Although regular exercises and controlling weight are excellent ways to ensure optimal cardiovascular health, the diet you follow plays a very important role in keeping your heart healthy. A heart-healthy diet is what you need to reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases or strokes. When you follow these tips you can actually inculcate better eating habits and keep your blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check:
- To start with, you must consume more of healthy fats like olive oil, raw nuts, fish oil, avocados and flax seeds. At the same time, you have to consciously reduce your intake of unhealthy fats and replace these instead with healthy fats.
- Trans fats lower the HDL or “good cholesterol” levels and can heighten the risks of heart attacks or strokes; you will find trans fats in foods like packages snacks, fried foods and commercially-baked foods like cookies or muffins or pizza dough and these are best avoided to stay heart-healthy.
- Saturated fats are present in tropical oil, animal products and dairy products. You can consume moderate amounts of saturated fats; incidentally, including dairy foods in the diet can actually help you lose weight because these foods keep you feeling full for longer hours. It is better to avoid saturated fats contained in canned or processed foods. In case you want to eat red meat, you should look for “grass-fed” or “organic” meat and introduce variations by consuming eggs, fish and free-range chicken together with lamb, pork or beef intake.
- It is important t avoid snack food like potato chips and corn, breaded meats and fried foods. Packaged foods are usually very rich in sodium content that can increase your blood pressure levels. Avoiding white bread, sugary cereals and refined pasta are also good ways to keep the blood cholesterol in control.
- When you consume polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in the diet, you can increased the levels of good cholesterol in the blood and lower risks of cardiovascular ailments. So, to include the “good” fats, you have to consume more fish because they contain the omega3 fatty acids. Fish such as trout, salmon, herring etc and vegetables like kale or spinach, walnuts and flaxseed are excellent sources of such fats which promote heart health.
- When choosing the oil, you need to be careful because this ingredient interferes with your heart health. You should pick organic cold-pressed oils which typically retain all the important nutrients that tend to get burned away in the industrially-prepared oils like vegetable oil or corn oil. Olive oil is therefore highly recommended for cooking and for dressing salads, pasta meals and cooked vegetables.
- You must not try to replace fat with higher doses of sugar; this tends to happen because most of the easily available low-fat products in the market are actually high in sugar content as this sugar in included to ensure that they are tasty. When sugar gets hidden inside canned soups or veggies, cereals and bread, pasta sauces and margarines, frozen dinners and ketchup, it only adds empty calories to your body. This will not only make you gain excess weight but is also very harmful for the heart.
These are some important dietary tips which can help you promote your heart health. Besides following these tips, it is recommended that you start cooking at home more because this will allow you to keep a close check on the sugar and salt content of the meals you eat. Instead of salt, you can add tasty spices and fresh herbs for better flavor. You can include fiber-rich foods in the diet to keep your heart healthy. Consuming more fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes like beans and peas, raw nut etc are perfect for snacking.