A heart-healthy diet can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, because foods for heart health can help reduce other potential cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They’re worth considering when planning your weekly meals.
What exactly is a heart-healthy diet?
There are two types of foods that are bad for your heart and foods that are good for it. Fortunately, you won’t be hit with a slew of curveballs. The best foods for heart health are probably ones you already consider healthy. Similarly, you’re probably already aware of the not-so-heart-healthy foods that aren’t doing your body any favors.
Before we begin, remember that everything is in moderation. You don’t need to eliminate any foods or make drastic changes unless you already know you have a heart condition. We’re not saying you shouldn’t eat another piece of bacon or drink another soda. Instead, being aware of what a heart-healthy diet consists of can assist you in incorporating more of those foods into your meals.
Let’s get into the specifics now. A heart-healthy diet includes the following foods, according to the AHA and the Department of Health:
- Lean proteins
- Carbs with fiber
- Beneficial fats
A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins and fats will provide your body with the fiber, vitamins, and minerals it requires for heart health.
In contrast, if you want to improve your cardiovascular health, you should limit your intake of:
- Trans fatty acids,
- Saturated fatty acids,
- Finished meats (for example, lunch meat, salami, and hot dogs) (for example, lunch meat, salami, and hot dogs),
- Excessive salt,
- Extra sugar,
- carbohydrate refinement (for example, white bread and snacks),
- red Meat,
- Excessive alcohol consumption
Don’t be alarmed if many of your favorites are on the less heart-healthy list. You can still incorporate them into your diet (unless your doctor says otherwise).
Heart Healthy Foods
If you want to feel good about what your next grocery trip will do for your heart health, choose items from this list.
1. Vegetables and fruits
Remember the food pyramid from your childhood? It was a good idea. Eating a lot of produce is good for your body.
This is due to the high nutritional density of vegetables and fruits per bite. Potassium, a mineral important for heart health, is found in bananas and sweet potatoes. Cruciferous vegetables may help to keep arteries clear. Fiber from leafy greens can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
To summarize, the more produce you pack in, the better. Frozen, dried, and canned foods all provide numerous nutritional benefits. Just make sure they’re sodium-free.
2. wholesome grains
Not all carbohydrates are bad. Refined carbohydrates, such as those found in white bread, pass through your body, causing more harm than good. However, complex carbohydrates, such as those found in whole grain products, provide fiber, which has already been mentioned as a heart health booster.
They are also high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, selenium, thiamin (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin (Vitamin B3), folate (Vitamin B9), and magnesium. Choose products with whole grains in their ingredient list if you want to eat a heart-healthy diet. Furthermore, complex carbohydrates can be found in beans, potatoes, peas, and corn.
3. Lean and plant protein
While some proteins, such as red and processed meat, are bad for your heart, others are at the top of the list of heart-healthy foods. The key is to seek out plant-based protein, lean animal protein, and fish. Protein sources should be rotated, according to experts. Stock up on the following items so you have plenty of options:
- Fish, especially ones high in omega-3 fatty acids, are good for you.
- Dairy products with low fat
You’ll be doing your heart good if you substitute some of your red meat and cured pork for the options above.
4. healthy fats
You might think that fat is bad for your heart, but it all depends on the type of fat. While numerous studies have linked trans and saturated fats to cardiovascular problems, your body, including your heart, requires healthy fats. These can be obtained from fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, and moderate amounts of plant oils such as:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sesame seed oil
- Soy sauce
- Oil from canola
- Oil from corn
- Saffron oil
As a general rule, if the fat is solid at room temperature, it is probably saturated. If it is a liquid, it is most likely of the unsaturated variety.
5. Heart-check foods
Certain foods have been certified for heart health by the American Heart Association and bear the Heart-Check seal, which can be found on some food packaging. Once you understand the seal, it will be easier to stock your cart with heart-healthy foods.
Combine a heart-healthy diet with other heart-healthy practices such as regular exercise, sleep, and stress management techniques for the best results.
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