Fueling your body with heart healthy foods is the first step in preventing cardiovascular disease. Here are some of the most essential components of a heart healthy diet:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such certain fish, nuts or beans, can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering blood fats called triglycerides.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, all important aspects of a heart-healthy diet.
3. Whole Grains
Whole grains can regulate blood pressure and contribute to heart health with fiber and other nutrients. Flaxseed can also be added to almost any dish for an extra dash of whole grain fiber.
4. Low-Fat Protein
In addition to fish, other sources of low-fat protein include beans, peas, lentils, egg whites and skinless poultry.
5. Limited Sodium Intake
Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure. To limit your sodium intake, cut out pre-packaged or processed foods and use herbs and spices for seasoning rather than salt.
6. Zero Trans Fat
Trans fat is commonly found in pre-packaged foods, such as snacks, baked goods, frozen pizzas and ready-made frosting.
Potassium can counter the effects of sodium on your blood pressure, as well as decrease bone loss and minimize risk of kidney stones.
8. Monounsaturated or Polyunsaturated Fats
While all fat should be limited, when you do consume fat, focus on these “good” fats, found in olive, canola and peanut oil.
9. Limited Sugar
Avoid drinks and foods with high amounts of sugar.
10. Small Portions
In addition to what you eat, how much you eat is also important. Eat slowly and limit your portion size to avoid overloading your heart, as well as your waistline.