A heart-healthy diet is an important part of preventing heart disease and promoting overall health. If you eat right, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the stresses of life and avoid developing serious medical problems. Here are some tips on how to know if you have a heart healthy diet.
How Healthy Is Your Diet?
A heart-healthy diet is important for a strong heart. Eating more fruits and vegetables, limiting saturated fats and cholesterol, eating more fish and less red meat, and limiting sodium intake can all lower your risk of developing heart disease.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables: Fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which helps to keep your blood vessels healthy by strengthening the walls of your arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart). Vegetables also have high levels of antioxidants that protect against free radicals—molecules that damage cells in the body—and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- Limit saturated fats and cholesterol: Saturated fats raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream while lowering HDL (good) cholesterol levels. They also increase triglycerides—another type of fat found in circulation that affects how well blood travels through the body.
Heart-Healthy Diet: Fruits & Vegetables
Plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits are rich in nutrients, such as vitamin C, which can help protect the body from colds and other respiratory infections. Vegetables are low in calories, but contain fiber that helps promote a healthy digestive system. You can eat both fruits and vegetables raw or cooked; when cooking vegetables you should add some extra virgin olive oil for flavor and to increase their nutritional value.
Whole grains instead of refined grains or simple carbohydrates such as white breads or pastas made with bleached flour (white flour). These sources of carbohydrates digest more quickly than whole grain foods like whole wheat breads or brown rice which take longer to digest so they don’t cause blood sugar levels to spike as high after eating them. Make sure you read about chinese lifestyle too because it is rated as one of the healthiest lifestyles in the world.
Heart-Healthy Diet: Limit Fat and Sugar
- Reduce saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol intake
- Limit sugar consumption
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains every day
- Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products (if you eat them)
Get Rid of the Salt Habit
Salt is not good for us. It’s the worst offender when it comes to high blood pressure and heart disease, which are two risk factors that can lead to heart attacks or strokes. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your daily sodium intake below 1,500 milligrams per day—a little less than a teaspoon full of salt.
Choose foods with less added salt. Look at the nutrition label on any packaged food item and pay attention to where the sodium is listed. If you see “salt” or “sodium chloride” near the top of this list, then keep looking! You want foods without those ingredients listed first; they have less salt content overall.
Some examples include low-sodium deli meats, unsalted nuts and seeds, reduced-sodium soups (check out Campbell’s Healthy Request), Parmesan cheese made from nuts rather than cow’s milk (I recommend Go Veggie!), low-sodium peanut butter options like Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter Spread or Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread (my favorite!). Just be sure to read labels carefully if buying pre-made sauces like soy sauce or teriyaki sauce since they often contain lots of sodium too!
Reduce Cholesterol Consumption
The best way to reduce your risk of heart disease is to limit cholesterol consumption by eating more fish and less meat. Healthy fats are also essential, so it’s important to consume unsaturated fats in foods like olive oil and nuts, as well as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish.
Heart-Healthy Diet: Reduce Sodium Consumption
If you’re trying to reduce sodium intake, a good place to start is by eating more fresh foods and less processed foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain more potassium than sodium, whereas processed items are often high in sodium. Processed food also tends to be higher in saturated fat and cholesterol which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
When you eat more fresh fruits and veggies, your body may retain less fluid than if it were consuming excess amounts of salt instead. Eating too much salt can also cause high blood pressure—another major risk factor for heart disease—and there’s no reason why we should do it!
Heart-Healthy Diet: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines. You should aim to eat these fish at least twice a week.
These fats are good for your heart, as they can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They also help maintain healthy joints and brain function. Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of sudden cardiac death by 25 percent among people with known coronary artery disease. They also reduce the formation of blood clots that could lead to stroke or heart attack.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also a leading cause of disability and quality-of-life issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Heart disease can be prevented by eating a heart-healthy diet and exercising regularly. But what does it mean to eat heart-healthy diet? And how do you know if your diet and lifestyle is one that will keep your heart healthy?