A change in your diet can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your intentions. Changing to a heart healthy diet can prevent some heart and blood diseases as well as lower your risk for other medical conditions. This article will teach you how to create and follow a heart-healthy diet plan.
The Importance of a Heart Healthy Diet Plan
If you have a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or even diabetes, you may need to reevaluate your diet. Changing your diet can be a difficult task, especially if you don’t have a direction to go in or a point to start from.
This article will explain why and how changing your diet geared for a heart healthy diet plan can reduce your risks of health complications and make you feel better. We will also discuss where to start, what foods to avoid and what food to add.
If you are looking to alter your eating habits to help your heart, you are in the right place. We will take you through the process to get you on track or heart healthy eating.
Why You Should Consider a Heart Healthy Diet
Being healthy is a matter of choice and takes a little bit of work. So why should you bother? Heart disease is the reason for 1 in 4 deaths every year in America. That equates to over 600,000 deaths per year.
Based on this information alone, anything you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease should be taken. Diet and exercise are important for cardiovascular health and while starting a proper cardio exercise program are easier than changing your eating habits, the diet should be a priority.
Eating healthy can give you the proper energy and motivation to begin a workout program. It also provides you with a lower risk of the common heart diseases and other medical issues. This list includes heart attack, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and stroke.
Eating healthy can lower blood sugar which, in itself, will lower the risk of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes. It will also provide the proper nutrients to help reduce the risk of heart attack.
The Heart Healthy Diet Plan
How can you achieve a heart healthy diet plan? It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Follow along with the outlined options below and create a daily menu.
The key to success is to realize that you don’t need to make drastic changes all at once. Just eating healthier is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t need to be every single meal every single time. Some find it a lot easier to build up to it by replacing one meal a day and adding others as they go along.
This in no way should replace the advice or guidance of your doctor. However, it will provide you with a basis for proper nutrition. Aside from the topics listed below, you should have regular check-ups done to help prevent heart disease. If you are at risk or think you may be at risk, regular screenings will help in your prevention steps.
Control How Much You Eat
The first step is to control the amount of food you eat and how often. The adage of three square meals a day is a good start unless you are eating a lot. The new rule of thumb is to eat six smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals.
Portion control is crucial. No single serving of any food should be larger than your fist, as a rule. So while you can have those pinto beans, it isn’t that you are eating them, it is how much of them you are eating.
Portion control is vital to a heart healthy diet plan. More important, actually, than what you are eating. Controlling how much of a single food you eat goes a long way to keeping your heart active, pumping and healthy.
Raise the Number of Fruits and Vegetables You Eat
Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and even fiber. You should strive to have two helpings of fruits and vegetables, on average, with every meal.
It is also believed that eating more fruits and vegetables will help curb your appetite and diminish cravings for high-calorie snacks and larger portions with your meals. However, some fruits and vegetables are better than others. Although any fruit or vegetable is better than none.
The best option is for fresh fruits and vegetables that you purchase at your local grocery store or farmers market. Having fresh food on hand is always a good idea. If you must buy canned fruits, ensure they are packed in fruit juice or water and steer clear of the ones packed in heavy syrup. The syrup contains sugars that can counteract the fruit ingestion as it pertains to heart health.
If you purchase canned vegetables, make sure they are low sodium or no sodium added varieties. You should also try to eliminate fried vegetables or those cooked in a batter from your diet.
Say No To Trans Fat
Not all fat is bad for us, and in a well-balanced diet, you will have fat. What you need to be on the lookout for, though, is trans fat. Trans fat and saturated fat will raise your cholesterol and can be a major factor in the appearance of heart disease.
Saturated fat can be eaten though you should limit the amount. If you are following a 2,000 calorie per day diet, your saturated fat intake should not exceed 13 grams.
Trans fat should be avoided altogether. It isn’t as easy as it sounds though so be sure to check all labels carefully. Even in foods like baked goods, trans fat can show up. Anything cooked or baked with certain oils will have trans fat. Begin to slowly remove all trans fats from your diet for better heart health.
Some fats are good for you though, polyunsaturated fats, for example, are almost required in a heart healthy diet. You can get these from certain healthy foods like fish, nuts, and avocados.
You can also increase your monounsaturated fats that are found in canola oils and olive oil.
Whole Grains for the Win
Fiber is essential for heart health and lower blood sugar. When eating your grains, you should ensure they are whole grains. Bread, for example, should be whole grain bread and leaving out wheat bread and white bread will go a long way towards a healthy heart.
Wheat bread (most, but not all) and white bread are made from the same types of flour, and even enriched flour isn’t healthy for our bodies. Whole grain bread, rolls, tortillas, and others give you the proper fiber intake and remove any of the harmful additives found in the other options.
Pasta can also be whole grain, and while it does have a different taste than traditional pasta, it is one that your heart will thank you for.
Know Your Proteins
Proteins are an important part of any diet and as long as you know what types are good for your heart.
Eggs and low-fat dairy will give your proteins the right combination of taste and health. Salmon, tuna and other high-fat, oily fish are also great proteins. Other proteins you should include in your new diet include:
- Ground meats with less than 10 percent fat
There are, of course, proteins you should avoid. Such things as full-fat dairy products, bacon, hot dogs, and high-fat meats.
Lower the Sodium
When it comes to heart health, sodium is detrimental. The key is to lower sodium with the intent to remove it as near complete as possible. This is a lot easier said than done as sodium is added to almost every food.
Unless you are buying every food fresh and from unprocessed markets, there will be sodium. When looking at labels, you should ensure that no sodium has been added and where possible, select low-sodium options.
Condiments, table salt, canned foods and prepared foods have a lot of salt. To give you an idea of salt intake, a healthy adult should only have a daily salt intake of one teaspoon or 2300mg.
Reducing salt is one of the most difficult aspects of changing your diet, but it is also one of the most important ones. High salt intake causes high blood pressure and a host of other medical concerns that can turn detrimental.
Having a heart healthy diet plan is essential if you are looking to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke or diabetes.
While change can be difficult, with a little preplanning and thoughtful shopping you can alter your diet slowly and efficiently and enjoy more healthy decisions. Controlling your intake of sodium and eliminating trans fat is crucial to success.
Low-fat foods, along with more fruits and vegetables will keep your heart and blood pressure healthy and happy.