Eight steps to prevent heart disease: Heart-healthy eating.

Even though you may be aware that certain foods increase your risk of developing heart disease, it can be difficult to change your eating habits. These eight tips will help you improve your heart health, whether you’ve been eating poorly for years or are just starting to change your eating habits. You’ll soon be able to make a healthy diet by knowing which foods you should eat and which ones you should avoid.

1. Control your portion size.

It is equally important to eat as much as you can. You can eat more calories if you overfill your plate or until you’re full. Restaurants often serve more food than people need.

These tips will help you control your food portions and improve your health.

  • To help you control your portions, use a small bowl or plate.
  • Reduce your calorie intake and eat more nutrient-rich food, like fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce your intake of high-calorie and high-sodium foods such as processed, refined, or fast food.

It is also important to track how many servings you consume. Here are some things to remember:

  • A serving size refers to a precise amount of food. It is defined using common measures such as cups, ounces, or pieces. One serving of pasta, for example, is 1/3 to 1/2 cup. This is roughly the same size as a hockey puck. A portion of meat, fish, or chicken weighs 2 to 3 ounces. This is roughly the same size as a deck.
  • The recommended serving size per food group can vary depending on your specific diet and guidelines.
  • It takes practice to judge the serving size of food. You might need to use measuring cups, spoons, or a scale until your judgment is perfect.

2. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.

Vitamins and minerals are abundant in vegetables and fruits. Also, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and dietary fiber. Like other plant-based foods and vegetables, fruits and vegetables contain substances that can help prevent heart disease. Consuming more fruits and vegetables can help you reduce the calories in high-calorie foods like meat, cheese, and snack foods.

It is easy to include fruits and vegetables in your diet. For quick snacks, keep vegetables cut and washed in your fridge. You can keep fruit in a bowl in the kitchen to remind yourself to eat it. Use vegetables and fruits in your recipes, such as vegetable stir fry or fresh fruit added to salads.

Fruits and vegetables

  • Fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen
  • Cans of low-sodium canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit in juice or water

Limitation on fruits and vegetables

  • Coconut
  • Vegetables with creamy sauces
  • Vegetables can be fried or breaded
  • Canned fruit in heavy syrup
  • Frosted fruit with added sugar

3. Choose whole grains

Whole grains are a good source of fiber and other nutrients, which can help regulate blood pressure and improve heart health. Simple substitutions of refined grains can help increase the intake of whole grains in a healthy diet. You can also try something new, like whole-grain farro or quinoa, or be adventurous and try a whole grain.

Grain products to choose

  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole wheat bread or 100% whole grain bread
  • High-fiber cereals with at least 5 g of fiber per serving
  • Whole grains like brown rice, barley, and buckwheat are known as kasha.
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Oatmeal (steel-cut, regular)

Grain products to limit or avoid

  • Refined white flour
  • White bread
  • Muffins
  • Frozen waffles
  • Cornbread
  • Doughnuts
  • Biscuits
  • Quick bread
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Egg noodles
  • Butter popcorn
  • High-fat snack crackers

4. Limit unhealthy fats

To lower blood cholesterol and reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease, it is important to limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. High blood cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis), increasing your risk of stroke and heart attack.

The American Heart Association provides these guidelines to help you decide how much fat you should include in your heart-healthy diet.

Saturated fat Less than 6% daily calories. * This is if you eat 2,000 calories per day. That’s approximately 11 to 13 grams.
Trans fat Avoid

There are easy ways to reduce saturated and trans fats.

  • Reduce fat from meats or lean meats containing less than 10% fat.
  • When cooking and serving, use less butter, margarine, and shortening.
  • For a healthy diet, use low-fat substitutes whenever possible. You can top baked potatoes with low-sodium salsa, low-fat yogurt, or slice whole fruits or low-sugar fruit spread on toast in place of butter.

Look at the labels on cookies, cakes, and frostings. These foods are low in nutrition and may contain trans fats, even if labeled as reduced fat. Although trans fats cannot be added to food, older products could still have them. On the ingredient label, trans fats might be listed as partially hydrochlorate oil.

