Eating a heart-healthy diet will be the number one thing you can do to naturally lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease has become the top cause of death for adults today and learning how to combat it with a heart-healthy diet will be imperative for optimal health and wellness.
What Is Cardiovascular Disease?
This is also known as heart and blood vessel disease but this is a condition that includes numerous problems. It comes down to the condition of atherosclerosis which is a condition that is developed when plaque builds up on the walls of the arteries.
This build-up narrows the arteries and makes it much harder for blood to flow through. It’s like when you put a kink into a hose and the water can’t really get through or stops altogether. The next big issue is that a blood clot can form, and this is also how the blood flow can be blocked. Now, this is setting the stage for possibly fatal conditions such as a heart attack and stroke.
This seems like a hopeless situation but fortunately, there are natural things you can do such as choosing to eat a heart-healthy diet which can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Here are 5 diet choices you should make to combat it.
1. Eliminate Trans Fats
The first big thing you can do for a heart-healthy diet is not something to add it but to take away. Trans fats are where they hydrogenate vegetable oils and this leaves them solid at room temperature. It’s an awful chemical substance that is in many foods because of a few reasons. First off it’s super cheap to make.
The next reason is it can make for a sugar substitute in products where they are wanting to have lower sugar. And probably the most important reason, it has a long shelf life which can reduce overhead costs for companies and allow their products to stay on shelves a lot longer. This leads to less wastage and creates much better profit margins.
The problem when it comes to your health is we can consider this stuff poison. That might seem somewhat intense but this is the best way to look at it. These trans fats can lead to inflammation in your body and raise your bad LDL cholesterol while lowering your good HDL cholesterol at the same time.
Trans fats will show up in manufactured and packaged goods so if you eat a lot of these things you can be sure you’re consuming trans fats. You need to also look out for the name “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” as this is another way to classify a trans fat.
If you see anything that says “hydrogenated” you want to steer clear. This is one of the main reasons to avoid anything that comes out of a package. If it has a long list of ingredients, you don’t need it. You want to always opt for real whole foods that don’t have ingredients because they ARE ingredients.
2. Lower Your Saturated Fat Intake
Saturated fat should make up no more than 5-6% of your overall calories each day which if you’re following a 2000 calorie diet would be around 11-13 grams of saturated fat. If you eat meat you want to go with the leanest sources you can find such as chicken breast.
If you have heavier fatty cuts of meat, you can help yourself by trimming those off before cooking. You can also go with egg whites which are pure protein without the cholesterol. A yolk here or there isn’t too bad as this is where all the good nutrients are if you do choose to eat them.
In a heart-healthy diet you’ll also want to limit:
- Heavy creams
- Palm oils
- Bacon fat
- Cream sauces
- Cottonseed and palm kernel oils
3. Switch To Monounsaturated & Polyunsaturated Fats
These are the type of fats that are great for a heart-healthy diet and can lower your bad LDL cholesterol and can substitute for those saturated fats. They will still be high in calories as a gram of fat has 9 calories compared to protein and carbs which have 4 grams per calorie.
The main thing is these are heart-healthy choices and include things like:
4. Watch Out For Sodium
Too much sodium will cause issues with your heart and blood pressure as your heart has to work harder to move the sodium though. When your blood pressure gets too high, this will put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Again, if you’re eating a lot of processed foods, or take out, you can guarantee you’re taking in a huge amount of sodium. One of the key flavors we crave is salt and restaurants and manufacturers know this so they boost the sodium content of their food to make them seem more palatable.
If you don’t eat a lot of fresh food, your palate starts to not recognize what true taste is. Switching to a heart-healthy diet will help this. Help yourself avoid all this sodium by preparing your meals wherever you can. You can season your food yourself with some good Himalayan sea salt which contains a lot of trace minerals.
If you have to watch your sodium, you’ll still want to be careful because even this healthier form of sodium can still cause issues. A good range is to have only 1500 mg of sodium a day. A great way to reduce your sodium intake is to just substitute it with things like herbs and spices.
If you are using things like condiments, look for low sodium versions as these products can contain quite a lot.
5. Boost Your Vegetable & Fruit Intake
Notice its vegetable and fruit intake and not fruit and vegetable? Vegetables need to be the cornerstone of a heart-healthy diet and you want to aim for double-digit servings of non-starchy vegetables each day.
They are low in calories and high in nutrition and will help to combat cardiovascular disease. A good goal is to eat all the colors of the rainbow but your focus needs to be on dark leafy greens. This is where you get real true nutrition from high mineral and vitamin content along with polyphenols and antioxidants which are all heart friendly compounds.
For fruits aim for more citrus fruits and berries which are also high in antioxidants, minerals, and fiber which will be important for gut health too.