Doctors suggest that a heart-healthy diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat protein and less salt and sugar.
Just as eating certain foods can increase the risk of heart disease. In the same way, changes in diet can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A great variety of fruits and vegetables are good for the heart. Doctors suggest that a heart-healthy diet should include foods in their natural form.
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If you are looking to fine-tune your diet, here are five tweaks that can keep your heart healthy.
Reduce salt and sugar intake
Salt makes the body retain water, which can raise blood pressure, a risk factor for the heart. Doctors suggest that a person add salt only for flavour. On the other hand, sugar promotes metabolic syndrome and is therefore not good for the heart. Metabolic syndrome means a cluster of metabolic disorders such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Eat fruits and vegetables
According to the American Heart Association, having eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day can reduce the risk of heart disease. Some doctors also recommend a DASH diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. DASH is a healthy eating plan that helps to treat or prevent high blood pressure or hypertension. The DASH diet is usually made up of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It also includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, beans and nuts, poultry and fish. At the same time, the diet limits the intake of foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.
Decrease saturated fat intake
Eating food with saturated fat may increase LDL cholesterol, GoodRx Health quoted Frances Largeman-Roth, nutritionist and cookbook author in New York City, as saying. To reduce intake of saturated fat, one needs to cut down on high-fat dairy, fatty cuts of meat, and coconut oil.
Consume whole grains
One of the good sources of fibre and other nutrients is whole grains. These grains help to regulate blood pressure. While one should limit or avoid grain products like white refined flour, white bread, muffins, biscuits, cakes, and buttered popcorn, they can choose from whole-wheat flour, whole-grain bread, brown rice, barley, whole-grain pasta and oatmeal.
Have low-fat protein
Some of the best sources of protein are lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs. It is best to choose lower fat options such as skinless chicken breasts and skim milk for a healthy heart. Fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can help reduce blood fats called triglycerides. One can also try replacing animal protein with plant protein which will help in reducing fat and cholesterol intake and increase fibre intake.
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)