Heart healthy diet tips: Focus on high-fiber foods

Heart Disease

A diet high in fiber can lower “bad” cholesterol and provide nutrients that can help protect against heart disease. By filling up on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, you can get most of the fiber you’ll need, which means you’ll also be lowering your risk of heart disease.

Go for whole grains

Refined or processed foods are lower in fiber content, so make whole grains an integral part of your diet. There are many simple ways to add whole grains to your meals.

  • Breakfast better. For breakfast choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal—one with five or more grams of fiber per serving. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
  • Try a new grain. Experiment with brown rice, wild rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta, and bulgur. These alternatives are higher in fiber than their more mainstream counterparts—and you may find you love their tastes.
  • Bulk up your baking. When baking at home, substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour, since whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer. Try adding crushed bran cereal or unprocessed wheat bran to muffins, cakes, and cookies.
  • Add flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce, or hot cereal.

Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables

Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber, making them heart healthy. You can use some of the following strategies to make eating fruits and veggies part of your diet every day.

  • Keep fruit and vegetables at your fingertips. Wash and cut fruit and veggies and put them in your refrigerator for quick and healthy snacks. Choose recipes that feature these high-fiber ingredients, like veggie stir-fries or fruit salad.
  • Incorporate veggies into your cooking. Add pre-cut fresh or frozen vegetables to soups and sauces. For example, mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce or toss fresh baby carrots into stews.
  • Don’t leave out the legumes. Legumes are fiber-rich, too. Eat more beans, peas, and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad.
  • Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, and whole-grain crackers are all good ways to add fiber at snack time. An occasional handful of nuts is also a healthy, high-fiber snack.
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Heart healthy diet tips: Steer clear of salt and processed foods

Heart Disease

Eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing the salt in your food is a big part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends no more than about a teaspoon of salt a day for an adult. That may sound alarmingly small, but there are actually many painless—even delicious—ways to reduce your sodium intake.

  • Reduce canned or processed foods. Much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods like soups or frozen dinners—even poultry or other meats often have salt added during processing. Eating fresh foods, looking for unsalted meats, and making your own soups or stews can dramatically reduce your sodium intake.
  • Cook at home, using spices for flavor. Cooking for yourself enables you to have more control over your salt intake. Make use of the many delicious alternatives to salt. Try fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or chives. In the dried spices aisle, you can find alternatives such as allspice, bay leaves, or cumin to flavor your meal without sodium.
  • Substitute reduced sodium versions, or salt substitutes. Choose your condiments and packaged foods carefully, looking for foods labeled sodium free, low sodium, or unsalted. Better yet, use fresh ingredients and cook without salt.

The DASH diet for lowering blood pressure

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, is a specially designed eating plan to help you lower your blood pressure, which is a major cause of hypertension and stroke. To learn more, download the booklet from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found in the Resources and References section below.

10 best foods for your heart

Heart Disease

Almonds are rich in omega-3s, plus nuts increase fiber in the diet, says Dr. Sinatra. “And like olive oil, they are a great source of healthy fat.”

Berries Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries — whatever berry you like best — are full of anti-inflammatories, which reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

“Blackberries and blueberries are especially great,” says Sinatra. “But all berries are great for your vascular health.” Health.com: How I survived a heart attack at 43

Legumes Fill up on fiber with lentils, chickpeas, and black and kidney beans. They’re packed with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and soluble fiber.

Spinach Spinach can help keep your ticker in top shape thanks to its stores of lutein, folate, potassium, and fiber.

But upping your servings of any veggies is sure to give your heart a boost. The Physicians’ Health Study examined more than 15,000 men without heart disease for a period of 12 years. Those who ate at least 2½ servings of vegetables each day cut their risk of heart disease by about 25 percent, compared with those who didn’t eat the veggies. Each additional serving reduced risk by another 17 percent.

Flaxseed Full of fiber and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a little sprinkling of flaxseed can go a long way for your heart. Top a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal with a smidgen of ground flaxseed for the ultimate heart-healthy breakfast.

Soy Soy may lower cholesterol, and since it is low in saturated fat, it’s still a great source of lean protein in a heart-healthy diet.

Look for natural sources of soy, like edamame, tempeh, or organic silken tofu. And soy milk is a great addition to a bowl of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. But watch the amount of salt in your soy: Some processed varieties like soy dogs can contain added sodium, which boosts blood pressure.

10 best foods for your heart

Heart Disease

Simple food choices go a long way when it comes to your heart’s health. Focusing on fresh foods full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and cut your chances of a heart attack. These 10 foods will help keep your ticker in top shape.

Oatmeal Start your day with a steaming bowl of oats, which are full of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. This fiber-rich superfood can lower levels of LDL (or bad) cholesterol and help keep arteries clear.

