Heart Disease Prevention: How to Eat a Balanced Diet
Having a nutritious and balanced diet is key to staying healthy. When combined with exercise and the right stress management techniques, you can be as healthy as an ox, allowing you to do more and be more of the person you want to be.
Diets based on starvation or other fad diets that promote quick weight loss may lead to unfavorable results, especially when it comes to keeping all the lost weight off for years.
Those who suffer from cardiovascular disease (CVD) that have “bad diets” usually consume food rich in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (or “bad” cholesterol), sugar, and food additives. This kind of diet can lead to a host of complications, such as diabetes or even certain cancers.
Being more mindful about what you consume and ensuring it meets your daily recommended caloric and nutrient intake can be the start of your heart disease prevention journey.
Heart disease treatment can be lengthy, expensive, and, most of all, incapacitating for the patient. Therefore, preventing it is always the smarter thing to do. Here’s how you can prevent heart disease with a healthy, balanced diet.
Heart disease prevention is possible with a well-balanced diet 1,2,3,4,5,6,7
- Control your portions
Restaurant portions, fast food servings, and packed, ready-to-eat items often encourage consumers to eat more. Preparing your food is a great way to ensure that you have complete control over your food portions.
- Be smart about fats
Avoid saturated fats found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, which can increase your LDL levels. Trans fats (may be labeled as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil) is also a major culprit. Instead, choose foods rich in good cholesterol or those that contain HDL like olive oil, whole grains, and nuts. They help remove other kinds of “harmful” cholesterol from the bloodstream.
- High fiber is the way to go
Oats, barley, beans, and whole-grain-based food are rich in soluble fiber that helps decrease the risk of heart disease.
- Eat lean meats
Lean meats like chicken, fish, and other seafood are low in saturated fats, so consuming them instead of red meat helps keep cholesterol at optimal levels. If you must have red meat, limit your consumption to about three portions per week.
- Opt for fruit smoothies
Preparing fruit smoothies the right way involves not adding sugars or other unhealthy ingredients into the mix. Blueberry-avocado smoothies are rich in antioxidants and good cholesterol for heart health.
- Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol raises blood pressure, the risk of stroke and obesity, and other diseases while also causing a spike in triglycerides. This process could trigger adverse effects on your cholesterol levels. If you must consume alcohol, limiting your intake to two drinks per day (for men) and one drink per day (for women) is ideal.
- Increase your water consumption
Drinking water regularly allows your body to function at an optimal level. When you drink a healthy amount of water daily, your body gets just the right amount of cholesterol to keep cell membranes in tiptop shape so that your tissues can absorb nutrients efficiently. Hydration also helps optimize the flow rate of your blood so that cholesterol will not clog your arteries.
- Look for “healthy” versions of your high-calorie, fat-rich favorites
Your favorite snacks may have less sodium if baked instead of fried, and it is wise to grab those if you have the chance. Minor food tweaks based on swapping unhealthy ingredients for better alternatives are great for ensuring you eat healthier.
- Manage your stress
Stress levels may increase the risk of contracting CVD. Those who are under a lot of stress tend to engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking or overeating, which are two habits that can lead to poor overall heart health.
- Prepare your own food
There may not always be time to prepare your food from scratch, but it is always worth the effort because you get complete control over what goes into the meals you consume. When you rely on take-out, fast food, or ready-to-eat food, you are not entirely sure which ingredients went into making them.
You can whip up low-cholesterol dishes in 30 minutes or less, so you can eat better even on busier days if you have some time to spare.
- Consider following an eating plan
Limiting and being selective about what you eat are the pillars of a good eating plan, which must undergo evaluation from your physician. The DASH diet is one such plan designed to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Be heart-healthy all the way
A heart-healthy diet decreases trans fat, saturated fat, and dietary cholesterol in the body. When foods are nutrient-dense and have low calories, you get to eat more without having to worry about your sugar or cholesterol levels going through the roof.
Choose lower-calorie, low-sodium, low-sugar food, stay away from saturated and trans fats, and work on your mindset to avoid stressors that can trigger an unhealthy binge.
Take this simple yes-no Heart Disease Risk Checklist to determine if you’re at risk of CVD. Follow up with a consultation with your physician so you can ask which heart-healthy diet is made especially for you and your sweetheart.
Last medically reviewed on March 19, 2021