Understanding the five components of a heart healthy diet can help you eat your way to better cardiac health! Check out these recommendations from the Mayo Clinic about which foods to choose and which foods stay away from in each category.
- Fruits and Vegetables
In general, people are not consuming enough raw fruits and vegetables.
According to a study by the United States Centers for Disease Control, only 27 percent of women and 19 percent of men report eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
In their naked state, most all fruits and veggies are good for your heart, it’s the preparation that sometimes makes them not so healthy. Avoid using creamy sauces, sugary syrups or battering and frying.
There’s no question that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to heart health and can considerably reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Medical researchers theorize that antioxidants in fruit and vegetables lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Foods with anthocyanin, a flavonoid (plants known for their antioxidant properties in the skins of dark-colored fruits and vegetables, are best.
One Harvard study found that people who averaged eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day were 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who ate one and a half servings or less per day.
Fruits and vegetables to choose
- Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits
- Low-sodium canned vegetables
- Canned fruit packed in juice or water
Fruits and vegetables to limit
- Vegetables with creamy sauces
- Fried or breaded vegetables
- Canned fruit packed in heavy syrup
- Frozen fruit with sugar added
Fiber in unrefined (not processed) whole-grain foods can help lower your blood cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends soluble fiber from whole-grain foods like bran, oatmeal, and whole- grain bread and pasta for a heart-healthy diet.
Avoid breads, snacks and cakes that are made from refined white flour.
Grain products to choose
- Whole-wheat flour
- Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread
- High-fiber cereal with 5g or more of fiber in a serving
- Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat (kasha)
- Whole-grain pasta
- Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
Grain products to limit or avoid
- White, refined flour
- White bread
- Frozen waffles
- Corn bread
- Quick breads
- Egg noodles
- Buttered popcorn
- High-fat snack crackers
Avoid saturated and trans fats, anything deep fried, processed foods and stick margarines that have partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient.
Replace trans-fat-laden stick margarine with olive oil, flax oil, or canola oil (without partial dehydrogenation).
Choose healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish or fish oil supplements, some nuts (such as English walnuts), flax seeds, chia seeds and vegetable oils.
Studies support that omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke (blockage type), especially if you have known cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with slightly lowering blood pressure. We recommend Trim® Omega-3.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which take care of your heart by decreasing your LDL cholesterol and raising your HDL cholesterol. Virgin olive oil also contains polyphenols (natural substances that have health benefits), making it even better for your heart.
Fats to choose
- Olive oil
- Canola oil
- Vegetable and nut oils
- Margarine, trans fat free
- Cholesterol-lowering margarine such as Benecol, Promise Activ or Smart Balance
- Nuts, seeds
Fats to limit
- Bacon fat
- Cream sauce
- Nondairy creamers
- Hydrogenated margarine and shortening
- Cocoa butter found in chocolate
- Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils
Cut back on fatty red meats and switch to nonfat milk. Choose seafood, skinless chicken, turkey, lean beef, and pork.
The best protein sources include lean meats, seafood, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and legumes.
Substituting soy proteins for animal proteins may also help lower LDL cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Fish, nuts and seeds all contain healthful polyunsaturated fatty acids that keep your cholesterol in check. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) is particularly super because it also helps regulate your heartbeat and your blood pressure. We recommend Trim® Omega-3.
Proteins to choose
- Low-fat dairy products such as skin or low-fat (1% milk, yogurt and cheese
- Fish, especially fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon
- Skinless poultry
- Soybeans and soy products, such as soy burgers and tofu
- Lean ground meats
Proteins to limit or avoid
- Full-fat milk and other dairy products
- Organ meats, such as liver
- Fatty and marbled meats
- Hot dogs and sausages
- Fried or breaded meats
It’s okay to sprinkle some salt on your foods (some experts think unprocessed sea salt is best), but watch out for extra salt and sodium when dining out and hidden sodium in highly processed and canned foods and most boxed meal mixes. Superfoods in their natural forms are low in sodium. Look for low-sodium versions when dining out and selecting canned and frozen foods.
Low-salt items to choose
- Herbs and spices
- Salt substitutes
- Reduced-salt canned soups or prepared meals
- Reduced-salt versions of condiments, such as reduced-salt soy sauce and reduced-salt ketchup
High-salt items to avoid
- Table salt
- Canned soups and prepared foods, such as frozen dinners
- Tomato juice
- Soy sauce
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Priority You MD provides personalized, integrative healthcare for general wellness, anti-aging, athletic performance and weight management as well as more complex medical issues. In addition, our facility also provides aesthetic services and fitness training. Combining diet, nutrition and exercise with evidence based medicine and preventative therapies, our goal is to help our patients achieve and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
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