An unhealthy diet is the greatest contributing factor to heart disease in America, according to “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2015 Update” from the American Heart Association. One in 16 deaths from heart disease is attributed to excessive sodium intake alone. Other problematic food sources include saturated fats, added sugars, and refined grains. Learning how to develop a healthy diet is a giant step to preventing cardiovascular disease. You can start eating healthily by examining your diet and removing any foods that are bad for your heart.
Sodium is necessary for many of your body’s functions, but when consumed in excess, can be problematic for your heart since it leads to fluid retention. Your kidneys are unable to flush out excess sodium quickly enough, which can lead to higher blood pressure and hardened arteries, and cause your heart to work even harder. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 3,000 to 4,000 mg of sodium in your daily diet. Keep your heart healthy by avoiding table salt, canned soups, and soy sauce, all of which are known to contain high amounts of sodium.
Foods high in saturated fats will raise your cholesterol levels, leading to plaque buildup in your arteries that cause your heart to work at a more intense rate. Overworking your heart can lead to heart failure, which is currently the leading cause of death in America. Avoid foods high in saturated fat such as butter, bacon, coconut oil, fatty meats, and mayonnaise. Check the nutrition label on food products to determine if they have a high level of saturated fat.
On the other hand, unsaturated fats help your body function properly. Unsaturated fats do not raise your cholesterol, but still contain a high number of calories, so be sure to moderate the amount of unsaturated fats you consume. Foods such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, and certain types of fish such as trout and herring have healthy levels of unsaturated fats. These foods should replace saturated fats in your routine diet.
Many foods such as fruits, vegetables, and milk have naturally occurring sugars which are typically not threatening to your health. However, added sugars (which can be found in many sweet foods and drinks) are known to lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Nutrition labels do not require manufacturers to differentiate natural sugars from added sugars, so it is best to limit your daily sugar intake to the recommended 25 to 37 mg per day to be safe.
Educate yourself on the types of food you should avoid, and develop a habit of consuming heart-friendly foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Remember to avoid excess sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar. It’s okay to enjoy a snack every now and then. The occasional treat will not ruin your diet, but the key to a healthy diet is moderation. A healthy diet alone is just part of having a healthy heart. Be sure to check out fitness and exercise tips too in order to keep your heart working properly!
CarePoint Health offers state-of-the-art cardiovascular services, and is dedicated to helping patients prevent, manage, and overcome cardiovascular disease. To learn more about our cardiovascular care services, contact CarePoint Health at 1-877-791-7000 or request an appointment online at our website.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.