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5 Ways to Eat a Heart-Healthier Diet

The old adage that you are what you eat certainly applies when it comes to your cardiovascular health. In fact, diet is one of the most effective ways to improve your heart health, allowing you to prevent heart disease from taking hold in the first place or as a technique to address existing heart issues.

At Heart Rhythm Associates, Dr. Van H. De Bruyn provides expert care for your heart, but there’s much you can accomplish on your own, especially when it comes to diet. To help you stay one step ahead of your heart health, here are five dietary tips that will give your heart the resources it needs to function at its best.

Controlling how much you eat

Before we get into specific heart-healthy foods, we first need to address the amount of food you’re eating. Two out of 3 Americans are overweight and 1 in 3 tips the scales into obesity, which means that, on the whole, Americans need to lose weight. 

Extra weight carries serious consequences when it comes to your cardiovascular health, so any steps that you take to bring yourself to within a normal weight range are steps well worth taking.

One of the best ways to do this is to start with portion control. If you read what a serving size is for most of the foods you eat, you’ll be surprised to see just how much you may be overeating. Pay close attention to serving sizes and grab a smaller plate for your meals, which will make it look like you’re not being deprived.

Increase your fruits and vegetables

It’s no mystery that adding ample amounts of fruits and vegetables to your diet can help with almost every area of your health. 

If you’ve grown accustomed to fast-food and processed snacks, start slowly by swapping out that bag of chips for a few carrots or celery. And instead of grabbing a cookie, reach for a handful of grapes, which can satisfy any sweet tooth. Even that fruit-flavored breakfast bar in the morning can be traded for a nice bowl of (plain) yogurt and berries, which deliver far more nutritional value.

The whole grain

Any food that’s been processed has likely lost much of its nutritional benefit, which is certainly true of the grains you eat. White bread, for example, is very far from the original grains it was made from, so stick to breads and pastas that feature whole grains. These types of grains go a long way toward improving your heart health by lowering your blood pressure.

To get started, switch your white bread to whole wheat and your white rice to brown rice. There are many other unprocessed grains that deliver great benefits, such as quinoa, farro, or barley. Be mindful that multigrain and whole grain aren’t the same thing. Multigrain foods have been processed, so stick with the word “whole” when it comes to your breads and pastas.

Something fishy

Fatty fish is another great addition to a heart-healthy diet. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel, are great for reducing blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.

If you really dislike the taste of fish, you might want to add a fish oil supplement to your daily regimen.

Not all fats are created equal

While “fat” has a bad reputation, your body still needs fat to function. Unfortunately, many Americans are eating the wrong kinds of fats. To improve your heart health, stick to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are better for you than saturated or trans fats. Great sources of healthy fats include olive oil, avocados, and dark chocolate (but don’t overdo the candy).

If you do eat meat, cut away the fat before you cook it and avoid frying your meat in oil. Try to reduce your use of butter and opt for healthier substitutes, like canola oil.

There are many other tweaks you can make to your diet to improve your heart health, but these five tips should give you a good start. For a more complete picture, please contact our office in Little Rock, Arkansas, so we can tailor a diet to meet your specific heart-health needs. 

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