Heart Health: Heart Nutrition

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Healthy Heart Nutrition

What you eat has a big impact on your heart health. Your heart pumps blood throughout your body, supplying your organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. By choosing healthy foods, you can support your heart health and reduce the risk of developing various cardiovascular conditions.

Heart disease is very common in North America. Millions of people are diagnosed with it each year. This is the stage at which heart failure has caused a buildup of fluid around the heart. It limits the heart muscle’s ability to pump blood throughout your body.

Here are some ways to promote good cardiovascular health:

Manage your intake of fats. Learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats is vital for your heart health. Saturated and trans fats are often found in processed and fried foods. These can elevate your cholesterol levels and contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries. However, unsaturated fats are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. They help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels while raising good cholesterol (HDL) levels. You’ll find these healthy fats in foods like avocados, olive oil and nuts.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet is essential for heart nutrition. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Fruits and vegetables also combat inflammation. Eating berries, leafy greens, colourful vegetables and citrus fruits are especially beneficial to your heart health.

Choose healthy whole grains. Whole grains play a big role in heart nutrition. Eating foods like brown rice, oats and quinoa give you complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients. The fiber helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and regulates blood sugar, which reduces your risk of heart disease. Also, whole grains make you feel fuller than many other foods, so you’re less likely to overeat and gain weight. Maintaining a health weight is an important aspect of heart health. 

Opt for lean proteins, especially those with omega-3 fatty acids. These help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular function. You’ll find healthy protein in fish, particularly fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Other rich protein sources include poultry, beans and legumes.

Limit your salt intake. Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, which puts you at risk for heart disease. You’ll find a lot of sodium in restaurant meals and processed foods, so try to make fresh meals with limited salt.

Drink enough water. Water supports overall health and helps maintain proper blood volume, assisting the heart as it pumps. Your health will also be better if you limit your intake of sugary or caffeinated beverages.

The Link Between Heart Nutrition and Exercise

When it comes to heart health, nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise. Exercise helps improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, and manage weight. Exercise also promotes the production of HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, fostering a healthier lipid profile. You could try aerobic activities like jogging, speed walking, and swimming.

For more information on heart health and nutrition, talk to your local family physician, pharmacist, or cardiologist. They can help you make mindful choices about your diet, and recommend other lifestyle changes that can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

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