Eating for a healthy heart is easier than you think, and also one of the most important things you can do for your health. Proper nutrition early on can prevent up to 70% of cases of heart disease and other related complications. Without the proper vitamins and nutrients in your diet, your heart can weaken, and plaque can build up in arteries much quicker, leading to heart disease, cardiac arrest, and stroke. Including the proper foods in your diet, can prevent these conditions.
You don’t need to necessarily need to go on to a special diet (unless advised by your doctor of course) but eating heart healthy is very easy to do, and it benefits every part of your body, not just your heart.
Getting your current diet-heart smart is easy!
Start by knowing what to limit, what to start to include and making some better substitutes.
When shopping for your fruits and vegetables think dark greens, deep oranges, bright yellows and reds!fresh produce of these colors are usually high vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.
Instead of potato chips, cookies, candy and other processed foods, snack on the right foods.
Cut the refined sugar and deep-fried convenience and opt for a better choice instead.
Did you know many people aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables? Snack time is the perfect time to rectify that!
Try snacking on some fruit and crackers, or maybe veggies and dip for a quick snack!
You can replace potato chips with making your own at home!
Try using kale or sweet potato instead, toss with olive oil and seasoning to your liking and bake!
Nuts Instead of Chips and Candy
Almonds and Walnuts are a great snack! The both have plant sterols, fiber and heart-healthy fats such as Omega 3s. Almonds and walnuts can lower cholesterol and protect your arteries from inflammation.
Try a handful of either or both when you’re hungry rather than a vending machine special, these snacks are high in the wrong kind of sugars, fats, and other bad ingredients. Nuts keep you full for longer and can satisfy cravings.
Drink Smarter, Too
It’s unrealistic for everyone who is heart conscious to give up alcohol. If you are a drinker, you don’t have to cut it out completely. Keep in mind to avoid damaging your heart, to stick to no more than 1 or 2.
Try to Cut Out Beer
Beer is full of sugar and wheat, among other toxins. This can raise your blood sugar and pressure levels, leading to heart disease and other conditions such as heart attack and stroke.
Try not to turn to drinks that are made with a lot of pop or juice as a result, these are also high in dangerous sugars and preservatives, which not only are bad for you and your heart but bad for your hangover too!
A little Red Wine is Fine
Red wine is a heart-healthier choice. Red Wine has 2 antioxidants that can protect artery walls, resveratrol and catechins. Alcohol can also boost HDL, the good cholesterol.
Getting Your Current Diet Heart Smart
Try to avoid things that are high in or considered the following:
High In Trans Fat
High In Saturated Fat
High Salt (Sodium)
These are foods that are fast food, junk food, greasy and oily.Things like pizza, hotdogs, chips, cookies, and other processed foods. Even seemingly healthy foods such as white bread, deli meats, and white rice might not be the best choice. These foods generally lose much of their nutritional value during production and tend to get more sugar and salts added. These foods can contribute to artery plaque and raise blood pressure.
You want to limit certain foods, too.
Try Including These Substitutions To Make Heart-Healthy Eating Easy!
Start by making simple substitutions in your diet, and start to feel the difference!
The biggest substitution you can make is cooking instead of eating out. By cooking instead, your food is usually lower in preservatives, fats, and unnecessary sugars, among many other things! Your ingredients will be fresher, and you can choose to use healthier options, which many places do not.
Try to have a balance of what you eat.
Try to limit red meat to occasionally, or once a week if you can. Try to include more fish such as salmon or white tuna. Salmon is considered a superfood it’s loaded with Omega 3s, good fats, and oils that your body does need.
Try to snack on fruits, vegetables and things like nuts rather than chips or a chocolate bar. But if chocolate is your game, Dark Chocolate is the name!
Regularly consuming dark chocolate can help reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease. Some of the things in dark chocolate, (flavanols), affect two major risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate nitric oxide production in the body. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to widen, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Dark chocolate also contains polyphenols and theobromine, that aids in lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body and increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Spinach instead of Lettuce
You want to be sure to include at least one of these foods in your diet. Start by swapping the lettuce in your salads and sandwiches with Spinach or Kale!
Beans & Lentils Instead of Ground Beef
Consider making vegetarian chili and burgers. To eat heart smart you want to start limiting your red meat intake. Try making your recipe with black beans instead for a heart smart switch that will make your burgers rich in vitamins and fiber. Black beans are rich in folate, antioxidants, and magnesium, which can help lower blood pressure. The fiber from black beans helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Barley Instead of Rice
Simmer barley into soups and stews as a great alternative to rice. Barley can lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Olive Oil instead of Salad Dressing
Olive oil is rich in heart healthy antioxidants! When you use olive oil rather than butter it can aid in lowering cholesterol levels and protecting blood vessels.
Try it on salads, bread, cooked veggies, get creative!
Whole Grains instead of White (Bread & Rice)
Whole grains include whole-grain bread and crackers, brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and hulled barley. These products are prepared using the entire grain, giving the foods more fiber, protein and B vitamins. They help you feel full longer too, which helps with cravings and snacks!
Sweet Potatoes instead of White
They have more nutrients and a little less starch. Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, vitamin A and lycopene, and won’t spike your blood sugar
Drink Water The Most
Getting enough water is crucial to all major functions, not just a healthy heart. Drinking enough water keeps you hydrated and improves organ function, digestion, reduces headaches and muscle tension.