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02/19/2021
The Truth About Foods and Heart Disease
Corporate Communications

A healthy diet can lower your risk of heart disease. Most of us know what not to eat for a healthy heart. For example, cheeseburgers and donuts aren’t on the heart-healthy menu. High-fat foods may clog arteries and raise cholesterol. High-sodium foods like canned soups and deli meats may cause blood pressure to rise. But what can you eat to help prevent heart disease? Here are a few tips:

Avoid Unhealthy Fats

All fats are high in calories. That’s not the only problem with fats. Many types contain saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fat and trans fat may raise LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. This can lead to a buildup of fat inside your arteries. Fats that are solid at room temperature are high in saturated fat. Three examples are butter, lard and the hard fat along the edge of a steak. For heart health, limit all solid fats.

Choose Healthy Fats

Pure vegetable oils are liquid at room temperature. Olive, safflower, canola, soybean, peanut and corn oil are popular cooking oils. They contain different ratios of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both fat types can have a role in heart health.

Food producers are able to change vegetable oil into a solid fat. This process is called hydrogenation. Stick margarine and shortening are made this way. Hydrogenation can create trans fats, which can raise levels of your “bad” cholesterol while lowering the “good” cholesterol. Check the ingredients to avoid hydrogenated fats.
While the fat story is complicated, you can keep it simple in your kitchen. Use olive, safflower or canola oil for cooking. Strictly limit solid fats.

Go for Whole Grains

Whole grains are good for your heart. They help regulate blood pressure. Oats are particularly good for heart health. Whole-grain oats are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol. When grocery shopping, check the nutrition facts to see how much fiber is in cereals, breads and other whole-grain foods. Look for at least 3 to 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Fruits and Veggies

Vegetables and fruits are high in nutrients we usually don’t get enough of. These nutrients include folate, potassium, magnesium, fiber and vitamins A, C and K. Eating enough fruits and vegetables helps lower cholesterol and manage blood pressure.
The USDA’s My Plate program tells people to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” This is a practical way to ensure you’re eating enough produce. Adding vegetables and fruits in your diet isn’t hard:

  • Keep trimmed vegetables in the fridge for quick snacks.
  • Keep fruit in a bowl on the kitchen table so that you’ll remember to eat some.
  • Enjoy a big salad every day.

Beans, Peas and Nuts

Beans are a tasty, inexpensive source of protein. They’re also high in fiber, low in fat and rich in B vitamins and minerals. The fiber in beans is mostly heart-healthy soluble fiber.

Beans are important not just for what they bring to the plate – it’s what they replace that counts. If you eat more beans, you’re likely to eat less meat. And that’s good for your heart.

Canned beans are a great convenience food. They're as nutritious as dried beans, except for the salt added during canning. Choose brands with less than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. Rinse beans well to remove excess salt before adding to recipes.

Nuts provide good fats including beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts contain a special type of omega-3 that may help prevent sudden, fatal heart attacks. Along with their healthy fats, nuts offer protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins and calories. Lots of calories. A half cup of almonds, for instance, contains 400 calories. Enjoy nuts in moderation.

Fish

Seafood is a source of healthy protein. Why? Because it doesn't have the saturated fat of red meat. And the fat that's in seafood is the kind you want to eat because it includes omega-3 fatty acids. These good fats may help:

  • Raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
  • Reduce levels of triglycerides, blood fats that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Reduce the tendency of blood to form clots that can clog veins.
  • Help prevent abnormal heart rhythms, which can lead to sudden fatal heart attack.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, at least twice every week. Enjoy them steamed, roasted or grilled, but never fried.

Cut Back on Salt

The American diet is too salty. The average daily sodium intake is more than 3,400 milligrams per person, more than double the 1,500 milligrams per day recommended by the American Heart Association.

Smart cooks know they can rely on more than plain old salt to make foods taste good. Fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice will accent the flavor of sauces, poultry, fish and vegetables.

Look for the Heart-Check Mark

The Heart-Check mark makes it easy to spot heart-healthy foods in the grocery store or when dining out. Look for the American Heart Association (AHA) logo along with an icon of a red heart with a white check mark. When you spot the Heart-Check mark (pictured here), you'll know the food meets the AHA’s strict guidelines.

What you eat will have a direct impact on your heart health. Remember to:

  • Cook with heart-healthy oils including olive, canola and safflower oil. 
  • Include whole grains in your diet.
  • Make sure half of your plate has a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Work beans into your menus for added protein and fiber.
  • Enjoy some nuts as a snack.
  • Eat seafood twice per week.
  • Cook with herbs and other fresh seasonings to keep sodium low.

Source: American Heart Association (www.heart.org)

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Location Finder

Here's your guide to finding any of the facilities in the Aultman family of health services, including maps and contacts. 

Need a Doctor?

Aultman Medical Group's network of more than 240 providers is committed to high-level patient care.

Schedule an Appointment

Call 330-363-6288 or click below to complete an online form. 

 

Donate Today

You can help support and enhance services, and in turn, help patients and their families who benefit from care received at Aultman.

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