Healthy Eating & Your Heart (2022)

Overview

Eat Heart Healthy

Following these nutritional strategies can help you reduce or even eliminate some risk factors, such as reducing total and LDL-cholesterol; lowering blood pressure, blood sugars and triglycerides; and reducing body weight. While most dietary plans tell you what you can’t eat (usually your favorite foods!), the most powerful nutrition strategies help you focus on what you can and should eat. In fact, research has shown that adding certain foods to your diet is just as important as cutting back on others.

Decrease saturated fats and trans fats

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management Guidelines (2013) urge people to eat a healthy diet and decrease saturated fats and trans fats in their diet. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (from olive and canola oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, flaxseed, soy and fatty fish).

  • See "Know Your Fats” to learn how to eat good fats and avoid bad fats

Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables

Choose seven to nine -A-Day

Aim for a combined seven - nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day provides a variety of antioxidants, b-vitamins, dietary fiber and a host of additional plant chemicals known to help prevent disease.

One serving of fruit includes:

(Video) Healthy Eating for your Heart

1 medium-sized piece of fresh fruit
1/2 medium banana
1/2 grapefruit 2 Tbsp dried fruit
1/2 cup canned fruit
1/2 to 3/4 cup most juices

One serving of vegetables includes:

1/2 cup cooked vegetables
1 cup raw or leafy vegetables

Eat a rainbow of colors

Eat a variety of orange carrots and oranges, red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, and peaches, purple plums, green celery, lettuce, and kiwis and yellow peppers and bananas. Choosing a rainbow of colors helps ensure a diverse intake of nutrients.

(Video) Heart Healthy Eating: It's About Dietary Patterns and Active Lifestyles

Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet

  • Buy pre-cut vegetables and fruit - fresh or frozen to save time – bag them up for a snack or to add to a dish.
  • Have a vegetable-based soup or garden salad with light dressing with your usual sandwich at lunch.
  • Instead of a cookie, enjoy a frozen banana or grapes dipped in 1 tsp of chocolate syrup.
  • Keep fresh fruit on your desk or workspace.
  • Try a homemade trail mix of you choice of 2 T dried fruit + 2T roasted nuts and/or seeds in a baggie to take with you if you predict you'll be missing a meal.

*If you have high blood pressure, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains is recommended [see DASH diet]

Eat more fiber

As part of a healthy diet, fiber can reduce cholesterol. Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest. It’s found primarily in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. As fiber passes through the body, it affects the way the body digests foods and absorbs nutrients.

A diet rich in fiber has health benefits beyond cholesterol control: it helps control blood sugar, promote regularity, prevent gastrointestinal disease and helps in weight management.

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Each has a unique effect on health.

(Video) Eating Right for Your Heart

  • Soluble (viscous) fiber: Provides the greatest heart-health benefit because it helps to lower total and LDL-cholesterol. Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, oat bran, barley, legumes (such as dried beans, lentils and split peas), psyllium, flaxseed, apples, pears and citrus fruits.
  • Insoluble fiber: Generally referred to as “roughage.” Insoluble fiber promotes regularity, adds bulk and softness to stools, helps with weight regulation and helps prevent many gastrointestinal disorders. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, whole wheat and other whole grain cereals and breads, nuts and vegetables. Foods contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber. To receive the greatest health benefit, eat a wide variety of all high-fiber foods.

Overall, you should aim for a total intake of 25 or more grams of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) each day.

  • Learn how you can fit fiber into your diet

Substitute animal protein with plant protein

Increase plant sources of protein and start reducing your intake of animal protein. Eating more beef, pork, and chicken with skin, and whole milk cheeses and dairy products means more intake of high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat, both of which contribute to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease. So start replacing some animal fat meals with meatless meals. There are plenty of palatable nonmeat substitutes that provide good sources of protein but that also provide heart-friendly ingredients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

  • Eat two to three vegetable protein meals weekly: split pea soup, garbanzo bean salad, bean- based meatless burgers, tofu stir-fry or textured vegetable protein.
  • Red meat should be eaten at no more than one meal per week. Choose the leanest cuts of meat possible with skin and visible fat removed. Replace red meat with white.
  • Eat two skinless poultry meals each week.
  • Eat a minimum of six ounces (2 servings) of omega-3-rich fish weekly (cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, and herring). There are also plant sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Increase whole grains

Increase whole grains and limit processed or refined carbohydrate foods (e.g., white bread, white pasta, white rice). Whole grain breads, brown rice, oats, barley, bulgur [a form of whole wheat], quinoa [a grain-like product], whole wheat pasta, whole grain crackers and cereals are called unrefined or whole-grain carbohydrates.

