Diet for heart health: 8 steps to prevent heart disease

1.11.2022 0

Although you may know that eating certain foods can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, changing your eating habits is often difficult. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating or just want to adjust your diet, here are eight tips for a heart-healthy diet. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which to limit, you will be on your way to a diet that is good for your heart.

1. Control the portion size. How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel full can lead to consuming more calories than you should. The portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs.

2. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Vegetables and fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Fruits and vegetables, like other plants or plant-based products, contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help you reduce your intake of higher calorie foods such as meat, cheese and snacks.

3. Choose whole grains. Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients that play an important role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in your diet for heart health by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Or be adventurous and try a new whole grain such as whole grain farro, quinoa or barley.

4. Limit unhealthy fats. Limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats is an important step to lower your blood cholesterol and risk of coronary heart disease. High blood cholesterol can lead to a build-up of plaque in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

5. Choose protein sources with low fat content. Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products and eggs are some of the best sources of protein. Choose low-fat options such as skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken cutlets and skim milk rather than whole milk.

6. Reduce the amount of salt (sodium) in food. Excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting salt (sodium) is an important part of a heart-healthy diet.

7. Plan ahead: create a daily menu. You know what foods to include in your diet for a healthy heart and which ones to limit. Now it's time to put your plans into action. Create a daily menu using the six strategies listed above. When choosing foods for each meal and snack, focus on vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and healthy fats, and limit salty foods. Watch portion sizes and add variety to your menu.

8. Allow yourself a treat from time to time. Allow yourself an indulgence from time to time. A candy bar or a handful of potato chips won't ruin your healthy diet. But don't let it turn into an excuse to abandon your healthy eating plan. If overindulgence is the exception and not the rule, you will balance things out in the long run. The important thing is that you eat healthy food most of the time. Incorporate these eight tips into your life and you will find that healthy eating is both possible and enjoyable. With planning and a few simple substitutions, you can eat smart.