NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR A HEALTHY HEART:
A healthy diet is one of the best weapons in the fight against cardiovascular disease.
To help keep important heart-health indicators like blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar (glucose) at the right levels, the American Heart Assoc. recommends eating a balanced variety of nutritious foods.
A heart smart diet consists of vegetables and fruit, moderate portions of whole grains and lean protein, two servings of fish per week, and a couple of fat-free dairy servings per day. It is suggested that the focus should be on healthy fats, like nuts, nut butters, and unsaturated fats.
Here’s a list of changes that you can make to your diet, one at a time:
- Eat more vegetables and fruit.
- Reduce the role of meat.
- Eat at least 2 servings of fish per week.
- Cook with only unsaturated oils.
- Switch to reduced-fat, low-fat, or fat-free dairy products.
- Make at least half of your grains whole grains.
- Reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
Here’s a list of Heart-Healthy Superfoods:
- Dark chocolate
- Olive oil
- Butternut Squash
Avocados contain heart-healthy antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol, while elevating good (HDL) cholesterol. Enjoy them in salads, sandwiches, or in chilled guacamole.
Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients called flavonols, which lowers both LDL cholesterol and blood pressure by dilating the arteries. It is suggested that you enjoy up to one ounce of dark chocolate per day!!
Blueberries contain a natural ingredient that neutralizes destructive substances that contribute to heart disease. They also help to prevent blood clots and reduce artery inflammation.
Introduce almonds, walnuts, macadamias, and hazelnuts into your heart healthy diet. They are high in monounsaturated fat, which lowers LDL cholesterol without reducing HDL. They are also a good source of vitamin E, and these nuts help to keep artery walls healthy. Walnuts also protect against clotting and arrhythmia. Nuts are high in calories, so limit the portions to one ounce per day.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, and in one study, eating more unsaturated (and less saturated) fats yielded healthier levels of LDL, and heart-boosting HDL.
Ginger contains phytonutrients called gingerals, and these compounds are known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Butternut squash contains lots of heart-healthy phytonutrients. It is one of the most concentrated plant sources for omega-6 fatty acids, which helps to contribute to cardiovascular health.
A scientific review found that regular use of cinnamon can reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, along with a slight boost in HDL levels.