Cardiovascular Disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. For heart health, it is important to exercise regularly, and eat a nutritious heart healthy diet. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are type II diabetic, overweight, a smoker, or have a family history of cardiovascular disease, then you are already at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association’s website gives recommendations on how to eat for your health, and reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
The AHA’s recommendations start by basically telling you to burn as many, or more calories than you consume, and to stop eating so much junk food. Good advice for anyone. To change your eating patterns for better heart health the AHA recommends:
• Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
• Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease.
• Select fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products.
• Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
• To lower cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.
• Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
• Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.
• If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
• Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.
Following these recommendations is a great way to start eating healthy even if you don’t have any risk factors of cardiovascular disease.