Are you looking to prevent heart disease and improve cardiovascular health? Learn the healthiest foods for your heart.
What Is a heart healthy diet?
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, and it takes more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Diagnosing your cardiovascular disease can have an emotional effect, which affects your mood, expectations and quality of life. While weight control and regular exercise are essential to keep your heart healthy, the foods you eat can be just as important. In fact, along with other healthy lifestyle choices, a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%.
No food can make you magically healthy, so your general diet is more important than specific foods. Instead of fried food, takeaway and sugary snacks, a heart-healthy diet is based on “real” natural foods, fresh from the ground, the ocean or the farm.
Whether you want to improve cardiovascular health, who have already been diagnosed with heart disease, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, these tips for a healthy heart diet can help you better manage these conditions and reduce your risk of heart attack.
Three keys to a heart-healthy diet
1. Be smart with fat
If you are concerned about the health of your heart, instead of avoiding fats in your diet, try replacing unhealthy fats with good fats. Some of the most important improvements you can make in your diet are:
Cut trans fats. In addition to raising your level of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes, trans fats also lower your levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, which can increase your risk. Cardiovascular disease Unsaturated fats are found in foods such as commercially baked goods, fried foods and anything that contains “partially hydrogenated” oil in the ingredients, even if it claims to be “fat free.”
Reduce saturated fats. Saturated fats are found mainly in tropical oils, milk and red meat and should not exceed 10% of daily calories. Enjoy dairy products in moderation and change the sources of protein in your diet, and choose fish, skinless chicken, eggs and vegetable protein sources wherever you can.
Eat more healthy fats. Eating foods high in monounsaturated and unsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Eat omega-3 fatty acids daily, from fatty fish such as salmon, trout, herring, flax seed, kale, spinach or nuts. Other sources of healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, nuts and nut butter.
2. Do not replace fat with sugar or refined carbohydrates.
When reducing risky foods, such as unhealthy fats, it is important to replace them with healthy alternatives. For example, a positive change in your health can be caused by replacing processed meat with meat or chicken. However, changing animal fats to refined carbohydrates, such as replacing bacon for breakfast with donuts or sugar, will do nothing to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Your body does not need additional sugar: it gets all the sugar it needs naturally in food. Refined sugary foods and refined carbohydrates are added to many empty calories that are as bad for your heart as they are for your waist.
Instead of sugary sodas, white bread, pasta and processed foods such as pizza, choose unrefined whole grains such as whole wheat bread or brown bread, brown rice, barley, quinoa, bran cereals, oatmeal and non-starchy vegetables.
3. Focus on fiber-rich foods
A diet high in fiber can reduce “bad” cholesterol and provide nutrients that help protect against heart disease. As an additional advantage, it can also help you lose weight. Since fiber stays in your stomach for longer than other foods, a feeling of fullness stays with you for longer, which helps you eat less. Fiber also moves fat through the digestive tract faster so that it is absorbed less. When you fill fiber, you will also get more energy to exercise.
Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, wheat grains and vegetables such as carrots, celery and tomatoes.
Sources of soluble fiber include barley, oats, beans, nuts and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits and pears.