With rampant rates of obesity in the United States and instances of heart disease on the rise, it’s no wonder that more and more people are looking for better nutrition and more heart-healthy diets. Eating well for your cardiovascular health really doesn’t have to be incredibly complicated or difficult, though. Just follow these tips to get an A+ on blood pressure from your doctor.
Substitute Good Fats for Bad Ones
Fat actually isn’t bad for you, and it can actually help keep you feeling full longer and give you more energy on fewer calories. However, the types of fat you eat can have a huge impact on your heart. Loading up on trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats will send your blood pressure through the roof.
Instead, pack your pantry with good fats like the unsaturated fats found in raw nuts, fish oils, avocados, flax seeds, and olive oil. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, grab a handful of almonds. You’ll feel just as satisfied, and you won’t have to worry about all that saturated fat and all those trans fats wreaking havoc on your cardiovascular system.
Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits and vegetables have long been known to help battle obesity and heart disease. When you go shopping for your weekly groceries, head over to the produce section and pick up as many different colored fruits and vegetables to snack on as you can. This is a great way to incorporate more vitamins and minerals into your diet without really thinking about it.
Always Choose Whole Grains
Fiber is another important part of heart-smart nutrition, especially as it can be greatly beneficial in controlling your blood pressure. You can get more fiber in your diet if you eat whole-grain bread and healthy grain products.
Now, not all grains are good for you. You might think that – given the same number of calories – it won’t matter if you eat a doughnut or a bowl of whole-grain cereal, but it actually does. Almost any doughnut you pick up for breakfast from a restaurant, bakery, or grocery store will be heavily processed and will be baked using white flour, not to mention all of the sugar and trans fats that’ll be loaded into it.
On the other hand, if you choose a low-sugar, whole-grain cereal or whole-grain toast, for the same number of calories you’ll be getting the fiber you need to maintain a healthy heart, along with a lot of other nutrients.
Get Calcium and Protein From the Right Sources
Finally, your body needs calcium and protein to survive and function, and these nutrients do a lot to give you the energy you need to keep going throughout the day. However, not all sources for calcium and protein are the same.
A lot of people turn to single-serving flavored yogurts as a great way to get an added boost of protein and calcium in their daily diets. This is actually not a great idea, as these yogurts are usually heavily sweetened and pack in a lot of sugar. A better idea would be to get plain yogurt and then add some fruits and oatmeal for a really heart-smart breakfast or morning snack. Eggs, milk, unprocessed cheeses, and unsweetened yogurt are the way to go for your calcium and protein needs.
With these four tips, you should have a good idea of how to get started with a diet that’s better for your heart and that will help lower your blood pressure. Choose unprocessed whole foods whenever possible, and always opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats whenever you can.