Heart disease poses a serious health threat to our nation, being the number one killer of both women and men. Fortunately, there are effective steps everyone can take to keep their heart protected. A healthy diet is one of the greatest tools at our disposal to ward off conditions like high blood pressure and cholesterol that can ultimately lead to heart disease. All it takes is following a few simple rules when it comes to nutrition. Here are a few important tips to get you started!
Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables are incredible sources of many of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. They also tend to be high in fiber and low in calories, making them an excellent healthy choice to incorporate as a snack or side dish. Reaching for a piece of fruit throughout the day can also be useful to help control appetite and curb cravings by giving your sweet tooth some satisfaction.
Minimize Intake of Unhealthy Fats
Not all fats are bad, but eating a diet that is high in saturated or trans fats can be particularly hard on the cardiovascular system. Unfortunately, many of the processed foods available today rely heavily on these. You can reduce your intake of unhealthy fats by checking the nutrition labels of products you purchase and substituting healthier fats such as olive oil when cooking.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Again, sodium is a factor that can be particularly difficult to avoid in processed foods. Yet, eating too much can greatly increase the risk of elevated blood pressure. When cooking and eating, minimize the amount of salt that you add to your meals, whether through table salt or salt-containing seasonings and condiments. When eating pre-prepared meals, look for options that are low in sodium.
Consider the Portion Size of Meals
Even if you are making healthy dietary choices, having too much can still be a bad thing. Overall, the goal should be to burn at least as many calories as you take in each day. Weight gain happens when the amount of calories used up over the course of the day is less than the amount eaten. This can pose a threat to the heart, as weight and waist size have been directly connected to cardiovascular health.
Don't be Overly Strict in Your Diet
Healthy nutrition is important, but that doesn't mean that you can never allow yourself to stray. It should be a lifestyle change, not a strict diet. In order to keep yourself on track, allow yourself the occasional indulgence. By doing so, you greatly increase the odds that you will be able to stick with your other, healthier eating habits for the long haul.
If you have questions regarding heart healthy nutrition and would like to learn more about how to implement change in your own diet, contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South by clicking below.