Many people start their new year out with the intent to eat healthier, get in a little more exercise, and shed some pounds to look their best. However, healthy eating is about more than a number on a scale. When you engage in healthy eating, you ultimately promote a well-functioning heart.
And when your heart is healthy, your quality of life increases.
Quick Facts About Heart Health
- One American dies every 36 seconds as the result of poor heart health
- Heart disease impacts all races but is most common in African American, Native American, and American Pacific Islanders.
- Dietary issues, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and inadequate nutrient intake can exacerbate and influence overall heart health.
What is Considered a Heart Healthy Diet?
Heart-healthy diets are a lot easier to achieve than many people think — and it often has to do with re-thinking plate portions as well as what you put on your plate.
Prioritize Fruits & Veggies On Your Plate. Not only are they packed full of nutrients, but they also help you stay hydrated and keep you fuller longer. High-calorie foods (high sugar/carbohydrate) are good for specific activities like running, hiking, and physical labor but should not be consumed all the time. Adding water and nutrient-dense foods in place of high-calorie foods like pasta, rice, and bread will help control hunger and strengthen your immune system, which ultimately helps the heart.
Quick tip: If you’re a fan of protein, try a vegetable omelet for dinner! Include low-fat cheese (like part-skim mozzarella) or skip out on the cheese entirely for a heart-healthy, nutrient-packed dinner.
Cut Out Trans Fat Completely. Some fats are healthy in moderation, including no more than 13 grams of saturated fat per day. However, trans fat is not suitable for heart health and should be avoided altogether. Healthy fats are found in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts.
Quick tip: Try baking something you would typically fry to avoid trans fat. For instance, try a baked, light version of breaded eggplant in your eggplant parmesan recipe.
Avoid Salt. High blood pressure is a contributing factor to heart disease, and too much salt can raise blood pressure. Therefore, avoiding salt is one of the easiest ways to make a difference in your healthy eating habits. The ideal diet contains only 2300 mg of salt, which is a little less than one teaspoon.
Quick tip: Opt for highly-seasoned recipes to enhance the taste of the recipe. Veggie-heavy curries, Herbes de Provence-seasoned potatoes, and nutritional yeast can sometimes curb salt cravings. Salt moderation is key to food enjoyment.
What Foods Should You Avoid On A Heart-Healthy Diet?
Cardiologists stress moderation when it comes to eating “forbidden foods” — restricting things like salt, cookies, breads, pasta, and chips entirely might lead to binges, which isn’t good for heart health, either.
For the best heart health, vascular specialists recommend enjoying these foods as rarely as possible:
- Non-dairy creamers
- Butter & Lard
- Junk foods
- High-fat meats & red meats, like hamburger and sausage
- Fried food
- Processed meats & deli meats, like hot dogs and ham slices
- High-salt condiments such as mayonnaise, soy sauce, and ketchup
Maryland Vascular Specialists offers treatment for some of the vascular effects that may result from long term poor diet, including PAD, Carotid Stenosis, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms and kidney disease. Learn more about our vascular specialists here.