These Changes to Your Diet May Prevent a Heart Attack
What you put on your plate can make a big difference in the health of your heart.
Results from long-term studies show that people who change their diets for the better after having a heart attack are much less likely to die of heart disease or suffer another cardiac event. In fact, adopting a heart-healthy diet may have as much success in lowering risk as taking statin drugs.
Here are a few simple dietary changes that may help reduce your risk for a heart attack:
- Choose olive oil instead of butter. Butter is loaded with saturated fats, which can raise your "bad" LDL cholesterol and lead to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Olive oil is much lower in saturated fat and also contains lots of poly- and monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower LDL levels when eaten in moderation.
- Choose veggies instead of crackers. Many crackers found on the shelves of today's supermarkets contain trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oil. These fats are artificially produced and can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke and diabetes. Fresh cut veggies make a great snack-time alternative, contain no fat and help you reach your daily fiber goals.
- Choose salmon instead of beef. Red and fatty/marbled meats are high in saturated fat and cholesterol and tend to be calorically dense. When you're out at a restaurant, go for the salmon option instead! Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower triglycerides.
- Choose herbs instead of salt. Excess sodium in the diet over time can raise blood pressure and increase your risk of cardiac-related death. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try using herbs, such as garlic, basil, rosemary, oregano and cayenne pepper to add flavor to your food. Lemon juice also makes a great marinade for lean meats and veggies.
- Choose whole grains instead of refined grains. As the name implies, whole grains are those that contain the entire grain. Refined grains, on the other hand, have been processed, removing valuable nutrients. Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Good examples include whole wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice, bulgar, quinoa and barley.
- Choose flavored water instead of fruit juice. When we think of heart healthy diets, we often forget to think about sugar intake. Studies have shown that excess sugar in the diet can raise triglyceride and total cholesterol levels. Most fruit juices are loaded with added sugars that can negatively impact your heart health. Instead, choose flavored seltzer or water infused with fresh fruit!
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Date Last Reviewed: February 2, 2022
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Dietary Review: Jane Schwartz, RD