Eating for Heart Health
What do diet and a healthy heart have to do with each other? A lot, actually!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States (causing 1 in 4 deaths)1, and a big part of a healthy heart is maintaining a healthy diet. So, what are some steps you can take to cut your risk of heart disease and turn your body into a healthy environment for your ticker?
The main thing you want to focus on is eating a whole-foods diet, so you want to eat foods that are in their natural form and cut back on consuming a lot of processed junk. In the average American diet, we tend to get about 75% of our sodium from processed foods.2 It’s not just from the usual culprits such as chips and snacks, there is also a lot of salt added to items such as processed bread and cereals. These hidden sources of sodium end up adding a lot to our daily intake without us necessarily knowing.
Sticking to a whole-foods diet for heart health can be pretty easy if you know the which foods to eat. By adding healthy fats, fiber, colorful fruits and vegetables and avoiding processed fats you will be eating your way to a happy, healthy heart. All of these foods provide your body with the goodness your heart needs to function properly, such as monounsaturated fats, potassium, fiber and fatty acids.
Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats
These are the so-called ‘good fats,’ which help to lower high levels of cholesterol.3 These good fats are typically found in plant-based foods and oils. Unsaturated fats also keep you body running in tip-top shape by providing nutrients essential to cell functions. Some of the best sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, avocados, and nuts (such as almonds).
Potassium is very important in keeping your heart healthy, because it helps your muscles stay active (i.e. it keeps your heart beating).4 Potassium helps keep your blood pressure in check, so adding fresh fruits and vegetables (like asparagus, oranges, bananas and avocados) along with low-fat milk products (like Greek yogurt) to your diet are key in keeping your heart pumping!
Adding fiber to your diet has a direct link to heart disease prevention. Soluble fiber (such as oats) helps to reduce bad cholesterol, a contributing factor for heart disease. Insoluble fiber (grains such as rice) is linked to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in high-risk patients.5 Heart healthy fiber is also found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes, such as apples, chickpeas, lentils, broccoli and figs. There are so many great whole-food sources of fiber, adding more to your diet is as easy as looking in your fruit basket or vegetable crisper.
Fatty acids, such as omega-3s, help keep your heart regular, protects you from the risk of strokes and even helps keep your arteries healthy by slowing the build-up of plaque.6 Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon and tuna, walnuts, soybeans and ground flaxseeds.
Heart Healthy Recipes
- Avocado Tartare: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/roestbrote-avocado-tatar
- Almond Smoothie: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/mandel-smoothie
- Spicy Lentil Pot: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/scharfer-linsentopf
- Soy Salmon: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/soja-lachs
- Poached Figs: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/pochierte-feigen
- Roasted Broccoli: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/gebratener-brokkoli
- Fruity Granola with Yogurt: http://eatsmarter.de/rezepte/fruchtiges-birchermuesli-smarter
- “Heart Disease Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. US Department of Health & Human Services, 10 August 2015. Web.
- “Processed Foods: Where is all that salt coming from?” American Heart Association. American Heart Association, April 2014. Web.
- “The 6 Benefits of Monounsaturated Fats.” Body Ecology. Body Ecology, 2015. Web.
- “Potassium and Your Heart.” Heart Disease Health Center. WebMD, 03 October 2014. Web.
- “Whole Grains and Fiber.” Healthy Living. The American Heart Association, 06 August 2015. Web.
- “Omega-3 fats: Good for your heart.” Medline Plus. US National Library of Medicine, 18 May 2014. Web.