A balanced diet can significantly contribute to a healthy heart. Some general dietary guidelines are summarized below.
The type of dietary fats can play an essential role in heart’s health. Animal fats are directly associated with an increase in total and “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in the blood. Foods high in animal fats are pies, pastries, butter, fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy products and cheese. Cut down on these foods and replace them with leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products. Several studies have demonstrated that olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids as well as antioxidants, can protect against coronary heart disease and it also reduces “bad” cholesterol levels. At the same time it increases “good” cholesterol (HDL) levels. Nevertheless, olive oil, as well as all fats and oils, provides diet with a high amount of calories, hence it is recommended to be consumed in moderation in order to prevent weight gain.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids (Ω3) offer various health benefits, especially for the heart. Several studies have shown that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. Therefore, it is suggested that people should consume at least 3g Ω3 per day. In case omega-3 fatty acids are ingested in the form of nutritional supplements, the daily intake should not exceed the amount of 2g. Omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in oily fish such as trout, herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna (fresh not canned) as well in plant food sources such as walnuts and flaxseed.
Fruits and Vegetables
The consumption of fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as some types of cancer. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and antioxidants, nutrients that benefit the heart. Aim for at least 3 portions of fruits and 2 portions of vegetables every day.
The recommended daily salt intake for those with high blood pressure is 4g of salt, which corresponds to 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Ready-to-eat packaged foods and canned products are usually high in salt. Choose fresh foods and prefer to cook at home. By reducing salt intake, someone can effectively regulate his blood pressure. Some useful piece of advice, regarding the identification of products high in salt is to read the food labels. If it is referenced that there is more than 1.5g of salt per 100g, then the product is high in salt. Products suitable for a low-salt diet are those which contain less than 0.3g of salt per 100g.