According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the #1 killer of all Americans. A healthy diet and lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Lifestyle choices that promote long-term heart health include:
- eating a healthy diet
- not smoking
- maintaining a healthy weight
- controlling blood pressure and cholesterol
- engaging in physical activity regularly
- maintaining blood sugar (keep at healthy levels)
A healthy diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber rich foods, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds. Limit the amount of sodium, saturated fats, processed meats, and sugar-sweetened drinks in your diet.
Preparing meals at home is not only less expensive; it also enables you to have better control over the nutritional content of the foods you eat.
Snacking is not a bad thing. However, moderation and making healthier snack choices is essential to maintaining a healthy heart. Instead of snacks high in fat, choose fresh fruits or vegetables, such as carrots or celery sticks. Other healthy options include fat-free or low-fat cheeses, fat-free yogurt or unsalted almonds, walnuts and other nuts. If you're craving a sweet snack, instead of candy, choose raisins or unsweetened canned fruit.
When dining at a restaurant, avoid buffets, since you may be more likely to overeat. Most restaurants offer meals that are low in cholesterol, trans fat and saturated fat. Choose these options, and don't be hesitant about asking your server about preparing your food to order; without butter, cheese, etc.
Select healthy substitutes for foods high in saturated or trans fat. Instead of fries or onion rings, choose a baked potato with reduced fat or fat-free sour cream and margarine.
If you want to know how a menu item is prepared, do not hesitate to ask your server.
Remember, small changes to your diet can make a significant impact on your heart health.