Health First | Heart Healthy Tips

With the new year here, it’s time to rededicate ourselves to our own hearts. By following simple guidelines, and maybe making small changes, we have a brand new year to get heart healthy!

When you think of a fresh start to the new year, think of fresh, as in fruits and vegetables. Eating a variety of these every day will contribute the health of your heart, experts say.

At this time of year, frozen fruits and vegetables may be substituted but avoid canned or processed.

"In general, processed food has more sodium and canned food and should be avoided because it can cause fluid retention and high blood pressure,” said Dr. Rupen Parikh, a cardiologist with Commonwealth Health.

Using the American Heart Association guidelines, he gave us these tips:

• Eat whole grain products like brown rice, oats and quinoa.

• Eat fish at least 2 times each week. Like tuna, salmon, lake trout, and sardines that have Omega-3 fatty acids.

• Eat lean meats and meat alternatives like tofu. Add more beans of all kinds. They have a lot of fiber.

• Eat non- or low-fat dairy products

Here are some things to avoid:

• Saturated fats

• Added salt

• Chips, cookies and crackers

• Sugary drinks

• Smoking and

• Limit alcohol

But if you’re a coffee drinker, here’s a bit of good news.

“Coffee is okay," Parikh said. "It doesn’t cause any problems in moderation, as long as you’re not drinking two pots a day.”

To see all the American Heart Association Healthy Heart Food guidelines, go to Professional.Heart.Org.

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