Cool Down! A New Dietary Treatment for Menopause

By Daniel Davis, MD | Internal Medicine

A study published by the North American Menopause Society found a plant-based diet rich in soy reduces moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 84%. During the study, nearly 60% of women became totally free of moderate-to-severe hot flashes. Overall hot flashes (including mild ones) decreased by 79%.

What does this all mean for diet and menopause? We dive in with Dr. Daniel Davis.

What are hot flashes?

Hot flashes are one of the most common symptoms of menopause with about 80% of American women experiencing them. Hot flashes can be mild or serious enough to impact your day-to-day life. The feeling is usually a flushing warmth or heat in the upper body and face.

Traditional treatment for hot flashes

Most women with mild hot flashes can treat them with small changes: fans, air conditioning, dressing in layers, and avoiding things like spicy foods and stress. For serious hot flashes, women for a long time were given estrogen (a group of hormones in women) therapy. Now we know that these treatments increase the risk of some cancers, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes! After learning this, many providers began treating serious hot flashes with other medicines like anti-depressants. Diet wasn’t considered in most patient’s treatment plans.

But that changed in March of 2021 when a study in the American Journal of Menopause showed diet might play an important role in menopause and hot flashes.

How does diet impact menopause?

Scientists have known for a long time that not all women have hot flashes like American women, particularly those countries not following a western/American diet. In countries like Japan and other parts of Asia, only about 15% of women develop hot flashes compared to 80% of American women!

While researchers are still figuring out why 65% more American women have hot flashes compared to Japan, diet is top of mind. People living in Asian countries usually eat less animal products (meat, dairy), eat more vegetables, and have other differences.

How did the study work?

The March 2021 study looked at women all experiencing the same hot flash symptoms, and randomly put them in two groups and watched they symptoms:

  • Group #1 – Dietary Changes – low fat vegan diet
  • Group #2 – No Dietary Changes – known as the control group

Women in group #1 with the vegan diet saw a 79% decrease in all hot flashes. Women in group #2 had a 49% decrease.

For severe hot flashes – the kind that disrupt daily life – women in group #1 had a decrease of 84%, while women in group #2 saw severe hot flashes decrease 42%. When it came to less severe hot flashes (mild or moderate), 59% of the women on the vegan diet in group #1 said they didn’t have ANY!

The vegan diet group also lost a significant amount of weight and had other health improvements compared with group #2 that did not change their diet.

What does this mean about estrogen, diet, and menopause?

Estrogen is still an important factor for menopause and hot flashes. But doctors and researchers want safer ways to replace estrogen. One way is diet.

Luckily most plant foods – like soybeans and tofu – have estrogen-like nutrients that help during menopause. What’s even more exciting is that these foods have health benefits, like decreasing the risk of breast, prostate, ovarian, and uterine cancer.

People concerned about children or males consuming estrogen don’t need to be. There isn’t a hormonal effect on men or on children’s normal development from foods. Most people can and should consume soy. If someone has a soy allergy, which is rare, they should not treat hot flashes with soy foods.

What about estrogen supplements for menopause?

I recommend against consuming phytoestrogen supplements (plant-based estrogen-like pill). Herbal supplements in the USA often contain ingredients not on the label and they aren’t regulated by any government agency, so we really don’t know what is in them or if they provide any benefits. Additionally, not all plant-based estrogen-like nutrient pills are the same. Some have potentially risky plant estrogens being sold as safe supplements.

What does Dr. Davis recommend?

As a doctor, I recommend you talk to your primary care provider or registered dietician if you are working with one before making any major changes to your diet. If you want to make an appointment with a dietician, NOAH’s has a team of registered dieticians here.

Plant based diets, like a vegan diet, can have a lot of health benefits and a well-planned vegan diet is good for anyone according to the American Dietetics Association. Eating a plant-based diet can also prevent and be part of a treatment plan for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and obesity.

What now?

This study shows that diet can have a tremendous impact on menopausal symptoms. The vegan diet in this study is safe and could lead to many other benefits. Ask your medical provider or dietician if you can give it a try.

You can read more about this study here, and find the full scientific paper free here.

