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How to Improve Heart Health: Foods to Add to Your Diet

It’s Friday at the office and that means donuts, sugary coffee drinks, and maybe some bacon and eggs for breakfast. 

It can be difficult to resist, but your heart will thank you. 

Working in an office setting or being on the road can cause us to eat in unhealthy ways. Work stress may also cause us to reach for an unhealthy treat. 

And, if you’re experiencing heart problems, you may be wondering how to improve your heart health. 

We tend to believe that our genes predispose us to heart conditions. But, our genetics only act as a map. Environmental conditions and our lifestyles are more likely the cause of heart conditions. 

But, with all the dietary advice out there, eating healthy can get confusing. Is low-fat the best choice? Or, is starting the keto diet the right way?

Losing weight can improve your heart health. But, certain foods are also beneficial to add to your diet for long-term results.

So, what foods should we all include in our diets to improve your heart health? Read on to find out.

How to Improve Heart Health One Bite at a Time

Getting healthy can be a challenging task. Knowing what foods to eat and not to eat can be equally as difficult. 

Always talk with your doctor before changing your diet. Ensure that you’re healthy enough and regularly get your cholesterol, a1c, and blood pressure checked.

Seeing a dietitian and gaining support from a health coach can also be beneficial. If you’re interested in changing your office’s eating habits, then Healthy You Vending can help. Their vending machines have healthy snacks and beverages for busy people. 

Explore the following foods to add to your diet to improve your heart health. 

1. Low-Sodium Foods

High-sodium diets cause our blood pressure to rise. It also causes us to retain fluids. High blood pressure puts you at risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other heart conditions. 

High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because some people who have it never experience never any symptoms. High blood pressure is anything over 120/80 or 130/90. High blood pressure can also be referred to as hypertension.

We all need sodium for our bodies to function properly. But, too much sodium puts us at risk. Sodium is typically associated with table salt, but it can come in many forms. 

In fact, most of the sodium in our diet comes from packaged or preserved foods. For example, TV dinners, canned foods, and soups. Fast food and restaurant dishes also tend to have high sodium content.

Opt for foods low in sodium such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains. You can also use the DASH diet as a healthy eating guide to lower sodium intake. 

2. Whole Grains

Whole grains contain fiber which helps to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Whole grains contain the entire grain and are not processed.

Some foods labeled as “whole grains” are processed, but are better choices than refined processed products such as white bread.

Opt for whole-grain food items such as cereals, pasta, and bread. Whole-grain flours are also available which are better alternatives to white flours. You can also add in brown rice and oatmeal. 

3. Healthy Fats

Fats come in three forms: unsaturated, saturated, and trans fat. Unsaturated fats are the healthiest fats. Whereas saturated fats need to be limited and trans fats avoided. 

Unsaturated fats come from plant-based foods. For example, avocados, nuts, and vegetable oils. However, palm and coconut oils are considered saturated fats because they are solid at room temperature. 

Saturated fats are found in animal products. Limit these in your diet to improve your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Trans fats are in fried foods, baked goods, and margarine. These fats are usually manmade and should be avoided or eliminated to improve your heart health. 

4. Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and veggies are high in fiber and contain an assortment of nutrients. They are also low in calories which helps to reduce weight gain. Fruits and vegetables also help to prevent cardiovascular disease. 

Red, orange, green, and yellow veggies are all beneficial for heart health. For example, spinach, carrots, red peppers, and acorn squash.

Orange colored fruits such as papayas, mangoes, and oranges are also great for your heart health. Aim to eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

5. Plant-Based Meals

As Americans, we tend to view animal products as the main part of each dish. After all, the meat is typically what costs the most. Vegetables are only considered as an afterthought. 

Even then, we’re likely to get fries or onion rings as our side, which are loaded with trans fat.

But, eating more plant-based meals can help to improve your heart health. 

Our bodies still need some nutrients from animal products, such as vitamin b12, but we don’t need as much as we’re consuming on average. 

This type of eating pattern may be difficult to adopt at first, however. But, it can help to prevent cardiovascular disease and dying from cardiovascular disease. A plant-based diet can also reverse cardiovascular disease.

You’ll need to make a smooth transition into eating a plant-based diet. It’s wise to start slow, speak with your doctor, and try a variety of recipes. 

How to Improve Heart Health: Speaking to Your Doctor

Knowing how to improve heart health is the first step in becoming a more healthy you. But, before you start your heart health journey, make an appointment with your doctor. 

Discuss with your doctor the medications you’re taking and any dietary changes you intend to make. After beginning your dietary changes, it’s also a good idea to make a follow-up appointment. Especially, if you are losing weight quickly. 

You can also purchase an electronic blood pressure cuff to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure.

Want to learn more about healthy eating at the office? Check out our blog post to learn more.