What we eat plays a large role in preventing heart disease and other heart-related issues. Adapting to a healthy heart diet can often be difficult, whether you're changing from years of unhealthy eating or just wanting to tweak your current lifestyle.
Here are some tips on how you can maintain a healthy heart diet:
- Portion Control
Many people, especially Americans, eat far larger portions than necessary. Whether you're going for seconds at home or getting a large order at a restaurant, you may be taking in too many calories.
If you're cooking at home, start using measuring cups and spoons to try keeping track of how much you consume in order to eat a lower-calorie, nutrient-rich diet. A serving of beef, fish, or chicken is typically the size of a deck of cards, while starchy carbs like pasta and rice are about half a cup, or the size of a hockey puck.
- Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
While you may be eating plenty of food, it is important to be sure to eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods for a healthy heart diet. These kinds of foods have fiber, vitamins, and minerals, as well as other important nutrients. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables which may help with controlling weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
A good rule of thumb for eating fruits and vegetables is choosing those with a variety of rich colors. Lots of orange, reds, and greens on your plate will not only look appealing, but they'll taste good too.
- Eat the Good Kind of Fat
It's important to limit how much saturated and trans fats you eat to reduce blood cholesterol and to lower your risk of coronary artery disease. High blood cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, increasing risk of heart attack and stroke.
Begin by switching out the different less-healthy fats for the good ones. This could include cooking with olive or coconut oil instead of butter or lard. Seek out margarine that's free of trans-fats. Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar, and spices instead of store-bought dressings high in trans fats.
Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, too. Add them to your healthy heart diet by eating foods like salmon, leafy greens, and nuts, or by taking an Omega-3 supplement.
- Plan Meals Ahead of Time
By knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid, you may find it helpful to plan out your meals weekly. This can help you to avoid reaching for the processed foods like TV dinners or fast food. Make big batches of dinners in the slow cooker for your family to eat throughout the week, or find quick and easy recipes for breakfast on the go. You will not only create a healthy heart diet plan, but you may also save money on take-out, too.