Summer Fun with Kids

By Noel Ugarte, MS, RD |Nutrition Educator

Every summer, as the sizzling sun sets, I still think back to my childhood when my family would go to the park to play a few friendly rounds of kickball. Afterward, we would cool down with snacks before walking home. I loved these park competitions when I was a child. They were the perfect opportunity to let loose, be myself, and have fun with adults. That’s what summer fun with kids is all about! The good news is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees that physical activity can help children grow strong bones and muscles, improve brain function, and prevent chronic conditions.

Ready to get started with a fun summer with your kids?

#1. Choose an Activity

Having summer fun with kids is always going to be active! School-aged kids and adolescents should get at least 60 minutes of moderate or harder physical activity every day. Whatever activity you pick, it should increase heart rate and breathing. Think of fun activities you can do as a family and if it’s too hot outside (hello, Arizona summer!), get active inside!

Here are some ideas to get started: 

  • Water balloon toss or tag
  • Hiking/biking at a local location or National Park
  • Tug of war
  • Swimming
  • Jump rope
  • Races – one-on-one, relay, sack races (hopping)
  • Dance party or dance-off competition
  • Obstacle course race

#2. Fuel and Hydration

It is really important to keep your body fueled when you’re doing activities – especially in the Arizona heat! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has easy suggestions for how much water kids should drink but remember it might be more with exercise or hotter temperatures. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day. NOAH’s team shares these recommendations.

Age RangeGenderTotal Cups Water Each Day
4 – 8 yearsBoys and Girls7
9 – 13 yearsGirls9
 Boys10
14 – 18 yearsGirls10
 Boys14

What kids eat is important too. Food gives us energy and important nutrients. Keep snacks available to refuel before, during, and after physical activities. Try to find non-perishable foods – things that won’t spoil or melt at high temperatures – to pack if you’re going outdoors. Some food examples include: 

  • Trail mix
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Popcorn
  • Almonds, walnuts, peanuts
  • Tuna pouch and crackers
  • Chewy or crunchy granola bars (if hot, avoid chocolate chips!)
  • Pretzels

Taking perishable foods is still a good idea if you can keep them cool with ice packs or in a cooler. Some suggestions include: 

  • Fresh cut fruit or vegetables
  • Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, milk
  • Meat, poultry, eggs

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends packing cold perishable foods between at least two cold sources (frozen gel packs, frozen water bottles, frozen juice packs) to prevent foodborne illness. 

Enjoy a safe, happy, healthy, and active summer with the kids in your life!

Men’s Health Month

By Brandon Bolton, RDN |Nutrition Educator

June is Men’s Health Month. That means it’s time to bring awareness to men’s health and the potential health issues all men face. It is a month dedicated to spreading awareness, education, prevention, detection, and treatment of disease among men, but men’s health is important all year.

According to menshealthmonth.org, men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women. One reason for this may be that men are more reluctant to go to the doctor and preventable health problems aren’t detected early. In fact, some studies show that women go to the doctor twice as often as men. It is important to encourage all men to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for injury and disease.   

Taking men’s health seriously starts with a healthy diet. Men have specific nutritional needs, and regardless of age, all men need the nutrition from a healthy diet. Food is more than just fuel for the body, and an unhealthy diet can put you at an increased risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

What’s in a Healthy Diet?

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a healthy diet for men includes:

  • 2+ cups of fruits and 2½ cups of vegetables each day for vitamins, minerals, fiber and helpful phytochemicals
  • Whole grains like barley, brown rice, and oatmeal should be at least half of the grains you eat every day. So swap that white bread/pita/tortilla for a whole wheat version.
  • Get enough fiber, at least 38 grams per day for men under 50; 30 grams of fiber per day for men older than 50. Good sources of fiber include berries, popcorn, avocado, apples, nuts, and whole grains listed above.
  • 2 – 3 servings of fish per week.
  • Unsaturated fats such as oils, nuts, and oil-based salad dressings instead of saturated fats like full-fat dairy foods, butter, and high-fat sweets.
  • 3,400 milligrams a day of potassium from fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy.
  • Eat a variety of protein foods and include seafood and sources like beans, lentils, nuts, and peas.

Since men typically are larger and have more muscle mass than women, they require more calories throughout the day. On average, moderately active males need 2,200-2,800 calories and at least 50 grams of protein per day. Keep in mind, these are just averages. Specific energy needs are determined by your height, weight, age, activity level, and medical history. Consider working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to help determine your energy needs and help you develop healthy eating patterns that can last a lifetime.

Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food allergies are getting more attention in recent years – which is a good thing! Around 32 million Americans, including 5.6 million children, are living with a potentially life-threatening food allergy. The more we know about allergies, the better!

Food Allergy vs Food Sensitivity

First things first; food allergies and food sensitivities or intolerances aren’t the same thing. Food allergies are a serious medical condition where your body’s immune system reacts to a specific food protein. It can look like getting a rash or hives, swelling, dizziness, itching, and even anaphylaxis (a serious reaction that can affect breathing and blood pressure read more here).  

If someone thinks they or a family member may have a food allergy, a medical provider should be the one to test and diagnose the allergy.

Food sensitivities or intolerances do not involve the immune system. Things like lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and others are in the digestive system. They can cause serious discomfort like bloating, constipation, cramping, and nausea, but they can’t be fatal. Read more about food sensitivities.

Most Common Food Allergies

People can be allergic to many different kinds of food. Common food allergies are:

  • Peanuts – One of the most common food allergies in children and adults, peanuts – a legume (different from a tree nut) – is usually a lifelong allergy.
  • Milk and Dairy Products – Cow’s milk is the most common allergy in infants and young children, though most outgrow it. It is also one of the most common adult food allergies too.
  • Eggs – A common food allergy for babies and children, many will outgrow it. Some adults remain allergic, and it can be to egg whites, or egg yolks since they contain different proteins.
  • Shellfish – Allergies to this type of seafood, including shrimp, prawns, lobster, and crayfish are typically lifelong, though most people don’t experience a reaction until they are an adult.
  • Soy – Most common in infants and young children, most outgrow a soy allergy. Soy is a legume like peanuts but being allergic to one doesn’t mean someone will be allergic to the other.
  • Wheat – This allergy affects children the most, but many outgrow it by age 10. This is not the same a celiac disease, wheat allergies are to the proteins found in wheat, not gluten.
  • Tree Nuts – Not the same as peanuts, tree nuts include almonds, cashews, walnuts, and more. An allergy to these nuts also includes things like nut butters and oils. Being allergic to one type of tree nut increases the risk of becoming allergic to other tree nuts.

What Next?

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a food allergy, try not to feel overwhelmed. While it does mean you need to change what you eat, there are many resources and people and groups to support you, including NOAH’s Nutrition Services team.

Make sure you have a proper diagnosis with a medical provider. Discuss with them what the diagnosis means. Will the child outgrow it? What medications should you have? What does a severe reaction look like?

Finally, the most important thing to know is that the best way to prevent an allergic reaction to food is to avoid that food. That is what most doctors recommend along with having an epi-pen on-and always to treat any reaction to food allergies. Even a small amount can cause a reaction, but here are some tips.

There is promising news about a new intensive treatment called “food allergen desensitization” which is available and can resolve the allergy in some cases – though definitely not all cases. If you are interested in learning more about this treatment, ask your medical provider if this is right for you.

To get you started on figuring out your food allergies and staying safe, check out our recipes with different ingredient options.

Is Nutrition Really that Important to my Health?

Yes. Yes, it is!

Nutrition is the foundation on which overall health and wellness is built. People fight diseases, prevent health problems, feel better overall, and live healthier lives with good nutrition. This is why NOAH is committed to the key role our Nutrition Services team plays in our integrated care.

Why nutrition matters

When your body gets the minerals and vitamins it needs, everything works better, especially when those nutrients come from what you eat and drink.

Many people think the main benefit of eating healthier is losing weight. And that can be a wonderful benefit because losing weight can impact someone’s overall health. However, the real benefits are:

  • Reduced high blood pressure
  • Reduced high cholesterol
  • Improved energy level
  • Improved ability to recover from injury or illnesses
  • Better able to fight off illnesses
  • Reduced risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and more.

During this National Nutrition Month, NOAH’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) have shared their expert insights about:

Why? Because they see every day how improving nutrition can improve someone’s life.

How nutrition fits into healthcare

At NOAH, we provide comprehensive, integrated care which means all of our departments and providers work together. And nutrition can greatly impact so many patients at any stage of life.

