We all know that the heart is a vital organ, and taking care of it requires smart lifestyle choices such as exercising regularly, eating well, and developing healthy coping mechanisms for stress. (Stress can cause heart problems!).
What you eat is a major factor when it comes to heart health.
“Inappropriate dietary choices can lead to elevated blood pressure and cholesterol (particularly LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’) and even diabetes. All of these are important risk factors for heart disease and stroke.” Dr. Enrique Garcia Sayan, MD, UTHealth Houston cardiologist.
Effects of diet on heart health
When it comes to heart health, diet is important for many reasons.
One of the many causes of heart disease is diabetes. Diabetes is usually associated with an unbalanced diet, being overweight, and eating carbohydrates. Dr. Ahmed Ansari, MD, Houston’s Memorial Harman cardiologist explains. Unfortunately, diabetes is a very strong predictor of heart disease.
Eating a low-carbohydrate diet is recommended to avoid becoming diabetic. It is also important to avoid eating foods high in trans and saturated fats. Foods high in trans and saturated fats can cause cholesterol deposits in arteries and blockages that ultimately lead to heart attacks, Dr. Ansari added.
In addition, it is also important to limit salt intake. A high-sodium diet can lead to high blood pressure. If high blood pressure is not controlled for a long time, it can lead to heart failure.
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The worst foods for heart health
Now you know which foods are bad for your heart health. But what are the absolute worst foods? there is. They are high in saturated fat content, and foods high in saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol and ultimately blockage of arteries, explains Dr. Ansari.
Dr. Garcia Sayan agrees. “I urge all my patients to limit their intake of processed meat products (such as bacon, ham, sausage) that contain high amounts of saturated fat and sodium and have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. I recommend it,” says Dr. Garcia Sayan.
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best foods for heart health
So what are the best heart-healthy foods? Red meat and vegetables top the list.
Examples of heart-healthy red meats include chicken breast, fish, and turkey. Red meat helps maintain muscle mass, which is important for overall strength, explains Dr. Ansari.It’s also low in fat and good for the heart.
Vegetables are an excellent source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is rich in dietary fiber, which regulates the digestive system and lowers cholesterol. Plus, you can eat a lot of vegetables and feel full without the calories, adds Dr. Ansari.
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