Heart disease is the leading killer of American adults and claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined. While weight control and regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape, the food you eat can matter just as much. In fact, along with other healthy lifestyle choices, a heart-healthy diet may reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%. To help you achieve a heart-healthy diet, we at Goodyear Chiropractic Health Center have put together a guide!
What is a heart-healthy diet?
A heart-healthy diet can help you lower cholesterol, control your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight. No single food can make you magically healthy, so your overall dietary pattern is more important than specific foods.
These heart-healthy diet tips can improve your health and lower your risk of a heart attack:
1. Eat healthy fats
Try replacing unhealthy fats with good fats. Some of the most important improvements you can make to your diet are to:
- Cut out trans fats
- Limit saturated fats
- Eat more healthy fats
2. Don’t replace fat with sugar or refined carbs
It’s important to replace unhealthy fats with healthy alternatives. For example, replacing processed meats with fish or chicken can make a positive difference to your health. However, switching animal fats for refined carbohydrates (like replacing your breakfast sausage with a donut) won’t lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.
3. Eat more fiber
A diet high in fiber can lower cholesterol and provide nutrients that help protect against heart disease. As an added bonus, it may also help you to lose weight. Since fiber stays in the stomach longer than other foods, the feeling of fullness will stay with you much longer, helping you eat less.
There are two types of fiber:
Insoluble fiber– found in whole grains, wheat cereals, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes.
Soluble fiber– found in barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruits such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears.
4. Reduce salt intake
Eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends no more than a teaspoon of salt a day for an adult. That may sound alarmingly small, but there are actually many ways to reduce your sodium intake.
Reduce canned or processed foods: Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods like soups or frozen dinners.
Use spices for flavor: Cooking for yourself enables you to have more control over your salt intake. Make use of the many delicious alternatives to salt. Try fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives.
Substitute reduced sodium versions: Choose your condiments and packaged foods carefully and look for foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, or unsalted.
5. Cook more often
It’s very difficult to eat a heart-healthy diet when you’re eating out a lot, ordering in, or eating microwave dinners and other processed foods. The portions are usually too large and the meals contain too much salt, sugar and unhealthy fat. Cooking at home will give you better control over the nutritional content of your meals and can also help you save money and lose weight.
6. Control portions
Carrying excess weight means that your heart must work harder, and this often leads to high blood pressure. As well as eating less sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, reducing portion sizes is a crucial step toward losing or maintaining a healthy weight.
Use serving sizes. A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces, or pieces. A healthy serving size may be a lot smaller than you’re used to.
Eyeball it. Once you have a better idea of what a serving should be, you can estimate your portion. You can use common objects for reference; for example, a serving of pasta should be about the size of a baseball, while a serving of meat, fish, or chicken is about the size of a deck of cards.
Beware of restaurant portions. They’re often more than anyone needs. Order an appetizer instead of an entrée, split an entrée with your dining companion, or take half your meal home for tomorrow’s lunch.Need more guidance regarding your health? Goodyear Chiropractic Health Center can help! We offer several services to help our customers become the healthiest versions of themselves. If you are interested, sign up for a consultation today!