Some examples:

  • Medical providers might be concerned about a patient’s blood pressure. Nutrition will be one of the ways to make improvements. But many people think they have to change their diet and lifestyle overnight to reach their goals. That isn’t the case. A NOAH RDN will learn about the patient, meet with them, and create a plan together. Maybe nutrition alone can help, or maybe it’s a combination of diet and medication. Regardless, it’s always an important step to take.
  • If a patient has reactions when they eat certain foods like dairy or the gluten often found in many breads, pastas, and cereals, an RDN can help. A patient may be lactose intolerant, or it can depend on how much dairy they have. Similarly, maybe a patient has tested positive for gluten intolerance or celiac disease. These individuals will benefit by adding a RDN to their medical team. There are many delicious options available, and ways to prepare food with different ingredients so patients enjoy what they love and are doing what is best for their health.

Do you have questions for our RDNs? Talk to your healthcare provider at your next appointment and get to know how our Nutrition Services team can help you.

Alcohol Facts

Drug & Alcohol Facts Week

By Brandon Bolton, RDN |Nutrition Educator

This week is Drug and Alcohol Facts Week; a time to share facts and awareness about drugs and alcohol with our communities. This article will take a closer look at the truth about alcohol.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 86% of people 18 and older said they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime, 69.5% reported that they drank in the past year, and 55% reported that they drank in the past month.

What is binge drinking?

What is more serious, is that this survey also showed that 26% of people 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol level to 0.08%, also usually looks like 5+ drinks for men, 4+ drinks for women at one setting (night out, at a party, etc.) in about a 2-hour timeframe.

What is heavy drinking?

Heavy drinking is considered 15+ drinks for men, 8+ drinks for women each week. The difference between binge drinking and heavy drinking is that binge drinking is a large amount in a very short time. Heavy drinking is a higher than healthy amount on a regular basis.

Bottom line

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to poor overall health. People who drink too much alcohol are also be more likely to eat poorly. Alcohol can also affect digestion and how your body absorbs nutrients. Too much alcohol can lead to deficiencies in important vitamins like B-complex and many more.

My advice

Talk to your doctor or medical provider to see if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. If you do choose to have alcohol, drink in moderation. Drinking less is better for overall health than heavy drinking or binge drinking. The CDC describes safe, moderate alcohol consumption for most adults as 2 drinks or less for men, and 1 drink or less for women per day.

But make sure you understand what is considered 1 drink.

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

Following these guidelines will support good nutrition, and that plays an important role in your health. Following nutrition guidelines and eating a balanced diet can help ensure our bodies are getting all the nutrients to keep us feeling healthy both physically and emotionally.

Good nutrition means:

  • Eat a wide variety of foods.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Half of your grains coming from whole grains like 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Vary your protein and eat protein rich foods like:
    • Lean meats: 95% lean ground beef, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken or turkey (limit red meats to one time per week)
    • Fish such as salmon and tuna at least once per week
    • Eggs
    • Nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, edamame
    • Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Switch to low fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days per week.

Living a healthy life means considering the many ways we can improve and maintain our health. Alcohol can be safely consumed for most adults, but moderation is important. Reducing or eliminating alcohol from your diet is a great way to improve your overall health. To learn more, call NOAH at 480-882-4545, or fill out this form to meet with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists.

Exercise Options: Alternatives to the Gym

By By Nicole Vaudrin O’Reilly, MS, RD |Nutrition Educator

Physical activity is an important part of health and wellness. Not everyone can go to a gym, especially during the pandemic. Thankfully, there are many other exercise options. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any physical or health limitations. Remember to follow COVID precautions, like wearing a mask and washing your hands, in public places.

Recommendations

  • For adults: at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (ex. brisk walking, riding a bike, and mowing the lawn). Preferably, also with 2 days a week of muscle strengthening exercises (ex. Lifting weights, using resistance bands, and some forms of yoga).
  • For children ages 6 to 17 years old: at least 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity most days and at least 3 days a week of muscle strengthening exercises.
  • For more information, please check out CDC guidelines.

Outdoor exercise options

  • Walk or jog around your neighborhood
  • Hike at a local trail
  • Play basketball, frisbee, tennis, etc. in your own yard or a park
  • Jump rope in your garage or outside
  • Take a bike ride
  • Do gardening and yard work

Home options

Join a team or take a group class

  • There are less options during the pandemic, but joining a team or taking group classes is a fun and social choice. Many places are offering virtual options.
  • PHXPlays is the largest organization in the valley that provides classes and team sports for youth and adults. Check them out here.
  • Your local gym may have classes, or you can go to a specialized studio for things like martial arts, spin, barre, yoga, etc.

