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Your Heart and Diet: Why Eating Right is Important for a Healthy Heart

Oct 19, 2010

To stay healthy, your heart and diet must complement each other. Heart disease is one of the chief causes of death. Lifestyle is said to be one cause of heart disease; diet is the other. You're living a fast-paced life, and everything is ready-made, especially the foods you eat. Habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol drinking, eating fatty foods and lack of exercise are not helping either. The combination of these habits is actually a perfect recipe to wear down your system and, eventually, wear out your heart.

Good for the Heart

You need to be aware of what you should consume in abundance that will likely save you from having heart problems. In simplest terms, you need to eat natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. If you check the food pyramid, these foods make up the most of a healthy diet.

Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, as well as amino acids which are necessary to keep your system functioning efficiently. They are low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber, which helps flush away toxins from your body. Eating fruits and vegetables can even help moderate your blood sugar levels.

The nutrients you gain from fresh (as opposed to processed) foods are more easily absorbed in the bloodstream and quickly converted into energy. When your metabolism increases, you store less fat in your body and you are, therefore, not as prone to heart disease.

Whole grain foods, such as wild rice, barley, brown rice and whole wheat, contain endosperm, which is where the healthy components are stored. Fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats from these foods work together to boost the heart's performance.

Bad for the Heart

A diet that is bad for the heart includes foods with too much fat and salt. You need to control your consumption of saturated fat, which raises your bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) level. Ideally, you must have a higher level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the good cholesterol, to cut your risk for cardiovascular diseases. This means limiting your intake of foods from animal sources, such as fatty cuts from meat, skin from poultry and whole milk dairy products, and certain vegetable oils.

A diet that is high in sodium, especially salt (sodium chloride) that is usually added to food unlike the sodium inherent in foods, can cause blood pressure to rise, increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke.

It takes getting accustomed to when you opt for a low-fat, low-salt diet, especially if you are used to eating processed foods or fast foods. However, it is a sacrifice well worth it in the end.

Take extra care of your cardiovascular health. Engage yourself in a healthy lifestyle. Be aware of foods that can be good or bad for your heart. Your heart is a delicate organ, and even if it slowly breaks down, it will not give you a clue that it is no longer functioning at its optimum until you suffer a heart attack.

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