Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States, accounting for one-fourth of all deaths.
Making healthy food and lifestyle choices can help prevent heart disease. Here are some great starting tips to help you make changes.
1. Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal
Oatmeal is a nutritious breakfast food that benefits heart health and weight control. In addition to being high in soluble fiber, oatmeal contains beta-glucans, which may be particularly beneficial for these purposes.
Added protein to oatmeal can help boost your daily protein intake, which is essential for a healthy heart.
2. Watch your portion by using a smaller bowl and spoon
Portion control can be practiced by tricking the mind into using smaller plates and bowls. This will help to reduce the amount of food that is eaten. Additionally, using a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon can also help to reduce intake.
3. Top your oatmeal with blueberries
Blueberries are a good source of antioxidants and polyphenols, which can help reduce the risk of chronic disease and cancer. Adding just a few more blueberries to your yogurt or blending strawberries into your morning smoothie may help lower heart attack risk.
4. Include more beans with your meals
Beans are a common source of soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, beans are filling and provide lasting satisfaction, making them an ideal choice for meal replacements or snacks.
5. Snack on a handful of mixed nuts
Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce heart deaths in the elderly. They also help control weight, and it is important to snack on nuts instead of chips and eat smaller portions to avoid overindulging. Try for 1/4 cup or one layer of the palm of your hand when you have a snack.
6. Start your dinner with a colorful salad
Starting your meal with a colorful salad is an excellent way to boost heart-healthy nutrients in your diet. Vegetable salads are packed full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals and offer minimal calories. The different colors provide different nutrients, so be sure to include dark greens, high in folate, tomatoes high in lycopene, and yellow peppers chock-full of vitamin C.
7. Dress it with olive oil
Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat, which can help protect the heart. It’s best to use olive oil-based dressings over creamy varieties, such as blue cheese. However, it’s essential not to over-pour; aim for 1-2 tablespoons per serving.
8. Cook dinner at home
Cooking at home often results in healthier eating and fewer calories consumed. This is not surprising, as restaurant portions are typically large and loaded with hidden ingredients containing many calories.
9. Enjoy grilled salmon
Grilling fatty fish can help increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the food, which are known to be good for your heart.
10. Add cauliflower to your side dish
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, a cousin to broccoli and Brussels sprouts, high in fiber and low in calories. It is an excellent source of potassium. Mashed cauliflower with garlic is a great option as a low-calorie side dish or snack.
11. Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert
Some research has found that people who eat chocolate have lower rates of heart disease than people who do not. The flavonols and phytochemicals in chocolate may reduce heart disease risk, but be sure to enjoy it in moderation.