Heart Health: Diet Tips

April 5, 2012

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My grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of 54. My uncle had a heart attack at the age of 49. So, when my father’s cholesterol levels came back high, we all knew he had to make some serious changes to his lifestyle.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans. Yet, it can be prevented, managed and reversed! Diet and nutrition play a major role in this.

Diet tips for a healthy heart:

  • Eat More Fruits And Vegetables – At least 4.5 cups per day. Yes, we’ve been told this by our mothers since we were children, but it’s the truth. They are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus, they are low in calories, which helps to maintain a healthy weight. Just be sure to avoid any that are covered in cheese or butter, fried or canned in syrup…that would defeat the purpose.
  • Lower Your Sodium Intake – The ideal is less than 1,500 milligrams a day. This sounds like quite a bit, but on average, people take in over 3,000 milligrams per day. The CDC states: “Research shows a dose-dependent relationship between consuming too much salt and elevated blood pressure. When salt intake is reduced, blood pressure begins decreasing for most people within a few days to weeks. Populations who consume diets low in salt do not experience the increase in blood pressure with age that is seen in most Western countries.” So be cautious with the table salt and steer clear of canned foods whenever possible.
  • Increase Your Fiber Intake – A diet high in fiber can lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in your arteries. It also helps you to feel full longer, which aids in maintaining an ideal weight. High fiber foods include whole grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables.
  • Eat Good Fat, Not Bad Fat – Yes, there are actually “good” fats. The star of the good fat is omega 3 fatty acids, which actually help your heart and improve your cardiovascular system. An easy way to add this into your diet is to eat at least 2 servings of oily fish per week. Salmon and herring are great choices.  They are also found in walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil. Bad fat includes saturated fat, cholesterol and trans-fat. So limit your intake of full-fat dairy, red meat, processed meat, etc.

To learn more about your heart and the steps you can take to live a better life, check out the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple Seven. Or take the My Life Check Assessment.

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Hollie Bradley, Owner

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior who could benefit from our vast array of home care services in the Newport News & Williamsburg area, please call us at 800.371.1194 or email us. We work with most long term care insurance companies and have a staff of 130 trained home care personnel covering the Newport News, Virginia area.

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