How Your Diet Can Affect Your Risks of Developing Heart Disease

When choosing the right types of food to eat, it is good to start with nutrient-rich foods. Nutrient-rich foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber and are generally lower in calories. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also high for a balanced diet.

Research from a diet study risk assessment conducted by the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University elaborated on various dietary factors that lead to heart disease and death. One of the ten nutritional factors that were associated with heart disease was the excess intake of sodium.

Excess sodium intake was estimated to be responsible for almost 10% of the 700,000 deaths related to heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes in 2012. Within the study, “diet accounted for a higher fraction of deaths among African Americans and Hispanics compared to whites.” Researchers estimated a more substantial effect of food on the risk of death in men, “primarily because of generally unhealthier dietary habits.”

The American Heart Association recommends paying attention to “bad” cholesterol levels, “good” cholesterol levels, and triglycerides. Low “bad” cholesterol or Low-Density-Lipoprotein (LDL) levels are right for your heart. Factors that can elevate these levels is a diet high in saturated and trans fats. Higher levels of “good” cholesterol or High-Density-Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol are better.

Low HDL cholesterol can put your heart at a higher risk of heart disease. Factors that can reduce these levels include smoking, type 2 diabetes, overweight, and being inactive.

According to WebMD, when you have high triglyceride levels AND a high LDL or low HDL this can result in fat deposit buildup in heart artery walls, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

When deciding on a proper diet to follow, a good rule of thumb is to choose a diet that emphasizes:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low-fat or nonfat dairy foods
  • skinless lean poultry
  • Fish
  • Olive oil, canola oil, and other non-tropical oils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Avocados
  • Limit sugar, baked goods, and saturated fats

Of course, you are not expected to rid your diet of sugary drinks, sweets, and red meats; it is suggested that your intake be limited. Moderation is the key to a healthy diet. Overeating anything could cause an imbalance in your diet. It is also essential to coordinate your food with your physical activity level to burn as many calories as you ingest.

Healthline reports that a proper, healthy diet will energize your body so that you have the will to remain active throughout the day. A major heart disease risk is reduced physical activity. Inactivity increases risks for heart attack.

Exercise burns calories to help in maintaining a healthy weight. Keeping a healthy weight helps to control cholesterol levels and diabetes and can even lower blood pressure. Exercise also helps to strengthen the heart muscle and makes arteries more flexible.

Whether you lift weights, run, or walk, any regular activity that gets your heart going and your blood pressure up will be beneficial. Not to mention, regular exercise will aid in the proper circulation of blood throughout the body compared to people that are not very active.

You can do many things to take control of your health and aid in the prevention of heart disease or other health issues. Proper diet, exercise, and routine checkups with your doctor are just the basics of being as healthy as possible.

These may be the basics; however, they are a good foundation for anyone who may have increased heart disease risks. If you know that heart disease runs in your family, begin your research, and improve your overall health and diet. These small steps could be the difference of developing heart disease and becoming a statistic or living a long and healthy heart disease-free life.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4597475/

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002436.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-healthy-diet/art-20047702

Preventing Heart Disease

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/poor-diet-linked-to-half-of-heart-disease-stroke-diabetes-deaths/

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm

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