February is Heart Health Month – be sure to check the Eat Well blog for a new topic related to heart health each week for the month of February!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The good news, is there are many ways to keep your heart healthy through diet and exercise. One way is to enjoy more heart healthy fats and limit saturated and trans fats. Heart healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Increased intakes of these unsaturated fats has been associated with improved heart health and cardioprotective effects. Diets higher in saturated and trans fats have been shown to increase cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Monounsaturated Fats are also known as omega-9 fatty acids. These fats help decrease total cholesterol and LDL levels, which help improve heart health.
Good sources of this fat includes:
- Nuts: almonds, peanuts, pistachios
- Olive oil
- Nut butter
Polyunsaturated Fats have two categories – omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats also decrease cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids include EPA and DHA, which can help improve HDL (good cholesterol) levels and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Good sources of these fats include:
- Fatty fish: trout, salmon, tuna
- Chia seeds
- Canola oil
- Oils: canola, soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower
- Sunflower seeds
Check out these tips to increase healthy fat intakes:
- Try preparing fatty fish at least twice a week
- Spread avocado for a creamy addition to sandwiches
- Dress salads with heart healthy oils
- Top oatmeal and yogurt with nuts and seeds
- Create your own heart healthy trail mix
- When baking use canola oil instead of butter
- Include legumes and whole grains with your meals
- Add walnuts to baked goods