The Basics of a Healthy Heart Diet

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death among Americans.

And while age and genetics are contributors to an individual’s risk of developing heart disease, there are other risk factors as well – risk factors that doctors have identified as "controllable." These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity.

Armed with this knowledge, the first thing you have to do is to quit smoking and take up an exercise. The rest of the other controllable risk factors will focus on your diet.

Coronary heart disease is caused by blockages in the arteries the transport blood to the heart. When the blood supply is hampered, the heart muscle is denied the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function properly. This could lead to chest pains (angina) or a heart attack.

Substances that block the arteries are cholesterols and fatty deposits. Dietary cholesterol and saturated fats are dietary substances that are primarily responsible for hurting your health.

To keep your heart healthy and to reduce your risk of heart disease, you have to strictly limit your intake of certain foods, while increase your intake of others that aid cardiovascular health.

Foods that you have to eat less

  • Damaged fats – Reduce your intake of foods contain trans fats from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated foods, and deep fried foods; and saturated fats from whole-fat dairy, and red meat.
  • Processed foods – Avoid eating processed foods, and foods that are high in salt (sodium).
  • White starches – Limit your intake of refined carbohydrates or white starches such as white rice, and pasta made with white flour. Refined carbs lack the B vitamins that (along with enzymes) break them down into single sugars so they can pass from the intestines to the blood stream where they will be sued for energy and stored as sugar in the liver or muscles or be converted to fat. Because of this, the conversion of carbohydrates to energy is blocked. Instead, the carbohydrates are converted to fat.
  • Red meat – Red meats are laden with cholesterol. Reduce your intake of meat as much as possible.
  • Fruit juices and soda – Sodas contain high-fructose corn syrup which "has been criticized as having a number of detrimental effects on human health, such as promoting diabetes, hyperactivity, hypertension, and a host of other problems." [Wikipedia]

Foods you should more

  • Healthy fats – foods that contain good fats include raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, and avocados.
  • Colorful, and nutritious fruits and vegetables.
  • Fiber-rich foods – these include whole grains and legumes.
  • Fish – opt for wild salmon, whitefish, tilapia, catfish, and flounder.
  • Water

Source: helpguide.org