When it comes to heart disease, “You are what they eat.” And that’s a pity, because the “American diet” considered normal by many people is full of fats, sugars, and high-cholesterol protein sources. Largely as a result, cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in America. Over six times the number of people who die as the result of accidents die from heart disease, and in many cases, these deaths could have been prevented if the people had eaten more sensibly.
What exactly is a “heart-healthy diet?”
The American Heart Association (AHA), based on decades of research, recommends a balanced diet based on a food intake of about 2,000 calories per day, and based on the following general principles:
• Eat only the number of calories you can burn up every day. Increase the amount of moderate physical activity you get (working up to 30 minutes per day) to match the number of calories you take in.
• Eat a variety of foods, from all the major food groups. For most people, this means increasing the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables they eat, to an average of 9-10 servings (4.5 cups) of fruits and vegetables every day.
• Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Eat more whole-grains, which are not only better for you, they can help you to maintain your weight because they make you feel more full. Eat more nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans).
• Limit the amount of red meat, sugary foods, and nutrient-poor foods you eat. These foods are high in calories, in fats, and in sodium.
• Limit your intake of saturated and trans fats. And when possible, replace whole-fat dairy products with their low-fat equivalents.
• Eat more fish. Fish, especially oily fishes like salmon and albacore tuna, are much better for your heart than red meats, and contain omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to improve your heart health.
• Limit your sugar and salt intake. Learn to read food and drink labels, and limit your intake of added sugars. The AHA recommends no more than 100 calories of sugar per day for women, 150 for men. Keep your sodium (salt) intake to less than 1,500 mg per day.
• If you drink alcohol, do it moderately. The AHA recommends no more than 1-2 drinks per day for men, and 1 for women.
• Exercise “portion control.” Limit the actual amounts of foods that you eat; this becomes even more important when eating out in restaurants. Remember, you really don’t have to eat all that they serve you, and your heart will be healthier if you don’t.
Where can I learn more about diets that are healthy for my heart?
There are excellent resources from the AHA, from www.heart.org, and from the Mayo Clinic online that present many recipes and tips for healthier eating. But one of the best resources available to you are your Delray Beach cardiologists. Give us a call at South Palm Cardiovascular Associates and ask your Delray Beach heart doctor about both diet and exercise. We’ll be happy to help you to set up a dietary and exercise plan that is right for you.
Cardiologo hispano Boynton Beach
Those of you who speak Spanish, remember that we do, too. So give us a call at 561-515-0080 and we’ll work with you to create diet plans that will significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.