Following a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to prevent conditions that lead to heart disease. Obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are all serious precursors to heart disease and heart failure that can be caused by a poor diet. A healthy diet and lifestyle are not only important to your heart health, but to your overall health and well-being.
If you’re looking to incorporate more foods that are good for your heart into your diet, try these suggestions:
Skinless fish high in omega-3 (salmon, trout, herring, tuna, mackerel) are a wonderful source of lean, low-calorie protein and B vitamins. A variety of fish should be eaten at least twice a week. Be sure to prepare the fish in healthy ways, such as baking or broiling.
Nuts and Beans
Healthy nuts, like walnuts and almonds, can help curb hunger and provide heart-healthy fats and protein. Beans also pack a punch of lean protein and may improve blood cholesterol. Dark beans are typically best for your heart, so opt for black beans or kidney beans.
Fruits and Vegetables
The majority of fruits and vegetables are great for your heart (and the rest of your body). Most are low in calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Eat vegetables and fruits in their whole-food form instead of drinking juice.
Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Bread, cereals, and pasta can all be found in whole grain varieties. Be choosy about grains; eating too much or refined grains (white bread and baked goods) can cause weight gain.
Tofu is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine amino acids that the body can’t make on its own. It’s a lean way to add more protein to your diet, and it’s versatile enough to incorporate into most your favorite dishes.
Low-Fat or No-Fat Dairy
Dairy products are chock full of protein, calcium, and vitamins A, B and D. However, the fat content of whole milk products is something to consider. Choose low-fat or non-fat yogurt and cheese, as well as skim or 1% milk, instead.
What To Avoid
Diets high in saturated and trans fats can lead to blockage and hardening of the arteries, which puts people at risk of heart attack and cardiac diseases. These fats should be avoided or eliminated from the diet entirely.
High-fat red meats, foods high in sodium, sugary drinks and sweets should be avoided, as well. Some experts believe red wine can help lower “bad” cholesterol, but alcohol should be consumed in moderation: no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and no more than two for men.
Heart Disease Facts
Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately one in three deaths from heart disease could have been prevented by making lifestyle changes. Following a diet that incorporates the foods discussed above, exercising regularly and quitting smoking can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve the overall quality of life.
Do you know your heart health? Take our Heart Risk Assessment today!