Healthy Heart: 1 Out Of 4 Of Us Will Die From Heart Disease — Here’s How You Can Change Your Diet To Lower Your Risk
February is American Heart Month. In order to help you make your heart health a priority, as heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, we’re speaking to experts about the different ways you can prevent heart disease, as well as with people who have had it.
With heart disease being the cause of about one out of every four deaths in the United States according to the CDC, and the leading cause of death for women and men, it’s time to start taking action to reduce your risk of being diagnosed with it. Diabetes, obesity, physical activity (or lack thereof), excessive alcohol intake and a bad diet are all responsible for putting you at a higher risk for heart disease. And one of the first steps to reversing things is to change how you eat. That doesn’t mean you have to pull everything you love out of your fridge, but you do need to know what to consume in moderation so as to cultivate healthy eating habits. We connected with the American Heart Association to help you do so.
People in the U.S. consume about 34 pounds of added sugar every year from downing sugary sodas and drinks. And even though sugar is in so many things, the American Heart Association recommends that women don’t consume more than six teaspoons of added sugar in a day (nine teaspoons for men and six is also recommended for children over the age of 2). The best way to make that happen is to avoid foods with fructose, syrup, molasses, cane and fruit juice. Also, ease up on the amount of sugar you put in things you eat. If you put sugar in your oatmeal or honey in your tea, don’t be so heavy-handed. Only drink 100% juice if you can’t go without that (water should still be your main source of liquid though), pick up fruit as opposed to sweets when you have a sweet tooth, and keep the desserts for special occasions.
And while sugar is addictive, so is a salt. We all love high-sodium foods. That includes our chips, our cheeses, soups, breads and our sandwiches with deli meats. But the American Heart Association says processed foods are getting us in trouble, increasing our blood pressure and therefore, the possibility that we’ll have to deal with heart disease. Do yourself a favor and reduce your table salts. Also, if you love a good deli meat sandwich, opt for the options that haven’t been sitting in preservatives like nitrates, and haven’t been salted, cured or fermented. They’re more expensive and don’t always look as appetizing, but they’re delicious and better for you.
Speaking of meat, it’s also recommended that you ease up on red meat in favor for more fish and white meats. However, if you don’t want to go the chicken and turkey route, opt for lean cuts of red meat (don’t sleep on goat) and compare labels.
And of course, foods heavy in saturated fat are also something you should have less of in your diet (i.e., fatty meat, cheese, whole milk, butter, dairy-based desserts, candy and overall sweets). It’s also in some cooking oils, including palm and coconut. The American Heart Association says that on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, only about 120 of all of that should come from saturated fat. Replace those foods and cooking options with liquid vegetable oil and a diet with more fish and nuts.
With that being said, there are still plenty of things to eat that you can enjoy and that are healthier for the heart.
According to the American Heart Association, having a diet of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and cooking with non-tropical vegetable oils is the best way to go, overall, to decrease your risk of ending up with heart disease.
In all honesty, you were probably already well aware of the fact that you need to ease up on the snacks, greasy foods, carbs and dairy. But now that you know how we’re truly being affected by heart disease, the question is, will you finally start making some changes?
Visit the American Heart Association’s website to get more information on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle, the different heart health issues, and how you can get involved in helping the non-profit organization.