Heart-Healthy Diet: Top Foods, Diets, & Habits

Heart-Healthy Diet

“To be successful, you have to have your heart…”. Sure, this well-known saying typically applies to areas of life like career or business, but it also expands to include your health.

You see, heart health is one of the most important biomarkers of health as cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men and women globally. Not only does cardiovascular disease take an estimated 17.9 million lives each year, but one-third of these deaths occur prematurely in people under 70 years of age, making it all the more important to pay attention to and prioritize your heart health at every age.

Three key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high blood lipid (e.g., triglyceride and cholesterol) levels, and smoking. However, several other lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Unhealthy diets
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol intake

In addition to lifestyle factors like engaging in regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to help protect your heart as increased inflammation, high blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors are affected by what and how we eat.

Although you might know that eating certain foods can increase your risk of heart disease, changing your eating habits can be challenging. To help, here are some heart-healthy diet tips:

Heart-Healthy Diet Tips

1. Control Portion Sizes

How much you eat (i.e., your portion size) is just as important as what you put on your plate. Overfilling your plate and eating until you feel overly full can lead to eating more calories than is healthy.

Here are a few simple tips to control portion sizes, which can help shape up your diet as well as your heart:

  • Choose smaller plates or bowls to help reduce portions.
  • Eat more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables
  • Eat smaller amounts of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, especially refined, processed, or fast foods.

For more tips on understanding portions, check out these helpful articles:

2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Diets that provide a good amount of fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, and other nutrients have been shown to help support heart health. High intakes of added sugar and processed meats, on the other hand, are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Fruits and vegetables are low in calories yet rich in vitamins and minerals. Plus, including more vegetables and fruits in your diet can be easy. One of the best ways to make sure you are including more vegetables in your diet is to keep vegetables washed, cut, and ready to eat in your refrigerator for easy use or quick snacks.

3. Choose Whole Grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients important for regulating blood pressure and heart health. One of the easiest ways to eat more whole grains for your heart-healthy diet is by making simple substitutions to replace refined grain products.

For more information on whole grains, check out this explanation from Coach Tim.

4. Limit Unhealthy/Refined Fats

Decreasing trans fats, refined oils, and saturated fats from your diet can help reduce blood lipids (like triglycerides and cholesterol) to help lower your risk of coronary artery disease. When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or avocado oil or omega-3 fatty acids, which can be found in certain fish and some nuts and seeds, for a heart-healthy diet.

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5. High-Quality Proteins

Leaner cuts of meat from grass-fed, pasture (or wild)-raised meat, poultry, and fish as well as low-fat dairy products and eggs are some of the best sources of quality protein. In addition, legumes, beans, peas and lentils, also are fantastic sources of protein. Plus, they contain no cholesterol, so they’re great for a heart-healthy diet.

6. Limit Sodium

Too much salt in the diet—typically from highly processed foods—is another habit that can lead to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting sodium intake is an important part of a heart-healthy diet, and the American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults have no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about a teaspoon of salt).

Much of the salt in the average American diet comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods, and frozen dinners, but eating fresh foods and preparing meals yourself (rather than depending on those that are ready-made) can reduce the amount of salt you eat, especially unknowingly.

How to Choose a Heart-Healthy Diet

All these heart-healthy tips are good to follow. However, if you are in need of more established eating guidelines, there are several heart-healthy diets to choose from.

Some diets are better for your heart health than others. When considering a heart-healthy diet, you want to make sure you are choosing a diet that not only makes sense for you, but one that is backed by science and is easy for you to maintain long term. With that in mind, here are three top diets for heart health to choose from:

  1. The Mediterranean Diet—based off the traditional cuisines of Greece, Italy, and other countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, the Mediterranean diet focuses on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and extra virgin olive oil.
  2. The Vegetarian Diet—this diet eliminates all meats and is composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes as well as nuts and seeds.
  3. The DASH Diet—stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was designed to help prevent and treat hypertension (high blood pressure), which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease. This diet recommends the consumption of grains, quality meat, poultry, fish, and fruits and vegetables.

If you still aren’t sure which are the best foods to help enhance your heart health, check out these easily referenceable articles:

Beyond eating right, taking the right cardio supplement may also be a tremendous ally in your heart-healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking for recommendations, BioTRUST’s Cardio Command stands heads and shoulders above other cardio supplements because it uniquely contains clinically-backed ingredients, including Bergavit and Enovita.

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It’s essential that we take action and do what we can to maintain good heart health. Lifestyle factors within your control account for such a large piece of your heart health, and there are countless steps we can take to improve our health. You just have to have the heart.

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