These foods provide more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and dietary fiber than refined carbohydrates.

Limit sweets, desserts, and sugary sodas

Foods such as sweets and sugar sweetened beverages should be limited. You don’t have to eliminate them from the menu altogether to derive benefit—just don’t make them part of your everyday diet. A couple times a month is better than a couple times a week.

(Video) The Heart Healthy Diet

Choose low fat or non-fat dairy products

The American Heart Association suggests two – three servings per day of dairy. This is good for heart, bone and blood pressure health. Such sources are skim milk or 1% milk, 1% or nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese, and reduced fat cheeses.

If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation

Drinking alcohol is not encouraged, but if you do – drink in moderation. Moderate alcohol use is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. Alcohol should be avoided with some medical conditions or medications. Talk to your doctor about drinking alcohol.

More Information

Practice portion control

When you are trying to follow an eating plan that's good for you, it may help to know how much of a certain kind of food is considered a "serving." The list below offers some examples.

  • 1 cup cooked pasta or rice
    Serving Size: 2 starch
    Reference Size: Tennis ball
  • 1 slice bread
    Serving Size: 1 starch
    Reference Size: Compact disk case
  • 1/2 cup cooked vegetables or fruit
    Serving Size: 1 vegetable or fruit
    Reference Size: Baseball
  • 1 ounce low-fat cheese
    Serving Size: 1 medium-fat protein
    Reference Size: Pair of dice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    Serving Size: 1 fat
    Reference Size: Half-dollar
  • 3 ounces cooked meat
    Serving Size: 3 protein
    Reference Size: Deck of cards or cassette tape
  • 3 ounces tofu
    Serving Size: 1 protein
    Reference Size: Deck of cards or cassette tape

Do not skip meals - more frequent mini-meals are better

Skipping meals is not recommended. Small, frequent meals and snacks appear to promote weight loss and maintenance and give you an opportunity to consume important nutrients throughout the day. Skipping meals only lowers metabolism and deprives you of key nutrients. Researchers have found that people who balance their calories into four to six small meals each day have lower cholesterol levels., so divide your calories into 4 to 6 smaller meals throughout the day.

(Video) What is a Heart Healthy Diet?

  • Learn more

Maintain and achieve a healthy body weight

A body mass index, or BMI, of 18 to 24.9 is considered ideal. Speak with your physician or registered dietitian to learn how you can maintain or achieve a healthier body mass index. Even a loss of 5 to 10% of your body weight can have a significant impact on your overall heart health. For instance, a 200 lb. female would have to lose only 10 to 20 pounds; a 280 lb. male would have to lose only 14 to 28 pounds.

  • Learn more about weight management

Get moving

A healthy diet ALONG WITH exercise improves blood pressure, cholesterol and heart health. Engaging in aerobic exercise—even brisk walking—for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, in addition to maintaining an active lifestyle, can have considerable heart-health benefits. Regardless of the exercise regimen you choose, check with your physician before starting one.

FAQs

How does healthy eating help your heart? ›

A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and stop you gaining weight, reducing your risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. It can also help lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of some cancers.

Why eating healthy food is important? ›

A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. It protects you against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating a variety of foods and consuming less salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats, are essential for healthy diet.

