May 26 2016
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the country today. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 610,000 people die from a heart condition every year. This roughly equates to one in every 4 deaths. As a matter of fact, every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack.
Having a healthy heart is the key to a longer, healthier life. Apart from its health implications, cardiac diseases can affect people emotionally and financially. It can deteriorate their quality and outlook of life. Coupled with this, the country endures substantial amounts in terms of medical and productivity costs. According to The America Heart Association’s 2016 data, the country witnesses an expenditure of over $316.6 billion on cardiovascular diseases and stroke, which includes lost productivity and medical expenses.
Stress, smoking and obesity are among the main causes of heart disease. A well-balanced diet in particular can help maintain healthy weight and can help prevent and/or reduce heart condition issues.
Improving your daily diet is the first big step toward reducing the risk of developing heart diseases. Certain foods can help improve your condition and lower your risk of a heart attack.
Don’t know where to start? Read on to learn the best and worst foods for your heart:
Monounsaturated fat is present in several foods and oils, while polyunsaturated fat is present in plant-based foods and oils. Nuts, flax seeds, olive oil, almonds, and avocados are effective sources of these fats.
Nutrients: Increase your intake of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to help control your weight and blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association. Colorful fruits and veggies contain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C and folate.
Blue, red and purple fruits and vegetables contain anthocyanins that can help reduce your risk for stroke and heart disease.
Fiber: Fiber provides carbs to the body. It comes in insoluble and soluble types. Insoluble fiber is present in whole grains, vegetables and wheat cereals, while soluble includes oatmeal, nuts, fruits and beans. Both types of fiber help prevent cardiac disease and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Moreover, fiber stays in the body longer and aids weight loss.
Fiber-rich foods include whole grains (cereals, breads), cooked oatmeal, bran flakes or legumes. Similarly, fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber. A medium sized apple (with skin) has 4 grams fiber, a medium pear (with skin) has 6 grams fiber, a cup of fresh strawberries has 4 grams fiber, a medium orange and a medium banana have 3 grams fiber, respectively.
Additionally, one cup of cooked spinach has 4 grams of fiber, half cup of broccoli has 3 grams of fiber, 1 medium carrot has 2 grams of fiber.
Calcium and protein: Calcium is beneficial for the bones as well as the heart, while protein keeps your belly full. However, the right sources of calcium and protein provide benefits to the heart.
Avoid high-fat protein (red meat) and sweetened dairy products. Instead, consume eggs, milk and unsweetened yogurt for calcium.
Good sources of protein comprise vegetarian sources of protein. One-half cup of fresh beans, for example, has as much protein as an ounce of broiled steak. Moreover, 50 grams of soy protein can reduce your cholesterol level by almost 3 percent.
Trans and saturated fats: Avoid trans and saturated fats to keep your heart functioning well. In other words, cut down on deep-fried foods, commercially baked goods, packages snacks, fried food, fast food and solid fats (stick margarine).
These foods can increase your cholesterol level, thereby enhancing the chance of having a heart attack and stroke. Also, trans fat reduces your levels of good cholesterol.
Processed foods and salt: Avoid having processed and canned foods every day because it is loaded with sugar and sodium. In addition, processed meat – fried chicken, bacon and sausage – contain a high amount of salt that is added during processing.
Too much salt has an adverse effect on your blood pressure, which boosts your risk for cardiovascular disease. The ideal salt amount, according to The American Heart Association, is no more than a teaspoon of salt a day for adults.
The best way to keep salt intake in check is to cook at home.
Incorporate fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives to elevate the flavor. If you do choose packaged foods, check their ingredients. Go for meals labeled sodium free, unsalted or low sodium.
Excessive sugar contributes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, limit your intake of sugary drinks, desserts and sweetened yogurt.
As per the American Heart Association, your daily intake of sugar should be no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories (for women) per day and 9 teaspoons or 150 calories daily (for men)
Incorporate the abovementioned foods to your diet for a strong heart and longevity. Remember, there is no set age for cardiac disease. Even if you are young, you can still suffer from heart problems.
What you eat and how you live affects your risk for developing it. Make a change now to reduce the risk of fatal heart diseases.
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