There are few muscles in human anatomy as important as the heart. It is the sole engine responsible for ensuring blood is pumped throughout the body. Heart health is one of the primary concerns of any health-conscious individual, and should be a priority for everyone. Working to maintain a healthy heart is the key to maintaining a long and fulfilling life.
Like any machine, there are certain steps that must be taken to maintain the health of the heart. Exercise plays a major part, but diet is also equally important. Here are four food and food ingredients that lead to heart complications.
One of the most harmful substances to avoid in your diet is trans-fat. Luckily, it is also one of the easiest to avoid. Trans far raises LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” cholesterol, and simultaneously lowers the “good” cholesterol, HDL. To maintain a healthy diet, it is recommended by the American Heart Association to limit trans-fat to one percent of overall calorie intake.
Fortunately trans-fat is plainly limited in the nutrient facts that are printed on food labels. It also primarily comes in the form of hydrogenated oil, and foods with a large concentration of this substance should be avoided. Common foods created with hydrogenated oil are baked goods, crackers, and various packaged products.
Another “fat” culprit, saturated fat raises LDL and leads to plaque buildup in arteries. This restricts the blood flow and increases the risk of heart attack and other health complications. The recommended intake of saturated fat is five percent of overall calorie intake.
Butter, sour cream, and mayonnaise are common culprits of saturated fat. Meats with fatty cuts also contribute, so make sure to eat lean. Substituting for olive or canola oil in cooking is an excellent way to avoid falling victim to high amounts of saturate fat.
Salt, or sodium, is the third largest enemy when it comes to heart health. Americans ingest more than twice the recommended limit of sodium on a daily basis. It is recommended that 2,300 milligrams, or about tablespoon, serve as the daily sodium intake.
Large amounts sodium lead to high blood pressure, which in turn leads to increased risk of heart attack or stroke. One way to limit sodium intake is to add it to taste. This means, rather than cooking with it, add salt to the finished product. Additionally, replaced prepackaged foods, usually high in sodium, with fresher alternatives.
These are the main three food products that contribute to poor heart health. With a little bit of preparation, and fair helping of discipline and discernment, maintaining an active and healthy heart is simple. While it may seem a bother when young and healthy, taking care of heart health now will lead to many fruitful years in the future.
Always consult a physician experienced in matters of the heart to receive the best recommendation to your specific circumstances. The road to a healthy heart need not be a difficult one, and it always pays off in the end.