Fruits and vegetables contain many minerals and vitamins, are low in calories and high in fiber. A diet rich in soluble fiber, like that in fruits and vegetables, can help reduce your cholesterol and lower your heart disease risk. Fruits and vegetables also contain substances that may help you avoid getting cardiovascular disease. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Heart disease is often monitored by a cardiologist. He recommends good eating habits to keep the three main causes of heart disease--obesity, high blood pressure and high bad cholesterol--at bay. The American Heart Association supplies information to patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals about maintaining good health. This organization does not recommend any single diet but instead makes several recommendations about what you can eat to make your diet heart-healthy.
Fruits and Vegetables
Whole Grains and Dietary Fiber
Whole grains are rich in dietary fiber. A fiber-rich diet may help lower the amount of a blood protein associated with an increased possibility of getting heart disease. Fiber-rich foods also lower cholesterol.
Besides fruits, vegetables and whole grains, foods rich in fiber include beans and nuts. Whole grain foods include 100 percent whole wheat, bulgur wheat, buckwheat, oatmeal, corn, spelt, brown rice and wild rice. You should eat between 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day depending on your size.
Some of your best sources of protein are legumes (beans, peas and lentils); fish, especially salmon, mackerel and herring because they are high in omega-3 fish oil; low-fat dairy products; and egg whites or egg substitutes. Lean meat and poultry are also good sources of protein. Eat 0.4 times your weight in protein a day.
Reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet. The best way to do this is to avoid eating solid fats such as shortening, margarine and butter. Try to consume low-fat substitutes whenever feasible for a heart-healthy diet.
Many snacks, including those labeled "reduced fat," may contain oils with trans fats. A tip-off that a food contains some trans fat is a mention of "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients list.
Use fats that are monounsaturated such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats--ingredients in seeds and nuts--also are great selections for a heart-healthy diet. All fats contain a lot of calories.Thirty percent of your total food intake should be healthy fat.
Simple, processed carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour often create a sharp increase in your blood sugar and insulin. This in turn increases the chances that calories from these foods will be changed into fat and cholesterol. In addition, processed carbohydrates can lower your “good” cholesterol.
Good-for-you complex carbohydrates are part of a heart-healthy diet. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables take longer to digest, and they do not result in the same rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin. A person needing 2000 caleries per day should eat about 250 grams of carbohydrates per day
Salt in the diet can cause an increase in blood pressure in some people. For this reason, restrict salt intake to moderate levels, no more than 2400 milligrams a day. It is particularly important to monitor salt intake if you have high blood pressure that is not easy to control.
Many foods, such as potato chips, salted peanuts, frozen dinners and canned soup, have a lot of salt. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2.3 grams of salt a day.
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