Heart Healthy Diet Plans

According to the American Heart Association, more than 80 million people in the United States have a type of cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure is the largest type of this disease. To ensure proper heart and blood vessel function, it is essential to eat heart healthy foods. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods and recipes that will benefit your heart. Avoid being a statistic and eat for your heart.

  1. Fats

    • Contrary to popular belief, there are fats that benefit your body. Fats are broken into four types: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fats. The best fats for you are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. Polyunsaturated fats are found in soybean, sunflower and corn oils. Monounsaturated fats are in plant-based oils like canola, peanut and olive oils. Both of these fats lower cholesterol, but should still be eaten in moderation. Saturated and trans fats are the biggest culprits in high cholesterol. The best rule of thumb is that if a fat is solid at room temperature, it is probably one of these fats. Baked goods, beef, cheese and lard are full of saturated fats. Trans fats have directly contributed to the skyrocketing rate of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Trans fats were invented only as a cheap ingredient for companies to use in food to ensure a longer shelf life. Avoid trans fats and only eat saturated fats occasionally.

    Planning Your Diet

    • The best plan of action is to make a list of foods you enjoy that fall under the guidelines of heart healthy foods. Vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, soy, fiber and whole grains should make up the majority of your meals. There are some specific foods that lower bad cholesterol levels such as legumes. Beans straddle both the vegetable and protein tiers in the food pyramid. They are a wonderful source of fiber and packed with nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids have proven extremely beneficial when it comes to lowering cholesterol. Eat plenty of cold water fish like salmon and tuna. Dark leafy greens help lower the levels of a blood enzyme associated with heart disease. Fill your diet with spinach, swiss chard, collard greens and arugula. Soy is a wonderful source of protein and contain phytoestrogens, which are great for your heart. Try out different products like soy cheese, soy milk and tempeh.

    Meals

    • It is vitally important to read food ingredient labels when food shopping for your heart. There are a breadth of tricky chemicals and ingredients that end up in products. Stick to fresh vegetables and fruits. Avoid any processed foods, refined flour and sugar products. Create a meal plan for the week and only buy foods on the meal plan. To save time in the morning, make quick recipes like yogurt parfaits, egg sandwiches and peanut butter on whole wheat toast. Pack your lunch for work to avoid fast-food temptations. Include wonderful salads, wrap, and burritos with black beans. Use dinners to explore and experiment with delicious heart healthy recipes.

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