Although knowing that intake of certain foods may increase your risk of getting heart disease, it’s usually difficult to make changes in your eating habits. Whether you are following unhealthy eating habits for a long time or just want to tune your diet finely, here are few key tips on diet to prevent heart disease. Once you understand which food should be consumed more and which food should be restricted, you will be on the right track to keep your heart healthy.
Key Tips for Healthy Heart Diet
Since, being overweight or obese may increase your risk of developing cardiac disease, you need to make certain changes in your diet along with performing regular exercise. Here are a few key tips that will contribute in maintaining a healthy heart.
Include More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Diet
Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy sources of minerals and vitamins. They contain good amount of essential dietary fiber and less amount of calories. Veggies and fruits are rich in healthy substances that are found in plants and which are helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease. Consumption of more veggies and fruits may make you feel full and thus decrease your intake of high calorific foods such as cheese, snack foods and meat.
You can feature fruits and vegetables in your diet very easily. Keep washed and cut vegetables in refrigerator for your quick snacks. Prefer to keep the bowl of fruits in the kitchen, so that you can remember to have it anytime you feel hungry. Choose recipes that contain fruits or vegetable as the major content. This may include fresh vegetable or fruits salads, stir fry vegetables, etc.
Vegetables and fruits that you often eat should have low sodium content. Vegetables and fruits that should be avoided are vegetable cooked in creamy sauces, coconut, sugar added frozen fruits, canned fruits in thick syrup.
- Keep a Track of Your Portion Size
In addition to what you eat, how much you eat also matters a lot. Overloading your dish, eating till you feel stuffed and taking seconds to finish your meal may lead you to consume extra calories, cholesterol and fats. To avoid this situation, keeping the track of the servings you eat is essential. For controlling serving portions, you need to have proper meals sizes. Each of your meal portion should include nutrient-rich and low calorific foods such as vegetables and fruits, while high-sodium and high calorific foods such as refined, fast,and processed food should be avoided. This food may increase your body fats and thus may tend to cardiovascular disease.
Serving portion can be defined as the particular amount of food preferred for intake. It can be defined by general measurements such pieces, ounces or cups. For instance, one serving of meat, chicken or fish is 2 to 3 ounces depending upon their thickness. You may have to learn how to divide your meal portions for avoiding excessive intake.
Prefer to Include Whole Grains in Your Meal
Whole grains are rich sources of various nutrients and fiber that contribute a lot in regulating the heart health as well as blood pressure. You can include the whole grains in your regular diet instead of the refined grain products or be little adventurous and include whole grain barley, couscous or quinoa. Another way can be adding ground flaxseed of whole grain in your diet. These are tiny brown seeds that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which help to lower your overall blood cholesterol content. You can grate these seeds in food processor or coffee grinder and add a teaspoon on them into hot cereal, applesauce or yogurt.
Grain products you can add in your diet: Whole grain bread and flour, high fiber cereal, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, ground flaxssed and oatmeal.
Grain products you should avoid: Frozen waffles, granola bars, muffins, white bread, pies, cakes, biscuits, corn bread, quick breads, dough-nuts, egg noodles, etc.
Add Low-fat Protein
Fish and poultry, low-fat dairy products, lean meat, and egg white are considered as healthy sources of protein. But be sure to pick low fat products such as skinless chicken breast instead of fried chicken patties and skim milk instead of whole milk. You can also prefer fish as a substitute to high-fat meats. Some type of fish contains omega-3 fatty acids which help to reduce the triglycerides (fats in the blood). It is found that the cold water fish (herring, mackerel and salmon) contains great amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Other sources can be canola oil, walnuts, soybeans and flaxseed.
Peas, lentils and beans (legumes) are also rich in proteins and less in fats. They have no cholesterol which makes them a good alternative of meat. You can also prefer to substitute plant protein sources for animal protein sources; for instance, a bean or soy burger for a hamburger. This will help you restrict the intake of extra cholesterol and fat in your diet.
Beneficial protein sources: Cold water fish (salmon), low fat or skin milk, egg whites, cheese, legumes, tofu, soy products, soybean, lean ground meat, skinless poultry, etc.
High calorie protein sources: Spareribs, full fat dairy products, cold cuts, breaded meats, marbled and fatty meats, organ meats (liver), bacon, sausages and hot dogs, egg yolk, etc.
Restrict Unhealthy Cholesterol and Fats
Restricting your intake of trans and saturated fats is an essential step to cut down your blood cholesterol level and reduce your prospects of coronary artery disease. An increase in the level of blood cholesterol may lead to plaque deposition in the arteries, generally called atherosclerosis. This condition may elevate you risk of stroke or heart attack. Limiting the intake of solid fats is the best way to cut down the trans and saturated fats in your food.
Restrict the use of margarine and butter while coking and serving food. By choosing lean meats and trimming fat off the meat, you can cut down the intake of saturated fats.
Use low fat yogurt or salsa as a topping for baked potato instead of butter; sprinkle low sugar fruit on your toast rather than using margarine. Always choose monosaturated fats such as canola oil or olive oil. Polysaturated fats are heart healthy and are found in seeds and nuts.
Reduce Your Intake of Sodium
High level of sodium may contribute in elevating the risk of high blood pressure and cardiac disease. Reducing sodium intake helps a lot in controlling or preventing heart disease. Instead of preferring processed or canned foods, eat fresh and homemade food.
Low salt foods: Home prepared meals, reduced salt ketchup and soy sauce, spices and herbs.
High salt foods: Soy sauce, frozen dinners, table salt, processed or canned soups, tomato juice.
Prepare a Chart of Daily Menus
You know well which foods should be included in daily healthy diet and which ones should be restricted. Now it’s time follow and add those food items in your diet. While choosing food items for each snack and meal, emphasize on whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit salty and high fat and prefer lean protein sources. Keep a track of the portion sizes and include various items in your menu. For instance, if you had black bean burger one night, try grilled salmon the next evening. This makes certain that you will get all the essential nutrients required for staying healthy. Variety in snacks and meals can add more interest.
Occasional Treat Can Be Preferred
Occasional treats will probably won’t disturb your healthy diet. A handful of potato wafers or a candy bar is good for a change. Try and learn to balance things and avoid excess consumption of any food.
Incorporating the above tips on diet to prevent heart disease into your life can help you to have a heart healthy diet that is enjoyable for your taste buds too.