It’s confusing, isn’t it? I’m talking about all of the diets and food recommendations we are bombarded with to keep us healthy. In this article I am going to concentrate on the foods you should eat for a healthy heart and some that we should eat less of.
I call it the Heart Disease Diet. It’s not a strict step by step eating schedule, It just lists the good and the bad food for the best heart health and you may be surprised to find out what’s considered bad.
Since I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, it has been my mission to find out all I can about keeping my heart healthy. Years ago the American Heart Association set some guidelines for a healthy heart diet. They decided that food which was low in fat and high in carbs was the way to go.
To most cardiologists, this made sense. They believed that less fat in the diet would mean less fat in the bloodstream and carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes would be basically harmless.
Here’s How it Happens:
- Carbohydrates stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin.
- The insulin attaches to cells, which triggers them to absorb the sugars from the digested carbs that are in your bloodstream.
- Excessive amounts of carbs build up because we are either eating too much of them or not exercising and burning them off.
- So now your body isn’t using this overload of carbs, so they are converted into Triglycerides and stored as fat. This means you gain more weight
- The rise in insulin from this carb overload actually triggers more cravings for foods high in carbs. It’s a vicious cycle.
If this increase of insulin production becomes normal for your system, then the cells ability to recognize insulin becomes impaired and the sugars and insulin build up in your blood stream. This is called insulin resistance, which is the forerunner of Type 2 Diabetes.
So How Does This Affect My Heart?
As you see from above, there is a thick soup of Insulin, Sugar and Triglycerides floating around in your blood along with cholesterol. Cardiologists call it sludge or sticky blood. This stuff can cause internal inflammation and lead to clogged arteries.
Foods That Make Up The Heart Disease Diet
The best way to keep insulin and blood sugar levels low is to eat carbs that are high in fiber, like whole grains and vegetables. These carbs help to clean out your digestive tract and keep your colon healthy. Studies show that for every 10 gram increase of fiber per day, a 29% reduction in the risk of heart disease occurs.
Eating lots of vegetables and fruits deliver powerful antioxidants to the body. These nutrients fight off Free Radicals that can go around and cause cancer, cataracts, heart disease and premature aging.
You may have heard about Low Density Cholesterol or LDL being the bad stuff that clogs your arteries. This is true but only when the LDL becomes oxidized. Antioxidants prevent your LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and causing plaque build up.
Here are the fruits and vegetables that are highest in antioxidants:
- Prunes (Now called Dried Plums)
- Red Grapes
- Brussels Sprouts (Yuck)
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Our bodies can’t make fatty acids, so we need to consume them. They help with the storage of energy and the absorption of vital nutrients. One of the main advantages for your heart that Omega 3’s provide is keeping your arteries soft and flexible.
We should be eating more of these fatty acids but we aren’t. As a matter of fact in America, we haven’t been eating the right balance of these nutrients for the last 100 years. Our foods have become more processed over time and stripped of the vital nutrients our bodies need. A great source of Omega 3’s is Wild Salmon. You need to eat at least three servings a week to get enough.
Modern science is now realizing that this oil, which has been a part of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years may reduce the risk of Coronary Artery Disease. So the next time you go to cook your food in oil, substitute with Olive Oil. Your heart will thank you.
Cut Back on The Salt
Are Starchy Foods As Bad As Red Meat?
So it’s not just red meat and foods high in fat that can cause heart disease. Once your body starts to get overloaded with carbohydrates it has to do something with them, so your body converts them into fat (Triglycerides).
Cutting out a lot of the starchy foods we eat and adding more fruits, veggies and nuts is a great start towards a healthy heart.
What About All Of My Favorite Foods?
I know, you’re probably like me and are wondering where hamburgers and pizza fit into this diet. You can still eat the things you like but it needs to be in moderation. No one is asking you to eat like a rabbit but we do need to get away from eating that doughnut or pastry for breakfast, grabbing fast food for lunch and eating those large portions of fatty foods at restaurants.
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