Studies have shown that 84% of people 65 and older will die from heart disease. Therefore, the choices we make when we are younger can be crucial in maintaining heart health. If you’ve noticed middle aged spread and your weight creeping up, or you just can’t seem to stop craving fatty foods like steak, soft cheeses, and rich, creamy soups and salad dressings, it is time to start exploring your options for a heart-healthy diet.
The cornerstoes of heart healthy diet.
It will probably be no surprise to learn that the cornerstones of a heart-healthy diet are fruits and vegetables. Most of us do not eat nearly enough of these. The My Food Plate guidelines are a good reminder that half of our meal each time we sit down to eat should be made up of these foods. The suggestion to eat a rainbow every day is also helpful, emphasizing a range of items that will each provide different vitamins and minerals.
If you are overweight, many people find the Body Mass Index to be a useful tool to determine a healthy weight range based on height and age. Use a free online calculator, input your data, and see your results. If you are overweight or obese, look at the tables for the normal weight range and set a target weight.
Watch the calories.
Then set a calorie range each day to aim for. The recommendations are 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women maintaining their weight, so 2,000 and 1,600 are good targets if you want to lose weight. Count the calories in all the foods you eat. Avoid empty calories, such as too many sweets, and foods high in saturated fat, which can clog arteries. Avoid sodium too, which can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues.
Read food labels carefully and you will soon get your calories and portions under control. Aim for a good balance of protein to calories. Choose lean proteins such as fish and chicken. Aim for foods low in cholesterol. Here’s a hint-if it comes from a living creature, it will be high in cholesterol. If it is a plant-based food, it will not have any cholesterol.
Heart-healthy foods that are thought to lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body include oatmeal, fish, nuts, tofu and olive oil. Heart healthy diets include the Mediterranean, Okinawan, and DASH diets. Using these 3 free eating plans you can research online, you are sure to find a lot of different heart-healthy dishes you will enjoy, which should also help you lose weight and feel great too.