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Birches' Dietitian Linda Graham Highlights Foods for a Healthy Heart

In recognition of American Heart Health month, Dietitian Linda Graham is speaking about “Heart Healthy Foods” at The Birches Assisted Living on February 6. Graham says the focus of her talk will be on foods you should eat, rather than foods you shouldn't eat. “I’m trying to put a more positive spin on it, rather than saying ‘You can’t eat this, you can’t eat that,’” said Graham.

Graham says some of the top food choices for a healthy heart include berries, dark green and yellow vegetables, carrots, broccoli, winter squash, whole grains, fish, and poultry. Graham says it’s also important to cook with a heart healthy oil like olive oil, which contains high levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

According to Graham and many other experts in the field of nutrition, fruits and vegetables are particularly important in the overall health of our heart. Graham says, for example, that the consumption of fruits and vegetables can help keep our hearts pliant. “You don’t want the veins and arteries to get really stiff, and fruits and vegetables have compounds in them that help prevent that,” said Graham.

Graham’s recommendations for a heart healthy diet are inspired by the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating mostly plant-based foods, consuming healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, using herbs and spices in place of salt, eating fish and poultry, and limiting red meat intake. The diet also promotes drinking red wine in moderation and remaining physically active.

Additionally, Graham plans to discuss the importance of shedding extra weight in order to maintain a healthy heart. According to Graham, holding on to extra weight can take a tremendous toll on our bodies, especially our hearts. “If people don’t have excess weight, their heart does not need to work as hard,” said Graham. Graham’s talk on “Heart Healthy Foods” will take place on Thursday, February 6 at 2:00 pm in the 3rd floor activity room.

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