EATING TO PREVENT HEART DISEASE AND BOOST HEART HEALTH
Weight control and regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape—but the food you eat may matter just as much. Experts say that eating a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%. With heart disease still the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, this is important—and heartening—news.
By understanding how your food choices impact the health of your heart, you may be able to prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure. Learn which foods and methods of cooking are healthiest for your heart, and you can take greater control over the quality and length of your life.
You can take steps to prevent heart disease
Heart disease may be the leading killer of men and women, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself. In addition to exercise, being careful about what you eat—and what you don’t eat—can help you lower cholesterol, control blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and maintain a healthy weight. If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or have high cholesterol or blood pressure, a heart-smart diet can help you better manage these conditions, lowering your risk for heart attack.
Improving your diet is an important step toward preventing heart disease, but you may feel unsure where to begin. Take a look at the big picture: your overall eating patterns are more important than obsessing over individual foods. No single food can make you magically healthy, so your goal can be to incorporate a variety of healthy foods cooked in healthy ways into your diet, and make these habits your new lifestyle.
|Healthy fats: raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, or avocados||Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods; saturated fats from whole-fat dairy or red meat|
|Nutrients: colorful fruits and vegetables—fresh or frozen, prepared without butter||Packaged foods of any kind, especially those high in sodium|
|Fiber: cereals, breads, and pasta made from whole grains or legumes||White or egg breads, granola-type cereals, refined pastas or rice|
|Omega 3 and protein: fish and shellfish, poultry||Red meat, bacon, sausage, fried chicken|
|Calcium and protein: Egg whites, egg substitutes, skim or 1% milk, low-fat or nonfat cheeses or yogurt||Egg yolks, whole or 2 percent milk, whole milk products like cheese or yogurt|