How To Prevent Heart Disease By Eating Healthy
Your cholesterol tests look more ominous than the death card in a Tarot reading and the doctor says if you don't learn how to prevent heart disease by eating healthy, you'll end up on statins or worse--a morgue table. Lucky for you, eating healthy to prevent heart disease does not mean you have to live on salad alone.
- Toss the trans fat Trans fats sucker punch you by stealing your good HDL cholesterol and leaving behind a nasty little present of turbo-boosted bad LDL cholesterol to make up for their mooching ways. Open your cupboards and scour the nutrition facts of every single item for trans fats, but remember, the FDA allows companies to claim "zero" trans fats for 0.5g or less of the evil stuff. If you see the word "hydrogenated" on the ingredients list, toss it. A potato chip habit is hardly worthy missing out on decades of your life.
- 86 the saturated fat Saturated fat, though not quite as evil as trans fat, stands next in line as a dietary contributor to heart disease. It boosts the bad-guy LDL cholesterol that clogs arteries. Avoid whole milk products, red meat and certain plant oils, such as palm kernel oil.
- Make like Popeye and befriend Olive Oil If you've been sucker punched in the past by trans fat, your heart will find welcome relief in olive oil's monounsaturated fat, which lowers your bad LDL cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease. Try sautéing vegetables with it or drizzling it on salads.
- Make like Popeye and eat spinach Leafy greens contain folate, a B vitamin that reduces homocysteine in the bloodstream--a known factor for heart disease. Try spinach, kale or mustard greens.
- Be nutty You finally have an excuse to dip your finger into the peanut butter jar. Nuts contain heart healthy monounsaturated fats that increase the good HDL cholesterol while fighting the bad LDL kind, too--talk about a yummy way to eat to prevent heart disease. But don't limit yourself to peanut butter. Many grocers offer gourmet options: cashew, almond, hazelnut, pecan and macadamia butter.
- Hold the salt Too much dietary sodium can send your blood pressure skyrocketing, so limit your consumption of processed, high-salt food such as frozen pizza. Watch out for hidden salt in cereals, breads and sauces, too. Your total sodium intake should not exceed 2,300mg per day.
- Go bananas Make like a monkey and grab bananas for snacks. Their potassium has the power to undo your sodium sins by blocking the skyrocketing blood pressure salt can cause. In fact, any high-potassium foods will do, including baked potatoes. Yeah, that's right--potatoes can help you prevent heart disease. Just don't use this as an excuse to eat fat-drenched fries.
- Chuck the sugar That candy bar may taste sweet, but it is anything but innocent when it comes to heart health. Sugars send your triglyceride levels soaring, which in turn causes atherosclerosis.
- Eat dark chocolate It may be dark, but that doesn't mean it's a minion for the dark side. Antioxidants in dark chocolate increase healthy LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent clotting and boost the health of the inner lining of arteries. Just don't go overboard; remember the rule about sugar.
- Go fish Fatty fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent heart disease by providing the raw material for inflammation fighting and blood clot regulating hormones.
- Have a cold one Drink a beer or two a day to keep the cardiologist away. Believe it or not, when you drink it in moderation, beer and wine can fight heart disease as well as wine.