Make Your Heart Happy: How to promote great cardiovascular health

The food we eat can have a tremendous effect on how our bodies function. This is especially true for our cardiovascular health. The foods we consume play a direct role in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Eating healthy foods can also prevent future health problems from occurring. Making some simple changes to your diet can have you feeling better and healthier in no time. This article will identify some food to avoid or enjoy due to the way they affect cardiovascular health. The information relayed here was obtained from an article published by the University of California, San Francisco.

For heart-healthy diet follow these guidelines:

Low in sugar
Sugar can harm our cardiovascular health. Sugar is problematic for people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome because it stimulates insulin production. Additionally, sugary foods are generally high calorie and can cause overeating and weight gain. Finally, overeating simple sugars can also raise blood levels of triglycerides.
Carbohydrates, and a bit of sugar, can be apart of your diet. According to UCSF, “a heart-healthy diet includes fruit, vegetables, grains and yogurt and milk for some — all of which contain naturally occurring sugars. Because these foods provide important vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, the body's main fuel source, they should be a regular part of the diet.”
Low in sodium
The average American eats twice the recommended amount of salt each day. Reducing sodium intake is one of best things we can do to make our hearts happy. Although sodium sensitivity varies person to person, sodium reduction can help decrease blood pressure significantly for many. A low sodium diet can also delay or prevent high blood pressure as we age. A good goal is consumption less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of table salt).
Low in trans and saturated fats
Avoid saturated fats because they raise blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. Only 7 percent of our calories should come from saturated fats each day. (A daily diet of 2,000 calories can have 16 grams of saturated fat, or less than 3 ounces of cheese.) To eat less saturated fat minimize consumption of meat (especially high processed meats such as bologna and sausage), cheese, butter and cream.
Additionally, trans fats  damage the heart by decreases the amount of "good cholesterol,” high-density lipoprotein (HDL). There is no recommended level of trans fat because any amount can be harmful. Trans fats are most often found in food made with partially hydrogenated oils or has been deep fried. Fat altogether is not bad. Up to 35% of a heart-healthy diet can come from fat, it the fat is mostly mono- and polyunsaturated.  (For a 2,000 calorie diet, that is a maximum of 78 grams of fat.)

Low in cholesterol
Cholesterol intake should be limited. Meats, egg yolks, organ meats, shrimp and squid are high in cholesterol. Minimize cholesterol-rich foods to once a week if you have the the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

High in omega-3 fats
According to UCSF , “Omega-3 fat, in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), is being studied to find out exactly how it benefits health. So far, evidence is strongest for omega-3’s ability to lower blood pressure and decrease blood levels of triglycerides. The UCSF Cardiovascular Care and Prevention Center says, “we recommend eating fish frequently — at least two times per week.”

High in fiber
Currently, the average American eats about about half the recommended amount of fiber. We should be consuming at least 25-30 grams everyday, as fiber is an essential part of a heart-healthy diet. Soluble fiber is especially important because it decreases blood cholesterol. Fruits, legumes, and vegetables are fiber rich.
Eating to nurture a healthy heart does not have to be at the expense of convenience and taste. Kay’s Naturals can be apart of your heart-healthy diet because all of our products are low sodium, low sugar, low fat, and high in fiber. All our products are diabetes friends, certified gluten free, and have great taste. To learn more, visit our website!
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Additional helpful information on how to eat your way to a happy heart can found at the website heart healthy.

This article is only for educational purposes and should not replace the advice of a doctor or healthcare provider.

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