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Start The Week Off Right: Easy Changes For A Heart Healthy Diet

Start the Week Off Right: Easy changes for a heart healthy diet


Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide. According to the American Heart Association, you can lower your heart-disease risk by keeping blood pressure, blood lipids and blood sugars regulated. If you smoke, are overweight or inactive, or if you need to make healthier food choices, you need to improve your lifestyle. All of this may sound daunting. Making a few simple dietary changes could fix most of these risk factors.

1. Sodium is just part of the story

Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in sodium and extremely low in potassium. Sodium and potassium are considered nutrient partners and need to be balanced. You should eat more potassium than sodium. You might be thinking, “My daily banana gives me all the potassium I need.” But you need to eat 11 bananas a day to meet the minimum daily potassium requirement. How can you meet your potassium needs? Eat plants and lots of them.

• Try other potassium-rich plants – like avocados, potatoes and beans.

• Use crisp veggies like carrots, celery or broccoli, to replace chips for dipping.

• Smoothies. Pack your blender full of plants, add a banana for sweetness, any liquid of your choice and blend away.

• Use food trackers like “Cronometer” to measure the sodium-to-potassium ratio in your diet. (Warning: Math is involved).

2. Give your plate a plant slant.

Fifty percent of heart attacks occur in people with normal blood lipids. These people are active, seem super-healthy and then suddenly have a heart attack. This happened to Bob Harper, a trainer from NBC-TV’s “The Biggest Loser.” These "out of nowhere" heart attacks are often caused by inflammation.

Inflammation can be measured many ways in the blood, most commonly as C-reactive protein. Many dietary patterns, including the Mediterranean Diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) pattern can lower the risk of heart disease by decreasing inflammation. Both diets focus mostly on plants, primarily vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and berries.

• Cook sweet potatoes in the microwave for five to eight minutes. Don’t forget to pierce them first.

• Add berries to your oatmeal recipe.

• Replace your typical afternoon snack with a handful of almonds.

• Try using a meal planning website or app, like “Eat This Much,” to provide weekly Mediterranean recipes.

3. Choose oils over solid fats

Liquid oils, like olive oil and the fats found in fish, are better for your heart than solid fats such as butter and palm oil. By eating a more plant-based diet, you’ll naturally eat less solid fat without thinking about it.

• Roast veggies in the oven; drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic and onion powder.

• Use unsweetened applesauce to replace butter and vegetable oil in baking recipes.

Take steps to add an extra serving or two of veggies to your plate. Developing long-lasting dietary habits won’t happen overnight. Don’t get discouraged, but think of each plate as an opportunity to improve your health. Be mindful of what you eat, and most of all, enjoy it.

Story Credit: http://qctimes.com/muscatine/lifestyles/start-the-week-off-right-easy-changes-for-a-heart/article_613b1a04-d0dd-51ee-bbdc-7872e9cf78c8.html