How do you keep your heart-healthy and fit? ›

Overview
  1. Eat healthy.
  2. Get active.
  3. Stay at a healthy weight.
  4. Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  5. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  6. Drink alcohol only in moderation.
  7. Manage stress.
1 Sept 2021

What is healthy eating? ›

Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Includes a variety of protein foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, nuts, and seeds. Is low in added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

What are 10 healthy foods for your heart? ›

10 best foods for your heart
  • Oats and barley. The cell walls of oats and barley contain a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has a host of benefits for human health. ...
  • Salmon and other fatty fish. ...
  • Dark leafy greens. ...
  • Nuts and seeds. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Olive oil. ...
  • Legumes. ...
  • Low-fat dairy.
7 Mar 2018

What happens when you eat healthy? ›

Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet in the right proportions can also help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.

How can I eat healthy everyday? ›

8 tips for healthy eating
  1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates. ...
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg. ...
  3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish. ...
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. ...
  5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults. ...
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight. ...
  7. Do not get thirsty. ...
  8. Do not skip breakfast.

How important is eating healthy and exercise? ›

Eating a healthy diet and exercising often can help control or delay health issues associated with aging, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Set short-term goals to achieve and maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Why is health important in life? ›

Having good health is directly related to leading a productive life. The functionality of the body is interconnected between various organs. Keeping the organs healthy is essential for proper functioning. As health is the state of physical, mental and social well-being, having good health is important.

How does healthy eating prevent diseases? ›

Healthy diets boost “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and decrease unhealthy triglycerides. This directly impacts risk of heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure by helping your blood flow smoothly.

Why is healthy food important essay? ›

Benefits of Healthy Food

It helps us in various spheres of life. Healthy food does not only impact our physical health but mental health too. When we intake healthy fruits and vegetables that are full of nutrients, we reduce the chances of diseases. For instance, green vegetables help us to maintain strength and vigor.

Why is it important to take care of your heart? ›

Whatever your inspiration, know that the benefits of a healthy heart are worth the effort. In fact, your entire body will be better for it. Good overall health can also protect you from type 2 diabetes, asthma, joint pain, and a number of other chronic diseases and conditions. It can even reduce your risk for cancer.

How do you know your heart is healthy? ›

Having normal blood pressure is a sign of a healthy heart. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher, or diastolic pressure of 90 or higher, that stays high over time.

How do I start to be healthy? ›

Although there is a ton of advice out there on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle, here are some key factors to keep in mind:
  1. Drink more water. ...
  2. Get enough sleep. ...
  3. Exercise. ...
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. ...
  5. Eat the rainbow. ...
  6. Cut down on processed foods. ...
  7. Avoid negative people in your life. ...
  8. Avoid negativity within yourself.
23 May 2018

What is a healthy life style? ›

Good nutrition, daily exercise and adequate sleep are the foundations of healthy living. A healthy lifestyle keeps you fit, energetic and at reduced risk for disease. According to WHO, Healthy living is a way of living that helps you enjoy more aspects of your life.

What is the healthiest food to eat everyday? ›

Here are the top 15 foods you should be eating according to our experts:
  1. Fish. ...
  2. Broccoli or any of the cruciferous vegetables. ...
  3. Beets. ...
  4. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables. ...
  5. Kale. ...
  6. Peanut butter. ...
  7. Almonds. ...
  8. Mangos.
5 Apr 2019

Which drink is best for heart? ›

6 Drinks to Boost Heart Health
  • Pomegranate juice. According to experts, pomegranates are uniquely healthy fruits for your heart. ...
  • Coffee. Studies have shown that people who drink 3-5 cups of coffee per day have a significantly lower risk of heart disease, stroke and heart failure. ...
  • Tea. ...
  • Tomato juice. ...
  • Green juice. ...
  • Smoothies.

What foods prevent heart attacks? ›

The best diet for preventing heart disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils; includes alcohol in moderation, if at all; and goes easy on red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium, and foods with trans ...

How eating healthy can change your life? ›

Healthy eating affects how you feel on a daily basis. A balanced diet can help increase your energy level, reduce your risk of obesity, improve your muscle strength and even build stronger bones and teeth.

What happens when you suddenly start eating healthy? ›

Your body will become regular. This can come with a lower amount of bloating and discomfort along with looking slimmer as well. You'll notice your moods are more stable. You have less ups and downs throughout the day and may even start to feel more empowered in your daily life.

