Nutrition plays an important part in heart health. Eating well can help prevent and, in some cases, reverse some cardiovascular issues.
Because each individual has unique dietary needs, Washington Health System Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center has certified registered dietitians who collaborate with your primary care physician and provide you with the tools you need to keep your heart healthy.
Ingredients for a Heart-Healthy Meal
A diet that includes a variety of healthy foods can help you lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk for heart disease, stabilize your blood sugar or simply lose weight. Your physician and dietitian may recommend a meal plan that includes:
- lean protein, such as chicken and fish
- fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, such as apples and spinach
- beans, peas and lentils, which are also high in fiber
- nuts and oils low in saturated fat, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, olive oil and sunflower oil
- protein-rich, low-fat dairy products, such as plain Greek yogurt
Trans Fats and Other Ingredients to Avoid
When eating to take care of your heart, avoid trans fats, which may be found in two forms.
- Artificial trans fats—found in packaged and processed foods, such as cake mixes, french fries and margarine
- Naturally occurring trans fats—found in animal products, such as pork fat and red meat
Also, try to reduce your intake of foods that are high in sodium and sugar. Both are found in high levels in processed foods, ready-to-eat meals and restaurant fare. Cooking more meals at home from fresh ingredients allows you more control over the amount of salt and sugar you consume.
Lifestyle Changes for Heart Health
While eating well is critical to heart health, the following habits will further improve your cardiovascular health:
- Pay attention to portion control as well as what you eat.
- Make physical activity part of your regular routine. Aim for two hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week.
- Limit alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per day if you are a man and one drink per day if you are a woman.
- If you smoke, take steps to quit. Clinicians at the WHS Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center can offer additional support if needed.
- Get screenings, such as those for heart attack and stroke, as recommended by your physician.