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Your Heart Healthy Diet Plan, Vital Protection

The heart is one of the most hardworking organs in our body and also one of the most vital in keeping us alive. This is why it deserves to be looked after because our lives literally depend on it. So your heart healthy diet plan crucial to ensure that we are giving the heart the care it deserves.
Limit your intake of unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Watch out on your intake of trans fat and saturated fats which contribute to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood stream. Too much cholesterol in the blood can lead to plaque deposits in your arteries which can lead to hypertension which can in turn cause heart attacks and stroke (among other diseases). Saturated fats should comprise of no more than 7% of your daily total calories, and this can be found in solid fats (butter, lard, margarine) as well as the fats of meat products. Trans fats should be limited to no more than 1% of total daily calories and this can be found in junk foods. The best sources of fats are unsaturated fats especially olive oil, canola oil and other plant derived oils (with the exception of coconut oils and palm kernel oils). These oils have been shown to lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Choose protein sources that are low in fat. Proteins are essential to our health and these are primarily found in meat products such as pork, beef and poultry. You can make a healthier choice with meats by choosing lean portions like tenderloin and eating only the meat part of pork chops. It is also healthier to choose white meat over dark ones, favoring fish and chicken breast meat over red meat. Milk is also a good source of protein and when choosing milk, opt for low fat. You can also choose to get your protein from legumes such as beans and peas which contain virtually no fats and cholesterol.

Consume more vegetables and fruits. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber which the body needs for good digestion and in performing various functions. Fruits and vegetables are also low in calories and high in nutrition. When selecting vegetables and fruits, choose those that are fresh and if you need to get them canned, make sure that they are low in sodium and low in sugar. Vegetables are also best eaten raw or blanched/steamed in order to preserve the nutrients.

Eat more whole grains. Whole grains are again rich in dietary fiber and they also help regulate blood pressure thereby protecting the overall health of the heart. You can incorporate grains in your diet by eating breads, pastas and cereals made from whole grains or whole flours instead of from the refined variety. Check the labels for the term “whole” in the ingredients.

Watch the salt. While sodium from salt is necessary in regulating bodily functions like blood pressure, too much of it can actually cause some damage. Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure which is a risk factor in cardiovascular diseases. Adults are advised not to consume more than 2,300 mg a day or 1 tsp. people older than 51 are advised to take even less, at 1,500 mg a day. So take it easy on the salt that you add to dishes, remember that most other foods that you eat throughout the day will already contain salt.

Resist the urge to overeat. It’s tempting to keep on eating even though you know that you already had the food that you need to get full. One trick is to always eat in groups such as for family meals, taking the time to converse during a meal as this paces your consumption of food. Another trick is to drink every few mouthfuls of food because not pausing for drinks can cause you to just keep on shoveling food into your mouth. Lastly, do not eat a meal when you’re super hungry. Instead, snack on something small a few minutes before your big meal, such as on nuts or a cracker followed by a glass of water. This takes the edge off your hunger and prevents you from overeating due to hunger.

Plan your meals ahead. It is easier to stick to a heart healthy diet plan if you already have something mapped out to follow when it comes to food. This way you wouldn’t be scratching your head in front of the fridge looking for something to prepare, resisting the temptation to order takeaway.