Time for a heart-to-heart, about your heart.
Over 84 million Americans are impacted by some form of heart disease. The good news is the power to reduce your risk is largely in your hands.
Eating a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet is one of the most effective ways of reducing heart disease and other cardiac complications. Eating heart-healthy foods can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease and attack. All while keeping your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol in check.
Eating for a healthy heart doesn’t need to be overly complicated or expensive. By exchanging just a few foods for healthier options you can be well on your way to a heart-healthy life.
Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Heart
When it comes to feeding your heart, the less processed the better.
By limiting the drive-thru and packaged foods, you can cut down on the trans fat, sodium, and excess sugar that can increase your risk of heart disease. Here are some foods to consider removing or cutting back on:
- Deep fried anything
- Sugary cereals
- Soft drinks and added-sugar juices
- Fast food
- Refined grains (white bread/rice/pasta)
- Packaged foods (cookies, candy, chips)
While animal products can help support a healthy heart, certain animal proteins and fats should be limited (or avoided altogether):
- Processed meat (bacon, sausage, salami, hot dogs)
- Organ meats (think liver)
- Full-fat dairy (milks, cheeses, butters)
Don’t panic! There’s no need to dump all your tasty treats in the trash. Just focus on treating processed food as an occasional treat, not a staple of your daily (or even weekly) diet.
“ A diet low in saturated fats and processed sugars can without question lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. This will also help in maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing likelihood of diabetes later in life.” – Dr. James Chapman, Internal Medicine – Cardiology
Foods to Eat for a Healthy Heart
No need to feel like you have to avoid all the good stuff. In fact, the number of foods that support a healthy heart far outnumber those that can damage it.
While portion control is always important to maintaining a heart-healthy weight, the majority of these foods can be eaten with few limitations. As a simple rule of thumb, eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
In abundance, you can feed your heart:
- Fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables (no added sugar or salt)
- Whole-wheat grains (rice, pasta, bread, and cereal)
- Milk alternatives (soy, almond, oat milks)
- Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil)
- Low-fat proteins (tofu, eggs, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy)
Alright, yes, maintaining a healthy heart is a lifelong commitment. And yes, overhauling your diet can be very intimidating. But keeping your ticker in tip-top shape doesn’t have to be a stressful, nagging process.
Having a plan in place and a support team in your corner is the key to consistency. Virtual healthcare allows you to connect with your doctor and create heart-healthy treatment and nutrition plans at your convenience. You can enroll in a careguide or ask a doctor for easy, practical tips on how to improve your heart every day throughout your lifelong journey towards your healthiest heart.