What you should eat
A heart-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, skinless poultry, fish, legumes and healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Eating a variety of fish at least twice a week is recommended, especially fish containing omega-3 fats. These fats have been directly linked to heart health and may help maintain triglycerides and blood pressure within the normal range. (3) A carefully planned vegetarian diet can be heart-healthy because it is inherently low or devoid of saturated fats and cholesterol. Because a vegetarian diet excludes omega-3 fats from fish, these individuals can opt for vegetarian DHA sourced from algae through fortified foods and supplements – look for the life’sDHA™ logo. One study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association evaluated the effects of DHA from algal oil and from salmon. The results indicated that both appear to be bioequivalent in the body. (4)
What to avoid eating
Rethink your flavoring agents. Instead of salt, opt for fresh herbs and spices to season your food. Sodium is a magnet for fluid in the body. Too much sodium in the system causes the body to retain water, which puts burden on your heart and blood vessels, raising blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams per day for most adults. Sodium is hidden in many foods we eat, particularly packaged foods like frozen dinners, cheeses and breads. Fast food is especially known for having high sodium levels. The best way to avoid unwanted sodium is to make most of your meals at home using fresh ingredients.
Saturated fats should be avoided or reduced in the diet for a healthy heart. They are largely found in fatty cuts of meat and high-fat dairy. Avoiding trans-fats is highly recommended, which can be found in many packaged foods like cookies and crackers. Last but not least, cut out the sweet stuff like sugar-sweetened beverages to help keep your weight in check.