Opt for coarse or steel-cut oats over instant varieties — the coarse and steel-cut contain more fiber — and top your bowl off with a banana for another four grams of fiber.

Salmon Super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.

“Salmon contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which is a very powerful antioxidant,” says cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, the author of “Lower Your Blood Pressure In Eight Weeks.” But be sure to choose wild salmon over farm-raised fish, which can be packed with insecticides, pesticides, and heavy metals.

Not a fan of salmon? Other oily fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines will give your heart the same boost.

Avocado Add a bit of avocado to a sandwich or spinach salad to increase the amount of heart-healthy fats in your diet. Packed with monounsaturated fat,

avocados can help lower LDL levels while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in your body.

Health.com: What puts you at risk for high cholesterol?

“Avocados are awesome,” says Dr. Sinatra. “They allow for the absorption of other carotenoids — especially beta-carotene and lycopene — which are essential for heart health.”

Olive oil Full of monounsaturated fats, olive oil lowers bad LDL cholesterol and reduces your risk of developing heart disease.

Results from the Seven Countries Study, which looked at cardiovascular disease incidences across the globe, showed that while men in Crete had a predisposition for high cholesterol levels, relatively few died of heart disease because their diet focused on heart-healthy fats found in olive oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin varieties — they’re the least processed — and use them instead of butter when cooking. Health.com: Good fats vs. bad fats — what to eat

Nuts Almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are all full of omega-3 fatty acids and mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

The Sugar Blockers Diet

Heart Disease

Use these seven rules to tap into the power of foods that can naturally slow sugar absorption, so you can keep eating meals you love.

Nosh on Lightly Cooked Vegetables

Reason: You digest them more slowly.

Both fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber. As a rule, though, vegetables make better sugar blockers, because they have more fiber and less sugar.

But don’t cook your vegetables to mush. Boiling vegetables until they’re limp and soggy saturates the soluble fiber, filling it with water so it can’t absorb the sugar and starch you want it to. Also, crisp vegetables are chunkier when they reach your stomach, and larger food particles take longer to digest, so you’ll feel full longer. Another tip: Roasted vegetables like cauliflower can often serve as a delicious starch substitute.

The Sugar Blockers Diet

Heart Disease

Use these seven rules to tap into the power of foods that can naturally slow sugar absorption, so you can keep eating meals you love.

Eat Some Vinegar

Reason: It slows the breakdown of starch into sugar.

The high acetic acid content in vinegar deactivates amylase, the enzyme that turns starch into sugar. (It doesn’t matter what kind of vinegar you use.) Because it acts on starch only, it has no effect on the absorption of refined sugar. In other words, it will help if you eat bread, but not candy. But there’s one more benefit: Vinegar also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.

You should consume vinegar at the start of your meal. Put it in salad dressing or sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on meat or vegetables. Vinegar brings out the flavor of food, as salt does.

The Sugar Blockers Diet

Heart Disease

Use these seven rules to tap into the power of foods that can naturally slow sugar absorption, so you can keep eating meals you love.

Start Your Meal With A Salad

Reason: It soaks up starch and sugar.

Soluble fiber from the pulp of plants–such as beans, carrots, apples, and oranges–swells like a sponge in your intestines and traps starch and sugar in the niches between its molecules. Soluble means “dissolvable”–and indeed, soluble fiber eventually dissolves, releasing glucose. However, that takes time. The glucose it absorbs seeps into your bloodstream slowly, so your body needs less insulin to handle it. A good way to ensure that you get enough soluble fiber is to have a salad–preferably before, rather than after, you eat a starch.

9 Superfoods for Your Heart

Heart Disease

The single most important step you can take for heart health starts with what you put on your plate

Kale
Rx Effect: Prevents atherosclerosis

The Evidence: Your mom was right: You need to consume your dark leafy greens. “Kale has everything you would want in a superfood,” says Joel Fuhrman, MD, the author of the bestseller Eat to Live, who uses diet and exercise to help patients reverse their cardiovascular disease. For starters, kale boasts a bumper crop of heart-healthy antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin E. It’s also rich in lutein, which correlated in the Los Angeles Atherosclerosis Study with protection against early atherosclerosis. Kale even contains an unusual compound, glucoraphanin, that activates a special protective protein called Nrf2. “It creates a sort of Teflon coating in your arteries to keep plaque from adhering,” says Dr. Fuhrman.

Try: For a snack, try Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale—actual kale that is dehydrated, then coated with ground cashews, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, and garlic.

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 15: Swap In Soy

These plant proteins can help lower cholesterol when you eat them in place of less healthy foods. (Think tofu instead of beef stir-fry or edamame in lieu of dumplings).

