Nutrition

Watch Now: Heart Healthy Snacks

(Video: Heart healthy snacks are on the menu from Courtney Smith, a registered dietitian at Mariners Hospital.)

A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, a condition that includes heart attacks and strokes. Unfortunately, more than 75 percent of the food in a grocery store is loaded with added sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients. And processed foods are especially harmful when it comes to controlling weight and chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and diet-related cancers.

About half of American adults — 117 million people — have one or more preventable chronic diseases that relate to “poor quality dietary patterns” and physical inactivity, according to federal data. A U.S. government panel recommends that Americans further lower their consumption of added sugars, while focusing less on processed offerings and more on “plant-based foods” such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these dietary guidelines for preventing heart disease.

  • Select foods that offer low levels of trans fat, saturated fats and cholesterol.
  • Reduce the amount of added sugar in meals and snacks.
  • Limit sodium.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber.

Not only can fiber help with digestion, it can also help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels, medical experts say.

“You can modify your cardiovascular risk by choosing fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains,” says Lucette Talamas, a registered dietitian with Community Health at Baptist Health.

A healthy diet contains a daily serving of 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber for men. But the average American does not consume enough fiber, and most people only get about half of the daily recommendation.

Good nutrition is a key message during February, American Heart Month, which seeks to raise awareness about prevention of heart disease. In honor of heart month, the Baptist Health South Florida News Team spoke with Courtney Smith, a registered dietitian at Mariners Hospital, about healthy snacks. Watch now!

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