Since 1950, heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the U.S., and about 805,000 people in the country have heart attacks every year. While there is no certain way to lower the cases of heart attacks and other heart-related conditions immediately, there are many things you can do to lower your risk of heart disease. In this article I will help you learn how to eat a heart healthy diet.
As the U.S. commemorates American Heart Month in February, every American is encouraged to start reflecting on their lifestyle choices and take action. Everyone needs to be more responsible and optimize their cardiovascular health through healthier habits such as switching to a heart healthy diet. But what is a heart healthy diet anyway?
How to Eat a Heart Healthy Diet
Eating a heart healthy diet can be challenging but is certainly worth it. Below we rounded up all the important things you need to do for better dietary habits that can optimize heart health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), international expert groups and public health authorities recommend limiting the consumption of trans fat to no more than 1% of total energy intake. This translates to no more than 2.2 grams of trans fat per day for a 2,000-calorie diet. On the other hand, the AHA suggests limiting sugar intake to only 24 grams per day for adult women and 36 grams per day for most men.
To help you choose the best foods for your heart, we listed some of the healthiest foods to try below:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate
- Fatty fish and fish oil
- Lean cuts of meat
- Low-fat dairy products
Check out my article for the 12 best foods for lowering blood pressure that can help in heart health.
Top Tip for Eating Healthy
Cook at home so you can control the amount of sodium and sugar added to your food. It can also allow you to add more healthy ingredients to your meal.
In addition, you have to avoid food with trans fats and added sugars. These foods include the following:
- Commercial baked goods like cakes, pies, cookies, and other pastries
- Deep-fried foods like fried chicken and French fries
- Shortening and stick margarine
- Refrigerated dough products
- Nondairy coffee creamer
- Microwave popcorn
- Ice cream
- Potato chips
What Is the Healthiest Diet for Your Heart?
The healthiest diet for the heart is one that emphasizes a variety of nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, lean cuts of meat, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Furthermore, a healthy diet for the heart only uses non-tropical vegetable oils such as olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, and peanut oil.
What 3 Foods Do Cardiologists Say to Avoid?
Cardiologists know about heart health more than anyone. Hence, listening to cardiologists makes perfect sense. So, what 3 foods do cardiologists say to avoid?
In an interview by Today, two cardiologists shared what foods are recommended to avoid to achieve optimal health. The top three foods are:
- Bacon, sausage, and other processed meats
- Potato chips and other processed and packaged snacks
Is Peanut Butter Heart Healthy?
The short answer is yes. Peanut butter contains lots of beneficial nutrients for the heart such as oleic acid and omega 6. It also has no cholesterol and is not likely to cause any problems with your cholesterol levels. This makes it a heart healthy snack, however, take note that adding other ingredients to peanut butter may change its nutritional value and effects on the body. Hence, it is best to only partner peanut butter with other heart healthy snacks like vegetables and fruits and avoid adding unhealthy ingredients like sugar. I love having peanut butter on slices of celery or apple.
Is Coffee Good for the Heart?
According to the American College of Cardiology, drinking two to three cups of coffee a day may help reduce the risks of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms. It may also contribute to living a longer life.
While coffee may be beneficial to heart health, drinking too much of this substance may trigger fast and irregular heart rhythms, particularly in those with pre-existing heart conditions. Thus, it is always the best practice to drink coffee in moderation.
A heart healthy diet is composed of highly nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean poultry. These foods are also low in sodium, sugar, and fat, which can be detrimental to heart health. Whether you are living with a heart related condition or not, eating a heart healthy diet can work wonders on your overall health and wellness.
Remember always check with your doctor when you have a medical condition that may need doctors advice.