Over the past several decades, the diet eaten by the average American has gotten progressively worse. Not surprisingly, as our diets have become less healthy, incident rates of heart disease have risen precipitously. The good news? There are plenty of steps that can be taken to implement a heart healthy diet and avoid heart disease.
Where to Start
Reforming one’s eating habits is, admittedly, not an easy task. It is however, a task that is well worth the effort. In your transition to a heart healthy diet, the best place to start is with fats and cholesterol.
Nowadays, it is not uncommon for a single meal to contain well over half of the daily recommended intake of either of these nutritional components. Our focus on convenient foods that are ready right away has placed nutritional value at the bottom of our collective list of priorities when selecting food.
Of all of the changes that a person can make on their road to a heart healthy diet, limiting your intake of saturated and trans fats provides the largest benefit. Keeping these two dietary components in check helps to reduce your blood cholesterol and, in turn, lowers your risk of developing heart disease. When choosing foods based upon their fat content, be wary of butter, cream-based sauces, and hydrogenated margarine. As a rule, keeping your fat intake under 25% of your total daily calories can work wonders on keeping your heart healthy and strong.
Keeping it Going
While lowering your intake of saturated and trans fats is perhaps the most significant change a person can make in transitioning to a heart healthy diet, there are several other changes that can also make a big difference.
On your next trip to the grocery store, keep your eyes peeled for products that are made with whole grains. Not only are whole grains a great source of fiber, they also play a key role in regulating blood pressure. In short, these unrefined grains are a powerful ingredient in your heart healthy diet. Instead of grabbing a loaf of white bread, opt for the whole-grain bread instead. Another great way to integrate whole grains into your diet is via oatmeal. This tasty treat can be combined with berries for an even yummier snack.
Eat Your Vegetables (and Fruits too)
Remember mom’s famous words? For children, they can be a source of disdain, or even terror. As an adult, however, it is important to understand that your mother was right – eating your vegetables IS an important part of staying healthy. For this reason, your heart healthy diet will never be complete if it does not include regular servings of fruits and vegetables.
Amanda Paul is the writer and content manager for BistroMD, one of the nation’s industry leaders in home delivery of delicious meals designed for a lighter, healthier you.
In addition to content management, Amanda is also editor of the company’s weekly newsletters and is the head of SEO marketing.