How Your Eating Habits Influence Your Heart's Health

How Your Eating Habits Influence Your Heart's Health

We hate to admit it, but the foods we eat affect how well our body functions and how we feel. After a lunch full of carbohydrates and sugar, we can feel listless, tired, and easily distracted when we return to work or school for the afternoon. In contrast, when we eat a well-balanced meal with lean protein, fruits and vegetables, we find ourselves feeling energetic, thinking more clearly, and in a better mood. Aside from the boost we feel in performing our daily activities, does a nutritious, healthy diet have long-term health benefits? Absolutely.

A healthy diet can affect one of our most important organs – the heart. As you know, the heart pumps blood throughout our body through the cardiovascular system, but did you know that what we eat can affect its function? The heart’s ability to do its job properly depends greatly on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which can be affected positively by the choices you make at every meal.

Blood pressure is the measure of your blood’s force against the arterial walls every time your heart beats. If the walls of your arteries have been thickened by fatty material, or your heart simply isn’t strong enough to pump the blood through your body, it can lead to heart failure, atherosclerosis, stroke, kidney disease and eye disease. Can the food you eat really affect how your heart pumps blood? Research shows that foods low in sodium and high in certain minerals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) can keep your blood pressure within acceptable levels, cutting your risk of heart attack and stroke. 

As we know, cholesterol levels can increase your risk of heart disease, but can it really be prevented by eating healthier? LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) can build up on arterial walls, narrowing and blocking arteries, but it can be controlled by a diet low in saturated and trans fats. The American Heart Association suggests that a diet that “emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts” and excludes “red meat and sugary foods and beverages,” can keep your heart healthy and functioning well. Limiting saturated fats to 5-6% of your total calorie intake can decrease your risk of heart disease.[1]

Unlike other conditions or diseases, heart disease is preventable. Cooking with heart-healthy recipes and choosing the best foods for heart health (rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and low in sodium, saturated fats and trans fat), can keep your heart healthy and strong. Along with exercising regularly, the choices you make each day can contribute to your overall well-being, with a healthy heart that keeps you living the life you deserve!

 

 



[1] “Trans Fats;” American Heart Association; heart.org