Following a healthy diet can both taste good and be good for you! Research shows eating right may help prevent heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States.
Heart hospital nutrition experts say a good first step is to learn to read food labels so you are aware of the calories and ingredients in the foods you choose. As you write up a shopping list, plan meals that emphasize fiber-rich whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, along with dairy products that are fat-free, one-percent and low fat.
Eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors like red tomatoes, orange sweet potatoes and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach. Aim for five or six servings per day.
Stay away from fatty meats and fried foods. Instead, choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without adding saturated or trans fat.
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart. Its guidelines also suggest if you drink alcohol, drink in moderation which means one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men.
Cut down on sugary, high fat and high sodium foods like cakes, cookies, hot dogs, sausages and pizza. Aim to eat less than 1,500 milligrams of salt (sodium) per day.
Avoid trans fat because it lowers HDL or good cholesterol while increasing LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood. If a label says “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list that’s a sign that the food contains some trans fat. Trans fat is found in many processed foods like crackers, chips and other snacks.
You can replace saturated fats with healthy unsaturated fats like canola oil and olive oil. You don’t want to outlaw fat completely from your diet, but use it sparingly. Your total fat intake should be no more than 25 - 35% of your total daily calories.
Other heart healthy tips include keeping an eye on portion size and staying away from tobacco and tobacco smoke.
With the wide variety of foods available today, it is possible to make heart healthy choices from morning ‘til night, whether you’re eating at home or going out.
The HeartCare Institute at Riverside Community Hospital is dedicated to effectively treating and combating heart disease. To find out more about our comprehensive services, call Riverside Community Hospital at (951)788-3463.