Heart disease is the leading cause of death, for both men and women. Stroke is also one of the most common causes of death, yet both of these conditions are preventable. By making changes to your diet, you can begin improving your cardiovascular health. This will in turn promote better heart health, reducing your risk of stroke and heart disease.
Keep in mind that it can take some time for the benefits of the food that you eat to begin helping your heart. You will notice any dramatic changes overnight, but you could start improving your overall health and begin working towards a healthier heart.
Make sure that you take the time to examine these 10 food tips for preventing heart disease and stroke.
Five Foods to Eat and Five Foods to Avoid
These 10 food tips for preventing heart disease and stroke include five groups of foods that you should eat more of and five groups of foods that you should avoid. Start with the foods that you should be eating and then move onto the foods that you should cut back on.
First and foremost, start including more fresh produce in your diet. Try to consume at least two servings of fresh vegetables each day, along with one or two servings of fruit. These are often the best sources of beneficial nutrients that can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Eat whole grains, instead of refined grains, to improve your heart health. Look for whole wheat, whole oats, oatmeal, whole grain corn, wild rice, barley, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, sorghum, and quinoa. Many of these foods are also excellent sources of fiber and protein.
Generally, low-fat or fat-free does not mean healthier, unless you are dealing with dairy products. When purchasing cheese, yogurt, or milk, you should purchase low-fat versions. Your body does require some fat, but consuming too much dairy fat can promote the clogging of arteries and have a large impact on your heart health.
Try to include more fish in your diet, including salmon, mackerel, and tuna. These fish are a great source of lean protein which does not contain as much fat as red meat. In addition to fish, you could include skinless poultry and other sources of lean meat. Dry beans, eggs, and nuts are also good sources of lean protein.
Include more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Actually, you can find these beneficial fats in most of the lean protein sources listed above, including salmon, eggs, and nuts. Vegetable oils also tend to contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Adding more of these fats to your diet can improve your heart health, by creating a better balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
That covers the five groups of foods that you should include in your diet, to promote better heart health. Now, you should learn which foods to avoid.
Remember, there are many types of fat and saturated fats are the ones that you want to cut back on. While you should include some saturated fat in your diet, try not to consume too much, as it can lead to cardiovascular problems and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Whole milk, ice cream, frozen yogurt, butter, sausage, and most baked goods often contain an abundance of saturated fats.
Trans fat is not a natural fat which is why it is commonly found in processed foods, such as crackers, cookies, pies, potatoes chips, and other snack foods. In some countries, trans fat has been banned, due to the fact that it can lead to heart disease and other health issues. In the United States, food manufacturers are required to list the amount of trans fat contained in their product.
Cut back on your consumption of foods that contain a lot of cholesterol. Increasing your cholesterol levels will directly impact your heart health. Try to not eat as much fried foods, including fried chicken or sausage. Limit your consumption of ice cream, frozen yogurt, whole milk, and pork.
Sodium is another substance that you need in small does, but could be bad for your health if you consume too much of it. Soda pop and carbonated beverages, along with sports drinks and energy drinks, tend to contain high levels of sodium which could be bad for the health of your heart. Sodium can increase your blood pressure, leading to hypertension.
Again, you are not going to be able to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, but you should try to avoid foods that contain added sugars. This can include corn syrup, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose, and dextrose. You may also want to limit the amount of honey, molasses, and syrup that you consume. Diets that contain a lot of sugar can increase your risk of developing diabetes.
Eating a diet that contains a lot of trans fat, saturated fat, and high levels of cholesterol can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. As your arteries clog, your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your body. This additional strain on your heart can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular conditions.
You do not need to completely alter your diet, but you may want to start eating more of the foods listed above and cut back on your consumption of other foods. Make small changes, replacing one meal per day with a healthier option.
Along with changes to your diet, try to include moderate exercise in your daily schedule. Performing at least twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day can go a long way towards improving your heart health. If you are not a fan of exercise, you could go for a walk.
Heart disease and stroke are a couple of the leading causes of death. By getting regular exercise and changing the way that you look at food, you can greatly reduce your risks of developing heart disease or a stroke.