Eat Well for Your Heart

Your whole body will benefit


Following a heart-healthy diet also has a big impact on your overall well-being. “There is a long list of benefits that you will feel on a daily basis, including more energy, better sleep, and improved concentration,” says Jason Guichard, MD, a cardiologist in Birmingham, Alabama. “Additionally, you can reduce or prevent other medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.” Try these top tips for healthy eating.

Eat regularly
It’s important to space out meals throughout the day to keep you energized and avoid dips in blood sugar levels. Starving yourself can also lead to overeating. Start with breakfast that features fiber and protein. Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk or oatmeal with fruit slices are two easy options.

Get your nine a day
Aim for at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day to get the vitamins and minerals you need. Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruit and unsweetened fruit juice all count. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants. They help keep blood pressure in check.

Try other flavors
Season food with spices other than salt. Too much salt increases the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends a diet with less than 1,150 mg of sodium a day. Check with your doctor about the amount of sodium in your diet. Much of our sodium intake comes from prepared foods such as breads, cold cuts, canned soup, pizza, and snacks. When possible, choose reduced-sodium alternatives.

Cut the fat
Everybody needs a certain amount of fat each day, but too much saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels. This kind of fat is found in red meat, full-fat dairy products, processed meats, cakes, and pastries. Try to eat foods that contain healthy, unsaturated fats such as avocados, oily fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These help lower cholesterol.

Stay hydrated
Liquid is part of a heart-healthy diet. Try to drink eight to 10 glasses of fluid every day to prevent getting dehydrated. Water is best, but other fluids (such as tea, coffee, milk, and fruit juice) count. Some foods, particularly fruit, also contain water. If your doctor has restricted your fluid intake, it’s very important to limit your fluid to the level your doctor suggests.