Health Making good dietary choices can address risk factors for heart disease and heart-related problems. That means eating healthier foods can reduce and limit problems related to heart health.
Cardiovascular patients need to pay attention to building a suitable menu. A reasonable and scientific diet will help you have a healthy heart. Following a healthy diet can help lower total cholesterol and bad cholesterol, lower blood sugar and triglycerides, and lower blood pressure.
1. Guidelines for healthy nutrition for people with cardiovascular disease
According to the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, a heart-healthy diet focuses on the following foods:
- Green vegetables
- Lean animal protein
Besides, to have a healthy heart, you should limit the following foods:
- Trans fats.
- Saturated fat
- Red meat (beef, pork, veal, and lamb…)
- Processed meats (sausages, ham, etc.)
- Refined carbohydrates (white bread, crackers, salty fast foods, baked goods).
- Sugary drinks (energy drinks, sodas).
However, it’s difficult to completely eliminate these foods from your diet, so it’s okay to eat a small portion of an unhealthy meal every once in a while.
In contrast, the foods that are recommended are good for the heart but should not be abused or eaten in excess. For example, protein from fish is good for health, but you should limit fish high in mercury, such as albacore tuna, swordfish, and mackerel.
2. Nutrition tips good for the heart
2.1 Increase the number of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help the body prevent disease. For people with high blood pressure, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is especially recommended.
Experts recommend, aim to eat a combination of seven to nine servings of fruit and vegetables each day. In which, one serving of fruit is equivalent to 1 medium piece of fresh fruit, 1/2 medium banana, 1/2 grapefruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 cup canned fruit, 110ml plain juice (avoid sugary juices).
One serving of vegetables is equivalent to 2 cups of raw lettuce, 1 cup of chopped vegetables, and 1 cup of whole vegetable juice.
To ensure the number of green vegetables your body provides each day, buy vegetables and fruits in season and eat according to the recommended amount. If work is too busy, you can buy pre-cut vegetables and fruits (fresh or frozen), then pack them for snacks or add to dishes. You can change the meal by making vegetable soup or salad with olive oil. Keep fresh fruit on your desk or workspace so you can eat it when you want. People with heart disease should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
2.2 Reduce saturated fat and trans fat
Fat is important to the body, but not all fats are created equal. Trans fats and saturated fats are called bad fats. These substances increase the body’s LDL cholesterol, the type of substance that forms plaque in the arteries. Red meat is high in saturated fat, as are some cheeses.
A better option is to consume good fats or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This type of fat is found in nuts, avocados, olives, flaxseeds, soybeans, and fatty fish.
To supply your body with healthy fats, use cooking oils like olive oil or avocado oil, both of which contain healthier fats.
Eat two to three meat-free meals a week, for example, chia seed soup, vegetable salad, and seaweed soup.
Eat two meals of skinless poultry per week.
Limit red meat to no more than one meal a week. Choose the leanest piece of meat possible, with the skin and fat removed. If possible, replace red meat with seafood or skinless poultry.
Eat fish rich in omega-3s at least two to three times per week, including cold-water fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and herring.
Include plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids like chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds daily in addition to meals like oatmeal, soups, yogurts, smoothies, or salads.
2.3 Replace animal protein with vegetable protein
Animal protein is the type of protein found in beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and eggs, as well as cheese and yogurt. Eating animal protein means you’re eating more cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which contribute to weight gain and an increased risk of developing heart disease.
To limit this situation, in addition to eating more vegetables, you should eat more plant-based protein. These are proteins found in foods like legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), nuts, and seeds. The American Heart Association recommends eating a minimum of 145g of plant-based protein per week.
An easy way to eat more plant-based protein is with meatless meals. There are many delicious recipes that provide a good source of protein but also provide heart-healthy ingredients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
2.4 Eating a lot of fiber helps prevent cardiovascular disease
It’s a carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It is found mainly in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and beans. As fiber passes through the body, it aids digestion and helps eliminate waste.
When eaten as part of a healthy diet, fiber can lower cholesterol. But that’s not its only health benefit. Diets high in fiber help control blood sugar, keep the bowels on a regular schedule, prevent gastrointestinal disease, and aid in weight management.
Foods contain a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber, each with its own unique health effects:
Soluble fiber: This type provides the best benefits for the heart as it helps to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. Fiber-containing foods: oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas), flaxseeds, root vegetables, apples, pears, and citrus fruits are all sources.
Insoluble fiber: This is what people often refer to as “raw food”. Insoluble fiber promotes regular bowel movements, increases stool volume and softness, helps regulate weight, and helps prevent digestive disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat, and other whole grains and bread, nuts, and vegetables.
To get the greatest health benefits, eat a variety of fiber-rich foods. Try to consume a total of 25g of fiber (soluble and insoluble) per day.
2.5 Increase whole grains
To prevent cardiovascular disease, it is advisable to limit the use of processed or refined carbohydrates. These nutrients are found in foods like white bread, white pasta, and white rice.
Instead, provide your body with foods that contain unrefined carbohydrates or whole grains. These foods provide more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber than refined carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, crackers, cereals, brown rice, oats, barley, etc.
2.6 Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products
Milk is good for heart health, bones, and blood pressure. Therefore, it is advisable to increase milk on the daily menu. Plus, dairy products can be high in saturated fat, so it’s best to choose low-fat or fat-free dairy options for favorites. For example, skim or 1% milk, 1% fat-free yogurt or cottage cheese, and reduced-fat cheese. If you can’t tolerate dairy products or don’t want to consume them, consider a dairy alternative to meet your calcium needs like unsweetened almond, soy, or oat milk.
2.7 Reduce sweets, desserts, and sugary drinks
In fact, there are many tempting foods with sugar as desserts or drinks. According to nutritionists, there is no need to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, just limit your sugar intake. Using sugar a few times a month is better than a few times a week.
2.8 Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol is not good for people with heart disease. If in case of force majeure, drink in moderation. For women, moderate consumption of alcohol means having no more than one drink each day, and for men, it means having no more than two drinks a day.
3. Lifestyle changes help prevent heart disease
Maintaining an active lifestyle can have significant benefits for heart health. Following a healthy diet along with regular exercise will improve blood pressure, cholesterol, and overall heart health. But remember to engage in exercise that gets your heart rate up and do so for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
Regardless of what kind of physical activity you enjoy, it’s best to consult your doctor before starting. Or with eating habits, your doctor can offer advice and support to help plan a heart-healthy diet.
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