It’s best, however, to limit processed soy (from chips and patties) and avoid soy supplements. The problem with these is that we do not always know the amount of phytoestrogens (plant chemicals in soy that function in ways similar to the hormone estrogen) in them. This can make its effects on the human body unpredictable. And exposure to high concentrations of phytoestrogens could stimulate the growth of cells that are responsive to estrogen, which include many breast cancers.

Boils Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Medical- Medicine

Should Boils Be Drained?

As long as the boil is small and firm, opening the area and draining the boil is not helpful, even if the area is painful. However, once the boil becomes soft or “forms a head” (that is, a small pustule is noted in the boil), it can be ready to drain. Once drained, pain relief can be dramatic. Most small boils, such as those that form around hairs, drain on their own with soaking and/or heat application. On occasion, and especially with larger boils, the larger boil will need to be drained or “lanced” by a health-care practitioner. Frequently, these larger boils contain several pockets of pus that must be opened and drained.

Boils Pictures Slideshow: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Medical- Medicine

Boil Symptoms

A boil starts as a hard, red, painful lump usually less than an inch in size. Over the next few days, the lump becomes softer, larger, and more painful. Soon a pocket of pus forms on the top of the boil. Signs of a severe infection are

  • the skin around the boil becomes red, painful, and swollen;
  • more boils may appear around the original one;
  • a fever develops;
  • the lymph nodes in the area become swollen.

28 Days to a Healthier Heart

Heart Disease

Lower heart disease risk by 92% with a simple change each day

Heart Health Day 3: Cook Like an Italian

Use MUFA-rich olive oil in your food prep whenever possible. The heart-healthy fat lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and raises “good” HDL cholesterol. Bonus: Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

Substitute olive oil for butter or margarine at the dinner table, drizzle it on salads, and use it to replace vegetable oils in baking wherever possible. Buy only cold-pressed, extra-virgin oil; it retains more of the olive’s heart-healthy antioxidants than other forms.

Healthy Power Foods for Your Heart

Heart Disease

Our one-day heart-healthy menu is loaded with foods to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.

For a Snack

Roasted lentils (serves 8): These are high in folate and magnesium, two nutrients that help reduce heart attack risk. Drain, rinse, and dry two 15-ounce cans of lentils. Combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and 1 1/2 teaspoons zesty adobo seasoning. Roast on a baking sheet at 425°F until lightly crisp, 20 minutes.

For Dinner

Seared salmon: Nothing beats wild salmon for delivering omega-3 fatty acids, which can help fight inflammation and lower triglycerides. Sear it in a nonstick frying pan coated with olive oil 3 minutes per side. Then blend 1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 4 chopped scallions, and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice for a creamy sauce. Top with a dollop.

Barley-shiitake pilaf: Barley is a great source of cholester-lowering fiber, and mushrooms are one of the few vegetable sources of heart-strengthening vitamin D.

Sautéed spinach: The folate in spinach counteracts a chemical called homocysteine, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Healthy Power Foods for Your Heart

Heart Disease

Our one-day heart-healthy menu is loaded with foods to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.

For a Snack

Fat-free Greek yogurt (1 cup): It has zero cholesterol, 14 g of protein to keep you full, plus calcium and potassium, which help regulate blood pressure.

Kiwifruit or papaya slices: These superfruits are dense in heart-healthy antioxidants.

For Lunch

Curried turkey salad (serves 4): Turkey is a lean protein that fills you up without delivering a lot of calories or fat. Combine 1/3 cup fat-free plain yogurt, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons curry powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and salt and pepper to taste. Chunk 12 ounces of lower-sodium, deli-roast turkey breast; halve 3/4 cup green seedless grapes; and dice some celery, red onion, and parsley. Mix and stuff 1 serving into a whole wheat tortilla.

Dark chocolate with walnuts (1 ounce): The resveratrol in chocolate helps lower blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol. Walnuts deliver alpha-linolenic fatty acids, which protect against heart attack.

Healthy Power Foods for Your Heart

Heart Disease

Our one-day heart-healthy menu is loaded with foods to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.

As a cardiologist, I’ve always urged my patients to focus on risk factors they can control, and a heart-healthy diet is paramount among them. This one-day meal plan will help you lower inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. I hope once you see how easy it is to nourish your heart, you’ll be inspired to indulge in these delicious power meals regularly.

For Breakfast

Low-sodium V8 vegetable juice cocktail (6 ounces): It’s loaded with heart-protecting lycopene, potassium, and antioxidant vitamins A and C.

Oatmeal (1 cup): The soluble fiber (5 g per cup) helps lower LDL cholesterol. For convenience, make a week’s worth and reheat what you need each morning. Add 1 cup each steel-cut oats and chopped dried apples, 3 tablespoons granular sugar substitute, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 cup fat-free (or 1%) milk to a 2-quart slow cooker rubbed with 1 tablespoon trans-free margarine. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Hard-cooked eggs (2): Repeat after me: Eggs do not raise cholesterol in most people.