Your diet plays a big role in the health of your heart, especially if you have hypertension (high blood pressure) or other cardiovascular conditions. While no single diet works for everyone, there are ways you can adjust your eating habits to support your heart’s long-term function.
At Chinatown Cardiology in New York City, we offer a variety of resources to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. They include diet recommendations from our cardiology team to help you better manage existing heart issues and preserve your heart structures.
5 heart-healthy options to incorporate into your diet
Even if your current diet isn’t as healthy as it could be, you can start making changes today to improve what and how you eat. Here are five tips on eating with your heart in mind:
1. Focus on the fresh
Processed foods contain chemicals and other ingredients that can lead to hypertension, high cholesterol, and other heart-related issues.
Focus on a diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables — both good sources of essential minerals and vitamins. They’re also low in calories, so you can keep your weight under control to prevent obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
2. Opt for whole grains
Whole grains contain important nutrients and fiber to protect your heart health and keep your blood pressure under control.
Opt for whole-grain bread and pasta, steel-cut oats, and high-fiber cereals. Limit or avoid processed groceries like cake, doughnuts, muffins, and white bread.
3. Understand healthy vs. unhealthy fats
Healthy fats are found in lean meats, avocados, nuts, and extra virgin olive oil. These fats improve your cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar, and reduce inflammation — which can lower your overall heart disease risk.
Unhealthy fats like trans fats and saturated fats have the opposite effect and can increase the risk of atherosclerosis, a narrowing of your arteries due to plaque buildup. These fats are in processed cream sauces, bacon, margarine, and shortenings.
4. Limit salt intake
Excess use of salt increases your blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Ideally, adults shouldn’t have more than about 2,300 milligrams (less than a teaspoon) of salt a day.
A good start is limiting how much salt you add to your food. Also, learn how to read labels to determine how much sodium is in the products you buy. Choose reduced or salt-free condiments and other seasonings to add more flavor to your meals.
5. Practice portion control
In addition to paying more attention to what you eat, be mindful of how much you eat. If you overeat, you can easily consume more calories, salt, and unhealthy fats than you realize.
When practicing portion control, familiarize yourself with common measurements for the foods you eat. Use plates and bowls that are a healthy serving size, so you can accurately measure out your foods for each meal.
Our medical team can also recommend other foods you can incorporate into your diet or avoid based on your health. For instance, if you have high cholesterol, we may suggest a diet that features fiber-rich beans, soy, and fatty fish to lower your cholesterol levels naturally.
Call the Chinatown Cardiology office nearest you today to learn more about heart-healthy diet options, or request an appointment online.