With the new year underway, the top goal for many people will be to work on their health. This might mean eating healthier for some, it might mean strengthening your body or mind… and for some, all of the above. One thing I find myself thinking more about as my husband and I get older is our heart health. Although heart health is improving, every year one in four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease.
There are many ways in which you can be proactive to ensure that your heart is as healthy as it can be. Primarily, this begins with your diet. You are ultimately responsible for the food you put into your body. Take a look at these four easy steps to fine-tune your diet and promote good heart health.
Cut The Saturated Fat
We are big believers in eating enough healthy fat. We eat local, grass-fed butter and the cleanest bacon we can buy. These are foods we eat a healthy amount of and it helps keep us satiated and is essential for our minds and body. However, the quality and amount are important to monitor. It’s important to watch your saturated fats in general. Saturated fats increase the amount of bad cholesterol we have in our bodies. This is the fatty substance that clogs up our arteries and increases our risk of heart disease and heart attack. By tweaking your diet in this way, you can actively lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of a heart attack. Look for quality and be sure to talk to a Dr about the safe quantity for you… but don’t skip all fats!
Eat Plenty Of Fruit And Vegetables
Eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables each day means that you are ensuring that your body gets all of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that it requires. We grow most of our own or shop at local farmers markets and stands to ensure this is a large part of our diet. By acquiring the optimum amount of potassium, for example, you can lower your blood pressure and keep it stable, lessening the pressure on your heart. Sweet potatoes, spinach, lentils, and greens are all great sources of this heart health boosting mineral. Keep your mind, body and, particularly that heart of yours, healthy with plenty of vegetables.
Portion sizes when eating out have steadily increased over the past decade. This translates into the home when we cook our own meals. We tend to eat too many refined carbohydrates and forget about the need for vegetables and leafy greens. Take a look at the composition of your plate and ensure that half of it is taken up with vegetables or salad. The rest should be your protein source and some carbs; a piece of fish or lean meat some healthy whole grains is a good option. Also, ensure you have some healthy fat too! This ratio can help you lose weight and reduce your body fat. Obese individuals will inevitably put more strain on their heart, so trying to maintain a healthy weight is crucial to good heart health. Keep the ratios in line for your health!
Although you may not think that salt is rife within your food, you’d be surprised just how many teaspoons are lurking in your ready-made pasta sauces. Head to any vein clinic or surgery and your doctor will tell you that salt increases blood pressure which is a major contributing factor to heart disease. By eating less than six grams of salt per day, you are sticking to a healthy range. Check the nutritional labels on the food that you purchase to ensure that you don’t overdo it on the white stuff. We all need some… but not too much!
Promoting good heart health can be tricky. However, one of the simplest ways to lower your cholesterol and improve your blood pressure is to start with your diet. When coupled with some good cardiovascular exercise and fresh air, you can work towards keeping your heart healthy.