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October 19, 2017 | Family Medicine
The food you put in your body plays a significant role in your heart health and risk of developing heart disease. Many people struggle to change their dietary habits, but with the right advice and a few simple tweaks, you can put yourself in a much better position when it comes to a heart-healthy diet.
The things you eat are important, but how much you eat matters just as much. Here are a few tips:
Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals, and are low in calories. They can help prevent cardiovascular disease, and eating more fruits and vegetables can curb your appetite for other high-fat foods. Keep fruits and vegetables washed and available for snacking, and choose recipes with lots of vegetables. Limit your consumption of canned fruit with heavy syrup, frozen fruits, veggies with creamy sauces, or veggies that are fried or breaded.
Whole grains provide fiber and other important nutrients that help regulate blood pressure and promote heart health. Substitute whole grains for refined grains wherever possible, and try new whole grains. Watch out for:
Instead, emphasize whole-wheat and whole-grain replacements.
Saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of coronary artery disease, and reducing these fats in your diet can lower your cholesterol and decrease the risks of both CAD and heart attacks or strokes. Saturated fat should take up under 7 percent of your daily calories (under 14 grams if you follow a 2,000-calorie-per-day plan), while trans fats should make up under 1 percent of your daily calories (under 2 grams for a 2,000-calorie plan).
Some tips to accomplish this include:
Low-fat protein choices include:
Sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Here are recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services:
Reducing added salt to food is important, as is reducing the meals you eat from canned and processed foods—these have a high sodium content. Look for low-sodium options if you must go this route, and look for ways to eat fresh food whenever possible. Be careful with condiment selection, too—condiment substitutes can be valuable. Limit table salt, canned and frozen foods, tomato juice and soy sauce.
One great way to stay on track with your heart-healthy diet is to plan ahead. Create daily menus emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Track portion sizes and mix things up regularly to keep it fresh.
Don’t be afraid to allow yourself a treat every so often. One brief departure from your diet won’t derail you entirely—as long as you can keep it brief. If you find overindulgence becomes too regular, you may have to avoid these treats.
For more on keeping a heart-healthy diet, speak to your doctor for recommendations.
Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages, and committed to provide thorough and timely health care for the entire family throughout all stages of life.
“Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702?pg=1
“Heart disease and diet.” MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002436.htm
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.