The foods we eat play a big role in keeping us healthy. Here's how to put the latest research into practice at your dining table:
Replace red meat with a few ounces of fatty fish such as salmon. Research suggests that eating about 8 ounces of fatty fish per week cuts the risk of dying from heart disease. The oil in fish may steady the heart’s rhythm and lower triglycerides—a blood fat linked to heart disease.
Season food with herbs and spices, rather than salt. Eating too much sodium ups the chances of developing high blood pressure. Older adults, African-Americans and people with high blood pressure—who together make up almost 70 percent of the American population—should eat only 1,500 milligrams or less of sodium each day. Other adults should aim for 2,300 milligrams or less, equal to eating about 1 teaspoon of table salt.
Packing a lunch? Steer clear of a lot of processed foods, which are high in sodium. Instead, include plenty of fruits and vegetables. While sodium can raise blood pressure, potassium helps lower it. Choose potassium—rich foods, such as leafy greens, grapes and carrots. Plus, a new study found that foliate—a B vitamin plentiful in leafy greens, oranges and beans—help women prevent high blood pressure.
Cook with olive oil instead of butter or polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as corn oil. Olive oil can lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and boost HDL, or “good” cholesterol.
Snack on walnuts, almonds and other unsalted nuts instead of chips or other refined carbohydrates, which can increase triglycerides. Nuts are high in alpha-linolenic acid, a substance that helps regulate heart rhythm.