A Healthy Diet: Your First Line of Defense Against Heart Disease

We all know there are many factors that play a role in keeping your heart healthy…from exercise, to not smoking, to keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol levels at their best. The foods we eat play a large role in heart health. Here are some ways to put a healthier lifestyle into practice at your kitchen table.

Skip the Meat, Eat the Fish!

Instead of red meat, eat a few ounces of fatty fish, such as salmon. Research suggests that eating about 8 ounces of fatty fish per week cuts the risk of dying from heart disease. The oil in fish can steady the heart’s rhythm and lower triglycerides—a blood fat linked to heart disease.

Pass by the Deli Counter

Stay away from processed foods, like cold cuts, which are high in sodium and can raise blood pressure. Instead, include plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those with lots of potassium, like leafy greens, grapes and carrots. Potassium lowers blood pressure, which reduces your risk of heart disease!

Hide the Salt Shaker

Season foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Oil In, Butter Out!

Cook with olive oil instead of butter or polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as corn oil. Olive oil can lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and raise HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.

Snacking Can be Healthy

We all love our snacks. But instead of going for the bag of chips or other carbohydrates that can increase triglycerides, snack on almonds, walnuts and other unsalted nuts. Another healthy, and easy to grab snack is fruit! They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away for a reason.

Sugar is the Enemy

Reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet to help prevent diabetes. Even if you aren’t overweight, a sugar-laden diet can increase your risk of dying from heart disease significantly.

Learn to Love Legumes

Pinto or black beans, chickpeas and lentils are all important foods for a healthy you. According to a study in Archives of Internal Medicine, people with type 2 diabetes who ate one cup of beans per day had better control of their blood sugar and reduced their heart disease risks.

A healthy diet lays the foundation for your overall well-being. Start your journey to heart health with the right foods – your body will thank you for it.

To schedule a consultation with a Saint Francis Healthcare dietitian, please call 302.421.4121.

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