Heart-Healthy Diet for humans in 2024

Introduction to Heart-Healthy Diet

A heart-healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent and manage cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. A heart-healthy diet can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, as well as reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in your body. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent diabetes, and improve your mood and energy levels.

According to the American Heart Association1, a heart-healthy diet should emphasize the following foods:

  • A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Aim for at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, preferably fresh or frozen, and choose a rainbow of colors to get the most benefits. Avoid canned fruits with added sugar or syrup, and vegetables with creamy sauces or salt.
  • Whole grains and products made up mostly of whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and whole wheat bread. Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and phytochemicals that can help lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains per day, and limit refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and pastries.
  • Healthy sources of protein, mostly from plants such as legumes (beans, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, and soy products. These foods provide protein, fiber, healthy fats, and various micronutrients that can support your heart health. You can also include fish and seafood at least twice a week, as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can lower your risk of arrhythmias and blood clots. If you eat meat and poultry, choose lean and unprocessed varieties, such as skinless chicken breast or turkey. Limit your intake of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meats (bacon, sausage, ham) to no more than 2 servings per week.
  • Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, sunflower, or corn oil. These oils are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise your HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Use them sparingly for cooking or dressing salads, and avoid solid fats such as butter, lard, or coconut oil. Also avoid trans fats that are found in some margarines, baked goods, fried foods, and snack foods. Trans fats can raise your LDL cholesterol and lower your HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Low-fat or nonfat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy milk. These foods provide calcium, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients that are important for your bone health and blood pressure regulation. Choose low-fat or nonfat varieties to limit your intake of saturated fat that can raise your LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Minimized intake of added sugars, foods prepared with little or no salt (sodium), and limited or preferably no alcohol intake. Added sugars are found in sweets, desserts, sugary drinks (such as soda), candy, and many processed foods. They can increase your calorie intake without providing any nutritional value. They can also raise your blood sugar levels and increase your risk of diabetes. Aim for no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men1.
  • Sodium is found in salt and many processed foods (such as canned soups, frozen meals, deli meats, and sauces). It can increase your blood pressure and fluid retention in your body. Aim for no more than 2 300 milligrams of sodium per day or even less if you have high blood pressure1. Alcohol can have some benefits for your heart health if consumed in moderation but it can also increase your calorie intake and raise your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Moderation means no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men1. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of liquor.

Following a heart-healthy diet does not mean that you have to give up all the foods that you love or eat bland and boring meals. You can still enjoy a variety of flavors cuisines and dishes by making some simple substitutions and modifications. For example you can use herbs spices vinegar lemon juice or salsa instead of salt to add flavor to your food. You can use low-fat yogurt sour cream or cheese instead of cream or butter in your recipes. You can bake broil grill or steam your food instead of frying or deep-frying it. You can also treat yourself to a small portion of your favorite dessert once in a while as long as you balance it with the rest of your heart-healthy diet.

Conclusion of Heart-Healthy Diet

A heart-healthy diet is not only good for your heart but also for your overall health and well-being. It can help you prevent and manage many chronic diseases such as diabetes cancer and obesity. It can also improve your mental health cognitive function and quality of life. By making some simple changes to your eating habits you can enjoy the benefits of a heart-healthy diet for years to come.

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