A healthy diet is a major factor in reducing your risk of heart disease.
A healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce your risk of:
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Most fruits and vegetables are part of a heart-healthy diet. They are good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Most are low in fat, calories, sodium, and cholesterol.
Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Eat low-fat breads, cereals, crackers, rice, pasta, and starchy vegetables (such as peas, potatoes, corn, winter squash, and lima beans). These foods are high in the B vitamins, iron, and fiber. They are also low in fat and cholesterol.
Choose whole grain foods (such as bread, cereal, crackers, and pasta) for at least half of your daily grain intake. Grain products provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Eating too many grains, especially refined gain foods (such as white bread, pasta, and baked goods) can cause weight gain.
Avoid high-fat baked goods such as butter rolls, cheese crackers, and croissants and cream sauces for pasta.
EATING HEALTHY PROTEIN
Meat, poultry, seafood, dried peas, lentils, nuts, and eggs are good sources of protein, B vitamins, iron, and other vitamins and minerals.
Milk and other dairy products are good sources of protein, calcium, the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin, and vitamins A and D. Use skim or 1% milk. Cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk should be low-fat or non-fat.
FATS, OILS, AND CHOLESTEROL
Some types of fat are healthier than others. A diet high in saturated and trans fats causes cholesterol to build up in your arteries (blood vessels). This puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, and other major health problems. Avoid or limit foods that are high in these fats. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that come from vegetable sources have many health benefits.
Think about the following when choosing a margarine:
Trans fatty acids are unhealthy fats that form when vegetable oil hardens in a process called hydrogenation. They are often used to keep foods fresh for a long time and for cooking in fast food restaurants.
OTHER TIPS TO KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY
You may find it helpful to talk to a dietitian about your eating choices. The American Heart Association is a good source of information on diet and heart disease. Balance the number of calories you eat with the number you use each day to maintain a healthy body weight. You can ask your doctor or dietitian to help you figure out a good number of calories for you.
Limit your intake of foods high in calories or low in nutrition, including foods like soft drinks and candy that contain a lot of sugar.
Eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (about 1 teaspoon of salt per day). Cut down on salt by reducing the amount of salt you add to food when eating. Also limit prepared foods that have salt added to them, such as canned soups and vegetables, cured meats, and some frozen meals. Always check the nutrition label for the sodium content per serving.
Exercise regularly. For example, walk for at least 30 minutes a day, in blocks of 10 minutes long or longer.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Women should have no more than one alcoholic drink per day. Men should not have more than two alcoholic drinks each day.
Diet - heart disease
American Heart Association Nutrition Committee: Lichtenstein AH, Appel LJ, Brands M, Camethon M, Daniels S, et al. Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Circulation. 2006;114:82-96.
Heimburger DC. Nutrition's interface with health and disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 220.
Mosca L, Benjamin EJ, Berra K, Bezanson JL, Dolor RJ, Lloyd-Jones, DM, et al. Evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention in women -- 2011 update: a guideline from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123:1243-1262.
Mozaffarian D. Nutrition and cardiovascular disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 48.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Questions and answers regarding trans fat. 2013. Accessed May 5, 2014.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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