Your diet plays a huge role in your overall health and well-being, and this is especially true when it comes to your heart. In fact, the food you eat can have a direct impact on your risk of developing heart disease.
So, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re eating and choose foods that support a healthy heart. One way to do this is by following a specific type of eating plan that focuses on heart-healthy foods and habits.
Types of Cardiac Diets
There are several different types of cardiac diets to choose from, each with its own specific focus and approach. Some of the most popular options include:
● Mediterranean diet: This type of diet is based on the traditional eating habits of people living in the Mediterranean region, and it emphasizes plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. It also includes moderate amounts of seafood, poultry, and eggs, and allows for occasional consumption of red meat and dairy products. The Mediterranean diet is rich in heart-healthy fats like olive oil, and it also includes plenty of whole grains and other plant-based sources of protein.
● DASH diet: The DASH diet stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension,” and it’s specifically designed to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. It emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and it limits intake of sodium, saturated and trans fats, and added sugars. The DASH diet also includes moderate amounts of lean protein sources like poultry, seafood, and plant-based proteins.
● Whole food plant-based diet: This type of diet is centered around whole, unprocessed plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. It excludes animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs, and focuses on whole, minimally processed foods rather than processed and refined options.
Heart Healthy Foods to Eat
These cardiac diets have a lot in common with each other.
No matter which type of cardiac diet you choose, there are certain foods that are generally considered heart-healthy and should be included in your eating plan. Some of the best options include:
● Fruits and vegetables: These foods are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients that support heart health.
● Whole grains: Whole grains like quinoa, oats, and brown rice are good sources of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Choose whole grains over refined grains like white bread and pasta whenever possible.
● Lean protein sources: Choosing lean protein sources like poultry, seafood, and plant-based proteins like beans and tofu can help lower your risk of heart disease. Look for options that are low in saturated fat and avoid processed meats like bacon and deli meats.
● Heart-healthy fats: Foods like olive oil, avocados, and nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats that can improve your blood pressure, help lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Foods to Avoid
In addition to focusing on heart-healthy foods, it’s also important to be mindful of what you’re avoiding in your diet. Some of the foods that you should try to limit or avoid on a cardiac diet include:
● Saturated and trans fats: These types of fats are known to raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.
● Sodium: Excess sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
● Added sugars: Foods and drinks that have lots of added sugars can contribute to weight gain and increase your risk of heart disease.
A cardiac diet can be a valuable tool for supporting heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
By focusing on heart-healthy foods, limiting unhealthy options, and making other lifestyle changes, you can make a positive impact on your heart health and overall well-being.