The Impact of a Heart Disease Diet on Your Health

Updated on November 28, 2023

A heart-healthy diet limits added sugar and salt while providing a variety of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates (the body’s fuel source). It also offers low-fat proteins from vegetables, nuts, and fish and includes limiting alcohol intake.

Cardiovascular risk factors cannot be controlled, but those can often be managed by changing one’s eating habits. These include:

Diabetes

In diabetes, the body can’t make or use insulin to properly move glucose (a type of sugar) from foods into cells for energy. Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage the arteries and lead to heart disease.

heart disease diet can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar, lower their cholesterol, and reduce their blood pressure. Ideally, the diet should be low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium and high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products (e.g., yogurt) to keep calories low. For protein, eat lean meats, poultry, and fish; skinless chicken; egg whites; soy products; beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; and cooked, baked, or broiled dishes prepared with nontropical vegetable oils like olive and canola. Try to limit fats to less than 6% of your total calories. Avoid fried foods, full-fat dairy products, and processed or packaged foods.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance naturally produced by the liver and can also be found in some foods. It has many essential functions, such as protecting nerves, making cell tissue, and producing hormones. However, having too much cholesterol can increase the risk of developing heart disease. There are two kinds of blood cholesterol: “good” HDL cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Eating a healthy diet helps prevent high cholesterol. Aim for a low-fat, high-fiber diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables (5 servings daily) and whole grains. Choose lean cuts of meat and poultry and skip processed fats, such as fried foods, cakes, frosting, and chips. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in olive and canola oil, avocados, and nuts instead of saturated fats.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. Adding in strength training can improve your heart health even more. Talk with your healthcare provider about a plan that works best for you.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure — or hypertension — occurs when your blood is pushing too hard on the walls of your arteries. It is usually a condition that shows no outward symptoms, but it can lead to stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure over time.

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial in controlling high blood pressure. Consuming the right foods can aid in lowering it. Foods with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, legumes, most vegetables, and some fruits, help stabilize blood triglycerides and glucose levels, thereby reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.

Getting enough fiber, potassium, and magnesium lowers your blood pressure. Limiting saturated fat and trans fat, adding in lean proteins, avoiding salt (sodium), drinking only modest amounts of alcohol, and getting regular exercise can also help. Adding oily fish, such as salmon, trout, and herring, provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Cooking your meals at home and choosing to bake, grill, or stew instead of frying helps reduce the amount of salt added.

Obesity

In addition to causing heart disease, obesity increases the risk of stroke and high blood pressure. Obesity is a condition that occurs when a person’s body mass index (BMI) reaches 30 or above. Maintaining a healthy weight is among the best ways to reduce heart disease risk factors.

A diet low in unsaturated fats and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. Eating a variety of lean meats and fish is also important. Limiting the amount of sugary beverages and reducing alcohol consumption can also help prevent obesity.

Obesity is linked to a higher risk for heart disease, especially in individuals with high cholesterol levels and those who have diabetes. A healthy, balanced diet that limits foods high in saturated fat and sodium can lower your risk for heart disease, prevent weight gain, and promote weight loss. This type of diet is known as secondary prevention, which includes taking medication like aspirin or a cholesterol-lowering statin, making lifestyle changes, and following a heart-healthy diet.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.