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Your Heart-Eating For The Health Of It

DIET FOR A HEALTHY HEART

Let’s get real…If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, or have been told you have high blood pressure…or something like Diabetes, which we know is a catalyst for all sorts of heart problems...

 But it all seems so complicated…the diets, the books, the pamphlets at your Doctor’s office, your neighbor, your best friend. Nobody is getting their stories straight.

So let me share 40 years worth of heart disease “suggestions” in the hopes that they will guide you making better choices, for the health of it.

The evidence is perfectly clear:

  • Cardiovascular Disease CAN be prevented
  • It CAN be managed
  • IT CAN be reversed

Researchers at The American Heart Association have identified seven crucial components necessary to prevent, reduce and even prevent heart disease. Five of them are considered crucial: 

1) Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables   

Eat the equivalent of 4 1/2 cups a day, more when possible. Although that sounds like a lot, eating a big salad full of dark green and orange vegetables could fit the bill very well.

2) Eating fish  

  • At least two servings a week if not more, up to 3 1/2 servings a week.  
  • Choose the “oily fish” such as salmon, mackerel, tuna. They’re loaded with the heart-healthy Omega=3 fatty acids that are so good for your heart.

 3) Eating fiber-rich whole grains  

  • Have at least three servings a day of about one ounce (roughly one slice of bread).
  • READ THE LABELS. Make sure the first ingredient listed is whole grain.

 Eat grains in their least processed form:

  • Brown rice instead of white
  • Whole grain kinds of pasta instead of white flour kinds of pasta

 4) Reduce sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams/day 

The average American’s daily sodium intake is about 3,400 milligrams.  More than 70 percent comes from hidden salt in processed foods.  

5) Limit your consumption of drinks containing sugar to no more than 36 ounces a week. (YES, PER WEEK!) which is a total of 450 calories.  

According to the American Heart Association’s research,  “The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons a day of added sugar.” 

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of those added sugars.”

  • Limiting added sugars to no more than six teaspoons a day for women and nine teaspoons a day for men. 
  • Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. 

Make better choices:

Choose these:                                                           Instead of these:

Healthy fats, such as raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, and avocados

Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods; saturated fats from fried food, fast food, and snack foods.

Colorful fruits and vegetables—fresh or frozen

Packaged foods, especially those high in sodium and sugar

High-fiber cereals, bread, and pasta made from whole grains or legumes

White or egg bread, sugary cereals, refined pasta or rice

High-quality protein, such as fish and poultry

Processed meat such as bacon, sausage, and salami, and fried chicken

Choose: Organic dairy such as eggs, skim milk, or unsweetened yogurt

 Avoid Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods; saturated fats from fried food, fast food, and snack foods.

Choose: Colorful fruits and vegetables—fresh or frozen

Avoid: Packaged foods, especially those high in sodium and sugar

High-fiber cereals, bread, and pasta made from whole grains or legumes

White or egg bread, sugary cereals, refined pasta or rice

High-quality protein, such as fish and poultry

Processed meat such as bacon, sausage, and salami, and fried chicken

Organic dairy such as eggs, skim milk, or unsweetened yogurt

Yogurt with added sugar; processed cheese

Eat omega 3 fatty acids every day. Fatty fish like salmon, trout, or herring and flaxseed, kale, spinach, and walnuts all contain polyunsaturated fats that are vital for the body.

Enjoy monounsaturated fats such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and kinds of butter made from these nuts, as well as avocados—all great sources of “good” fat.

Choose your oils carefully. Cold-pressed, organic oils retain all the nutrients that are burned away in industrially manufactured oils, such as most vegetable, corn or canola oil, many of which can become toxic when heated.

  • Use olive oil for stovetop cooking and to dress salads, cooked vegetables, or pasta dishes.

Enjoy monounsaturated fats such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and butters made from these nuts, as well as avocados—all great sources of “good” fat.

Eliminate trans fat

As well as raising your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, trans fat also lowers your levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, which can put you at increased cardiovascular risk. Trans fats are found in foods such as:

  • Commercially baked goods (cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, bread (like hamburger buns)
  • Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips, candy)
  • Solid fats (stick margarine, vegetable shortening)
  • Fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, breaded fish, hard taco shells)
  • Pre-mixed products (cake mix, pancake, chocolate milk)
  • Anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil listed in the ingredients, even if it claims to be “trans fat-free.”

It’s a lot to take in, I know. It won’t be easy. I know that too. But consider the alternative of living, or dying, from heart disease. 

HEART NUTRITIONThe best advice ever is to find what works for YOU.

Make only the changes that you’ll be able to sustain. Cut back substitute or eliminate what you can and know that you’re doing your best and that you’re worth it.

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