The Diet for Optimal Cardiac Health
As with most things, a well-balanced diet is beneficial to your heart health. Specifically, a cardiac diet focuses on making heart healthy food choices tailored to decrease sodium and fat intake and lower your chances of heart disease. You should try to consume nutrient rich, whole foods that properly energize and nourish your body. The cardiac diet concentrates on what food is necessary for your body to promote good heart health while also bringing awareness to unhealthy foods that you should avoid.
Low Sodium Foods
Too much sodium in your diet has negative ramifications such as higher blood pressure and dehydration. Over time, this can affect the body’s blood vessels and cause plaque to form, clog arteries, and increase your chances of heart disease. A great way to fill your daily calories with low sodium foods is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Certain produce is low in calories and high in vitamins and nutrients.
High Fiber Foods
Foods that are high in fiber are not only beneficial for cardiac health, but also digestive health. Avoid refined grains and pivot toward whole grains and unprocessed carbs. Whole grain foods extend beyond just bread to include pasta, rice and more. With all of these options, you can find healthy and delicious ways to cook with these ingredients.
Low Fat Foods
Studies show that between 20 to 40 percent of your daily calorie intake should be from healthy fats. But look out for unhealthy saturated and trans fats by checking out the nutrition labels on food containers. When choosing proteins, look for skinless poultry and lean cuts of meat.
It is easy to overlook fat content of dairy products. In the dairy section of your local market, opt for the lower-fat or skim products. Substituting healthier fats such as avocado or olive oil for butter is an easy way to avoid unhealthy fats.
In addition to a smart diet, regular exercise is important when it comes to heart health. Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your entire body, therefore, strengthening that, and any, muscle is beneficial. Exercise has many health benefits, but it specifically lowers blood pressure and regulates the body’s cholesterol levels. And it has mental health benefits too!
Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming promotes efficient circulation and increases blood flow. Furthermore, adding regular strength training and stretching develops essential muscles as well as boosting recovery.
The Bottom Line
Cooking your own meals will allow you to avoid unhealthy ingredients often added to frozen, processed and fast foods. Avoid energy drinks, soda, and other beverages high in sugar and unnatural additives. Instead, favor water, low-sugar juices, coffee (in moderation), and caffeine-free tea. Incorporate low fat and low sodium foods into your diet and keep reading the food labels to dodge other hidden additives.
To learn more about what The Heart House can do for your cardiovascular care, take a look at our Heart Center page.