The cardiac diet is aimed primarily at lowering the high death rate from cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke. It may also help prevent other diet-related diseases for heart patients with or without diabetes.
Here are 15 tips for following the cardiac diet or the American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines:
Avoid diet that is high in saturated fats, bad cholesterol, salt and sugar. Most of the recognized risk factors for coronary heart disease are influenced by a rich diet. Replace one or two meals a week with healthier choices you’ll gradually get used to cooking and eating balanced meals. The major indicator of heart disease is cholesterol, particularly bad cholesterol, called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Another type of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), had been found to be beneficial because it removed cholesterol deposits from the artery wall.
Eat a variety of foods each day. Different types of food are necessary to supply the main nutrients required for good cardiac health. No single food contains all these materials. Rather than highlighting the diseases which unhealthy eating causes, we are emphasizing the positive side of eating well. Food can look and taste delicious and still be good for you.
Prevent and control obesity. Obesity could cause many health problems including varicose veins, osteoarthritis, heart and circulation disease and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high cholesterol or gallstones. If you are getting fat there is rarely any reason but that you’re eating too much, more than your body can use. Reducing excess fats, alcohol and sugar and increasing physical activity will help to bring down your weight. Eat less, rather than cutting out whole categories of food.
Eat less fat. Excess fats in the diet may contribute to obesity, high blood cholesterol levels, heart disease and certain cancers. Choose lean meats, low-fat dairy products and use low-fat cooking methods. Use butter, margarine, cream and oils sparingly. The big problem in heart disease is how to persuade people to stop smoking, eat less saturated fat and give up other habits which increase the risk of heart attack.
Eat less sugar. High sugar intake is associated with obesity and tooth decay. It’s well documented that sugar (sucrose) can greatly increase the body levels of triglycerides (a form of fat that circulates in the blood). Too much is a well-known cause of premature heart attacks, and sudden death. Sugars, whether white, brown, raw or glucose, are solely an energy source and their nutrient content is negligible.
Limit alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol contributes to the health, social and nutritional problems of many people. Alcohol abuse could also lead to heart and liver damage, and is the principal cause of one-third of all cases of high blood pressure. Low nutritional status results when habitual drinking interferes with good eating habits.
Eat more fruit, vegetables and cereals. Constipation, diverticular disease and other constipation-related ailments are linked with lack of dietary fiber (found only in plant foods). Bread, whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables provide necessary dietary fiber and a variety of nutrients. They are best for replacing foods high in fat and sugar. Worldwide studies demonstrate that people who eat cardiac diets high in plant foods have reduced risks of heart disease, cancers of the lung, esophagus, stomach and bowel, lower blood pressure and fewer cases of non-insulin dependent diabetes.
Eat less salt. Excessive salt tends to be harmful for many people, inviting cardiovascular diseases. Sodium from excessive use of table salt and salty processed foods may contribute to high blood pressure, and promote watery swellings in the body and the heart has to work even harder. Reducing excess sodium intake from an early age may help to control hypertension. Salt should not be added to food prepared for infants.
Enjoy water. People drink large amounts of soft drinks and alcohol, which may contribute to obesity and dental caries. Where possible, quench your thirst with water. Use water rather than sweetened syrups and beverages for infants and children.
Encourage breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the preferred method of providing a growing infant with nutrient and energy needs in the correct proportions. Breastfed babies run less risk of infection than those who are bottle fed.
Use lean meats, chicken and fatty fish. People should eat less red meat to protect themselves from a possible heart attack. Red meat is a major contributor to high blood-cholesterol levels, one of three big factors in heart disease. People who want to avoid heart disease should eat chicken, fish or veal in preference to red meat. Remove all visible fat before cooking. Avoid sausages, luncheon meats and salami-type meats. Replace some meats with beans, peas and lentils several times a week.
Fats and oils. Fats and oils are basically the same sorts of compound. Use minimal amounts of butter, margarine, oils, high-oil salad dressings, mayonnaise, cream and cream substitutes. Remember that all fats and oils are equally fattening and should be used in limited amounts to prevent becoming overweight.
Dairy products. Limit intake of whole milk and high-fat cheeses and ice cream. Use low-fat milk products, including skim milk, cottage and ricotta cheeses. All people need to follow a healthy cardiac diet that includes a wide variety of foods, from fresh fruit and vegetables to whole-grain cereals, low-fat dairy products, fish and lean cuts of meat.
High-fat food products. Increase the proportion of vegetable oil, polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. Avoid fried foods, high-fat takeaway foods, pastries, cakes, donuts, chocolates and fried fun foods. The omega 3 fatty acids performed their life-saving function by lowering blood fat levels, mainly in the plasma triglycerides. The ideal sources of omega 3 are from foods like: fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna. The benefits of the omega 3 fatty acids do not just stop there. Benefits in the control of other important diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer could also be demonstrated.
Cooking methods. Use methods that require minimal fat or oil (e.g. grilling, baking, braising, steaming, boiling or pressure cooking). Use recipes requiring only moderate amounts of fat.