Physical activity is one very important piece to overall health and wellness. Learn more about the many services our nutrition team can offer in NOAH’s individualized, comprehensive healthcare.

Getting Started with Meal Planning and Meal Preparation

By Mina Goodman, Registered Dietitian

If you’ve been wanting to follow a healthier diet or eat less, change is possible! According to National Institutes of Health behavior change expert Dr. Susan Czajkowski, there are decades worth of research showing that certain strategies can make changing habits easier. Here, I will walk you through some tips for meal planning and prepping that I like.

Back to the basics

If you haven’t heard of MyPlate before, it’s a simple way to get started with meal planning. The idea is ideally half your plate at meals and snacks is full of fruits and vegetables, with the other half split between protein (ideally lean protein, meaning lower in fat) and carbohydrates or starches (ideally high in fiber meaning starchy vegetables, whole grains, or more fruit). This can also help guide recipe choices, shopping lists, and help you assess your pantry and refrigerator to ensure that half your ingredients are fruits and vegetables!

Keep track

Whether it’s pen and paper, computer documents, phone notes, or an app, try to keep a running list of snacks, recipes, or meal combinations that you and your family enjoy. The idea is that you can create a cycle of recipes or items for your grocery list that you can come back to each week instead of starting from scratch every time.

Create a system

The best system is the one that works for you, but here are some ideas to start with. There are many ways to plan your meals and snacks like searching online for pre-made meal plans from reputable sources such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, or a local government or educational site ending with .org, .gov, or .edu. You can also search meal planning and prep strategies on video browsers such as YouTube.

  1. Make a list. Compile a list of recipes from cookbooks, websites, or write down the names of the one you know by heart. You can search for key words such as heart healthy, vegetarian, low carb, or low fat.
  2. Pick your recipes. Decide how many recipes you want to cook each week or each month, then set aside a realistic amount of time. You may want to start with 1 recipe per week and double the recipe, so you have a few leftover meals. Or if you’re already cooking, try set aside extra time to make a few extra meals. It will all depend on your schedule and preferences.
  3. Grocery shopping. Make a grocery list, either pen and paper or digital. I like to use the app Google Keep since it is free, and you can access on desktop or mobile. On an app like this, I can create the list, share it with others and have others able to edit the list in real time, and what I like best is that you can copy and paste ingredients from a website directly into a check list, making the whole process fast and easy.
  4. Give yourself feedback. I recently started doing this and it has been a helpful reminder on how the week went. I keep an excel spread sheet (again this can be done anyway you find easy) where I record the recipes that I prepared each week and then a notes section with what went well and what was challenging. For example, if I am trying to cook multiple recipes on Sunday to avoid cooking during the week, I might realize that I don’t have enough oven space, stove top space, or baking dishes to get it all done. Or I might notice that the recipe made too much or not enough. These notes can help prevent me from making the same mistakes again.

Wherever you choose to start know that there is no right way to meal plan or prep. Getting started is always the right move! If you are interested, learn more about our Nutrition Services or make an appointment today.

Enjoy Snacking Even More During Snack Food Month

By Stephanie Olzinski, MS, RDN |Nutrition Supervisor

Nutrition comes in all forms, colors, and quality. Most of the time we think of snack food as something less healthy and make our major meals the place to get all those good nutrients we need like proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. But snacks have a place in healthy lifestyle, especially during National Snack Food Month!

Here are some benefits of snacking and recommendations for fun and satisfying snacks.

Benefits of snacking

  1. Satisfying hunger: Being hungry between meals is not a bad thing! If you body is signaling hunger it usually means it is time to eat. But listen to your body. If you started eating at night because it’s a habit, or turn to a snack during a stressful day, your body might be looking for another form of self-care.
  2. Controlling blood sugars: Diabetes or not, it is important to maintain your blood sugars throughout the day. If we go too long between meals without eating, we risk having our blood sugars drop which can cause shakiness, sweating, lightheadedness, and anxiety. Leave no more than 3-4 hours between eating is recommended.
  3. Meeting calorie and nutrient needs: While calories do not need to be counted every day for most people, remember that all of our organs and body systems need enough calories every day to function properly. We can help by eating enough throughout the day and including good portions of each food group at our meals. Snacks supplement our needs between meals like an extra serving of a fruit, vegetable, or something from the list below.

