Start Eating These Heart-Healthy Foods Today

Start Eating These Heart-Healthy Foods Today

Food is your body’s main source of fuel. The foods and drinks you consume every day contain calories and nutrients, which your body converts into energy that keeps you alive.

Eating a healthy diet is one of the most important elements of living a healthy life. Healthy foods contain essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that keep your body functioning at its best — so it’s no surprise that the food you eat directly impacts the health of your heart.

Healthy foods can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease and other heart problems. Unhealthy foods can have the opposite effect. But what constitutes a healthy diet? And which foods are most important for heart health?

It’s normal to have questions, but protecting your heart doesn’t have to be complicated. Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute are proud to educate people of all ages about the benefits of heart-healthy eating.

Making simple changes in your diet can have a significant impact on your heart and your overall health. Here’s how it works.

Why your diet matters for heart health

The main food groups are fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy. Your body needs food from all these groups to function at its best, but some choices are healthier than others.

Processed foods, like fast food, packaged snacks, and commercial bakery products, are often high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sodium, while offering little nutritional value.

Eating a lot of unhealthy foods increases cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood. Over time, excess cholesterol builds up in your blood vessels, increasing your risk of cardiovascular conditions such as:

On the other hand, poultry, fish, grass-fed dairy and grass-fed lean beef, whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are packed with healthy substances your body needs. These healthier options give your body fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients without unhealthy fats and excess sugar and sodium.

What to eat for better heart health

The connections between your diet and your heart health are clear. However, knowing which foods are best isn’t always easy. With our Heart Smart Program at NJ Cardiovascular Institute, we’re here to help you learn.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are simple to add to your diet, and they offer lots of heart healthy benefits. Choose berries, like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries for their fiber and antioxidants.

Leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are high in vitamin K, nitrates, and other important nutrients. Other heart-healthy veggies include beets, tomatoes, beans, and legumes.

Fatty fish

While many types of fat can hinder heart health, some types of fat are healthier than others. Unsaturated fat and omega-3 fats are two fats that can boost heart health.

Choose fatty fish like salmon and tuna, which have lots of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. A diet that includes omega-3s has been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of heart disease.

Whole grains

Whole grain foods contain every part of the grain, and they’re packed with fiber. Eating three or more servings of whole grains every day could lower your risk of heart disease by about 22%

When you’re shopping, look for 100% whole wheat breads, brown rice, oats, and quinoa. Read labels carefully, and avoid products with refined grains or white flour.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts, including walnuts and almonds, are high in fiber and micronutrients. Eating nuts can help lower your risk of heart disease, because they’re linked to lower cholesterol.

Consider adding seeds to your diet too. Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds also have fiber, omega-3 fats, and other nutrients to improve heart function and health.

Boosting heart health starts with the foods you eat every day. Want more tips about ways to eat a heart-healthy diet? Contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Patel and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute.

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