Elements of a Heart Healthy Diet

Elements of a Heart Healthy Diet

by Posted on: February 26, 2016Categories: LiveWell 24/7   

Your diet plays a critical role in your personal heart health. Portion control, consistent hydration, and avoiding foods high in sodium are all critical to maintaining a strong cardiovascular system. There are many foods that can help, or hurt, your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Here are the best and worst foods for heart health.

The Best…

  • Nuts can be enjoyed plain as a snack or sprinkled atop a salad.  Also, try fruit slices dipped in a creamy nut butter (natural peanut butter or almond butter).
  • Avocados also contain healthy fat. Enjoy on 100% whole-wheat toast for breakfast or lunch.
  • Beans can be incorporated in your diet by adding black beans to your omelete, or cooked lentils into a salad.
  • Dark Chocolate can be enjoyed in the form of cacao in a breakfast smoothie, or eating a square of dark chocolate for a little treat.
  • Whole-grains in breads, brown rice, barley, and buckwheat. Oatmeal can be enjoyed in steel-cut or regular form. Try adding some fruit, flax seeds, chia seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and cinnamon for sweetness.


The Worst…

  • Foods containing hydrogenated oil in their ingredients list are often packed with trans fat, which often contributes to high cholesterol.
  • Added sugars are often disguised in yogurts, cereals and pasta sauces.
  • Foods with a high salt content often cause fluid retention and add an extra burden on the heart. Try replacing sodium-laden, processed foods with fresh foods. When grocery shopping look for “low sodium” or “no-salt-added.”
  • Saturated fats found in butter, sour cream, and mayo. These foods—as well as  processed meats—are high in the saturated fats that elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol, leading to plaque buildup in arteries. Try replacing butter with vegetable based oils or replacing fatty meats with a leaner option, such as poultry or fish.

Sources: Million Hearts, Mayo ClinicWeight Plan, Eating Well, Huffington Post, Thrillist, CNN, Health



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