Eating a healthy diet can help improve your cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease. Follow these tips for a heart-healthy diet.
- Avoid unhealthy fats and cholesterol. When reading nutrition labels, pay attention to trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol content. Saturated fat should make up no more than 7% of your daily calorie intake, while trans fat should comprise less than 1% (or none at all, if you can manage it!).
- Eat lean proteins. Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, but avoid high-fat proteins like chicken wings or fatty red meats. Instead, opt for lean poultry, fish, and beef and avoid egg yolks in favor of egg whites or substitutes.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits contain plant substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Whenever possible, choose whole, fresh produce. Avoid fried or breaded vegetables or fruits canned with heavy syrups.
- Choose whole grains over refined grains. Whole grains help regulate blood pressure and promote good heart health. Switch from white bread to whole-wheat or other whole-grain breads. Choose brown rice and whole-grain pastas over white rice and refined pasta varieties.
- Eat less salt. Salt can contribute to high blood pressure, one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Instead of using salt products to flavor your food, experiment with herbs, spices, and citrus juices. Also look for low-sodium varieties of packaged foods and condiments.