Whether you have a chronic heart problem or not, minding your heart health is very important. The heart is where your life is, and any problem with it can cost you your life. It is, therefore, important to change your habit of eating foods that can cause heart problems like heart disease.
There are diets you can follow to ensure your heart is healthy. The most common one is a heart-healthy diet or cardiac diet.
What Is A Heart-Healthy Diet?
A heart-healthy diet is a diet that focuses on foods that promote heart health. This diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean poultry, and oily fish like tuna and salmon, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A heart-healthy diet also limits food high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats that increase the risk of heart disease.
Other diets that may help with heart-related problems are the Mediterranean diet, DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), and other vegetarian diets.
A heart-healthy diet helps those with or who want to avoid heart-related problems and health those with other conditions. If you happen to go for HIV testing and it comes out positive, then this diet can help you too. Medications for HIV usually have side effects, one of which is overweight. When you become obese, your heart will have to work extra hard to pump blood, causing high blood pressure, which is the primary cause of heart disease.
Steps to prevent heart disease
Many people know that consuming certain foods increases their chances of heart problems, but changing their eating habits is a problem. Here are some tips for fine-tuning your diet and ensuring you are eating a heart-healthy diet for a healthy heart.
Controlling portion size
The first step to a healthy heart is knowing what to eat, followed by how much you should eat. Eating a plate full of food in seconds and eating your belly stuffed are some things that lead to more calories in the body. To control portion size:
- Serve on a smaller plate or bowl
- Consume more low-calorie but nutrient-rich foods like vegetables and fruits
- Consume smaller portions of high-calorie and high-sodium foods like refined or processed foods.
Eat more vegetables and fruits.
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, rich in dietary fiber, and low in calories. Like other plant-based foods or plants, they also contain stuff that can help with cardiovascular disease.
You should consume more fruits and vegetables because they can prevent you from eating foods rich in calories like cheese, meat, and snack foods. But not all fruits and vegetables are good for heart health. Some of the good fruits and vegetables to choose from are:
- Low-sodium canned vegetables
- Canned fruit packed in water or juice
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
Limit your intake of the following fruits and vegetables:
- Fried or breaded vegetables
- Frozen fruits with added sugar
- Vegetables with creamy sources
- Canned fruits packed in heavy syrup
It is essential to know good fruits and vegetables for the heart and have BLS CPR certification when living with someone with heart problems for emergencies.
Include whole grains in your diet.
Whole grains contain nutrients that help in regulating blood pressure and heart problems. They are good sources of fiber. You should, therefore, include certain whole grains in your heart-healthy diet. The whole grain product to add to your diet plan are:
- Whole-wheat flour
- Whole grains like barley and rice
- Whole grain bread
- Whole-grain pasta
- High-fiber cereal
The whole grain products to avoid or limit are:
- White, refined flour
- White bread
- Frozen waffles
- Egg noodles
- High-fat snack crackers
- Buttered popcorn
- Quick bread
Limit Unhealthy Fats
Unhealthy fats lead to the build-up of cholesterol, which increases the risk of coronary artery disease, which can, in turn, lead to heart disease. You should, therefore, limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. Here are fats you can choose from;
- Olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetable and nut oils
- Margarine, trans-fat-free
Fats to limit or avoid are;
- Bacon fat
- The cocoa butter in chocolate
- Cream sauce
- Nondairy creamers
Choose low-fat protein sources.
Some good protein sources are poultry, fish, lean meat, low-fat dairy products, and eggs. Avoid fried chicken patties or whole milk. Instead, choose skinless chicken breast or skim milk, which has lower fats.
If you have to eat meat, go for fish. They have low fats and contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower blood fats.
Limit your salt intake.
Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting sodium intake is the most important part of a heart-healthy diet. You can do this by reducing the amount of salt you add to your food at the table but consider avoiding processed foods. They contribute much to your salt intake.
A heart-healthy diet is important for everyone, and you should make it your long-term lifestyle. This diet doesn’t require much as it is cheap and easily achievable.