7 Tips for a Heart Healthy Diet
Lowering cholesterol means modifying your diet and understanding the importance of a heart-healthy diet. Lowering the amount of fat intake and eating the right foods all contribute to help you lower your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol contributes to the clogging of arteries due to higher levels of LDL - the bad cholesterol that causes to plaque buildup along the artery wall. If this is left untreated, the restriction of blood supply to your heart and rest of your body will cause the heart tissue to become damaged or even die. This is commonly referred to as arteriosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Eating right is very important and can be very tough. There are 7 simple tips to create a strategy and to changing your diet that will help in preventing heart disease and reducing your cholesterol.
1. Limit how much saturated and trans fats you eat that contribute to a buildup of plaque in your arteries
|Types of Fat||Recommendation|
|Saturated Fat||Less than 7 percent of your total daily calories|
|Trans Fat||Less than 1 percent of your total daily calories|
|Cholesterol||Less than 300 milligrams a day for healthy adults; less than 200 milligrams a day for adults with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication|
The best way to limit saturated and trans fats is to limit the amount of solid fats such as butter, margarine, and shortening. These are commonly used and included into our foods. Avoid fried foods or use substitutes where ever possible. For example use low-fat sour cream or salsa on a baked potato instead of butter and sour-cream, or avoid frying meats but rather broil, bake or barbeque instead. Use Olive oil instead of shortening, and avoid deep fried foods or battered fried foods..
Do check the food labels, especially those that are labeled "reduced fat" because you may find that these items are substituting fat with oils that contain trans fats. "Partially hydrogenated" is a typical phrase that indicates trans fat so use this a a clue when reading those labels.
The healthier solution is to choose foods that contain monounsaturated fats, such as olive or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts and seeds, which are also good choices. Both of these types of fat may help to lower your total blood cholesterol - but with moderation because these are still "fats".
2. Choose from sources of low-fat proteins
Lean meats, skinless poultry and fish, or low-fat dairy products and egg whites are your best sources of low-fat protein. Legumes (beans, peas and lentils) are also great sources and contain less fat and no cholesterol which makes them great alternatives to meat. Use the guide below to help you to select :
3. More fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are is a great source for vitamins and minerals; they are lower in calories and rich in fiber. Fruits and vegetables also contain substances that help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables will fill you up more, helping you to eat less high-fat foods and snacks.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is actually easier than you think. Choose recipes that include fruits and vegetables in them, keep apples, grapes, peaches on hand and try new foods such as stir-fry, fruit salads, or even canned fruits and vegetables (with lower sodium and sugar content) Avoid drenching your fruits and vegetables in butter, dressings, sugar, and sauces because these will add back fats and calories which will in the end, defeat your purpose. Also try to avoid breaded and fried vegetables, canned fruits in heavy syrup, and coconut.
4. Select whole grains
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and iron. The nutrients found in whole grains also help regulate blood pressure and maintain your heart’s health.
Choose breads, pasta and cereals made from 100 percent whole grain and avoid refined white flour. Select high-fiber breakfast cereals or oatmeal instead of sugary cereals, muffins or doughnuts.
Flaxseed is another whole grain to add to your diet. Ground flaxseed is high in omega-3 fatty acids which lower your total blood cholesterol. You can easily add ground flaxseed to your foods by stirring in a teaspoon over hot cereal, applesauce or yogurt.
Below is a quick-guide of whole grain food choices:
5. Reduce salt intake
Everyone uses it, it’s hard to avoid – eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure. Reducing the salt in your food is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day which is about 1 teaspoon.
Salt is added to many foods that are canned, processed, frozen and prepared. Snacks, chips, crackers, soups, frozen dinners all add salt to improve flavor. The best way to reduce salt intake is to eat fresh foods and making your own soups. Another way is to replace salt with salt substitutes, herbs and spices or choose reduced-salt condiments or prepared / processed foods.
6. Eat in moderation
Yes, diet means eating in moderation. Overloading your plate, eating till you feel stuffed or taking seconds leads to consuming more calories and fat than you actually need. Eating out lends to eating more than you should and often are foods that shouldn’t be consumed on a regular basis. Use methods to keep track of your food intake, you’ll be surprised by how much you consume and of what types of food you eat regularly.
A heart-healthy diet also is about maintaining a balance, control and moderation. Eating enough fruits and vegetables and not overindulging with filler calories keeps our bodies healthy, not just our heart. It’s ok to treat yourself to your favorite ice-cream or candy, just moderate that to once a week and even then moderate the amount you consume. Don’t let your favorite treat indulgence become an excuse to abandon your healthy-eating plan but rather adopt healthy eating habits as the norm.
7. Create daily menus and plan.
Put your plans in action by creating daily menus. Using the strategies listed above, emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains, choose lean protein and limit high-fat and salty foods. Planning your meals helps you to plan when you go to the store – having money as well. Variety also helps make mealtime and snacks interesting.
Use these seven tips as a guide into a heart-healthy way to prevent heart disease and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to regain control of your cholesterol. You’ll also be pleased by how easy it can be to lose weight, as well. Incorporate healthy habits to create a healthy life style.
Use these additional Resource links related to a heart-healthy diet.
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