5 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Can diet help your heart get stronger and lower the chances you’ll develop heart disease later in life? Yes, it can. In fact, experts believe what you eat plays a major role in keeping your heart in top shape

Not sure where to start? Here are some tips on how to make your diet more heart-healthy

Lower the amount of saturated fats you eat.

    • Saturated fats (from animal origin) increase your LDL or bad cholesterol. It also leads to plaque buildup in your arteries, which in turn can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack. Less than 7 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from saturated fats.

 

Increase the amount of unsaturated fats you eat.

  • Vegetable fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts) actually protect your heart. They increase your HDL or good cholesterol, helping the body fight plaque buildup.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

  • Both are rich in fiber and low in calories, so they can help you stay trim. Vegetables and fruits are also rich in vitamins that help protect the heart. Stay away from canned foods, which might have added sugars. Frozen or fresh produce is usually fine.

Cut down your meat intake

  • Meats are high in saturated fats, so opt for vegetarian meals at least a few times a week. Egg whites, soybeans and soy products, skinless chicken and fish are all good choices for low-fat protein.

Eat less

  • American portions are much bigger than European portions, which explains –at least in part—why obesity is such a big problem in the US. The medium size French fries from McDonald’s is the large size in Europe (where the extra-large size doesn’t even exist). At restaurants, order from the kids’ menu or ask for half your order, so you can save some calories but still enjoy the foods you eat.

  • You don’t have to completely give up all your favorite foods to keep your heart healthy and strong. It’s the small changes that make a difference, especially if you keep up with them, rather than looking for short-term solutions.