A cardiac diet is a heart-healthy diet that lowers 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 cardiac patients with or without diabetes.
Here are 15 ways to have a better heart health with the cardiac diet:
- Avoid diet that is high in saturated fats, 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.
- Eat a variety of foods each day. Different types of food are necessary to supply the main nutrients required for good 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.
- Prevent and control obesity. Obesity is one of the world’s major health problems. It increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. 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.
- Eat less sugar. High sugar intake is associated with obesity and tooth decay. Sugars, whether white, brown, raw or glucose, are solely an energy source and their nutrient content is negligible. 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.
- Limit alcohol intake. Excessive alcohol contributes to the health, social and nutritional problems of many people. Low nutritional status results when habitual drinking interferes with good eating habits. 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.
- 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.
- Eat less salt. Sodium from excessive use of table salt and salty processed foods may contribute to high blood pressure, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. 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. Breastfeeding may also help mothers lower their risk of heart attack and stroke even a decade after giving birth.
- Use lean meats, chicken and fish. 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. In the average diet, about 40 percent of our “fuel” comes from fats and oils. A sensible diet should reduce this figure to 30 percent or less. Use minimal amounts of butter, margarine, oils, high-oil salad dressings, mayonnaise, cream and cream substitutes.
- 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.
- High-fat food products. Increase the proportion of vegetable oil in the diet and cut down on animal fat. Avoid fried foods, high-fat takeaway foods, pastries, cakes, donuts, chocolates and fried fun foods.
- 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.
Just remember that heart-healthy eating does not have to mean boring food or stringent diets. The key to healthy eating is to eat a wide range of nutritious foods. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, lots of bread, rice, pasta and other grain products, along with reduced-fat dairy products, fish, lean meat and poultry.