Consuming a heart-healthy diet along with lifestyle modifications are your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Many people think that a heart healthy diet is difficult; however, with a few simple tips, you can keep your heart in great shape. Regular physical activity and a diet that includes a variety of nutritious foods are your first lines of defense against cardiovascular disease.
Portion control is one of the best ways to ensure that you are following a healthy heart diet. You can help control portion sizes by using smaller plates or bowls. Load up your plate with nutrient dense fruits and vegetables and limit the number of high-fat foods like meats and cheeses. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, contain ample amounts of vitamins and minerals and provide you with dietary fiber to help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
When choosing fruits and vegetables, opt for fresh or frozen produce rather than canned produce because canned produce often contains high amounts of sodium. When choosing vegetables, opt for nutrient dense produce like leafy green vegetables. One of the best ways to include more vegetables in your diet is to eat a vegetable stir-fry or salad with your meals.
Whole grains provide your body with fiber and nutrients to help regulate your blood pressure and improve your heart health. Substitute whole grains such as whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal and whole grain pasta for your refined grain products. In the morning, bypass that sweet cereal and opt for a high fiber cereal that contains at least 5 grams of fiber in each serving.
A healthy heart diet also helps to minimize the number of trans fats and saturated fats. These two times of fats can cause plaque to build in your arteries and raise your cholesterol levels, which increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Saturated fats and trans fats are solid fats like shortening, butter and margarine. Instead of these, opt for healthy fats like avocados, olive oil and flax seed. Healthy fats help to lower bad cholesterol levels while improving good cholesterol levels. Additionally, healthy fats decrease inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Opt for low-fat sources of proteins like poultry, low-fat dairy products and fish to improve triglyceride levels in the body. In addition to these protein sources, there are a number of non-animal protein sources that are heart healthy, including beans, lentils and peas. Plant proteins provide the body with the protein it needs while minimizing your fat and cholesterol intake.
Finally, you should limit your consumption of sodium. Sodium consumption has been associated with high blood pressure. Adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (approximately one teaspoon) of salt each day. When reducing sodium intake, it is important to remember that processed foods, frozen dinners and canned foods often contain sodium. Instead of reaching for the salt to season your food, try herbs and spices or reduced salt condiments.
A diet that staves off heart disease does not have to be difficult. Consuming plenty of fresh or frozen vegetables, choosing healthy fats, opting for low-fat protein sources and limiting salt consumption will improve your cardiovascular health and may help prevent a heart attack or a stroke.