Happy Heart With Heart Healthy Diet
There are many ways to promote heart health, but by far the most important thing you can do is eat a heart healthy diet. Eating certain foods that help keep your heart healthy can seriously help prevent disease and other issues throughout your life. Much research has been conducted about the effectiveness of a heart healthy diet, and the results of some recent ones are as telling as ever.
It’s been determined that half of the heart diseases in the United States are preventable — meaning that there are steps that could have easily been taken to avoid pushing a person’s heart to the point of serious disease like heart failure. The leading risk factors that contribute to heart disease include obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, with 80 percent of Americans having at least one of those factors.
There are several rules you can follow in your life that will help you avoid the risks of heart disease, including a fiber-heavy diet. A 2015 study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those who simply incorporated 30 grams of fiber a day into their diet lost just as much weight as people who were on a low carb diet. Eat fiber-rich foods like raspberries and lentils to help lose weight and promote heart health.
Other rules to follow in terms of a heart-healthy diet include avoiding sugary drinks (even adding sugar to coffee and tea) — which has been found to drastically lower the risk of diabetes — as well as going vegetarian. Switching to a vegetarian lifestyle showed a 5 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure, which reduces the risk of heart disease by as much as 9 percent.
Healthy Diets Can Save Lives
A healthy diet doesn’t just help prevent heart disease, it can also literally save your life. A recent Health Affairs study examined changes in eating habits with adults over the course of 13 years, and found an almost 10-point increase in the healthy eating index.
“The improvements in dietary quality from 1999 to 2012 prevented 1.1 million premature deaths,” the study stated. “This improvement in diet quality resulted in 8.6 percent fewer cardiovascular disease cases, 1.3 percent fewer cancer cases, and 12.6 percent fewer type 2 diabetes cases
One thing that was found to be a bit of a misconception in regard to heart health and maintaining an overall healthy diet is the effects of butter. According to a recent study, there was a significantly weak link between butter and disease.
“Even though people who eat more butter generally have worse diets and lifestyles, it seemed to be pretty neutral overall,” Laura Pimpin, the study’s author, said. “Butter may be a ‘middle-of-the-road’ food: a more healthful choice than sugar or starch, such as the white bread or potato on which butter is commonly spread and which have been linked to higher risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease; and a worse choice than many margarine’s and cooking oils – those rich in healthy fats such as soybean, canola, flaxseed, and extra virgin olive oils.”
When considering a heart healthy diet, certain foods are important to incorporate. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which “have an anti-clotting effect, so they keep your blood flowing,” according to Rachel Johnson, Bickford Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont.
Walnuts are also a good source of omega-3 fats (not the same as fish, however) and other good fats — just eating 5 ounces per week can make a huge difference in terms of your heart health.
Switching to a heart-healthy diet isn’t as daunting a task as you might think. Just focusing on the right foods and the right portions can make all the difference in the world, and can also help your overall health and weight.