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Heart Healthy Eating
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Heart disease is the number one health threat for women. That’s why a heart healthy diet is recommended for everybody. But some women have special circumstances that make the importance of a heart healthy diet even more imminent. If your healthcare provider has discussed heart healthy eating with you, if you have high blood pressure, if you have had a heart attack or heart disease runs in your family, you should always eat with your heart in mind.

A heart healthy diet is based on limiting saturated and trans fat and sodium, including abundant plant foods, and ensuring adequate intake of healthy fats. The major sources of saturated fat in the American diet are beef, butter, cheese, milk and some oils. A diet high in saturated fat raises your blood cholesterol levels and also increases the risk of coronary artery disease. Trans fats are created by hydrogenating fats. Most processed foods contain trans fat. These unhealthy fats significantly increase the risk of heart disease. One fat you should get more of, however, is the omega-3 fatty acids. This is a polyunsaturated fat that has been linked with numerous heart benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease triglycerides, increase HDLs, make platelets less sticky, and help fight inflammation. The major source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, but you can also find the nutrient in walnuts, flaxseed oil and canola oil.

  • If you want to maintain a heart healthy diet, you’ll need to get plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. The essential vitamins and minerals you get from eating fruits and vegetables are extremely helpful in preventing heart disease.
  • Antioxidants are a key ingredient in the heart healthy diet. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E, and have been linked with the prevention of artery damage from cholesterol. Load up on broccoli, tomatoes, oranges and strawberries and cereals and products fortified with antioxidants to get an extra dose.
  • Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great sources of both insoluble and soluble fiber, a major help in the fight against heart disease. Fiber cleans out your digestive system and also may help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL) levels.
  • As part of a heart healthy diet, you’ll need to incorporate exercise and keep a healthy weight. Overweight and obesity are major contributing factors to heart disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about heart healthy ways to lose weight and keep it off.
  • Smoking is another cause of heart disease. Even if you limit your saturated fats and focus on a healthy diet, you’re still at a high risk if you continue to smoke.

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