Although it may sound like a bad word, fat is part of a healthy balanced diet. The key is knowing the difference between a good fat and a bad fat. Saturated, polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats are good. Trans fat is most definitely bad, however. Found in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarines and fried fast foods to add flavor and texture, trans fat increases the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke because it clogs your arteries by raising your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering your good cholesterol levels (HDL). Cut trans fat from your diet to improve your blood flow and keep your heart healthy.
A diet that is high in sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure and subsequently cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of one teaspoon of salt a day for healthy adults and half this amount for the average person. For the sake of your heart health, reduce your intake of sodium.
With so many health benefits, fruit and vegetables should make up a large proportion of any diet. As well as being a good source of vitamins and minerals, fruit and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber which has been linked to preventing cardiovascular disease. As most fruit and vegetables are low in calories, they are a great way to fill up so that you eat less high calorie foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods, helping you control weight and protect your heart health.
Maintaining a healthy heart is not just about controlling what you eat. It is important to control how much you eat, too. Even with a healthy diet, eating to excess can result in unhealthy weight gain. The more overweight you become, the greater the strain in your heart. Eat a balanced diet of all 5 food groups, but do so in moderation with sensible portion sizes and avoid eating for at least 2 hours before going to bed.
How do you choose which products to buy from the supermarket? Do you go for products with nice pictures on the packaging? Or do you have favorite brands? Maybe you look for healthy options. But do you know what to look out for? Take a little extra time to read the labels and avoid anything with “partially hydrogenated oils” (another name for trans fat) or a high sodium content.
Faculty of Medicine Vajira Hospital, Navamindradhiraj University , 2012