This month marks the 57th year the nation dedicates the month of February to raising awareness and highlighting the importance of heart health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease continues to be the greatest health threat to Americans and is still the leading cause of death worldwide, as reported in their Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2021 Update.
During American Heart Month, the AHA and other organizations reinforce the importance of heart health and the need for more research and efforts to ensure that millions of people live longer and healthier. At the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, we support the work of heart health organizations with research and education (nuthealth.org.)
Listed below are two of the AHA diet and lifestyle recommendations for preventing and managing cardiovascular disease, and tips on how tree nuts can play a role in your own heart health.
- Use up at least as much calories as you take in:
With the goal of maintaining a healthy weight range, we need to ensure we’re getting enough physical activity to balance our calorie intake. The recommendations are for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This doesn’t mean you have to run or visit the gym every day, just taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking further away from your destination can count!
Tree nuts go hand-in-hand with fitness. They promote satiety and can help curb food cravings. They’re a simple, convenient snack to take on a hike, a bike ride, or even a day at the beach. Add nuts to breakfast to help curb those mid-morning slumps. We have lots of ideas here for some nut-inspired breakfasts.
- Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern:
The AHA recommends a diet that emphasizes:
- a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains,
- healthy sources of protein such as nuts, legumes and fish,
- unsaturated fats – found in nuts, olive oil, avocado and non-tropical vegetable oils,
- minimizing added sugars and salt,
- and limiting processed foods.
Tree nuts are the ultimate whole food. You can use nut butter instead of mayonnaise on your sandwiches; use ground nut flour for cakes; and season or roast nuts for snacking, rather than chips.
Check out a few more ideas for making your diet more hearth healthy with nuts:
- Use ground nuts as thickener for soups and casseroles.
- Add nuts to salads rather than cheese.
- Boost your smoothie with a healthy dose of tree nuts.
- Enjoy an Italian pasta or pizza dish with a nut-based sauce.
Here’s to caring for our own hearts and those of our loved ones!
The Nutty Chef