The best snack choices

Whatever you like! It is best to make pairings just how we do for meals – if we just eat something like chips or celery on its own it won’t keep us full for long. Instead choose a base of a protein or healthy fat which will make the snack more filling. Here are some great examples:

  • String Cheese
  • Turkey Jerky
  • Trail Mix or any type of nut or seed
  • Hummus + Veggies
  • Avocado Toast
  • Hard Boiled Egg
  • Natural Peanut Butter + Celery Stalks + Raisins
  • Cottage Cheese + Veggies or Fruit
  • Edamame
  • Greek Yogurt + Fruit or Peanut Butter
  • Greek Yogurt Dip (plain yogurt with garlic powder, dill, chives, and paprika)
  • Brown Rice Cake + Almond, Peanut, or Sunflower Butter
  • Smoothie (protein base of yogurt, soy milk, protein powder, then add any fruit or vegetable)
banana and peanut butter snacks

Try some the NOAH Nutrition Services team’s favorite snacks:

Banana and Peanut Butter Bites – this snack is quick, easy, and full of protein and potassium (among other nutrients) to help you feel full.

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – this flavorful snack is filling and gives a great kick to keep you satisfied for a while.

Oatmeal Energy Bites – these little bites pack a punch of flavor and energy to start your day or get you through a busy afternoon.

Visit our NOAH recipe page for more snack and meal ideas!

Nutrition Impacts Your Heart Health

By Brandon Bolton, RDN |Nutrition Educator

February is American Heart Month, so let’s raise awareness and support for heart health in the fight against heart disease!

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and it is the leading cause of death worldwide. There are many risk factors that impact your chances of having heart disease. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that preventing heart disease starts with knowing what your risk factors are and what you can do to lower them.

Some risk factors for heart disease include:

  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • lack of physical activity
  • unhealthy eating behaviors

These risk factors can be managed or changed. Some risk factors that cannot be changed include age, sex, and family history of heart disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about potential risk factors, please check with your NOAH healthcare provider!

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I provide nutritional care and guidance for patients with nutrition-related conditions like diabetes and pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease, weight management, digestive issues, food allergies, and more.

Advice to living a heart-healthy life

Heart disease is often preventable when people make healthy changes, including diet and how much activity or exercise they get. Living a heart-healthy life means knowing your risk factors and making good choices to protect your heart and stay healthy. Here are some heart-healthy nutrition and exercise tips:

  • Choose heart-healthy foods and eat a diet that is balanced with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein sources.
    • Try to have at least half of your grain intake come from whole grains such as 100% whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
    • Aim for 1-2 cups of fruit daily
    • Aim for 1-3 cups of vegetables daily
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products when having milk, cheese, or yogurt.

Foods to enjoy

  • Lean meats such as 95% lean ground beef or pork tenderloin, or skinless chicken or turkey (limit red meats to one time per week)
    • Fish such as salmon and tuna (try to eat fish as least once per week)
    • Eggs
    • Nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, edamame
    • Legumes such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Incorporate foods that are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (good fats):
    • Olive oil or avocado oil
    • Fish and seafood
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Nut and seed butters
    • Avocados

Foods to limit

  • Limit high sodium foods. Adults and children 14+ should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily.
    • Read food labels and choose foods that are lower in sodium. Look for low sodium, reduced sodium, or no salt added on the food label.
    • Choose fresh, whole foods whenever possible and try to avoid processed foods such as frozen meals.
    • Avoid the saltshaker and flavor foods with herbs and spices instead.
  • Limit saturated fats.
    • Saturated fat is usually found in animal-based proteins such as fatty beef, pork, and chicken skin.
    • It is also found in full-fat dairy products such as whole milk.
    • Butter, lard, coconut and palm oils also contain saturated fats (replace with olive oil).
  • Avoid trans fats.
    • Trans fats can be found in margarine, shortening, processed sweets, baked goods, and some fried foods.
    • Avoid foods with “partially hydrogenated oil” on the ingredient list such as cookies, pastries, baked goods, biscuits, crackers, and frozen dinners.
  • Limit foods that are high in added sugars
    • Sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda, fruit juice, sweetened coffees, and energy drinks
    • Sweets and desserts
  • Limit Alcohol

If you have any nutrition questions or need help developing a heart healthy diet plan, please reach out to one of the dietitians here at NOAH and make an appointment today!