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
- 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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