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Nutrition to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

Nutrition to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

Heart disease is a health issue that sneaks up on you. You typically don’t know that you’re suffering from it until you begin experiencing dangerous symptoms. Regardless of whether you’ve already confirmed that you have heart disease, or you’re trying to ensure you never get it, you can use food to manage the situation to a large degree.


Heart disease is when your arteries are becoming partially or fully blocked from the buildup of plaque, cutting off the blood supply to your heart and causing portions of it to die.


Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, so you definitely want to adhere to a diet that helps break up plaque in your arteries even if you’re not showing signs of the disease just yet.


Eliminate Plaque Building Foods from Your Diet


The first thing you want to do is be kind to your body in terms of portion sizes. While it can handle a little bit of the “bad” foods, your body can become overwhelmed when you’re eating enough for three people.


If you’re used to consuming huge portions, it can be tough to suddenly cut back – so choose low calorie, healthy foods like dark, leafy greens that you can basically eat an unlimited amount of.


In our steps to use nutrition to fight back against disease, you first want to look at what you need to eat less (if any) of. That includes trans-fat, like the kinds found in fried foods (think doughnuts).


Red meat and whole fat dairy have a lot of trans fat, too – but you can choose better options, like lean meats (not marbled) and low-fat milk options such as 1% or skim.


Watch out for other dairy foods like cheese and ice cream. Some of them are high in fat and will clog your arteries quickly, as will any highly processed meats, such as hot dogs and sandwich meat.


Whenever you go to the store, try buying as many fresh ingredients as possible. Prepackaged foods are usually high in sodium (salt), and this contributes to heart disease, too – so stay away from those.


We’ll talk about which fruits and vegetables to fuel your body with shortly, but there are also some you want to avoid. It’s great to eat vegetables and fruits, but don’t buy prepackages vegetables slathered in cream-based sauces, or fruit canned with a high sugar syrup.


Grains are a staple of a heart-healthy diet, but not grains that have been processed and stripped of their nutrients. Avoid white grains, like white bread, cakes, biscuits, and even some seemingly healthy muffins.


When you’re cooking, you want to stay away from fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter or margarine. Instead, use healthier fats like olive oil, which help reverse signs of heart disease.


Some people think that if a product has “coconut oil” listed as an ingredient, then it must be healthy. But coconut oil isn’t friendly to your heart health, so look for that as an ingredient and steer clear.


You always want to stick to a diet that will keep your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels low and your HDL (good) cholesterol levels high. A study was performed by the Harvard School of Public Health, which surveyed Americans and found out that the most common and most harmful plaque-building foods we eat are:


·         Cheese

·         Pizza

·         Desserts made of grains (like cakes)

·         Desserts made of dairy (like ice cream)

·         Chicken

·         Pork

·         Beef

·         Milk

·         Pasta

·         Eggs

·         Candy

·         Butter


Of course, when you look at the above list, you can probably instantly spot some immediate healthier substitutes you can make just by choosing low fat options or whole grain options instead of full fat or white, processed ones.


Add in Foods That Clear Plaque and Boost Heart Health


Some foods will harm your heart health depending on how you cook them. For instance, chicken can be prepared healthfully, but if you leave the skin on and fry it, it won’t be healthy at all.


If you’ve prepared a meal from scratch, such as a soup or stew, and you’re reheating it as a leftover meal. Try to skim the solidified fat off the top and throw it away before you turn on the stove.


Your heart needs a good balance of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. You’re looking for lots of fiber to help flush out the plaque from your system.


Some of the best grains to eat include:


·         Whole grain bread and pasta

·         High fiber cereal and oatmeal

·         Brown rice

·         Flaxseed


Vegetables should be a staple in your diet. Asparagus and bell peppers (which have tons of B6) help keep your homocysteine levels low – something that contributes to heart disease. Try to get a rainbow of vegetables in your diet. Combined with fruits, you should be aiming for 8 or more servings per day. Choose fresh, not canned or frozen options.


Nuts like almonds and walnuts – as well as seeds – all have a heart healthy effect on your body. These are filling snacks – you can grab a handful of almonds instead of a dessert cake and feel full for hours.


Meat should be as healthy as you can find it. Salmon and tuna are best for their Omega-3 benefits, but if you go with red meat, choose lean, un-marbled varieties.


Managing your heart health can be as simple as making small tweaks to your diet, or it might require you to do a full overhaul of your nutrition plan. Keep in mind that exercise can help protect your heart, too!

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