Eating Your Way to a Healthy Heart

heart healthy foodsResearch shows that a healthy, balanced diet can have significant positive benefits for your heart. Eating a heart-healthy diet can:

  • Reduce overall cholesterol, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol
  • Boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce harmful fats such as transfats and saturated fats
  • Help you maintain a healthy body weight

What are the components of a heart-healthy diet? Let’s break it down.

High in whole grains and fiber. Whole grains and fiber help lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, and they promote a healthy weight by making you feel full for a longer period of time. Whole grain and high fiber foods include:

  • Whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and oats
  • Beans and legumes including black beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, split peas, and soy products
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Nuts and seeds

You can incorporate whole grain and high fiber foods into your diet by

  • Using multigrain or whole wheat products instead of white ones
  • Eating whole grains like oats, buckwheat, and quinoa
  • Choosing a colorful plate with lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Adding beans and legumes to your favorite recipes including salads
  • Snacking on unsalted or low-salt nuts and seeds

Low in unhealthy fats. Saturated and transfats and cholesterol are often found in cheap groceries. They clog your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. They can be found in:

  • Red or dark meat
  • Full-fat dairy products
  • Fried foods, including snack foods
  • Buttery dishes and baked goods
  • Sweets, sugary drinks, and other foods high in sugar

You can reduce your consumption of unhealthy fats by

  • Choosing lean poultry and fish instead of red or dark meat
  • Consuming low-fat or no-fat dairy products
  • Avoiding fried, buttery, or oily foods
  • Snacking on unsalted or low-salt nuts and seeds instead of chips and other snack foods
  • Replacing high-fat desserts and baked goods with lighter options like fruit or frozen yogurt

Low in salt. Salt increases blood pressure, and high blood pressure can lead to heart disease. Reduce salt intake by choosing low-salt versions of the foods you regularly buy and using other spices to season your food instead of salt. Here are some spices to try to use instead of salt:

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Dill
  • Chives
  • Rosemary

Foods that are typically very high in salt include bagged snacks, canned soups, cheeses, and deli meats.

In the next blog post we will put these tips into action with some modified recipes that taste great and promote heart health.

Next steps

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