We’ve discussed exercising for heart health, but there’s more to it than that! The American Heart Association also recommends making changes to your diet to support a healthier heart. Below are just a few tips to get you started. If you ever have more questions, UHC has nutritionists on staff who are always here to help!

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Eat nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (or plant chemicals), many of which are known for their antioxidant capabilities.

In addition, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean cuts of meat and poultry, fish, and vegetarian sources of protein, including beans, peas and tofu, are supportive of heart health.

Choose heart healthy sources of fats, which can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and promote overall heart health.

In general, this means choosing mono- and polyunsaturated fats, usually found in oils such as olive, canola, peanut, sesame, and safflower, and foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds, nut butters, and fatty fish.

Looking for a place to start making changes? Try having a fatty fish—salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring or trout—in the place of other protein sources for dinner one or two nights per week. Or, to reduce saturated fat and boost fiber, try adding beans or lentils instead of beef to a soup or stew, or try a black bean burger on whole grain bun.

Experiment with soy other vegetarian protein sources. Try a stir fry made with vegetables and tofu or edamame or an ethnic entree such as curried lentils or chickpeas.

As part of American Heart Month, the University Health Center will offer cholesterol screenings (blood lipid panels) at a free or reduced rate and free blood pressure screenings Feb. 8-11 and 15-18 from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.

Looking for a place to begin? Use creative ways to add in more vegetables that will work for even for the most reluctant eaters. Try adding fresh or frozen vegetables into your favorite pasta or Asian stir fry dish, or top a pizza with extra mushrooms and spinach. Keep sliced veggies and hummus in a visible location in the fridge or add them to a smoothie. For certain vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts that can be bitter when steamed, try roasting for a sweeter flavor, which occurs with the caramelization process as the vegetables cook.

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UHC is also offering another great way to kick-start your journey to a heart-healthy lifestyle. The University Health Center will host its first Heart Health Fair on Wednesday, February 8th, from 1pm-4pm.

In aligning with the University Health Center’s mission the goal of the fair is to provide education regarding the value of prevention in reducing the risks to heart disease. The health center, along with various UGA departments have partnered to deliver a comprehensive, hands on, interactive health fair.

The fair will host many activities: tasting tours with our Nutrition Educators, Mindfulness classes by CAPS, How to Stop the Bleed  with the Office of Emergency Preparedness, BMI and VO2 max testing with Dawgs Move within the Kinesiology department, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol screenings for at-risk participants by UHC Medical Clinics, and many more activities. Please check out our website for more details.

All activities are free, except a $10 fee is assessed for Cholesterol screenings for non-fees paid UGA students, UGA faculty/staff, spouses, domestic partners, and UGA retirees. To provide best results on screenings, participants must have no food or drink except water after midnight.

Written by: UHC Nutrition Services & the Communications Team
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