A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think! Remember, it's the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Make the simple steps below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.
Use up at least as many calories as you take in.
Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have minerals, protein, whole grains and other nutrients but are lower in calories. They may help you control your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Eat an overall healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:
One of the diets that fits this pattern is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. Most healthy eating patterns can be adapted based on calorie requirements and personal and cultural food preferences.
Eat less of the nutrient-poor foods.The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you're trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn’t get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat. Read Nutrition Facts labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients in a food or beverage.
As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:
Learn more about quitting smoking.
For more information on the American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations:
Stay Well & Be Healthy!
Johnnita Woods Parker, RN, BSN, NHDP-BC
Director of Education
CPR Life Support Network