For many people there is something of a mystery surrounding exactly what it is that makes up a heart healthy diet. There are reports released almost daily that suggest that one food item or another is the cure all solution to heart disease. In the end, the result of all of this confusing information is that most people have no clue what to eat as part of a heart healthy diet. No worries though, this article will provide the concise answers that real people, like yourself, are searching for.
Heart Disease: the Silent Killer
You might be surprised to learn that while heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States, accounting for roughly 1 in 4 deaths, the number of people who die from the disease has been steadily decreasing for several years. Regardless of this encouraging fact, it still firmly holds the number one spot.
How to Eat a Heart Healthy Diet
The first step for someone beginning a heart healthy diet is to reduce their intake of saturated and trans fats. These two dietary components, when eaten in excess, can lead to high levels of blood cholesterol. This, in turn, can lead to the development of heart disease. To reduce your intake of these fats, begin by reading the nutritional panels that are found on the back of the products that you buy. As a general rule, less than 7 percent of your total daily caloric intake should come from saturated fats, and less than 1 percent should come from trans fats.
The second step in transitioning to a heart healthy diet is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. This may seem obvious, but very few people follow this guideline. Not surprisingly, your mother was right when she told you to eat your vegetables. What she didn’t tell you at the time is that they are packed with nutrients that can help to prevent heart disease. In addition, they are a great source of dietary fiber. When choosing fruits and vegetables, fresh is always best. However, if fresh produce is not workable, make sure that any canned fruits or vegetables you purchase are low in sugar and sodium, respectively. It would be a shame to waste the nutritional value of these helpful foods by adding unhealthy ingredients.
The third, and last, suggestion for transitioning to a heart healthy diet is to eat more whole grains. Rather than selecting a loaf of white bread, made with bleached flour, try a loaf of whole wheat bread. Research has shown that whole grains are involved in the process of regulating blood pressure. It logically follows that a well regulated blood pressure is a good thing for your heart. Also, as with fruits and vegetables, whole grains are an excellent source of fiber.
Sealing the Deal
In your effort to eat a heart healthy diet, make sure that you follow these three rules, at a minimum. Have a conversation with your doctor concerning your objective, and ask if there are other actions that you, specifically, should take to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Remember, a healthy heart is a happy heart.