In the United States, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women. While some lifestyle factors, like maintaining a stable weight and regular exercise, are important to maintaining a healthy heart, the foods we eat are just as important. One of the best tools in the battle against heart disease and feeling better is to eat a balanced diet. In reality, following a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by 80%. (helpguide.org).
If you don’t know where to start, making simple changes to your eating and eating habits is a good place to start. Keep some of the tips below in mind to help organize and understand the rationale behind various dietary recommendations.
Keep an eye on the kind of fat you’re consuming.
Fat is important to your diet; In other words, you need it! However, there are types of fats that can negatively affect heart health. In particular, trans fats and saturated fats are the two types of fats that are the most worrying. These two types of fats can affect blood cholesterol levels by lowering HDL cholesterol (also known as good cholesterol) and at the same time increasing LDL cholesterol (also known as bad cholesterol) in the blood. When HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are outside of normal or disproportionate, it can cause excess cholesterol to build up on the walls of blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Foods that contain saturated fat include fatty beef, bacon, hot dogs, lamb, lard, cheese, and other whole or two percent dairy products.
Trans fats can be produced both naturally and synthetically. Trans fat is also used in a lot of fried foods and processed foods.
Adults should consume no more than five to six percent of their total calories from saturated fat, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Trans fat consumption should be less than 1% of total caloric intake.
Say no to salt
Like fat, sodium is an essential mineral. Sodium is required for many body functions, including fluid volume, acid-base balance, and signal transmission for muscle function. However, too much sodium can pose risks. When sodium is high in the bloodstream it can increase water retention in the blood vessels, causing blood pressure to rise. If the hypertension is not resolved over time, it can put a lot of pressure on the heart, contribute to plaque buildup, and ultimately increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Sodium is a difficult ingredient and it takes a little more effort and attention to detail when it comes to reducing it. A good starting point for reducing sodium intake is to review the nutrition labels on the products. Companies must report the amount of sodium and other ingredients in their products as allowed by law. As previously mentioned, sodium is a sneaky substance that can be applied to food in large amounts without your knowledge.
One place where sodium likes to hide is in the meals and dishes you order in the restaurant. In fact, over 75% of your sodium intake comes directly from processed foods and restaurants (wow!). To reduce your sodium intake when eating out or ordering takeaway, do not ask for extra salt with dishes.
While these tips may seem challenging, your sodium intake will drop significantly and your heart will be happy. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or around a teaspoon of salt (the recommendation is even lower, 1,500 milligrams, for people with chronic illnesses and for people over 50 of age). ! These suggestions will not only help you fulfill this guideline, but they will also lower the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, and other health problems.
Be picky about protein
For many of us, meat is a major source of protein. The most popular sources of meat such as burgers, steaks and bacon are high in protein, but important sources of saturated fat (remember: “bad” fats). Consumption of this form of protein in excess can lead to a variety of health problems, including obesity, high cholesterol, plaque accumulation, and, of course, heart disease and stroke. Switching to heart-healthy protein sources will significantly reduce these risks and aid in the maintenance of a heart-healthy diet.
Changing your “meat eating habits” can be difficult, but not necessarily impossible. A simple tip to control protein and meat consumption is to treat meat as part of the meal rather than the main event. Try to limit the meat to 6 ounces per day, which equates to 2 servings (note: single serving of meat = deck size).
When it comes to heart-healthy sources of protein, the AHA recommends including fish, shellfish, skinless poultry, and lean meats such as various cuts of pork. When you start including these alternative sources of protein in your diet, you will be on the right track for your heart health.
Remember, it’s about taking simple steps to protect your heart and general health.
A heart-healthy diet is your greatest protection against heart disease and strokes. Get started today with these heart health tips and continuously evaluate your diet. Don’t let heart disease rule your life; instead, make the lifestyle and health improvements that are right for you.
Which of the above tips fits your health goals?
Bonnie R. Giller is a Certified Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Consultant, and Certified Intuitive Food Advisor. Help chronic dieters, those who eat emotionally and those with conditions like diabetes break the magic diets and win back the WholeBody Trust ™ so they can enjoy life to the full. To do this, create a custom solution that combines the three pillars of WholeBody Trust ™: Mind Trust, Hunger Trust and Food Trust ™.