We’re surrounded by heart-shaped everything this month. But how is your heart actually doing? In the spirit of love and because February is National Heart Health Month, we asked Health Warrior Ambassador and registered dietitian, Julie Rothenberg, for some tips on heart health.
By: Julie Rothenberg MS, RD, LDN
1. Eat whole, plant based, less processed foods
Let’s start by making sure you are eating whole, plant based, less processed foods. Health Warrior Bars are superfood snacks that pride themselves on containing natural and plant based ingredients. Many of the bars contain ingredients like chia seeds, rolled oats, pumpkin seeds and almonds. These are all important and beneficial for heart health.
2. Eat more fiber
The fiber in chia seeds, rolled oats, and almonds helps to lower cholesterol, specifically bad (LDL) cholesterol levels. Eating fiber also keeps you fuller longer, making these bars an excellent snack. Feeling fuller for longer periods of time will help you to consume less calories in snacks throughout the day. This can support the maintenance of a healthy weight, another factor in the prevention of heart disease.
3. Increase fruits and vegetables
Pair your Health Warrior Chia Bar with a piece of fruit or a serving of veggies! Not only is this a tasty combo, you will get more fiber, important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The American Heart Association recommends to get at least 4 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables a day. Sneak them into a snack to help you reach your recommended needs. The Honey Sea Salt Pumpkin Seed Bar pairs really nicely with a green smoothie.
4. Stay on top of omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are your heart’s best friend. Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and almonds all contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help to decrease inflammation in the body as well as decrease your LDL levels and actually raise your good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Less inflammation in the body keeps your body feeling great and your blood pressure at a normal and healthy rate. Find out more about the benefits of chia seeds here.
5. Monitor your magnesium
Pumpkin seeds are a fantastic source of magnesium. With just a quarter of a cup of pumpkin seeds, you can receive about half of your daily needs of magnesium which helps with many important functions in the body. The National Institute of Health has found that most people are not meeting their recommended daily needs of magnesium which can lead to some serious health challenges. Magnesium supports the pumping of your heart, which can help to maintain a healthy blood pressure and potentially prevent heart attack and stroke. Pumpkin Seed Bars are a quick and tasty way to fuel up on magnesium.
6. Exercise for your heart
When you eat heart healthy foods, your energy levels increase. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week (75 minutes if it is vigorous exercise). Use this extra energy to your benefit and get moving. Take a bar along as a pre or post workout fuel to replenish your energy stores.
7. Heart healthy, Health Warrior hacks
For a great heart healthy breakfast, take 1 – 2 TBS almond butter and slather it on your favorite Health Warrior Bar. Add a piece of fruit for an extra boost of heart health. For another high protein, energy dense meal, crumble a Chia Bar into plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and add fruit to make a parfait. Get your day started the heart healthy, Health Warrior way.
Julie Rothenberg is a registered dietitian with a passion for honoring the body with good nutrition and mindful eating. She works in Miami, Florida at her private practice in nutrition, JuliENERGYnutrition, LLC. Julie is a certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and has a passion for helping to improve relationships with both food and the body. Check out her website, www.JuliENERGYnutrition.com or follow her on Instagram @JuliENERGYnutrition.