8 Tips for a Heart Healthy Diet

Ashchi Heart & Vascular Center PhotoAlthough you might know that eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it’s often tough to change your eating habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you’ll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

 

8 Tips for a Heart Healthy Diet:

1. Control your portion size

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Eating until you feel stuffed can lead
to eating more calories than you should. To help control food portions try using a small plate
or bowl! When you are going to eat larger portions eat low – calorie, nutrient – rich foods.
Keep track of the servings you eat. If you are not comfortable with your judgment of food
portions, try using measuring cups and spoons, or a food scale.

2. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calorie
and rich in dietary fiber. Fruits and vegetables also contain substances that may prevent
cardiovascular disease. Keep fruits and vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator or in a
fruit bowl in your kitchen so you remember to eat them! Another way to increase fruit and
vegetable intake is to choose recipes that use them as the main ingredients (stir fry, fruit
mixed salads, etc.).

Try and choose more fresh for frozen fruits and vegetables, low-sodium canned vegetables,
and canned fruit packed in juice or water. Try and limit coconut, vegetables with creamy
sauces, fried or breaded vegetables, canned fruit packed in syrup, and frozen fruit with sugar
added.

3. Select whole grains

Whole grains are a good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating
your blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart
– healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. Try and limit white
bread, muffins, frozen waffles, corn bread, donuts, biscuits, quick breads, cakes, pies, egg
noodles, buttered popcorn, and high-fat snack crackers. Instead choose whole grain bread,
high fiber cereal (5g or more), brown rice, barley, buckwheat, whole-grain pasta,
and oatmeal.

4. Limit unhealthy fats

Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood
cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. An easy way to reduce saturated
fat in your diet is by trimming fat off your meat of choosing lean meats. You can also add less
butter, margarine, and shortening when cooking. Another thing you can do is use low-fat
substitutions when possible.

Try and limit butter, lard, bacon fat, gravy, cream sauce, nondairy creamers, hydrogenated
margarine and shortening, cocoa butter, and coconut oils. Instead choose olive oil, canola oil,
vegetable oil, margarine, nuts, seeds, and avocados.

5. Choose low fat protein sources

Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of your best sources
of protein. Try and choose lower fat options. Legumes, beans, peas, and lentils are also a
good source of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol.

6. Reduce the sodium in your food

Eating a lot of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular
disease. Reducing sodium is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. A healthy adult should
have no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt). Much of
the salt you eat comes from the canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods and
frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups can reduce the amount of salt
you eat. If you like the convenience of canned soup and prepared meals, look for ones with
reduced sodium.

7. Plan ahead: Create daily menus

Create a daily menu using the six strategies listed above. Watch your portion sizes and add
variety to your menu choices. This helps ensure you will get all the nutrients your body
needs. Variety also makes your meals and snacks more fun!

8. Allow yourself an occasional treat

Allow yourself to indulge every now and then! A candy bar or handful of chips will not derail
your heart – healthy diet. But don’t let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your healthy-
eating plan.

Courtesy of Mayo Clinic.

 

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