February is national Heart Health month and a reminder to all of us about ways we can keep our hearth healthy through diet and exercise.
For the next few blogs, I am going to focus on each of the food groups and what foods keep our heart healthy and what foods may not be so healthy for you and your family's heart. And yes, that includes children because believe it or not, unhealthy changes in the heart can begin during childhood.
Whole grains are important for your diet because they provide you with fiber which helps lower cholesterol. A build up of cholesterol in the blood stream can clog the arteries in your heart (much like build up in your pipes will eventually impede flow). So a diet high in fiber is very important. Grains are naturally rich in iron and many vitamin B. Also important for a healthy heart.
Grains are divided into two groups: refined grains and whole grains. It is the whole grains that give you the most health benefits because the entire grain kernel is intact where the majority of fiber and vitamins are found.
Heart Health Tip: To help your heart stay healthy choose whole grain food products. Look for the words whole and 100% in the title.
Grains are also very starchy and turn into sugar very quickly when the body breaks it down. One problem we have with the American diet is that we tend to eat way too much grains that our body actually needs. So portion control and knowing how much your body actually needs is very important.
Heart Health Tip: Make half your grains whole grains. Limit your portion sizes to one ounce, 1/2 cup or 1 slice.