If you have heart disease or even if you're at risk for heart problems, you probably want to follow a prudent heart diet. Medical experts such as the American Heart Association say over and over that diet can help you avoid heart problems during your lifetime. But what exactly does "prudent heart diet" mean? It means eating many vegetables, consuming more fiber and watching your fat grams.
A prudent heart diet can reduce your lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It also lowers your risk of type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity, all of which can lead to heart disease. Interestingly, the same prudent heart diet may lower your risk of some forms of cancer, along with osteoporosis.
Fruits and vegetables serve as the cornerstone of a prudent heart diet, according to the AHA. You should aim to get at least 4-1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables every day. Fiber-rich whole grains also have important healthful effects, and you should consume three 1-oz servings each day. Meanwhile, cut down on your salt consumption, since you only should consume 1,500 mg per day of sodium.
When it comes to choosing vegetables, you should aim for the most colorful products available, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Don't choose potatoes, since they contain mainly starch. Instead, lean toward dark, leafy greens such as kale and collard greens, cooked tomatoes and colorful bell peppers. Four-and-a-half cups of vegetables equals about nine servings, so get plenty at every meal.
Fish represents an excellent protein source, and the AHA recommends you eat at least two, 3-1/2 oz servings of fish, preferably oily fish, each week. Oily fish provides you with omega-3 fatty acids, which serve an important role in heart health. Nuts, legumes and seeds also can serve as good sources of protein. Avoid processed meats as much as possible, and limit saturated fat to no more than 7 percent of your overall calorie intake.
The AHA notes that you can eat a more prudent heart diet at home if you cook many foods from scratch, using heart-healthy oils such as olive oil. However, it's also possible to stick with your diet when dining out. Many restaurants now offer heart-healthy choices, and your server may be able to help you identify healthier menu options if you ask for assistance.
- Fruit salad in hollow watermelon and fruits image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.