AM

Simple food swaps can save your life. That’s the conclusion of a new double-blind randomized controlled trial published in the British Journal of Nutrition that found even small dietary changes can greatly improve your heart health.

Since February is American Heart Month, this is the ideal time to make healthier food swaps. Doing so can help to improve your and your family’s well-being so that you can reap the rewards proven in the study and combat heart disease, the nation’s No. 1 killer of men and women.

By switching a few regularly consumed foods for those with improved nutritional quality, participants in the study were able to reduce their total and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels by a whopping 30 percent in just eight weeks. They also chose foods that were higher in fiber and lower in fat.

In two months they showed significant improvement in overall cardiovascular health and had a better sense of well being according to the authors.

Dr. Craig Title, a leading weight loss physician in New York City, tells Newsmax Health that choosing healthier fats and adding more fiber to your diet not only reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease but also helps you lose weight.

“Even losing 5 or 15 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers,” he says. “Losing even one pound of weight results in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knees.”

A study in Finland, found that people who lost a mere 7 percent of their total body weight reduced their risk of diabetes by a whopping 58 percent. Similar improvements have been documented for hypertension and even sleep apnea.

Losing weight doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” endeavor, says Title. “Making small changes can yield big results.”

Here are his suggestions:

• Swap butter or margarine for a drizzle of olive oil on vegetables.

• Switch from whole milk to reduced fat or almond milk.

• Instead of indulging in ice cream, switch to low-fat, frozen yogurt for a snack.

• Opt for unbuttered plain popcorn instead of potato chips. Spray a little olive oil for flavor. Baby carrots also make a better snack choice.

• Make your own healthier pizza by topping whole wheat toast or a whole wheat pita bread with cottage cheese and a slice of tomato and chopped basil leaves. Run under the broiler or heat in the toaster oven.

• Slather your bagel with a nut butter rather than cream cheese.

• Choose a lower-fat cut of beef such as top round instead of filet mignon or rib cuts.

• Switch to hummus instead of Ranch dressing for dipping veggies as a snack.

• Instead of eating a beef burger, try a leaner bison burger instead.

• Order your latte or coffee drinks without sugar.

• When eating out, try these healthy swaps at the following restaurants:

  1. Order a Big Mac instead of a Whopper with Cheese to save fat grams.
  2. Try a Chipotle Chicken Crispy Taco instead of a Chicken Burrito to save one-half the calories and three times the saturated fat.
  3. Choose Outback’s Steakhouse Special Steak dinner, which has one-fifth of the saturated fat of the restaurant’s Herb Roasted Prime Rib and one-third of the calories.
  4. Choose Pizza Hut’s Thin ‘n Crispy Cheese Pizza instead of the restaurant’s Pan Cheese Pizza. You’ll save calories and fat.

Experts note that it’s not just the calories and unhealthy fats that increase our risk for heart disease. The Standard American Diet, appropriately nicknamed S.A.D., is woefully low in fiber.
Sherry Torkos, a noted pharmacist, author, certified fitness instructor, and book author, explains that dietary fiber is key to a healthy heart, as well as digestion.

“You may think about your fiber intake when you are concerned about bowel irregularity but there are four reasons why it’s also important for your heart,” she tells Newsmax Health.

  1. It helps promote healthy cholesterol levels.
  2. It helps support normal blood pressure.
  3. It supports healthy glucose levels. This is important for people at risk of heart disease, in addition to those who are diabetic.
  4. It helps with weight management by promoting satiety (the feeling of fullness), reducing cravings and helping to reduce food intake.

Here are smart swaps to increase your daily fiber intake:

  • Pass on the corn flakes, rice crisps and sugary cereals and opt for a high-fiber cereal.
  • Use sprouted whole-grain bread instead of white bread.
  • Swap sweet potatoes for white potatoes because they have more fiber and nutrients.
  • Snack on nuts, seeds, and dried fruit instead of potato chips.
  • Switch to brown rice instead of white rice or try the grains quinoa, barley, or farro for even more nutrition and fiber.
     

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Simple food swaps can save your life. That's the conclusion of a landmark new study that found even small dietary changes can greatly improve your heart health. Since February is American Heart Month, here are 15 healthy food swaps to that can help you reap the benefits proven in the study.
food, swaps, heart, health
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2017-04-23
Thursday, 23 February 2017 10:04 AM
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