Did You Know That....
Managing cardiovascular disease (CVD) requires a holistic approach, and diet plays a vital role in maintaining heart health. Adopting specific dietary strategies can effectively manage CVD and reduce the risk of complications. This article presents ten proven ways to incorporate a heart-healthy diet into your lifestyle.
1. Embrace a Mediterranean Diet:
The Mediterranean diet is an overall food pattern characterized by high consumption of plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and unprocessed cereals); low consumption of meat and meat products (with special avoidance of red and processed meats); moderate to high consumption of fish and healthy fats (like olive oil), and low consumption of dairy products (except for yoghurt and the long-preservable cheeses)1.
Additionally, the diet encourages the consumption of antioxidant-rich foods like berries, nuts, and dark chocolate, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases1.2. It promotes heart health by reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and supporting cardiovascular function.
2. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is essential for overall health, especially heart health. They offer numerous cardiovascular benefits, including lowering triglyceride levels, reducing inflammation, improving brain function, reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, and supporting heart health345. They may benefit heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure slightly, reducing blood clotting, decreasing the risk of strokes and heart failure, and reducing irregular heartbeats34.
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3s, and incorporating them into your diet can help lower your risk of heart disease5. If you're not a fan of fish, don't worry - you can still get your daily dose of omega-3s from plant-based sources like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds35.
3. Increase Fiber Intake:
Dietary fiber is a crucial element of a heart-healthy diet and aids in cholesterol reduction, along with maintaining a healthy weight678. It can be found in many foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
Adding fiber-rich foods to your meals can foster heart health and regulate blood sugar levelss89. Fiber also keeps you fuller for longer, which helps avoid overeating and weight gain9. Not to mention its association with a decrease in chronic diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer69.
Therefore, incorporating plenty of fiber-rich foods into your diet is essential for a healthy heart and overall well-being.
4. Choose Lean Protein Sources:
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), eating more lean protein has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease in adults. Replacing proteins high in fat with leaner forms of protein is an easy way to boost your heart health1011.
There are plenty of delicious options to explore. Skinless poultry like chicken and turkey are excellent choices, as they are low in saturated fats and high in protein. Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, are also great sources of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are not only high in protein but also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And for those following a plant-based diet, tofu is a versatile and nutritious option that can be incorporated into a variety of dishes.
Remember to consume these options in moderation and consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized guidance.
5. Limit Sodium Intake:
High sodium intake is linked to elevated blood pressure, a major risk factor for CVD11. To maintain a healthy blood pressure, it’s important to reduce your consumption of processed foods, canned goods, and fast food, and opt for fresh ingredients. It is advised that you consume less than 1500mg of salt per day (for adults)11, and use herbs, spices, and low-sodium alternatives.
6. Control Portion Sizes:
Maintaining appropriate portion sizes is an important aspect of managing CVD and achieving a healthy weight. To avoid overeating and putting unnecessary strain on your heart, consider using smaller plates and being mindful of serving sizes.
A helpful tip is to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots. Then, divide the remaining half between lean protein and whole grains to ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients while keeping portions in check.
It's also important to avoid distractions while eating, like watching TV or scrolling through your phone, as this can lead to mindless overeating. By being mindful of portion sizes and focusing on nutrient-dense foods, you can support your heart health and overall well-being.
7. Reduce Added Sugar:
Excessive sugar consumption is a common problem for many people, but it's essential to limit intake and opt for healthier alternatives like natural sweeteners or fresh fruits. High sugar intake can lead to a range of health problems, including heart disease12.
Sugary beverages, desserts, and processed snacks are loaded with added sugars that increase the risk of heart disease. Instead, try swapping out sugary drinks for water or herbal tea and replace processed snacks with fresh fruits and vegetables.
This simple change can significantly reduce your sugar intake and promote a healthier heart. Small changes in your diet can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being.
8. Opt for Whole Grains:
Including whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats in your regular diet is an excellent way to support heart health. These complex carbohydrates are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a great source of sustained energy for the body.
The fiber in whole grains also helps regulate blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of developing heart disease13. In addition, whole grains contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect against cell damage and inflammation, further supporting cardiovascular health13.
When you're at the grocery store, be sure to choose whole grain options and incorporate them into your meals for a heart-healthy boost.
9. Limit Saturated and Trans Fat:
It is important to be mindful of the types of fats you consume, as saturated and trans fats can have detrimental effects on heart health. These fats can increase cholesterol levels, contribute to inflammation, and lead to the development of heart disease. It's best to limit your intake of foods high in saturated fats, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and fried foods, and opt for lean protein sources like poultry, fish, and legumes, as well as low-fat dairy products.
Trans fats are even worse for your heart health than saturated fats, as they can raise low-density lipoproteins (bad) cholesterol levels and lower high-density lipoproteins (good) cholesterol levels14.
To avoid trans fats, check food labels and choose products that are trans-fat-free. Trans fats are often found in processed foods like baked goods, snack foods, and fried foods, so it's crucial to read food labels carefully and choose products that contain no trans fats.
By reducing or eliminating your intake of these harmful fats, you can significantly improve your heart health and reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
10. Stay Hydrated:
Staying properly hydrated is essential for a heart-healthy lifestyle. Drinking enough water helps maintain healthy circulation and heart function, and aids in flushing out toxins and waste products from the body, reducing the risk of developing kidney stones and other complications.
Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and more if you are physically active or live in a hot climate. If you find plain water boring, try adding a slice of refreshing lemon or lime.
Remember, staying hydrated is one of the easiest and most effective ways to support your heart health and overall well-being.
Indeed, managing cardiovascular disease involves adopting a heart-healthy diet. By incorporating these ten dietary strategies, including embracing the Mediterranean diet, limiting sodium intake, and including omega-3 fatty acids, you can effectively manage CVD and reduce the risk of complications.
Remember to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance tailored to your specific health needs.
Choosing a healthy plant-based and vegan diet is most beneficial when it comes to:
Higher levels of energy;
Aids in energy and overall happiness;
Provides a sense of comfort and relief;
Could prevent major diseases such as obesity and diabetes;
Accomplish weight-loss and management; and
Improves mental and cognitive functioning.
There are really no excuses not to try healthier habits in your everyday life. If you are a man or woman looking for specific benefits of adopting healthier habits or just want to know about the general healing properties of herbs. Please remember to comment or post any health questions, or contact us directly!
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