Your heart is the center of your health and vitality, pumping blood throughout your body to supply your organs and tissues with essential nutrients and oxygen. So it makes sense that if you follow a heart-healthy diet, it can help your cardiovascular health and everything else that your heart affects.
At Ross Bridge Medical Center in Hoover, Alabama, primary care provider Madhav Devani, MD, and his team encourage patients to eat with their heart in mind. So to encourage you to do that, Dr. Devani explains five major benefits of eating a heart-healthy diet.
Components of a heart-healthy diet plan
A heart-healthy diet plan consists of eating foods that will help you improve your cardiovascular system and overall health. This type of plan typically involves the following strategies:
- Controlling your portion sizes
- Adding more vegetables and fruits to your meals and snacks
- Opting for whole grains
- Limiting consumption of unhealthy fats, such as those found in red meat and dairy
- Relying on low-fat sources of protein, such as skinless poultry and lean fish
- Cutting back on salt in your meals and snacks
A heart-healthy diet plan also includes plenty of exercise. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise — such as walking — for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Benefits of eating a heart-healthy diet
There are many benefits of consuming a diet with your heart in mind. Here are some of them:
1. Lower your blood pressure
Eating a heart-healthy diet can benefit your blood pressure, blood sugars, and triglycerides. If you’re concerned about high blood pressure, or if you have a condition that causes blood sugar swings, such as diabetes, then changing your diet to be more heart-healthy could improve those issues as well.
For patients with high blood pressure, the Ross Bridge Medical Center team often recommends the DASH plan, which stands for “dietary approaches to stop hypertension.” The DASH diet focuses on the following:
- Limiting sodium intake
- Limiting saturated fats
- Reducing sugar intake
- Consuming more foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are nutrients that actively help regulate blood pressure
2. Reduce your cholesterol
Cholesterol can clog your arteries, which deliver blood from your heart to the other tissues in your body. This, in turn, can lead to a heart attack. Heart attacks occur in the United States about every 40 seconds. Fortunately, eating a heart-healthy diet can help lower cholesterol levels.
Dietary strategies include decreasing consumption of saturated and trans fats, which are often found in processed foods, red meat, and dairy. These fats should be replaced with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are found in olive oil, sunflower oil, avocados, and nuts.
And, consuming more fiber, such as that found in oats, legumes, flaxseed, apples, and citrus fruits, can also help lower your cholesterol levels.
3. Reduce your waistline
Taking the steps needed to protect your heart, such as eating a healthy diet and getting active for at least 150 minutes of medium-intensity activity every week, can also affect your waistline. By eating right and exercising, you can improve your heart health and enjoy a more trim figure.
4. Increase your energy levels
Having a healthy heart can also help you have more energy. And foods that can help keep your heart healthy, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, lean meat, fish, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can give your heart the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs and help keep you energized at the same time.
5. Increase your longevity
So, if you can improve your heart health by making changes to your dietary choices, you can potentially increase your longevity and extend your lifespan.
If you’d like to learn more about how to have a heart-healthy lifestyle, we can help. To learn more, call 205-494-7677 or book an appointment online with Ross Bridge Medical Center today.