How long do you have to eat healthy to feel better? ›

What happens when you start eating healthy? What we eat can affect all the processes in the body, including cell regeneration, inflammation, digestion and sleep. So it's no surprise that after even as little as 28 days of eating well you can expect to not only look better, but feel a whole lot better, too.

What is the healthiest breakfast to eat? ›

The 12 Best Foods to Eat in the Morning
  1. Eggs. Eggs make a simple, nutritious breakfast choice. ...
  2. Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a great option if you're looking for a quick breakfast. ...
  3. Coffee. Aside from water, coffee is the world's most popular beverage. ...
  4. Oatmeal. ...
  5. Chia seeds. ...
  6. Berries. ...
  7. Cottage cheese. ...
  8. Whole wheat toast.

What is a healthy lunch to eat? ›

Centering your lunch on protein and deep green vegetables is the healthiest way to go. Fresh spinach, albacore tuna, chopped almonds, tomatoes and avocados with a low-calorie dressing is a delicious option to add to your lunch repertoire.

What is considered a healthy breakfast? ›

For the most nutritious breakfast, try to choose whole, unprocessed foods from each of the five food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy. Try to include proteins from foods like yogurts (look for varieties with less sugar added), eggs, nuts and seeds or legumes.

How can you say that a person is healthy? ›

Health is More Than the Number on the Scale
  1. You eat a nutritious diet full of whole foods. ...
  2. You know when to indulge. ...
  3. Your bowel movements are regular. ...
  4. You move your body on the regular. ...
  5. Your urine is clear. ...
  6. You sleep soundly. ...
  7. You don't get sick constantly. ...
  8. You feel emotionally healthy and resilient.

Is healthy eating more important than exercise? ›

The bottom line. Diet and exercise are both important for optimal health. Achieving a calorie deficit through diet modifications is key for weight loss, while exercise provides many benefits that help sustain your results.

Can the food we eat affect your heart rate? ›

Eating does cause changes in blood flow, which can result in an increased heart rate. Eating can also cause an increase in blood pressure. If you overeat, you force your heart to work harder than normal.

Does eating healthy keep you from getting sick? ›

The American Dietetic Association says eating healthfully is a great way to boost immunity and prevent flu. Diets that are plentiful in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, healthy fats, and more can provide a wide array of nutrients and antioxidants that can help boost the immune system.

What is healthy food in simple words? ›

"Healthy Food” Defined

Healthy foods are those that provide you with the nutrients you need to sustain your body's well-being and retain energy. Water, carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals are the key nutrients that make up a healthy, balanced diet.

What is the conclusion of eating healthy food? ›

Good nutrition promotes not only better physical health and reduced susceptibility to disease, but has also been demonstrated to contribute to cognitive development and academic success.

Why is healthy food important to students? ›

Healthy students are better learners. Research shows that eating habits [PDF – 480 KB] and healthy behaviors are connected to academic achievement. Student participation in the School Breakfast Program is associated with better grades and standardized test scores, reduced absences, and improved memory.

Which exercise is best for heart? ›

Examples: Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.

Which fruit is best for heart? ›

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are jam-packed with important nutrients that play a central role in heart health. Berries are also rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which protect against the oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to the development of heart disease ( 9 ).

How can I strengthen my heart emotionally? ›

There are many ways to improve or maintain good emotional health.
  1. Be aware of your emotions and reactions. ...
  2. Express your feelings in appropriate ways. ...
  3. Think before you act. ...
  4. Manage stress. ...
  5. Strive for balance. ...
  6. Take care of your physical health. ...
  7. Connect with others. ...
  8. Find purpose and meaning.
23 Jun 2020

Why is it important to keep your heart and lungs healthy? ›

The heart and lungs work together to make sure the body has the oxygen-rich blood it needs to function properly. The Pulmonary Loop The right side of the heart picks up the oxygen-poor blood from the body and moves it to the lungs for cleaning and re-oxygenating.

Is chocolate good for heart? ›

Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults.

What causes heart attacks? ›

A heart attack occurs when an artery that sends blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked. Fatty, cholesterol-containing deposits build up over time, forming plaques in the heart's arteries. If a plaque ruptures, a blood clot can form. The clot can block arteries, causing a heart attack.

