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Healthy Food

Heart-Healthy Diet Tips

Are you looking to reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your cardiovascular health in general?

What is a healthy diet for the heart?

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. It claims more lives than any other form of cancer. Heart disease can have a devastating effect on your quality of life, mood, and outlook and affect your emotional state. Although weight control and regular exercise are important for maintaining a healthy heart, what you eat is equally important. A heart-healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of stroke and heart disease by 80%.

You cannot be miraculously healthy by eating one food. Your overall diet is more important than any specific food. A heart-healthy diet focuses on “real,” healthy food. It is not about processed foods, packaged meals, or sugary snacks.

These heart-healthy tips will help you manage your heart conditions and reduce your chance of suffering a heart attack.

Keys to a healthy heart

1. Be wise about fats

Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones if you’re concerned about your heart health. The following are some of the best changes you can make in your diet:

2. Avoid artificial trans fats

Artificial trans fats can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. Many countries have banned artificial trans-fats from commercially prepared foods. However, it is worth looking at labels to avoid anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil in the ingredients.

3. Avoid saturated fats

They are most commonly found in red meat, tropical oils, and dairy products. You should limit them to 10% of your daily calories. You can enjoy dairy in moderation, but you should diversify your protein sources by choosing fish, eggs, chicken skinless, and other vegetarian sources.

4. Consume more healthy fats

Increasing your intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower your blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Omega 3 fatty acids should be consumed every day from fish like salmon, trout, herring or flaxseeds, kale or spinach. Olive oil, avocados and nuts are all good sources of healthy fats.

5. Do not replace fat with sugar, refined carbs or other sweeteners

It is important to replace unhealthy fats with healthier alternatives when cutting down on heart-risky foods. For example, replacing processed meats with chicken or fish can have a positive impact on your health. However, switching to refined carb from animal fats–such replacing your breakfast bacon by a donut or sugary cereal- will not reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The body doesn’t require any extra sugar. It gets enough sugar from food. Refined carbs and sugary foods can add up to empty calories that can be as harmful for your heart and waistline as they are for you.

Opt for whole grains, such as whole wheat bread or multigrain bread, brown rice and barley, quinoa and bran cereals, instead of sugary soft drinks and white bread.

6. High-fiber foods are your best bet

High fiber diets can help lower cholesterol and protect you from heart disease. It may help you lose weight. Fiber stays longer in your stomach than other foods so you feel fuller longer and can eat less. Fiber helps to move fat through your digestive system faster so that less is absorbed. Fiber intake will increase your energy to exercise and make you feel fuller.

Insoluble fiber: can be found in whole grains, wheat and vegetable cereals such as carrots and celery.

Soluble fibre: sources include oatmeal, beans and nuts.

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Joseph M. Kay

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