You have already heard the term you are what you eat. It’s been around forever. It’s also common knowledge that eating certain foods increases your risk for heart disease. But despite that fact we continue to consume more and more foods that we know is bad for us. This is often because changing your eating habits is one of the hardest lifestyle changes you can make. Or so it seems. But take it from me, someone who has 31 years of unhealthy eating attached to my name and frame, there are things you can do to make a change and turn back the hands of time. In this article you’ll find eight different ways you can make a change and lower your risks for heart disease.
When you are planning a meal, or a snack, remember the heart healthy meal plate released by Harvard’s School of Public Health. When you’re choosing the foods make sure to portion your plate with mostly vegetables, then fruit, then whole grains, and finally a source of low fat low sodium protein. An important thing to do when planning is add some variety to your food choices. Don’t get hung up on a certain food for too long or you’ll risk burning yourself out. Plus changing up the menu often makes sure your body gets the necessary nutrients on top of spicing up your meals!
You always need to watch what you eat. But you also need to watch how much you eat. Filling that plate up, or going for seconds, and especially eating until you feel so stuffed your about to bust is awful for you. It HAS to be stopped! When you eat like that you are taking in way to many calories, carbs, fat, and cholesterol than you should. This WILL lead to you becoming overweight and worse it can lead to numerous diseases such as heart attacks and possibly strokes. So make sure to keep an eye on the number of servings you eat as well as the sizes of those servings.
Scale Back On Sodium
Sodium can cause high blood pressure which causes you to face the risk of heart disease. So scaling back on the amount of sodium you intake is part of a heart conscious diet. In fact a healthy adult shouldn’t take in more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. So walk into your kitchen and look down at the teaspoon. 2,300 milligrams is about as big as a teaspoon. But we’re not talking just table salt. Remember that every food you eat already has a certain amount of natural sodium in it. So check the nutritional labels before you go adding salt to a dish. Another important fact is if you are over 51, an African-American, or have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease your sodium intake should me 1,500 milligrams of sodium or less per day! A great way to reduce the amount of sodium you intake though is just to stop adding salt to meals. Once you do that you should also consider eating only fresh foods. These usually have way less sodium than canned or processed foods. But if you’re like me and just need the easy route sometimes because of a hectic schedule make sure to get them with reduced sodium.
Eat Only Whole Grains.
Whole grains are the greatest source of fiber and other required nutrients. These nutrients help regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and promote good heart health. So forget the refined grains such as white bread and go for whole grains only. Eating these whole grains instead of refined grains substantially lowers total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides, insulin levels, offers modest protection against colorectal cancer, prevents diverticular disease, and it also helps lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So make sure to include whole grains as a part of every meal!
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables.
Fruits and veggies are a major staple of every balanced diet. This is because they are great sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and they also make a great low calorie low carbohydrate snack. As such they are one of the best ways to eat healthy and lower your risk for heart disease. A holdup for some people is figuring out how they can add these fruits and veggies into their diets. Well for snacks that’s easy. Find some things you like and eat it. I tend to snack on broccoli, carrots, or celery with a small dribble of hidden valley ranch dressing or even some fresh cut cucumbers. These snacks are much better for you then meat, or cheese, or chips and a soda. For a meal I would typically eat some fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and green beans, or broccoli and cheese, or a side salad, or even grilled red peppers, green peppers, and onions. It all depends on the rest of the meal. For fruits I’m not very picky. There are plenty of fresh fruits I enjoy such as apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, strawberries, peaches, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and much more. Just take a stop in your local produce section or your local farmers market and you’ll be able to easily spice up your meals while lowering your risk of heart problems!
Choose Protein That’s Good For You.
The best sources of protein are the leaner meats. Fish, Shellfish, Chicken, Pork Tenderloin, and similar meats are going to be your best sources of protein. When choosing protein it’s all about going as low fat as possible. Such as eating a grilled skinless chicken breast over the country fried steak. For me I tend to gravitate towards seafood as my main source of protein. The oceans and rivers are endless in providing us with great tasting sources of healthy protein. The best thing about fish is that they are super heart healthy. Fish and seafood from colder deep sea’s water are the highest in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids help protect against many diseases such as; Alzheimer’s, cancers, arthritis, high blood pressure, inflammations, depression, strokes, and heart disease. So make sure to include some seafood in your diet plan at least twice per week. Some seafood I tend to eat is shrimp, crab, crawfish, scallops, mussels, tilapia, salmon, and even canned light tuna.
Watch the Fat and Cholesterol
This is the last section but definitely not the least! Out of all the changes you can make this is probably the most important section when it comes to lowering your risk for heart attacks and heart disease. High cholesterol will lead to plaque building up in your arteries which is what causes you to have a heart attack or stroke. To reduce this risk it’s important to limit the amount of fats and cholesterol included in your diet. The best way to do that is cut out the lard. Cut the butter, the margarine, and the shortening out of the food you cook. Start to trim the fat off of all the meat you get. Watch your sugar intake by using natural low sugar jellies and jams instead of the others. That also means trying to cut the cookies and cakes, the snack foods, and mostly everything that’s high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. If you have to use some sort of fat for cooking make sure to use canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, or even a nut or seed oil. If you start to adjust your diet around these principals you’ll be on your way to a heart healthy diet!