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Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day
Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day

Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day

February 02, 2022

February is here and love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is designed for us to show our appreciation and gratitude towards our loved ones. While it is important to share love with others, it is of equal importance to remember to share that love with yourself and your heart! Heart health is important for this month and the rest of the year.  

  • Incorporate Healthy Fats into Your Diet  

Foods that are rich in unsaturated fats are great for reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and improving overall heart health. There are two types of unsaturated fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Examples of monounsaturated fats are canola oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. Use these oils for sautéing, lightly pan frying, as a dip for bread, dressing for a salad or as the base of marinades for heart-healthy proteins like chicken, fish, and tofu. Monounsaturated fats can also be found in potassium-rich foods like avocados, nuts, and seeds. Refer to your dietitian for guidance on including these foods in your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, are found in foods rich in polyunsaturated fats like salmon, tuna, flaxseeds, and fish oil supplements. When choosing a fish oil supplement, make sure to see if it includes DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids – these two compounds have been shown to decrease inflammation and reduce your risk of heart disease. Please refer to your physician before starting supplement.  

  • Decrease Your Intake of Saturated and Trans-Fats  

Diets that are high in saturated and trans-fats has been shown to increase LDL “bad” cholesterol and reduce HDL “good” cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. There is some debate around the nutritional value of saturated fats, but overall research shows that it is best to limit our intake of saturated fat. Foods that are high in saturated fat include red meat, whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, and tropical oils like coconut and palm. Trans-fats are a different story and should be consumed minimally. Foods that are high in trans-fat include fried foods, vegetable shortening, margarine, highly processed foods, and baked goods. When grocery shopping, read food labels and avoid “partially hydrogenated oils.” Choose these foods less often and replacing them with foods high in unsaturated fats. 

  •  Include More Fiber in Your Diet  

We all know fiber is important for our gut health and helps to keep us regular, but did you know it can be good for your heart as well? Including more fiber in your diet helps remove the bad cholesterol and can help lower risk for heart disease! Kidney-friendly fiber foods include raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, asparagus, corn, cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, carrots, and tangerines. Remember that high fiber foods can be high in potassium and/or phosphorus. Ask your renal dietitian about high fiber foods that you can include in your renal diet.  

  •  Control Fluid and Salt Intake   

As always, it is extremely important to remember to limit your salt and fluid intake, as consuming too much can cause your body to hold onto fluid leading to shortness of breath. When you are short of breath for a prolonged period of time, it makes your heart work harder than it should. Fluid limits are individualized and determined by presence of swelling, weight gain between treatments, and if you are still able to urinate. When grocery shopping, read food labels and try not to consume more than 2,000 mg of sodium daily.  

  • Reduce Stressors and Take Time to Love Yourself  

Yes, stress can in fact decrease your overall heart health! Constant states of anger, sadness, and anxiety can be detrimental for your mental and physical health and put unnecessary stress on your heart. Talk to your social worker about ways to cope with stress and resources that can help to reduce the stressors in your life. It is important to remember to always love yourself and put yourself and your health first!  


Raag Shanker, RDN, LD
Renal Registered Dietitian


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