Selecting the best foods for heart health can help us remain active and healthy, especially as we enter middle age and our golden years.
At LifeBoost in Boca Raton, Medical Director Dr. Bruce Stratt can help you select, and stick to, a diet that is heart healthy. A proper diet not only helps you to lose weight, it enables you to be more physically active, and boosts energy levels and vitality.
The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota offers diet recommendations that can improve heart and overall health. Some tips include:
- Keep portion sizes small: How much food you take in is important, no matter what specific kind of diet you are on. Piling up food on your plate, even healthy foods, can be detrimental. Returning for second portions or eating until you are completely full will add extra calories, and unwanted fat and cholesterol to your body. Keep a written record of how many servings you eat, and go for smaller serving sizes. Eating low-calorie foods rich in nutrients — think fruits and vegetables — and eating less high-calorie and high-salt foods can improve your diet. It also will help keep your heart healthy and your waist size in check.
- Vegetables and fruits provide needed vitamins and minerals, have less calories and provide plenty of fiber. Eating fruits and vegetables helps ward off cardiovascular disease. Selecting these healthy options also can prevent you from opting for foods with a high fat content – think cheese, meat and most snack foods. Help yourself eat healthier by keeping washed and cut vegetables in your fridge so they are ready when you want a snack. Keep fruit in a bowl that’s close by to remind yourself it’s available.
- Opt for whole grains: These provide fiber and nutrients to keep blood pressure under control and promote a healthy heart. You can increase the amount of whole grains that you eat by making substitutions for refined grains. Try out new whole grains — Couscous, barley or quinoa are great alternatives!
- Cut bad fats and cholesterol: Reducing saturated and trans fats helps lower cholesterol – and the risk of coronary artery disease. High cholesterol can increase plaque in arteries, which in turn hikes your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Use less butter, margarine and shortening when you cook. Another way to limit saturated fat in your diet is to cut off fat from meat before you cook it. Also, choose leaner meats with less than 10 percent fat.
- Check labels: Even products labeled as “reduced fat” could have oils with trans fats. Food with some trans fats may contain the phrase “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredient list.
- Ground flaxseed can add whole grains. Flaxseeds are small, brown seeds high in fiber and rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help you reduce cholesterol levels. Try grinding seeds in a coffee grinder or a food processor, then add a teaspoon of them to applesauce, hot cereal or yogurt.
For more information on heart healthy diets, or to consult with Dr. Stratt regarding the best diet for you, contact LifeBoost today.