Is walking good for heart? ›

With every step, walking offers benefits and is some of the best exercise for heart health. It can improve your cholesterol levels, blood pressure and energy levels, plus it can fight weight gain to improve heart health overall, explains the American Heart Association.

How does healthy eating prevent diseases? ›

Healthy diets boost “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and decrease unhealthy triglycerides. This directly impacts risk of heart disease, stroke, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure by helping your blood flow smoothly.

What foods prevent heart attacks? ›

The best diet for preventing heart disease is one that is full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry, and vegetable oils; includes alcohol in moderation, if at all; and goes easy on red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium, and foods with trans ...

Can you strengthen your heart? ›

Being physically active is a major step toward good heart health. It's one of your most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, keeping your weight under control and warding off the artery damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead to heart attack or stroke.

Which drink is best for heart? ›

6 Drinks to Boost Heart Health
  • Pomegranate juice. According to experts, pomegranates are uniquely healthy fruits for your heart. ...
  • Coffee. Studies have shown that people who drink 3-5 cups of coffee per day have a significantly lower risk of heart disease, stroke and heart failure. ...
  • Tea. ...
  • Tomato juice. ...
  • Green juice. ...
  • Smoothies.

What foods clean your arteries? ›

Top Foods That Unclog Arteries Naturally
  • Berries. Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries are best. ...
  • Tomatoes. ...
  • Onions. ...
  • Citrus Fruits. ...
  • Cruciferous Vegetables. ...
  • Leafy Greens. ...
  • Beans. ...
  • Fish.
21 Jul 2021

Which fruit is best for heart? ›

Berries are chock full of heart-healthy phytonutrients and soluble fiber. Try blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or raspberries in cereal or yogurt. Seeds. Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytoestogens to boost heart health.

What happens when you eat healthy? ›

Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet in the right proportions can also help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.

How can I eat healthy everyday? ›

8 tips for healthy eating
  1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates. ...
  2. Eat lots of fruit and veg. ...
  3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish. ...
  4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar. ...
  5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults. ...
  6. Get active and be a healthy weight. ...
  7. Do not get thirsty. ...
  8. Do not skip breakfast.

How does eating healthy affect your body? ›

Adults who eat a healthy diet live longer and have a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Healthy eating can help people with chronic diseases manage these conditions and avoid complications.

Is milk good for heart? ›

Dairy milk may lower cholesterol and reduce coronary heart disease risk. A new study suggests that drinking dairy milk may lower cholesterol levels. The study consists of a meta-analysis of three surveys involving over 400,000 individuals.

Is peanut butter heart healthy? ›

Some of them, like walnuts, are also a good source of omega-3 fats, which are great for your heart. So nut butters, including peanut butter, contain lots of nutrients and no cholesterol, making for a pretty heart-healthy snack.

Is Egg good for heart? ›

Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week without increasing their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption might even help prevent certain types of stroke and a serious eye condition called macular degeneration that can lead to blindness.

Does walking make heart stronger? ›

Walking. Yes, it might seem a little too easy. But walking, especially speed walking, is a great way to strengthen your heart. Walking fast will get your heart rate up and is easier on your joints than other types of exercise.

Can walking reduce heart blockage? ›

Based on a meta-analysis, Zheng and colleagues [16] estimate that 8 MET hours/week of walking (approximately 30 minutes/day, 5 days/week, consistent with PA recommendations [1] is associated with a 19% reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) risk.

Is chocolate good for heart? ›

Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults.

Videos

1. Super Foods for your Heart
(AdvocateHealthCare)
2. Eat Heart-Healthy Diet in 2021
(Cleveland Clinic)
3. Mayo Clinic Minute: Ideas for a heart-healthy diet
(Mayo Clinic)
4. Heart Healthy Eating and Weight Management
(OHSU)
5. Love Your Heart. Everyday Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy and Strong | Karol Watson, MD | UCLAMDChat
(UCLA Health)
6. How Your Diet Keeps Your Heart Healthy - Nebraska Medicine
(Nebraska Medicine Nebraska Medical Center)

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