Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death among men and women globally, regardless of race or ethnicity.
In patients with autoimmune diseases, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease is higher, so risk factors must be controlled.
Cardiovascular disease describes a variety of conditions that affect the heart.
Heart diseases include:
Blood vessel disease, such as coronary artery disease
Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias)
Heart problems you are born with (congenital heart defects)
heart muscle disease
heart valve disease
Although you can’t change some risk factors, such as family history, gender, or age, you can take some key steps to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
You can prevent future heart problems by adopting a healthy lifestyle today, including being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, getting plenty of sleep, managing stress, and avoiding tobacco exposure. Another key component is eating a heart-healthy diet. A diet high in fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol can lead to heart disease. A healthy diet can protect the heart, improve blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, eating habits can be difficult to change. These eight strategies can help you get started:
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and contain substances that can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables can also help you cut back on high-calorie foods, such as meats, cheeses, and snack foods.
Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that regulate blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products. If you want to experience something different, try something new, like whole wheat, quinoa, or barley farro.
Limiting the amount of saturated and trans fat you eat is an important step in lowering blood cholesterol and reducing the risk of coronary artery disease. Instead, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in certain fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds, are also good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.
Lean meats, poultry, and fish; low-fat dairy products; and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. Choose low-fat options, such as skinless chicken breasts instead of fried chicken patties, and skim milk instead of whole milk. Legumes, such as beans, peas, and lentils, are also good low-fat protein sources and are cholesterol-free, making them good meat substitutes.
REDUCE THE SALT IN YOUR FOOD
Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease. Limiting salt is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. Canned or processed foods, such as soups, baked goods, and frozen dinners, can be high in salt. Eating fresh foods and making your soups and stews can reduce the salt you eat. Another way to reduce the amount of salt you eat is to choose your seasonings carefully.
CONTROL THE SIZE OF YOUR PORTIONS
How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking second helpings, and eating until you feel full can lead to eating more calories than you should. The portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs.
PLAN BY CREATING DAILY MENUS
Create daily menus using the six strategies listed above. When selecting foods for each meal and snack, emphasize vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and healthy fats, and limit salty foods. Control your portion sizes and add variety to your menu options.
ALLOW YOURSELF A WHIM FROM TIME TO TIME
A candy bar or a handful of chips won’t ruin your heart-healthy diet. But don’t let it become an excuse to give up on your healthy eating plan. If overindulgence is the exception rather than the rule, it will balance things out in the long run. The important thing is that you eat healthy foods most of the time.