To keep your heart healthy, you need to get regular exercise and control your weight, but you should also follow the American Heart Association diet for healthy eating. If you follow an unhealthy diet, your risk for stroke or heart disease can increase 80%. To manage or prevent high blood pressure and heart disease, you should learn which foods and cooking methods are part of a healthy heart diet. This lets you control the length and quality of your life.
How to Keep a Heart Healthy Diet
Choose Fats Wisely
Eating foods with high quantities of trans fats or saturated fats can increase cholesterol to a stronger degree than healthy options like eggs. This means avoiding packaged cookies and potato chips as trans and saturated fats increase “bad” LDL cholesterol while trans fats also lower the “good” HDL cholesterol, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
You should also select foods that have high quantities of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. Seeds, nuts, beans, fish, fruits, and vegetables all work to regulate your cholesterol. To get the best results at lowering your cholesterol, eat nuts like walnuts, fish, oatmeal, olive oil, and items fortified with stanols or sterols (which are found in plants and block cholesterol absorption).
Eats Foods High in Fiber
Remember that processed or refined foods contain less fiber, so you should try to include whole grains as a key component of your diet. You can easily add these whole grains to any meal. You should also eat fruits and vegetables as these items tend to be low in calories, but with a high fiber content, making them an important part of a heart healthy diet.
Select Plant Protein
Instead of relying on animal sources of protein, try to swap them out for plant protein sources. Switching animal protein for plant protein can improve your heart health. This is most likely due to the fact that it reduces your cholesterol and saturated fat consumption while improving the consumption of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber, all of which fight against heart disease.
To accomplish this goal, try to have at least six ounces of fish rich in omega-3 (two meals), have 2 meals with skinless poultry, not have red meat more than once (veal, pork, or beef), and have two or three meals based on vegetable protein each week. Vegetable protein options included textured vegetable protein, tofu stir-fry, black-bean or soy burgers, split pea soup, and garbanzo bean salad.
Control Portion Size
A heart healthy diet includes eating the right amount as well as the correct items. Large portions can lead to consuming too many calories and too much cholesterol and fat. Remember that restaurants tend to serve oversized portions and you should control portions by using the proper serving sizes.Serving sizes are determined by common measurements and you will have to learn how to judge it correctly. Rely on spoons and measuring cups or a scale at first so you can learn to visualize portion sizes.
Salt or sodium should be limited to 1,500 milligrams or less each day. This is especially true for those who have high-blood pressure, are African-American, or are at least middle-aged. One heart healthy diet which limits sodium consumption is the DASH diet.
Moderately Consume Alcohol
If you currently drink alcohol, always drink it in moderation. According to the AHA, women shouldn’t have more than one drink each day and men shouldn’t have more than two daily.
6 Recommended Foods for a Heart Healthy Diet
Eating whole grains helps lower your heart disease risk and those who eat more of this food are usually leaner. It may be due to the phytosterols, phytoestrogens, and antioxidants that protect against coronary disease. The fiber found in whole grains has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Opt for soluble fiber in particular as it can lower your LDL cholesterol by binding to an important component of it and being flushed from your system. Opt for citrus fruits, eggplant, okra, beans, barley, and oatmeal.
Consuming around a cup of berries daily over eight weeks can reduce blood pressure and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. The study with these results included bilberries, red raspberries, and strawberries plus chokeberries, lingonberries, and black currants. Experts believe the positive heart effects were due to the high quantity of polyphenols which can lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels.
Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids as well as poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats, with macadamia nuts and almonds also containing the unsaturated fats. Nuts will also improve your fiber consumption and provide healthy fat, making them a key part of your heart healthy diet.
Tofu contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, and niacin, all of which help heart health. Try to swap out chicken for tofu; you can even slice it into thin pieces and marinate it, then grill the tofu to maximize its flavor.
Soy milk is the perfect addition to cereal and coffee. It provides niacin, magnesium, potassium, calcium, folate, B-complex vitamins, and flavonoids, giving your entire body benefits.
Carrots are high in fiber as well as alpha-carotene. The fiber assists with heart health while the alpha-carotene is a carotenoid which improves your immune system, boosting your overall health.
This video provides even more recommendations for following your heart healthy diet: