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|The Heart Healthy Diet|
|Written by Jeff Behar|
Muscle Mag Fitness - Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Diet and exercise are the two most important lifestyle factors that a person can control that can improve their risk factors for heart disease. The following suggestions are geared towards those at risk of heart disease.
Items to Limit or Eliminate in Your Diet
Foods high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Saturated fat is the main dietary cause of high blood cholesterol. The worst offenders are:
Salt (sodium). Eating a lot of salt can contribute to
hypertension (high blood pressure) a risk factor for cardiovascular
disease. Reducing the salt in your food is an important part of a
heart-healthy diet. Sodium can sneak into your diet in many ways. Many
canned and processed foods, like soups and frozen dinners contain high
of sodium. Several condiments also contain large amounts.
Caffeine. Avoid drinking alcohol, coffee, tea, sodas and anything else that contain caffeine because they increase serum cholesterol and triglycerides for your body.
Sugar-sweetened cereals, muffins or doughnuts. These foods contain large amounts of calories, fats, sugars and more.
Items to Include in Your Diet
Complex and fibrous carbohydrates. A heart-healthy diet is filled with complex carbohydrates that are low in total fat, saturated fat, and sugar content, such as, green leafy vegetables, fruit, and whole grains in their natural forms. These foods are the building blocks of good health and they keep the blood sugar at a constant level.
High-fiber cereals for breakfast, such as bran flakes, oats, or shredded wheat.
Herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends for cooking and at the table.
Foods high in soluble dietary fiber. Studies have shown that a diet rich in soluble fiber reduces blood cholesterol levels. When eaten regularly as part of a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, soluble fiber has been associated with increased diet quality and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Soluble fibersmodestly reduce LDL cholesterol beyond levels achieved by a diet low in saturated and trans fatty acids and cholesterol alone. Oats have the highest proportion of soluble fiber of any grain. Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries, apple pulp, broccoli, carrots, barley, apples, prunes, bananas, blackberries, pears, chick peas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and lentils.
Foods high in insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber
has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk and slower
progression of cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals. Foods
high in insoluble fiber include rye, rice, barley, wheat and most other
grains, cabbage, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turnips,
cauliflower, and apple skin. Note: many commercial oat bran and wheat
bran products actually contain very little bran, and often are high in
sodium, total fat and saturated fat, so read the labels
carefully!Vegetable oils and margarines with liquid vegetable oil as
the first listed ingredient. These oils should have no more than 2
grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Examples are canola, corn,
olive, safflower, sesame, soybean and sunflower oils. For margaine
choices, consider margarine labeled "trans fat-free" or
Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise activ or Smart
Balance. Remember that coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil are
high in saturated fat, even though they're vegetable oils and have no
cholesterol and should be avoided.
A heart-healthy diet is about balance. A heart healthy diet allows indulgences every now and then as long as you eat healthy foods most of the time. A simple rule of thumb is to remember to keep your portion size for meat, poultry and fish about the size of a deck of cards. This makes room on your plate for servings of heart healthy fibrous vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
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