Eat Heart Healthy
Following these nutritional strategies can help you reduce or even eliminate some risk factors, such as reducing total and LDL-cholesterol; lowering blood pressure, blood sugars and triglycerides; and reducing body weight. While most dietary plans tell you what you can’t eat (usually your favorite foods!), the most powerful nutrition strategies help you focus on what you can and should eat. In fact, research has shown that adding certain foods to your diet is just as important as cutting back on others.
Decrease saturated fats and trans fats
The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management Guidelines (2013) urge people to eat a healthy diet and decrease saturated fats and trans fats in their diet. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (from olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, soy and fatty fish).
Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
Eat a rainbow of colors
Eat a variety of orange carrots and oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches, purple plums, green celery, lettuce, and kiwis and yellow peppers and bananas. Choosing a rainbow of colors helps ensure a diverse intake of nutrients.
Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit – fresh or frozen to save time – bag them up for a snack or to add to a dish.
- Have a vegetable-based soup or garden salad with light dressing with your usual sandwich at lunch.
- Instead of a cookie, enjoy a frozen banana or grapes dipped in 1 tsp of chocolate syrup.
- Keep fresh fruit on your desk or workspace.
- Try a homemade trail mix of you choice of 2 T dried fruit + 2T roasted nuts and/or seeds in a baggie to take with you if you predict you’ll be missing a meal.
Eat more fiber
As part of a healthy diet, fiber can reduce cholesterol. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It’s found primarily in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. As fiber passes through the body, it affects the way the body digests foods and absorbs nutrients.
A diet rich in fiber has health benefits beyond cholesterol control: it helps control blood sugar, promote regularity, prevent gastrointestinal disease and helps in weight management.
There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Each has a unique effect on health.
- Soluble (viscous) fiber: Provides the greatest heart-health benefit because it helps to lower total and LDL-cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils and split peas), psyllium, flaxseed, apples, pears and citrus fruits.
- Insoluble fiber: Generally referred to as “roughage.” Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, adds bulk and softness to stools, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat and other whole grain cereals and breads, nuts and vegetables. Foods contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of all high-fiber foods.