Eating a Heart Healthy Diet
Learn how to eat a heart heathy diet.
Diseases of the heart are the leading causes of death in the United States of America. Heart disease affects both men and women and people of all races. Diet and exercise can directly affect your heart health by decreasing your chances of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, obesity, and the heart healthy diet helps control diabetes, too.
If you eat a heart healthy diet that is low in sodium, saturated fat (which directly affects the LDL cholesterol levels), trans fats and cholesterol, and at the same time high in soluble fiber, you can improve your heart health. It is also important to make achieving a healthy weight one of your goals, in order to decrease your chances of developing coronary heart disease (CHD).
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends:
- Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. They are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and they're low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure.
- Choose unrefined whole-grain foods that contain fiber. Fiber can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full, which may help you manage your weight.
- Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout, and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.
- Choose lean meats and poultry. Remove extra fat and skin and broil, sauté or cook meat without saturated and trans fat.
- Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on foods containing trans fats, look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils on the ingredient list.
- Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol each day.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Don't add salt to foods at the table.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That is one drink per day if you're a woman and two drinks per day if you're a man.
- Keep an eye on your portion sizes and try to follow the above recommendations when you eat out.
For those trying to lose weight, exercise plays an important role. It is recommended to participate in exercise 30 minutes per day most days of the week for adults. Exercising regularly promotes weight loss and increases the "good" cholesterol, thus clearing the arteries for blood to flow more freely. Speak to your health care professional for the safest exercise for you.