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Simple Steps to a Heart Healthy Diet

Simple Steps to a Heart Healthy Diet

We are all creatures of our habits and it is very difficult to break those once formed. So is the case in our diet too, but small and simple changes mentioned below will greatly help to increase the health of your heart:

  • Portion size: The amount you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading yourself with food until you feel stuffed can lead to more calories and fat intake. It is important to keep track of the number of servings you eat and the size of the serving; this in turn will help you to control your portions. Intake of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and less of high-calorie, high-sodium foods like processed or fast foods can help you shape up not only your diet but also your heart and waistline.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit: Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals and are also low in calories and rich in dietary fiber which helps in preventing cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may make you stay away from high-fat foods such as meat and cheese.
  • Add whole grains: Whole grains are good sources of fiber and nutrients and help regulating blood pressure and heart health. Whole grains can be included in the diet in place of refined grain products.
  • Limit unhealthy fats: Limiting the amount of saturated and Trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. High blood cholesterol level can cause a buildup of plaques in your arteries which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Differentiating between healthy fats and unhealthy fats and avoiding the unhealthy ones, form an integral part of a heart healthy diet. Healthy fats include fatty acids from olive oil, avocado, nuts and vegetable oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids helps in reducing the risk of heart disease. Unhealthy fats include saturated fat from meat and dairy and Trans fat from margarines, shortening, breads, cakes and French fries.
  • Add low-fat protein sources in the diet: Lean meat, poultry, fish, low-fat dairy products, and egg whites are vital sources of protein. Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides. Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils are good sources of protein and contain less fat making them an excellent substitute for meat.
  • Reduce sodium intake: High salt or sodium intake increases blood pressure, eventually leading to heart conditions. When sodium starts to accumulate in the blood, it attracts water, increasing the blood volume. In this situation the heart has to work harder to keep blood circulation through the blood vessels, resulting in elevated levels of blood pressure.