Its an everyday ritual, required and, quite often, enjoyed. Whether savoring it at a favorite eatery, preparing it at home or taking it to-go, food is a daily necessity. The long-standing saying that 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 – a vital organ and a key component of the circulatory system. As Heart Health Awareness month continues, we take a closer look at how to best care for our hearts via what we consume on a daily basis.
At any age, it is important to eat well and to form healthy eating habits. 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 such as choosing skim milk over whole milk and skinless chicken over breaded chicken. Other items to avoid when reducing high-fat proteins are bacon, sausage, and fried foods. Some low-fat protein options include lean meats, fish and soybean-based foods.
- Avoiding unhealthy fats such as butter, lard, cream sauces, gravy and bacon fat to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower 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 and 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 over 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.