Whether savoring it at a favorite restaurant, preparing it at home or taking it to-go, food is a daily necessity. The expression “food is fuel” is certainly true, though the type of fuel that is put into the body has shown to have varying results. When it comes to health maintenance, research shows that consuming more nutrient-rich foods helps ensure that everything within the body has the vital resources needed to sustain and to function at optimal levels. This includes, of course, the heart. As Heart Health Awareness month continues, we take a closer look at this vital organ and key component of the circulatory system and how to best care for it via what we consume on a daily basis.
Eating well and forming healthy eating habits is important at any age. As the years pass, however, we can become more susceptible to heart-related conditions as decades of eating choices, and other factors, add up. Being aware and making mindful decisions when it comes to food selections can make a sizeable difference in later outcomes regarding heart health. This includes:
- Limiting salt intake by eating low-sodium/reduced salt foods
- Swapping high-fat proteins for low-fat proteins:
- Choose skim milk over whole milk and skinless chicken over breaded chicken
- Reduce high-fat proteins by avoiding bacon, sausage, and fried foods
- Eat more lean meats, fish and soybean-based foods
- Avoiding unhealthy fats such as butter, lard, cream sauces, gravy and bacon fat. Limiting these from your diet helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and lowers your risk for coronary artery disease
- Choosing whole-grain breads, pastas and flours
- Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding fruits packaged with syrups and added sugar along with vegetables that are fried or covered in creamy sauces
Reducing your risk for developing a heart-related issue starts with everyday choices. Of course, balance is key. When it comes to making healthier food selections, healthy eating on a routine basis with an occasional indulgence has shown to be more effective for long-term success more so than ruling out such foods all together. Still, each individual is unique and in varying stages of health, so the first step is to speak with your doctor to discuss what is best for your situation. Following your doctor’s recommendations and keeping appointments to monitor your health are key. The heart is a vital organ, and making daily decisions that elevate its health can help to also further its longevity.