Heart Health: For Better or For Worse?

Heart Health: For Better or For Worse?

It’s Heart Month! Valentine’s Day is the most romantic day of the year. It is a time we amazingly express our love and show our sweetest gestures to our loved ones. But remember, it is not just about sending cards, gifts, flowers or chocolates to our special one; it is about loving ourselves too. We can give more love if we maintain a healthy heart.

A healthy heart is a happy heart. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes on the following: 

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils


And limit the following:

  • Saturated fat
  • Trans-fat
  • Sodium
  • Red meat (select the leanest cuts available)
  • Sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages


AHA recommends the use of DASH Diet, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, an approach that was developed by the US National Institute of Health which recommends a maximum daily sodium intake of 2300mg or a teaspoon of salt daily.

DASH Diet is ranked #2 in Best Diets by a panel of health experts in the US. It has undergone scientific research and is a proven nutritional approach toward prevention of high-blood pressure. A clinical trial showed that reducing sodium intake even further down to 1500mg per day may provide additional benefits in terms of lowering blood pressure. Therefore, doctors and Nutrition experts from US and Europe prescribe DASH Diet as a balanced dietary strategy to prevent hypertension. We can further see its wonders on an individual’s weight and overall health if we partner this diet with 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week.

The table below shows an example of what food groups are included in DASH Diet along with their corresponding number of servings, serving portion, and caloric content. The diet is flexible as the number of servings of various foods can be easily adjusted to meet an individual’s specific caloric requirement.

Food Group

Number of Servings per day

Example of one serving

Estimated caloric content (kcal)


5-6 servings

1 slice whole wheat bread, ½ cup cooked wholegrain cereal, rice or pasta



4-5  servings

1 cup of raw leafy green vegetables, ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables



4-5 servings

1 cup of raw leafy green vegetables, ½ cup raw or cooked vegetables


Dairy, low fat

1-2 servings

1 cup of milk or low fat yoghurt (240 ml), 40 g low fat cheese


Lean, low fat meat/ poultry/ fish

4-5 servings

Maximum 85 g per serving


Fats and oils

2-3 servings

1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil, 1 teaspoon margarine, 2 tablespoons salad dressing


Nuts, seeds, and legumes

3-4 servings

50 g nuts, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked beans


Sweets/ sugars

1 serving

1 tablespoon sugar or jam, 1/2 cup sorbet, or 1 soft drink (250 ml)



                One of the reasons the DASH diet is ranked #2 among other diets is because it is relatively easy to stick to, and not very depriving. Following the DASH diet, or any healthy diet for that matter, need not be a terrible experience. Why not try making Gardenia Vegetable Lumpiausing Gardenia Wheat Cranberry loaf? It has all the healthy goodness in one go: whole grains, vegetables, lean protein, good fat, low calories (158kcal/serving) and just 120mg of sodium per serving. What a healthy-licious way to keep you full and healthy. 


Gardenia Vegetable Lumpia




2 slices Gardenia Wheat Cranberry loaf
30g Onion, chopped

30g Garlic, minced

45g Squash, julienne

45g Baguio Beans

45g Turnip, julienne

1 Tbsp Soy Sauce

2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
Salt and Pepper
¼ C Water




Heat oil in a pan. Sautee garlic and onions.

Add all the vegetables, soy sauce and water. Simmer. Set aside and let it cool.

Flatten each slice of Gardenia High Fiber Wheat Bread.

Spread peanut butter on each slice. Place vegetable mixture at the edge part of the bread.

Roll it tightly. Served with stewed meat. Enjoy!

                So if you haven’t been treating your heart with tender, loving care, this is the perfect moment to start. Let’s make it our goal to keep our hearts happy and healthy through proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle. Why not start by giving your heart some DASH of TLC: therapeutic lifestyle change, not only during this valentine season but all throughout the year. Eat healthy and spread the love!