Home » Eating Healthy to Prevent Heart Disease

How to Improve Heart Health Through Diet

Heart disease can develop over time before suddenly erupting into a life changing or life ending event. More than 17.3 million people across the globe died of cardiovascular disease last year. Cardiologists report three components in a regimen of healthy heart care: exercise, reduce cholesterol and pay attention to what you eat. Indeed, a healthy diet is the core ingredient in protecting against heart disease.

However, general practitioners and cardiologists will admit that changing one’s eating habits presents serious challenges. But, even if you have not had a healthy diet for many years, it is not too late to start eating right and protecting your heart.

Begin By Reducing Portion Size

For heart conscious people, restaurant size portions are too large. Overloading your plate and enjoying seconds is a dangerous formula. Portions of chicken, fish or meat should be no larger than 2 to 3 ounces. The Mayo Clinic recommends using measuring cups and spoons or a scale until you understand exactly how much you are eating. Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient rich foods and smaller quantities of high-sodium foods. Eat healthy amounts of fruits and veggies every day!

Why Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies are great sources for vitamins and minerals the body and heart needs. By eating healthy fruits and vegetables, you may eat less high fat foods like meat, cheese and snack foods. However, limit your intake of coconut, vegetables in creamy sauces, fried or breaded veggies and canned fruit in heavy syrup. Frozen fruits with added sugar are on the unhealthy list.

Select Whole Grains Work

Whole grains offer excellent amounts of fiber and other nutrients. Whole grains are important to regulate blood pressure and maintain a healthy heart. You can improve your diet immediately by replacing refined grain products with whole grains.

Good whole grains include whole-wheat flour, whole-grain bread, 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread. Whole grains like brown rice, barley and buckwheat are terrific for the heart, as is whole-grain pasta. Oatmeal is also a wise diet choice.

Stay away from white-refined flour, white bread, muffins, frozen waffles, corn bread, quick breads, cakes, pies and buttered popcorn.

Limit Intake of Unhealthy Fats

Limiting saturated fats and eliminating trans fats will help reduce your cholesterol and as such will reduce your risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.

The American Heart Association recommends that less than 7% of your total daily calories should be saturated fats. Less than 1% of your daily caloric intake should be trans fats. The smart way to limit saturated fats and trans fats is to limit the amount of solid fats like butter, margarine and shortening in your diet.

Try trimming the fat from your meat and only eat lean meats with less than 10% fats. It isn’t easy but you will feel the rewards in a short time.

The Mayo Clinic reminds you that many “reduced fat” cookies and snacks are made with oil that contains trans fats. Watch out!

Fats to eat include: olive oil, canola oil, vegetable and nut oils, avocados and cholesterol-lowering margarines like Smart Balance.

Avoid lard, butter, bacon fat, gravy, cream sauces and nondairy creamers.

Keeping your heart pumping with exercise, monitoring your cholesterol and eating heart healthy foods is the best formula for a healthy heart. Dr. Jason Crawford of the Community Health Alliance says: “It’s recommended that everybody comes in for a regular routine checkup, even if you're feeling okay. We call them wellness exams. At that time we're going to measure your blood pressure. We'll talk to you about your weight and healthy lifestyles." Maintaining a healthy heart takes discipline and common sense. Go for it!

Search By Category