Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States of cardiovascular disease. And we know that there are lots of risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes, and one major risk factor is your diet. If you have an unhealthy diet or a diet that is high in saturated fats, that can be a major risk factor for heart disease. So today, I'm going to give you ideas for a heart-healthy diet and 10 amazing foods to fight heart attacks and high blood pressure!
10 Heart-Healthy Foods
Heart disease is indeed the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, over 600,000 people die every year from heart disease. And I spend a lot of time talking to my patients about don'ts. I say, don't smoke. Don't be a couch potato. Don't have diabetes that is not controlled. Don't, don't, don't. I say a lot of don'ts, and I mean them, but today, I'm going to give you some dos. Do eat these heart-healthy foods. So let's get started.
Amazing food number one, broccoli. Broccoli specifically has great vitamins - vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and it has antioxidants like beta carotene.
Now, who doesn't love spinach? I know I love spinach. You can have spinach raw. You can have it in a salad. You can saute it a little bit. You can even put spinach in your smoothies. Spinach also has excellent vitamins and antioxidants and it is another amazing food that can decrease heart disease and high blood pressure.
Blueberries give you a little bit of sweetness, and a little bit of tartness. They are also great for smoothies and just something you can grab and have as a snack. Blueberries have antioxidants, another great heart-healthy food.
Now I'm from Florida. And so, you know, I love myself some oranges. Of course, oranges have vitamin C. And if you just load your diet full of oranges, it's another amazing heart-healthy food.
Tomatoes are another heart-healthy food that can help you to fight heart disease and high blood pressure. You may have heard this many times before, but I'll say it again. If you want to stay healthy, eat tomatoes! Tomatoes contain vitamin C and lycopene, which are both pretty awesome when it comes to your overall health. Lycopene is a type of antioxidant that can help protect against heart disease other diseases like cancer or diabetes.
Carrots are also full of beta carotene, and you should try to have them raw or just cooked as little as possible so that you really maximize your vitamins.
7. Whole Grains
The reason they're called whole grains is that they have all three components of the grain, which is the outer bran layer, which is loaded with fiber, the middle layer, or the endosperm, and then you have the inner layer, or the germ layer, which is full of vitamins and minerals. So when you have a whole grain, you get all of the vitamins, all of the fiber, all of the minerals, and it's very healthy.
So things like oats, barley. The issue is if you have processed grains or refined grains because those are not heart-healthy at all.
What are some examples of refined or processed grains?
White bread, cake, and pasta. These refined or processed grains are no longer whole because they've been stripped of that outer bran layer and that germ layer. And so a lot of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals have been taken away.
Now you may get a little bit confused because you might see sometimes that even these refined grains say that they are enriched. And when they're enriched, that means that some of the vitamins and minerals have been put back into them, but they don't have that fiber. So, in order to be heart-healthy, you want to have whole grains. How do you know you're eating something that has whole grains? Well, just look at the ingredients and it will literally say that it is a whole grain.
Avocado is another amazing heart-healthy food, and it is full of healthy fats. It has those omega 3 fatty acids, and one of the polyunsaturated fats. And so avocado, as you may you already know, can be eaten for breakfast. You can put it in a salad, or you can just eat it all by itself. I love avocados.
Salmon is a phenomenal source of heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, that are great for the mind, body, and heart health. It's also an excellent source of protein as has plenty of essential vitamins and minerals to keep you going throughout your day!
There are also other great fish that contain these healthy doses of omega 3 fatty acids like mackerel, albacore tuna, and sardines. But you don't want sardines that are loaded with sodium because that's something else entirely. You definitely want a low-sodium heart-friendly diet.
I listed a bunch of different types of fish as being excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but you don't have to have fish. If you don't eat fish, then you can get plant-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids and you can do so through hemp seeds, chia seeds, and even walnuts.
10. Legumes, or Beans and Lentils
So definitely, your legumes can be an excellent source of protein. They can also help to decrease the bad cholesterol, and they can help to decrease your triglycerides. I do want to say another word about cholesterol, because just as I said that legumes can help to decrease cholesterol, having a high fiber diet can also help to bind to that bad cholesterol like the LDL.
You can also get plant-based protein as a heart-healthy food source. You can do tofu, and also nuts like walnuts, macadamia nuts, or even your peanuts. Just make sure you're getting unsalted nuts, but these can all be excellent sources of protein.
Heart Healthy Meats
Today, we've talked about a lot of plant-based foods in our 10 amazing foods, and yes, having plant-based proteins, or a plant-based diet is definitely very heart-healthy. But if you are a person who does like to eat meat, please make sure that you choose healthy meats, like the fish we discussed or chicken with no skin.
And even if you eat beef, then make sure that you do it in moderation and you choose beef that does not have a lot of fat. So steaks, for example, you want to use something that's low in fat like a sirloin tip.
You also want to avoid the word prime, because usually, that means more fat. And if you look at the steak and it's got a lot of white going through where they call it marbled, that also has a lot of fat. You want to avoid that and choose very lean cuts of meat if you do choose to eat meat.
It is recommended that you not have more than six ounces of meat a day. So a serving should be about 3 or 3 1/2 ounces, and you can think about a serving as being about the size of a deck of cards.
The Power Of Vegetables In A Heart Healthy Diet
In order to have a heart-healthy diet, you do need a variety of fruits and vegetables, because most fruits and vegetables have fiber and fiber is that part of a plant-based diet that the body does not digest.
So what does that mean? That means that if you eat a lot of fiber, you get a lot of bulk and you tend to get full faster. And if you get full faster, then you are less likely to overeat. If you're less likely to overeat, you're less likely to be obese. And this decreases your risk for heart disease.
Fruits and vegetables also have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and these antioxidants fight free radicals, and they decrease inflammation in the body. So in general, fruits and vegetables in your diet are really excellent heart-healthy foods. And you think about superfoods. Superfoods in general are these nutrient-rich foods that are great for your health. And they also just make you feel good, in general.
Healthy Diet Portions
Beyond just having fruits and vegetables, let's talk about portion sizes. If you think about when you are preparing your plate, you want at least half of it to be full of fruits and vegetables. Now, when we think about side items, a lot of times we think about size as being small and on the side of the plate. But I want you to reprogram your thinking and think of fruits and vegetables as the main course.
I want them to cover up half of your plate. Ideally half of your plate should have things like lettuce, broccoli, spinach, blueberries, and oranges.
So definitely having a heart-healthy diet is a great way to be healthy and to prevent heart disease. But there are more ways. So please make sure you check out my YouTube video on 10 healthy habits for a better you and a better life.