Healthier You Series: All-Star Nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix Sheds Light on Good Heart Health Practices You Can Use
Start smart eating habits on Mondays for a happier and healthier you! February is American Heart Month. Take a moment on Monday to focus on behaviors that may help you live a longer and healthier life.
This is the third article in this month’s Healthier You Series. We’ve discussed making good dietary choices for kidney health and type 2 diabetes. This week, we look at heart health.
The American Heart Association recommends making simple changes to your diet to improve heart health, such as limiting red meat.
Meatless Monday is an easy and enjoyable way to make smart food choices for your heart.
Consuming less red and processed meat and more plant-based foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes can benefit cardio-health.
Bonnie Taub-Dix is a nutrition consultant, author, and Meatless Monday advocate. We asked her to share some heart-friendly advice.
1. Meatless Monday encourages people to cut out meat one day a week for their health and to try a great variety of plant-based foods. Are there specific plant-based foods that are most beneficial for heart health?
Plant-based protein is a hot, trendy topic but these are foods that have been around for centuries, providing fiber and an array of nutrients. Plant proteins like beans, nuts, and seeds are just a few examples of how we can cut back on meat while boosting the value of our diets.
Oatmeal is a steamy bowl of goodness for breakfast swirled with almond butter and bananas or as a savory side mixed with a variety of seasonings and spices. Oats and almonds are rich in fiber to help lower cholesterol levels.
Beans, the most underrated superfoods, are also rich in soluble fiber to help keep you feeling fuller longer while controlling cholesterol levels. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein.
2. Are there particular foods to avoid? What about processed foods?
Many people say they try to avoid “processed food,” as if it’s a kind of poison. It’s a well-intentioned goal, but even pre-chopped fruit or vegetables are processed foods! Certain processed foods make our lives more convenient, safer–and in many ways, even more nutritious.
The good news is certain processed foods are healthier than some foods found in their natural state, such as:
• Plain yogurt, with added cultures, retains the protein and calcium naturally found in dairy products, and it also includes added good bacteria to help boost our gut function and immune systems.
• Canned tomatoes contain more lycopene—a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation—than fresh tomatoes do, especially when they are eaten simultaneously with a small amount of oil to enhance absorption.
Don’t judge a food by the front of the package. Flip that bag or box over to read what’s really inside!
3. Should people with a family history of heart disease be much more careful than those who don’t have a history? What can someone with a family history do to help prevent heart disease?
If you knew you could have stopped that balsamic vinegar from splattering on your favorite white sweater, would you have done something to prevent it from happening? Unless you’re clairvoyant, it’s not very easy to prevent something you can’t predict.
When it comes to your body—whether it’s potential damage from high blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels—this is the time to take charge of your health. You can fight against your family histories by taking a closer look at what you’re putting on your plate, moving more, and finding effective ways to manage stress.
4. What’s your go-to food for heart health on Meatless Monday?
I’d have to say my Spicy Dark Chocolate Chili Bowl! What I love about this recipe is that you don’t really have to follow it exactly — you can swap out for your favorite ingredients. This recipe contains beans and avocado, as well as a variety of anti-inflammatory spices.
Bonnie recently published Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table. You can find more about Bonnie at Better Than Dieting and on Instagram.
For an extra bonus, check out heart-friendly Meatless Monday recipes, from pancakes to burgers, in our free comfort food e-cookbook.
Use Mondays to make positive change in your life that will do you a world of good. Meatless Monday is a global movement followed by millions who choose not to eat meat one day a week for their health and the health of the planet.
Help spread the word about the many benefits of Meatless Monday, such as how reducing meat consumption may improve your heart health. Download our shareable free graphics here. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram!