More than 600,000 deaths annually are caused by heart disease, and this makes it the leading cause of death in the United States of America. The best way to stave off heart disease is to adopt a heart-healthy diet. The risk factors that can help in the development of heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and excess body weight. Interestingly, all of these factors can be controlled by a heart-healthy diet. To put it more bluntly: eat healthily and you will live healthier and longer.
Heart-Healthy Diet Nutrients
Fruits and vegetables are considered to be the cornerstone of a heart-healthy diet. Fruits and vegetable, such as fresh greens which are rich in phytonutrients called flavonoids, are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavonoids are mostly concentrated in the skins of both fruits and vegetables. So if you can, avoid peeling them in order to get the best nutrients. Furthermore, it is recommended to eat both vegetables and fruits while they are fresh, as cooking or lengthy storage can strip them of flavonoids.
Other ingredients that you need to consider adding to your heart-healthy diet are soluble fiber and fatty fish. Soluble fiber, or foods rich in it, are proven to soak up cholesterol, and by doing this, they prevent it from being absorbed by our body. It also improves your digestion. Fish, which are known for being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can reduce the levels of triglycerides and prevent the buildup of arterial plaque.
Heart disease can be caused by hypertension. Hypertension is caused by sodium. Get the point?
The recommended amount of sodium you should take on a daily basis is 2,300 mg. This number is promoted by The Department of Health and Human Services. An amount lower than 1,5000 mg a day is recommended for African Americans and people with diabetes or hypertension. Most people take in the majority of sodium through processed foods, and these should be avoided at any cost. Instead, you should consume more fresh foods, herbs, and spices.
Avoid Sugar & Trans Fats
Trans fats and hydrogenated fats should be avoided the same way merchant ships avoided pirates in past times. Not any quantity of these substances is right for you. If you didn’t know, they are about to be banned by the FDA this month.
Now, sugar is also not good for your heart, but scientists are still working on fully understanding its effect on heart health. What’s clear is that over-consuming sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes, higher blood pressure, inflammation, and various other conditions that later affect your heart health and can cause heart disease. According to one study, people who get 1/5 of their daily dose of calories through sugars are 38% more likely to die from heart disease than those that don’t.
Think About the Paleo Diet
This diet is an attempt at having a diet similar to the one our ancestors had. Before the age of agriculture, most people lived off meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. The paleo diet doesn’t contain refined sugars, grains, or processed foods. Because of this, the paleo diet is considered to be a heart-healthy diet.
It revolves around eating foods rich in fiber without any sodium. Just these two things combined can do wonders for your heart health. But this diet doesn’t contain vitamin D and calcium. In order to have the best nutrition possible, you will need to take these vitamins and minerals through supplements.
Forming Healthy Habits
Another interesting thing lies in the fact that the diet can be the same for someone who has coronary heart disease and for those that try to avoid it. The difference is that if you are not currently suffering from heart disease, you should stick to this diet plan and still be allowed to consume some cheat meals. It’s all about creating a healthy habit to have a brighter future.
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