How Diet Affects Your Heart Health
The heart is like an engine. Feed it the right fuel and it will work smoothly, but feed it the wrong fuel and it will go crazy. So, you need this article about heart-healthy diet to ensure that you give the right fuel to your heart.
You need to treat your heart with care and that means you need a diet that is healthy for your heart.
Nutrition takes on a very important role in the cardiovascular health of people. So, those who have a family history of heart disease or are at high risk for this condition need to make healthy changes first in their diet, even prior to having medications.
The Link between Diet and Cardiovascular Health
This is how what you eat impacts your cardiovascular health. After your stomach digests the food you eat, the body absorbs what it needs for normal body functions and excretes what is not needed. Eating more than what the body can absorb results in having excess nutrients staying in the body, traveling via the bloodstream and ending up clogging the blood vessels.
The gooey substance that often clogs the blood vessels is known as plaque. It is primarily made of cholesterol and sticks to the walls of the artery. As a result, the artery becomes smaller and the flow of blood becomes slower affecting the transportation of oxygen to the heart, the brain and other parts of the body.
When blood clots develop in the clogged arteries, serious problems happen. A person may get a heart attack when the clot blocks the artery going to the heart. A person may suffer a stroke when the clot blocks the artery going to the brain. Now you see how important having a low-cholesterol diet is when it comes to avoiding plaque formation and keeping the heart healthy.
What’s a Heart Healthy Diet?
Good and Bad Cholesterol
The main culprit in the formation of plaque is the LDL cholesterol, also called “bad” cholesterol. The counterpart of the LDL cholesterol is the HDL cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol. It helps prevent the formation of plaque by clearing out the arteries and allowing the blood to flow as it normally would.
Your goal in having a heart-healthy diet is to minimize the intake of foods that contribute to high LDL cholesterol levels, such as saturated fats and trans fats. Then, increase the intake of foods that increase HDL cholesterol levels, such as unsaturated fats. The Mediterranean diet is a good choice for this heart health goal.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy because it helps a person stay lean and keep cholesterol levels in check. So, a person benefits from having reduced strain on the heart and no clogging of arteries.
The Mediterranean diet helps to improve a person’s lipid profile. The lipid profile includes information on an individual’s HDL cholesterol level, LDL cholesterol level and triglycerides level, all of which are determined through a blood test.
The Mediterranean diet is very healthy because it only includes “quality” fats and proteins. Recommended fats are from fatty fish, nuts and olives. Proteins included are only from lean animals and plants, such as beans and legumes. Foods that have high saturated fats, such as red meat, are consumed occasionally only.
Weight Loss Impact on Heart Disease
The type and amount of food a person eats affect his weight, either by gaining or losing some pounds. This in turn has a direct impact on his or her risk for heart disease.
It’s usual for an overweight individual to have high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides levels. The high values explain why an overweight person gets high blood pressure. The condition can grow serious and lead to having chest pains, a heart attack or a congestive heart failure.
Being overweight puts a person at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes as well. The scary truth is that two of three diabetics die of stroke or heart attack. So, if you’re diabetic, it’s a very good idea to start right away to adopt a heart-healthy diet and lose some weight.
Photo credits: Heart Health by inspiredimages via Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain