By Amanda Perriello, RD, CDN, registered dietician
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the #1 leading cause of death both in the U.S. and across the globe.
There are a number of risk factors for developing CVD. Age, gender, and family history are important but, unfortunately, they’re outside of our control. However, there are risk factors that are within our control, and simple lifestyle changes – incorporating a heart-healthy diet and exercise into daily life – can go a long way in preventing CVD.
The good news is it is never too late – or too early – to start focusing on your heart health.
Eating foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and related conditions, which is why diet plays such an important role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease.
What are the components of a heart-healthy diet?
Fruits & vegetables
Skinless poultry & fish
Nuts & legumes
Non-tropical vegetable oils
Not all fats are created equal. Which fats should be included in a heart-healthy diet?
Monounsaturated fats, which includes olive, peanut, canola, safflower, and sesame oils, as well as avocado, peanut butter, nuts, and seeds;
Polyunsaturated fats, which includes soybean, corn, and sunflower oils; and
Omega-3 fatty acids, which includes fatty fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and walnuts
The grocery store can be an overwhelming place, especially when selecting items that support a heart-healthy diet. Learning to read nutrition labels is an important first step to getting this right. Click here to learn more.
If you’re still confused when you get to the grocery store, you’re not alone. Good news! The American Heart Association (AHA) has implemented the “Heart Check Mark”, a simple tool to help you eat smart. When you see the Heart Check Mark, you can be confident that the product aligns with the AHA’s recommendations for an overall healthy eating pattern.
Interested in learning more? Gaylord Specialty Healthcare hosts a series of interactive virtual sessions on various topics of interest. You can learn more from Eric Sokolowski and me about Diet & Exercise for Heart Health in this Zoom presentation.