If you're worried about coronary artery disease (CAD), more commonly known as “heart disease,” one of the most important things you can do today is to start eating a heart-healthy diet. A balanced diet that is low in saturated fats and trans fats and high in monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will protect your heart by:
- Lowering "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and blood pressure levels
- Limiting inflammation of the arteries
- Warding off diabetes
- Helping to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
If you've already experienced a heart problem, you've probably heard about a heart-healthy diet before. But it's not enough to know what to do. You have to make changes, and that's not easy. And it may even seem overwhelming at first.
While you don't need to change everything about your diet all at once, the more you research nutrition recommendations and take them to heart, the better off your heart will be.
Above all, don't forget eating can be fun. So, learn how to adopt enjoyable, heart-healthy eating for the whole family. You may want to continue eating this way for your longer, healthier life.
Tips for heart-healthy nutrition
- Once a day, sit at the table together to eat.
- Once a week, modify a recipe your family loves to make it healthier. It may take more than one try, but eventually, you will tweak it just right so the whole family loves the healthy version. If you prefer not to cook, try healthier restaurant options.
- Once a month, take turns planning a healthy theme meal based on types of cuisine or holidays such as Italian night or Mardi Gras night. Research new recipes online, make them heart-healthy if not already, and even shop together for the ingredients. Consider inviting friends and forming teams to make it a cook-off challenge to prepare the best-tasting, heart-healthiest item on the menu.
The following links for more information on nutrition, diet, and your heart:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Nutrition
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) – Obesity, Nutrition, and Physical Activity
- The American Heart Association (AHA) – Healthy Eating
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Heart Health
- USDA – Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Eat Healthy