Six Diet Tips For A Healthier Heart
May 3rd, 2012
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. In 2008, the disease caused almost a quarter of the total deaths in the country, claiming more than 615,000 lives. Furthermore, more than 785,000 Americans experience their first heart attack each year. In 2010, coronary heart disease cost Americans approximately $108.9 billion in health care services, medications, and lost income.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to reduce our risk for developing cardiovascular diseases, and modifying our diet is one of the most effective ways of achieving this.
Here are six diet tips to prevent heart disease:
1. Limit your portion size.
Eating the right amount is just as important as eating the right kinds of food. The key is having the right sized plate and not to overload it. Dr. Brian Wansink, co-author of the book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, recommends using ten-inch plates to reduce our portion sizes, without affecting our perceived fullness or satisfaction level.
2. Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are also great sources of dietary fiber and low in calories. Eating more fruits and vegetables will make you feel fuller for a longer period and can help reduce your consumption of high-fat food.
Adding fruits and vegetables to your diet is easy if you take a few simple steps: wash and cut vegetables and keep them in your refrigerator for quick bites, place fruits on top of your breakfast table so you won’t forget to eat them. Prepare recipes that include a sizable portion of fruits and vegetables.
3. Choose whole grains.
Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients that help regulate blood pressure and promote a healthy heart. New studies recommend at least three servings of whole grains a day. Increase your consumption by substituting whole grains for refined grain products.
4. Limit bad cholesterol and fats.
Controlling food high in saturated and trans fats in your diet will help lower your blood cholesterol and reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. Bad cholesterol causes plaque buildup in your arteries, known as atherosclerosis, which may cause heart attack and stroke.
Reduce the amount of solid fats such as butter, lard, gravy, and cream sauce in your diet. Choose lean meats or trim fat off your meat. Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive and canola oil for your recipes.
5. Reduce sodium intake.
A high sodium diet causes high blood pressure, increasing your risk for developing cardiovascular diseases. Reducing sodium intake is important to your heart’s health.
A significant amount of sodium we consume may not actually come from the salt we add to our food while cooking or even at our tables, but from processed or canned foods such as soups, junk food, canned meat. You can reduce your salt intake by preparing your own meals. If you cannot avoid such products, at least opt for the low-salt variety.
6. Choose low-fat protein.
Protein is an important part of our diet. It builds muscles and repairs worn-out tissues. But you should be cautious where you get your protein from. Choose low fat options such as fish, egg whites, skinless chicken breasts, and yogurt to name a few.
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