Keep a Food Diary for a Heart Healthy Diet

Keep a Food Diary for a Heart Healthy Diet

| By RB Schiff Vitamins

Article Highlights

  • The benefits of keeping a food log
  • Where you can get help with keeping a food diary
  • Tips to get the most out of your food diary and healthy diet

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not always the easiest task. However, creating a food and exercise diary could be the answer you’ve been looking for. Not only are they easy to set up and keep on top of, they can show you exactly what it is you have been eating and the physical exercise you have been partaking in.

In this article, we’ll look through why you should keep a diary, what apps you could use to help make the experience as easy and task-free as possible, as well as exploring healthy foods and drinks that you could switch out those unhealthy snacks for.

Why Keep a Food and Exercise Diary?

Keeping a food and exercise diary may be an easy way to ensure that you're consuming a heart healthy diet and getting the necessary exercise that your body demands. But it isn't just about what you're eating: when you keep a food diary you'll be able to see patterns in your eating and drinking habits that you may not have been consciously aware of before.

Once you've kept your food diary consistently for a few weeks you can start looking for simple changes to make that will help you maintain a heart healthy diet. Here are some tips on starting a food diary and keeping up with it from day to day.

Explore Food Tracker Apps

With the smartphone revolution we’re seeing in the 21st Century, it’s easy to find hundreds of different apps. Whether that be free calorie counter apps or even food diary apps, it’s easy to keep track of your food diary entries. There are a lot of different food diary apps out there, some will tally calories or track your activity, so do a little research before downloading to find one that suits your needs and that you know you'll keep up with. It’s easy to fall at the first hurdle and forget to log your meals, so try your best to keep it updated.

Pay attention to meal frequency and times. Are you eating three meals a day? Are they spaced out fairly evenly? It's okay to experiment with meal frequency. For example, you might eat more small meals throughout the day, but a food diary will help you spot snacking habits, whether that be a weekly food diary or daily. These can help you identify when and why you eat when you aren't really hungry.

Increase Your Omega-3 Intake

Omega-3 fatty acids can be incredibly beneficial in improving your heart health. At MegaRed, we have numerous different supplements to help support bodily health. Omega-3 fatty acids have many different benefits. Surprisingly, the body does not produce its own Omega-3s, so taking one MegaRed softgel pill per day will support and increase the amount of the fatty acids within your body.† Ask your doctor if you should take krill oil or fish oil supplements to get the Omega-3s you need.

Try Heart Healthy Drinks

How many cups of coffee or juice or soda did you have in an average day? Swapping these drinks with plain water, especially while you are eating meals (which is when you tend to drink more in order to wash down food) will help you cut down on sugar and caffeine. Switching from sugary drinks to water will also reduce the amount of calories you are consuming on a daily basis.

A heart healthy diet limits these types of calories and stimulants. Additionally, if you have concerns about alcohol intake, a food diary is a good way to keep tabs on this.

Reduce Your Calorie Intake Per Day

Discover ways in which you can cut calories. Examine your food diary to see if you're eating fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains more than you're eating processed foods, carbs or sweets. How much red meat do you consume in a week? Are there easy ways to substitute fresh fruit for that afternoon snack?

A food diary should include what you eat, roughly how much of it you eat, and the time you ate it. If you stick to recording these details in your food diary regularly, you'll be able to gain insight into your eating habits. Then, you can make informed decisions on how to achieve a heart healthy diet that will keep your ticker going strong for years to come!

At MegaRed, we have a variety of articles aiming to help you make the right decisions when it comes to heart health. While you are here be sure to check out our other articles on heart health including How to Take Blood Pressure at Home and Stress Relief Tips.

Heart Healthy Meals

Keeping your heart healthy is something that sounds quite simple, but in reality, it can be a difficult task. Ensuring that you are eating the right foods and limiting the number of items high in saturated fats and salt can be quite difficult, especially if you are a fan of takeout every now and then.

  • Low in sodium: The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.[1] This can be easier to achieve if you strive to make heart healthy recipes that leave out processed foods that often have higher sodium content.
  • Low in saturated fat: Strive to consume foods low in saturated fats. Saturated fats are commonly found in many foods, including beef, pork, lamb, poultry with skin, butter, and cheese. Foods that are baked or fried often include saturated fats too, because of the oils that they are cooked in.

In addition to avoiding sodium and saturated fat, you should aim to maintain a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes.1 Eating these heart healthy foods from a variety of sources helps to ensure that your body gets all of the nutrients that it needs.

However, one nutrient in particular can sometimes be difficult to get enough of: Omega-3 fatty acids. Predominantly found in fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, Omega-3s have been shown to promote heart health and more.[2] With this in mind, MegaRed® Advanced 4in1 makes it easy to supplement your heart healthy meals and get the Omega-3s that you want. Ask your doctor if you should take krill or fish oil supplements to get the Omega-3s you need.

Check out the examples of heart healthy foods below* for inspiration on crafting a diet that's full of delicious tastes and supports your heart health alongside a daily dose of MegaRed® Advanced 4in1. 

Heart Healthy Meal Ideas

With these simple to follow recipes, you can be sure of a tasty meal from starter to dessert. With easy to source ingredients and a low cooking time, they are perfect for the busy workaholic. There is no need to rely on takeout after a demanding day at the office.

Almond-Blueberry Oatmeal2 Recipe

Trade in your packets of processed instant oatmeal for the real, whole-grain thing. Perfect for an easy and healthy way to start your day off right. This heart healthy recipe is quick, simple and cheap. Ideal for those on a budget.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon almonds
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

(Makes 1 serving)

Method:

  1. Boil 1 cup of water over high heat. 
  2. Add 1/4 cup of steel-cut oats. 
  3. Cook, stirring, for 25 minutes, until the oatmeal is soft. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. 
  4. Add 1/4 cup of fat-free milk, a tablespoon of slivered almonds, 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries, and a teaspoon of ground flaxseed. Mix and serve.

<H3>Asian Tuna Wraps3 Recipe</H3>

Try this lunch option that utilizes low-sodium, low-fat, and low-carb ingredients and a variety of veggies to make one delicious heart healthy recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-ounce cans very low-sodium solid white tuna (water-packed), drained and broken into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons bottled sesame-ginger salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 4 8-inch whole wheat low-carb flour tortilla
  • 2 cups shredded bok choy
  • 1 medium red sweet pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup jicama, cut into matchstick-size pieces

(Makes 4 Servings)

Method:

  1. In a large bowl stir together tuna, salad dressing, 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise, the garlic, and ginger.
  2. Spread remaining mayonnaise over one side of each of the tortillas.
  3. Divide bok choy, sweet pepper, and jicama among wraps.
  4. Top with tuna mixture and roll up.

Paella Recipe4

Turn to the Spanish for inspiration with this heart healthy paella recipe that's full of great flavors.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 leeks (whites only), thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips 1/2-inch-wide and 2 inches long
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2/3 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, or to taste
  • 2 cups fat-free, unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges

(Makes 4 Servings)

Method:

  1. In a large, non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and chicken strips. Sauté until the vegetables are translucent and chicken is slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red pepper slices and continue to sauté another 5 minutes. Add rice, tarragon and broth and combine well. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in peas and continue to simmer uncovered until broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
  3. To serve, divide onto individual plates. Garnish each with 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 lemon wedge.

Berry Yogurt Parfait5 

Top off a day of heart healthy meals with this dessert. Get your daily servings of fruit with this light option that doesn't skimp on sweet tastes.

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. packaged, fat-free pineapple yogurt
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries OR 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1 large banana (about 1 cup sliced)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat granola (4 Tbsp.)
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa, unsweetened
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tsp. hot water

(Makes 4 Servings)

Method:

  1. To assemble parfaits, in small dish, layer about 1/3 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup sliced strawberries, 1/4 cup sliced bananas and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granola.
  2. In small cup, stir together cocoa, confectioner's sugar and hot water until smooth. Drizzle 1 teaspoon over each parfait.

* Providing links to other sites (i.e., prevention.com, diabeticlivingonline.com, mayoclinic.org, and recipes.heart.org) does not signify that MegaRed® guarantees, approves, or endorses the information or products available on those sites.

[1] “Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure” American Heart Association, Nov 2017 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/Shaking-the-Salt-Habit-to-Lower-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303241_Article.jsp#.WromP4jwaUl

[2] “Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids” American Heart Association, Oct 2016 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.WromW4jwaUl

1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WCDQuC0rJph

2 http://www.prevention.com/food/cook/8-heart-healthy-breakfasts/slide/3

3 http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/recipe/asian-tuna-wraps/

4 http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/recipes/paella-with-chicken-leeks-and-tarragon/rcp-20049689

5 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Recipes/Banana-Split-Berry-Yogurt-Parfaits_UCM_468394_RecipeDetail.jsp

* THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT DISEASE.
**SIMOPOULIS 2011/P204/A, B (SIMOPOULIS AP MOL. NEUROBIOL. 2011/44:203-215)

† Supportive, but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. ♦The MegaRed 3X formulation uses a self microemulsifying drug delivery system (SMEDDS) technology to support high absorption. Studies show that applying the SMEDDS technology to highly concentrated fish oils dramatically improve the absorption of both EPA and DHA