Heart Healthy Eating

Heart Healthy Eating

Healthy eating habits and regular exercise can help keep your heart strong, but making poor nutritional choices can increase the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Disease asserts that “A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons in the fight against heart disease.”[1]

Being aware of your nutritional choices, and sticking to a heart-healthy diet can be easier than you might think.

Here are some basic guidelines that can help you make the choices that will benefit your heart.

  • Choose low-calorie, nutrient rich foods and watch your portion size.
  • Eat more fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit. Fruit that has been canned in water is a good option, but avoid any fruit packaged with added sugar or salt.
  • Select whole grains. The fiber in whole grains can help regulate blood pressure, and a few changes can make a big difference. Instead of white bread, sugary cereals, and white rice, choose whole wheat bread, brown rice, and high fiber cereal or oatmeal.
  • Understand the importance of proteins in your diet. Low fat proteins, such as chicken or fish without skin, can be a healthy addition to your diet. Some fish, such as salmon or trout, contain omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to benefit cardiovascular health.  Try to avoid eating too much red meat, but choose lean cuts if you do.
  • Fats can be healthy.  Eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in moderation may help lower your cholesterol. Olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds can be great sources of healthy fats.
  • Limit sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. Drinks and candy just add empty calories to your day.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products, such as skim or 1% milk, and low-fat cheese.
  • Keep your sodium intake at approximately 1500 milligrams per day to lower blood pressure, and be aware of the way foods are prepared when eating out.
  • Stock up on crunchy, healthy snacks like carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli so you aren’t tempted to go for chips or candy in the middle of the day.
  • Stay away from baked goods, especially store-bought ones that are full of trans-fat.

Before embarking on any new nutrition plan, discuss your goals with your physician to make sure you are aware of any dietary restrictions or recommendations they might suggest for your individual needs. 

A heart-healthy diet can benefit your physical and mental well-being now and in the future, so make an appointment to talk to your physician and start making the right choices for your heart today. 

[1] www.heart.org