In general, people are aware of the fact that certain foods increase their risk of heart disease and still don’t follow a heart-healthy diet because they find changing their eating habits quite challenging.
However, if you want to keep your heart in optimal health and protect against heart disease you certainly have to make some alterations. It may be hard at first, but once you learn which the best diet for heart health is and how to implement a heart-healthy diet you will be on your way toward keeping your most important organ safe.
That said, here are the steps to follow to prevent heart disease.
1. Limit Portion Size
First and foremost, for keeping your heart healthy, it’s important not only that you mind what you eat but how much you eat too. Eating until you feel stuffed typically means that you’ve consumed much more calories than what you need which can then lead to obesity, one of the risk factors for heart disease (Camacho & Ruppel, 2017).
2. Consume More Vegetables and Fruits
As you can guess, a diet for heart patients is normally packed with lots of fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and abundant in vitamins and minerals. Also, like other plant-based foods, vegetables, and fruits can help you prevent cardiovascular disease so ensure you include as much of them as you can in your heart-healthy diet.
3. Choose Whole Grains
In addition to veggies and fruits, another key element featured in the best diet for heart health is whole grains. They are great sources of fiber and other nutrients that are key in controlling blood pressure and heart health. Therefore, to keep away from heart disease, replace refined grain products with whole grains like bulgur, farro, quinoa, millet, barley, etc.
4. Avoid Unhealthy Fats
Furthermore, just like their name suggests, saturated and trans fats shouldn’t be part of any diet for heart patients as they are simply unhealthy fats (JV et al.). Eating too much of them may increase blood cholesterol levels and thus lead to a buildup of plaques in the arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can eventually lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
5. Go for Low-Fat Protein Sources
A heart-healthy diet should also include low-fat protein sources like lean meat, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, legumes, and eggs. Fish for example is a great alternative to high-fat meats and is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce blood fats, called triglycerides. Similarly, plant-based proteins reduce overall fat and cholesterol intake while increasing fiber intake.
6. Reduce Your Salt Intake
Last but not least, consuming too much salt can increase blood pressure which, like obesity, is one of the risk factors for heart disease (Grillo et al., 2019). Hence, limiting sodium, i.e., salt intake is of great importance if you’ve decided to follow a heart-healthy diet. Healthy adults’ recommended sodium intake is no more than 2.300 mg or about a teaspoon of salt.
The Bottom Line
Following a heart-healthy diet isn’t as hard as it seems to be. You just need to implement the above-listed changes to ensure you follow the best diet for heart health. And, of course, you may allow yourself an occasional treat. A candy bar or a bit of potato chips won’t put you at immediate risk for heart disease as long as you treat yourself from time to time only.
Camacho, S., & Ruppel, A. (2017). Is the calorie concept a real solution to the obesity epidemic? Global health action. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5496172/
JV , W., C, Y., & McKinley, M. (n.d.). Saturated and trans fatty acids and coronary heart disease. Current atherosclerosis reports. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18937892/
Grillo, A., Salvi, L., Coruzzi, P., Salvi, P., & Parati, G. (2019, August 21). Sodium intake and hypertension. Nutrients. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770596/