For over a century scientific research has focused intensely on the relationship between diet and heart disease.Â As new researchers learn more about the effects of diet on heart disease, dietary advice has changed.Â For example, at one point of time, people were advised to limit their egg intake since eggs were high in cholesterol.Â More recently, nutritionists have relaxed their attitude toward eggs.Â Similarly, extremely low-fat diets were once considered heart healthy, until nutritionists discovered the heart benefits of certain monounsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty, cold-water fish.
When designing a heart healthy diet, it is important to consider two kinds of risk factors: modifiable and non-modifiable.Â A family history of heart disease is considered a non-modifiable risk factor, while obesity, cholesterol levels, diabetes, high blood pressure and cigarette smoking are modifiable risk factors.
Diet is important because of the far-reaching effects it can have on heart health.Â This is true because people with poor diets are at much higher risk for obesity and diabetes, which in turn are closely linked to heart disease.Â Significantly, cholesterol levels and even high blood pressure can also be affected by dietary choices.Â Thus, maintaining a heart healthy diet is one of the best things anyone can do to reduce their chances of suffering from heart disease.
Fortunately, nutritionists now know what foods are heart healthy and recommend eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, fish, legumes (beans), poultry and lean meats.Â Achieve and maintain healthy body weight by balancing energy intake (calories eaten) with energy needs.Â Regular physical activity for 30 to 60 minutes at least five days a week is recommended.Â Desist from smoking and limit foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol.Â Substitute instead, with healthier fats, such as, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from vegetables, fish, legumes and nuts.Â Limit salt and alcohol.Â Eat a wide variety of foods high in complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Effects Of Unhealthy Diets On The Heart
High-calorie diets that are also high in cholesterol and certain fats and oils greatly increase the risk of hardened and narrowed arteries (athero-sclerosis), high blood pressure (hypertension), obesity, all of which puts a tremendous strain and additional workload on the heart.Â In fact, obesity ranks second only to smoking as a leading contributor to death in the United States.
So, together with your doctor and a nutritionist, chalk out a heart healthy diet if you want to live long and remain healthy!