Weight control and regular exercise are important tools in maintaining a healthy heart—but the food you eat is just as important. Experts say that eating a heart-healthy diet can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke by 80%.
So, what can you do to reduce your risk? By understanding how your food choices impact your heart health, you may be able to prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure.
Learn which foods and methods of cooking are healthiest for your heart, and you can take greater control over the quality and length of your life.
Tip: cut out saturated and trans fat.
Of all the possible improvements you can make to your diet, limiting saturated fats and cutting out trans fats entirely is perhaps the most important. Both types of fat raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level, which can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
By reading labels, limiting your solid fats and substituting lower fat products (like using plain yogurt in place of sour cream), you can learn to control how much saturated and trans fats you take in.
Common transfat sources include: crackers, doughnuts, French fries, cookies, pastries, cakes, margarine, chocolate, shortening and fried foods.
While saturated and trans fats are roadblocks to a healthy heart, unsaturated fats are essential for good health. You just have to know the difference. Good fats include:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Fatty fish like salmon, trout or herring and flaxseed, canola oil or walnuts all contain polyunsaturated fats that are vital for the body.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids. Vegetable oils, soy nuts, and many types of seeds all contain healthy fats.
Monounsaturated fats. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and butters made from these nuts, as well as avocadoes, are all great sources of “good” fat.