Heart disease remains the No.1 cause of disease in the US. Most risk factors for heart disease can be changed by following a healthy diet and lifestyle. Learn 3 easy steps you can take to get you started on a heart healthy diet and lifestyle.
1. Include “Good” fats in your diet
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. They are liquid in room temperature and can help replace and limit intake of saturated fats in your diet.
“Good fats” are found in higher amounts in the following foods
- Nuts especially walnuts, almond, hazel nuts, pecan
- Olive oil
- Vegetable oil (sunflower, canola, safflower, soybean, corn)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, sesame)
- Fish especially fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel
Why olive oil is better than vegetable oils ?
Olive oil a key component of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet and it has higher amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has high antioxidant content.
Why you should only buy extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is essentially the juice of fresh olives. First the fresh olives are crushed and made into a paste. This paste is mechanically pressed with no heat involved and the oil is extracted, hence the label “cold pressed”. This extraction method preserves the antioxidant content. In contrast, regular olive oil is made from a combination of “pressed” as well as extracted oil using heat or chemicals. Olive oil does not have all the benefits of EVOO, so you really should use extra virgin olive oil to keep your heart healthy.
2. Add more color to your diet
Yes we are talking about adding a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to your diet and not food coloring.
What makes these colorful, vibrant vegetables and fruits better for you?
Plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibers. Beyond these micronutrients, plant foods are packed with phytonutrients that helps fight inflammation and protects from free radical damage.
Phytonutrients also have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. You can find the list of colorful foods with focus on the various types of phytonutrients with details on how they support heart health below.
3. Get Physically Active
CDC reports that only half of the adults get the physical activity they need to reduce and prevent chronic disease. In fact 1 in 15 cases of heart disease and 1 in 12 cases of diabetes can be prevented by getting enough physical activity.
The American Heart Association makes a recommendation of at least 150 minutes of heart pumping physical activity per week.
If you are just starting to get active, start with brisk walking and then gradually ease into other forms of exercise.
If you have a physical limitation or health issues keeping you from becoming active, talk to your health care provider to find out what exercise may be safe and right for you.
New evidence suggests that even light physical activity can be good for your heart. You can start by sitting less daily at home or at work and find ways to move more.
The information and other content provided in this blog are for information purpose only, and not intended and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider before you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
Have you read our blog on heart healthy Mediterranean Diet?
Romani A, Ieri F, Urciuoli S, et al. Health Effects of Phenolic Compounds Found in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, By-Products, and Leaf of Olea europaea L. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1776. Published 2019 Aug 1. doi:10.3390/nu11081776
Deanna M.Ninich. A Review of the Science of colorful, plant-based food and practical strategies for “Eating the Rainbow”. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. Published 2019 Jun 2. doi.org/10.1155/2019/2125070
Physical activity, Center for disease control and prevention, page last reviewed February 7, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/index.html
American Heart Association Recommendations for physical activity in Adults and kids, last reviewed April 2018, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults