Eating Healthy to Avoid Cardiovascular Disease

Some of your behaviors contribute to your risk of heart disease. These habits are tough to break, but it is best that you should start somewhere. For one, you need to eat the right food to avoid prevent the consequences of cardiovascular disease. Here are some tips on what to eat and what to avoid.

Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol

The most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease is to limit how much saturated and trans fats you eat. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaque in your blood veins, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

To reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats, limit the amount of solid fat you add to food when cooking ans serving. Examples of solid fat include butter, margarine, and shortening. This means that instead of putting butter over your baked potato, try topping it with salsa or low-fat yogurt; or spreading sugar-free fruit jam or marmalade on your toast instead of margarine.

When you do need to use fat, choose monounsaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil. You could also use polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts and seeds. However, remember that moderation is essential, as all types of fat are high in calories.

Choose low-fat protein sources

Your best sources of protein include meat, poultry, and fish, along with low-fat dairy products and eggs. However, it is best to choose the lower fat options, such as skim milk over whole milk, skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties, and egg whites over egg yolks.

Meanwhile, fish is a good alternative to high-fat meats. Some types of fish-such as cod, tuna, and halibut-have less fat and cholesterol compared to meat and poultry. Also, certain types of fish-such as salmon, mackerel, and herring-are heart healthy as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils, are also good substitutes for meat as these are great sources of protein as well as containing less fat and no cholesterol. Soybeans may be especially beneficial to your heart, and it is best to regularly substitute soy protein for animal protein.

Eat more vegetables and fruits

These are low in calories, are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and are rich in dietary fiber. They also contain phytochemicals. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods like meat, cheese, and snack foods.

Featuring the greens in your diet may not be as difficult as you may think. For instance, keep carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli ready to eat in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Also, keep apples, bananas, grapes, or peaches in a bowl in your kitchen as a visual reminder.

Choose recipes that have vegetable or fruits as the main ingredient, and don’t smother then in butter, dressing, creamy sauces, or other high-fat garnishes. And avoid fruits in cream or heavy syrups.

Choose whole grains

Whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them good sources of fiber and other nutrients. Whole grains are also a source of vitamins and minerals like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and iron.

Phytochemicals are also found in whole grains. You can increase the amount of whole grains in your diet by making simple substitutions. Choose whole-grain breads instead of those with refined white flour, whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta, brown rice instead of white rice.

Practice moderation and balance

Knowing which food to eat is the first step in creating a heart-healthy diet. However, you also need to know how much food to consume. Having your plate full of food, taking second servings, or eating until you are stuffed can still lead to excess calorie, fat, and cholesterol intake.

Keep track of the number of servings you eat. For instance, portions served in restaurants are often much more than anyone needs, so try sharing it with a friend or bring home the uneaten portion for a next-day meal.

A healthy diet is also about balance. Keep your portion size for meat, poultry, and fish small, while making room for ample servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Also, allow yourself to indulge every now and then. However, don’t let it turn into an excuse for giving up your healthy-eating plan.