Eat for Your Heart

The heart is one of your most necessary muscles. Okay, it’s the most important one you have. Because as soon as it stops beating, you cease to exist. But if you’re like many people, you don’t treat it with the respect it deserves.

How can you show more appreciation for your heart? By eating the right foods.

Fat and Cholesterol, Be Gone!

Heart disease occurs when your body contains so much cholesterol and fat that it builds up on your artery walls and prevents sufficient blood flow to pass through. When this happens, the result is often heart attack. As your intake of fat and cholesterol is largely responsible for your risk for heart disease, reducing your intake of both will help your heart today and well into the future.

To do this, you’ll want to avoid shortening, margarine, and butter, which all contain saturated fats and trans fats. You should also seek meat with no more than 10 percent fat and look for low-fat and low-cholesterol alternatives to some of your favorite foods.

Get Plenty of Plants

It’s a rare thing to hear of the dangers of eating some sort of plant food. Know why? Because for the most part, plants-whether fruits or vegetables-are extremely safe and healthy for you to consume.

So if you want to eat a diet that does your heart good, you’ll need to fill it up with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just be careful that your fruits and veggies come to you the way Mother Nature intended. Because as tasty as added ingredients may be, canned fruit that is steeped in sugary syrup, vegetables ladled with processed cheese or creamy sauces, fruit topped with sugar, and fried vegetables all have the potential to do more harm than good.

A Side of Exercise. Want your heart-healthy diet to go the distance? You can’t depend only on what you put in your mouth. You’ll also need to couple your eating efforts with a healthy dose of exercise. Shoot for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, and your food will be better able to do its heart-protecting duty.

Grab the Grain

Many types of grain products are good for your overall health and are therefore good for your heart. The best of the best when it comes to adding grains to your diet for better heart health include the following:

  • whole-grain bread
  • whole-grain pasta
  • whole-grain flour
  • whole-grain (brown) rice
  • oatmeal

While chewing on these healthy grains, you’ll want to avoid some others. White flour and bread, pies and cakes, doughnuts and biscuits, and muffins and granola bars should all be avoided. Even though some of them may seem healthy, they often have enough sugar or additives to destroy any potential benefit.

Avoid Salt

Your body needs salt to function properly. But if you get too much of the flavoring substance, you will immediately increase your risk for high blood pressure. While high blood pressure by itself isn’t necessarily too frightening, it does contribute to your heart disease risk.

Avoid too much salt by not adding salt to your food until you’ve tasted it, eating less prepackaged food, and choosing low-sodium foods. In addition, you can reduce the amount of salt you eat by trying out different spices and herbs in the place of salt, not using soy sauce or canned soups with your meals, and eating fresh foods whenever possible.

Size It Up

As hard as you try, everything you eat won’t be beneficial to your heart. Thankfully you can prevent these foods from doing much damage by watching how much you eat. Instead of eating until you’re so full you feel you’re going to bust, eat slowly and chew each bite well. Once you feel the first hints of fullness, put down your fork and call it quits. By doing this, you’ll avoid eating too much of anything bad and avoid becoming overweight, another risk factor for heart disease.

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