Eat mostly plants. Adopting a plant-based diet can have a huge effect on the health of your heart. Because a vegetarian diet is typically lower in cholesterol, excess protein and saturated fat, and higher in fiber, it is a natural component of a healthy heart. Read more about the correlation between meat eating and heart disease.
Reduce your fat intake to 10% of your daily calories. That is generally about 25-35 grams of fat. Especially limit saturated fats, trans fats (hydrogenated oils), and cholesterol.
Consume whole, unrefined plant foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. These foods are high in essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals and are high in fiber, which is absolutely essential in reducing and maintaining blood cholesterol levels.
Reduce your sodium intake. An immensely important step you can take toward heart health is limiting the amount of processed foods in your diet. Processed foods such as canned foods, microwavable meals, baked goods, and meat tend to contain a lot of salt and are therefore the biggest contributors to a high sodium diet.
Manage your weight. Being overweight greatly increases your chances of coronary heart disease.
Don’t smoke! Cigarette smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease. A decision to stop smoking is a decision to drastically reduce your risk of heart attack.
Exercise. The heart is a muscle and like any muscle, it needs to be exercised to stay fit and effectively circulate your blood through your body. According to a joint American Heart Association/American College of Sports Medicine guidelines on physical activity, adults ages 18-65 should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five days of the week. Make these 30 minutes fun by incorporating a variety of activities into your exercise routine.
This month, make a conscious decision to improve the health of your heart. Your heart will thank you for years to come!
Reviewed by Registered Dietitian, Tandis Bishop