Fats to choose

  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Vegetable oils and nut oils
  • Margarine, Trans-fat-free
  • Cholesterol-lowering margarine such as Promise Activ, Benecol, and Smart Balance
  • Nuts, seeds
  • Avocados

Fats to limit

  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Bacon fat
  • Gravy
  • Cream sauce
  • Nondairy creamers
  • Shortening and hydrogenated margarine
  • Cocoa butter is used in chocolate
  • Oils of coconut, palm, cottonseed, and palm kernel

Monounsaturated fats are better than saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats in avocados, nuts, and seeds are also good for a heart-healthy diet. Monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats can be used to lower total cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All fats are high in calories.

Ground flaxseed is a great way to increase healthy fat and fiber in your diet. Flaxseeds, small brown seeds rich in fiber and high in omega-3 fatty acids, are great for your health. According to studies, flaxseed has been shown to lower unhealthy cholesterol in some individuals. Flaxseeds can be ground in a coffee grinder, food processor, or blender and added to yogurt, applesauce, or hot cereal.

5. Low-fat protein options are recommended.

Low-fat dairy products, eggs, lean meats, poultry, fish, and lean meats are all good protein sources. You can choose lower-fat options such as skinless chicken breasts over fried chicken patties and skim milk instead of whole milk.

Fish is an excellent alternative to high-fat meats. Certain fish species are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower blood fats known as triglycerides. Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring have the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds, walnuts, and soybeans are all good sources.

Beans, peas, and lentils are also good sources of protein. They have low cholesterol and are a good alternative to meat. Substituting vegetable protein for animal protein, such as a bean or soy burger instead of a hamburger, will decrease fat and cholesterol intake while increasing fiber intake.

Proteins to choose

  • Low-fat dairy products include skim and low-fat (1%) yogurt, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Fish, particularly fatty cold-water fish like salmon, are a good choice.
  • Skinless poultry
  • Legumes
  • Soybeans, soy products such as soy burgers or tofu
  • Lean ground meats

Proteins to limit or avoid

  • Full-fat milk and all other dairy products
  • Organ meats, such as liver
  • Marmalade and fatty meats
  • Spareribs
  • Hot dogs and sausages
  • Bacon
  • Fried and breaded meats

6. Salt (sodium) can be reduced or lowered.

Salt intake can increase blood pressure and lead to heart disease. A heart-healthy diet should include a restriction on salt (sodium). American Heart Association recommends:

  • Healthy adults should not consume more than 2,300 mg (mg) of sodium daily. This is equivalent to a teaspoon of salt.
  • Adults should not consume more than 1,500mg of sodium per day.

While lowering salt is an important first step, most salt in food comes from processed or canned foods like soups, baked goods, and frozen meals. Fresh foods, as well as making your soups or stews, can help reduce salt intake.

You may prefer canned soups or prepared meals that are low in sodium. Sea salt is used to season foods, which can claim lower sodium levels. Regular table salt does not have the same nutritional value.

You can also reduce salt intake by choosing the right condiments. Many condiments can be found in reduced-sodium varieties. Salt substitutes are a great way to add flavor and nutrition to your food.

Spices and herbs Salt for the table
Salt-free seasonings Preparations such as canned soups or frozen meals are also available.
Prepared meals or canned soups with no salt added or reduced salt Tomato juice
Reduced-salt condiments such as reduced salt soy sauce or reduced-salt ketchup Soy sauce, mayonnaise, and ketchup are all condiments.
Restaurant meals

7. Make a plan: Plan ahead. Create daily menus

These six strategies can be used to create daily menus. Focus on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains when choosing foods for your meals and snacks. Limit salty foods and choose lean protein sources. Increase variety and control your portion sizes.

If you’ve had salmon grilled one night, try a black bean hamburger the next day. This ensures that your body gets all the nutrients it needs. Also, variety makes snacks and meals more exciting.

8. Enjoy a treat now and again.

You can indulge every once in a while. You won’t be deprived of your heart-healthy diet by having a handful of potato chips or a candy bar. Don’t let this be an excuse to abandon your healthy eating plan. Overindulgence should be an exception and not the norm. This will help you balance your eating habits over the long term. It is important to eat healthy food most of the day.

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