Keep your heart healthy with nutritious food

February is American Heart Month and one way to keep your heart healthy is by what you eat.

I talked to registered dietitian Jody Pannozzo from My Dietitian and asked her what foods she suggests people pick up the next time they’re at the grocery store.

“I always recommend to the general population, whether they’re at risk for heart disease or not, to switch from processed grains to whole grains,” Pannozzo said.

Those whole-grain options include bread, pasta and brown rice.

“People need to make sure that they’re actually eating products with whole grains,” Pannozzo said. “The food should have about 5 grams of fiber to be considered a good source of fiber.”

Pannozzo said this is why reading food labels is a top priority.

Some other heart-healthy foods include fruits and vegetables.

“I tell my clients fresh and frozen,” Pannozzo said. “In fact, frozen can be better than fresh in certain instances because every day that your fruits or vegetables sit in the fridge, it will start to lose its nutrient concentration.

“Now if you take a bunch of broccoli right off the farm and freeze it, you’re going to get all that nutrition locked in,” Pannozzo continued.

Healthy fats are also important foods to consume. Some examples include fish, avocados, seeds, nuts and olive oil.

“We’re fighting this generational issue where at one point we thought fat-free was the best and now we’re realizing that you need to have healthy fat in your diet to fight heart disease,” Pannozzo said.

Watching your sodium intake and consuming low-fat dairy products are key components in a heart-healthy diet.

“Stay away from fat-free dairy products because they tend to add sugar in to replace the flavor or to replace the fat that is taken out,” Pannozzo said.

Exercise is another piece in maintaining a healthy heart.

“I focus on not only the quantity of cardiovascular activity that my clients do, but also the quality of exercise,” Pannozzo said. “It’s very important to not do the same exercise over and over.

“You need to challenge yourself with different types of routines,” Pannozzo continued.

These few simple tips can jump-start your quest for a healthier life.

For more information visit www.goredforwomen.org

Brandy Aguilar has been covering health and fitness stories for more than a decade. She loves meeting new people and giving them a voice to bring awareness, hope and inspiration to others in the Arizona community. Brandy’s stories range from weight loss, sports health and the latest medical breakthroughs. She consistently informs and engages through the pieces she tells and her work has earned local and national recognition.

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