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Heart Disease Diet

Heart Disease Diet

Keep your ticker happy and healthy with this well-studied diet.

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BACKGROUND Start the Diet Now Advertisement

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men and women. Also sometimes referred to as cardiovascular disease, heart disease includes conditions affecting the heart, such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart disease. Heart disease is caused by a narrowing of the arterial walls from fat and plaque, which impedes blood and oxygen to and from the heart and makes the heart work faster to supply the body with what it needs to function.

As prevalent as this condition is, it is largely preventable by lifestyle factors such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly and following a low-fat and plant-based diet.

Much has been written about how diet and nutrition impact heart health. In general, cardiology specialists and medical researchers recommend following a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet while also engaging in regular physical activity to reduce risk of heart disease.

Some of the most popular heart-healthy diets are:

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  • One of the most heavily studied health conditions
  • Risk factors can be largely controlled
  • Employing the right healthy lifestyle behaviors leads to self-empowerment
  • Relying on diet and exercise to cut risk factors is less costly than relying on medication
  • Encourages a healthy and nutrient-rich diet and regular exercise plan that can also prevent other chronic health conditions
  • May still need to take statin medications
  • Diet and exercise alone may not be enough for those with congenital heart disease

We now know that what we eat affects our heart. For those at risk for developing heart disease or for those who have it, must pay special attention to what they eat and choose the right foods to reduce risk and prevent disease progression.

Here are some of the most well-accepted diet guidelines for the heart disease diet:

  1. Limit saturated fat intake: This includes foods like butter, margarine, fried foods, refined baked goods, red meat and most desserts.
  2. Limit cholesterol-rich foods such as dairy, eggs, meat.
  3. Reduce total fat grams: In addition to watching saturated fat grams, it is important to follow a low-fat diet thereby limiting all kinds of dietary fats.
  4. Eat more fish: Certain fish like those that contain omega-3 fats have been associated with a reduced risk for heart disease. Salmon and mackerel are two top choices.
  5. Eliminate trans-fats: Even though more and more foods are getting away from trans-fats, they still can be found in a variety of processed foods. Trans-fats have been linked to heart disease risk.
  6. Eat more plant-based foods: Loading up on vegetables and fruit in their plain, unadorned or lightly dressed state has been shown to offer a strong protective benefit against heart disease.
  7. Eat more legumes: As you reduce animal-protein intake, you want to increase the consumption of beans and legumes. Their fiber content as well as their phytoestrogen content may offer protection against many of the risk factors associated with heart disease.
  8. Reduce salt intake: Salt is strongly linked to high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Salt is found in processed foods, which tend to be high in fat and calories. Limiting foods that contain a lot of salt and relying on using herbs and spices to flavor foods or adding salt after cooking are recommended strategies for reducing salt intake.
  9. Limit alcohol intake: While certain kinds of alcohol have been shown to offer a heart health benefit, it is recommended that men consume no more than two drinks per day and women consume no more than one drink per day.

Just as diet offers a strong protective benefit against heart disease, so does exercise.

Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, improves blood flow, reduces high blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol the good" cholesterol, and helps control blood sugars and body weight.

It is generally recommended to get in at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity everyday in order to reduce heart disease risk.


Heart disease is the number one killer among American men and women ages 45 and older, but many of its risk factors can be prevented by following certain lifestyle behaviors like not smoking, eating a low fat, plant-based diet and a regular exercise routine.

Incorporating all of these changes into your lifestyle at once may be too overwhelming and unrealistic, so it is better to adopt small heart-healthy strategies at first and then building from there.

And always, check with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise routine, particularly if you take heart medication or have been diagnosed with heart disease.

Common Misspellings

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