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According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one cause of deaths in America. In fact, in 2013, one in three deaths was related to cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease has caused more deaths than every type of cancer combined. For this reason, it is essential that you protect your heart.
What you eat can affect your overall health. In fact, your eating habits can increase your risk of developing heart disease. The Mayo Clinic offers this advice to help lower your risk of developing this deadly disease.
The amount of food you eat is just as important as what you eat. There are many ways to help control portion sizes. Using a smaller plate and knowing correct portion sizes are essential to your heart health.
Load up on Fruits and Veggies
Loading up on nutrient-dense foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to help control your weight and prevent heart disease. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and are low in calories.
Choose Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in fiber. Fiber helps better control blood pressure rates. When choosing grains, opt for whole-wheat, barley, oatmeal, brown rice or buckwheat rather than refined white flour.
Opt for Healthy Fats
There are good fats and bad fats. Saturated fat and trans fat increase plaque buildup in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oil and nut oil can lower cholesterol levels. Choose these healthy fats instead of butter, hydrogenated shortening or lard.
The Best Lean Proteins
Choose lean protein sources such as skinless poultry and fish rather than high-fat meats. Opting for low-fat or skim milk, soybeans and legumes are a great way to ensure you get the protein you need without sacrificing your health.
Sodium consumption can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Lowering sodium consumption can protect your heart. Healthy adults should limit consumption to 2,300 milligrams while those who are at an increased risk of developing heart disease should limit their sodium consumption to 1,500 milligrams daily.
WebMD recommends getting ample exercise to help lower your risk of heart disease. Most experts recommend getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Those who do not exercise are twice as likely to be diagnosed with heart disease as those who live an active lifestyle. In fact, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol and reduce blood pressure readings. For best results, combine stretching and strength training with aerobic exercise to help improve your heart health.
There are numerous supplements that can help lower blood pressure, rid the body of free radicals and protect against oxidative stress. These include vitamins and minerals that provide antioxidant protection and essential fatty acids. Additionally, studies have shown that taking B vitamins, including folic acid may lower homocysteine levels, which can help lower the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Folic acid can be found in fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and beans. Folic acid is used by the body to produce new cells and prevent changes in your DNA. Eating a diet rich in folic acid and taking a supplement can help prevent damage to your heart.
Vitamin E helps remove free radicals from the body. These free radicals can damage the cells in the body, which can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other health issues. Vitamin E can be found in seeds, nuts, fortified cereals and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that helps improve immunity and is essential for a variety of cellular functions, including reducing oxidative stress on the cellular level. Vitamin A can be found in dark leafy greens, liver, lettuce and dried apricots.
Vitamin C is known to improve immunity; however, did you know that it can also repair damaged tissue and blood vessels in the body? Vitamin C deficiency can cause plaque atherosclerosis, elevated blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels. A vitamin C supplement offers cholesterol reducing benefits and blood pressure regulation to help protect against cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, bell peppers and dark green leafy vegetables.
Although heart disease has fallen by 38% since 2003, it still claims the life of more than 370,000 Americans annually. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and learning how to lower your cholesterol can help strengthen and protect your heart. This can help prevent you from becoming one of the statistics.