The Link Between Your Diet and Heart Health

Amazing developments in medical technology and technique are able to improve your odds of overcoming the devastating effects of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Yet heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death worldwide, claiming about 655,000 American lives every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that equates to one heart-related death every 36 seconds here in the United States.

The top-level team of board-certified cardiologists at Premier Cardiology Consultants offers the latest and most effective care available for heart disease from four convenient locations in New York City. Their patients rely heavily on their medical expertise and advanced technical skill in treating conditions linked to cardiovascular health.

These highly trained specialists agree, however, that sticking with a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart.

How does your diet affect your heart?

Simply put, you are what you eat (and drink). Your body relies on a variety of nutrients you gain through diet to supply the fuel your tissues and organs, including your heart, need to maintain good health.

Vitamin K, for instance, found in leafy greens like spinach and kale, helps your heart pump blood freely throughout your body.

Potassium is a vital mineral and electrolyte that contributes to normal muscle function, including the muscles that control your heartbeat. It’s found in many fresh and dried fruits as well as certain vegetables.  

Striking the right balance

The key factor between diet and health is balance. Diets too high in animal fat, for instance, elevate LDL cholesterol to artery-clogging levels, which restricts vital blood flow to your heart, brain, and extremities.

Yet your body requires a certain amount of healthy fats, such as olive oil, to absorb and make use of other vital nutrients like vitamins D and E, which also influence heart function.

In addition, your body requires glucose (sugar) for cellular function, but too many sugary or high carb foods can lead to a glucose overload that fuels type 2 diabetes as well as obesity, both of which damage your heart. But overindulging in even healthy fresh fruits that contain lots of carbs, such as bananas, can throw your blood sugar levels off.

Thus, it’s important to adhere to nutritional guidelines as well as portion control and calorie intake when designing a heart-healthy diet.

Which diet is best for your heart?

Specific dietary needs are based on your current health circumstances, age, food preferences, etc. Generally, however, our Premier Cardiology team recommends a diet that includes a variety of minimally processed foods, based on your calorie needs, from specific food groups.

Foods to consider include:  

Significantly restricting or eliminating (if possible) added sugars, refined carbs (white breads and rice), highly processed snacks, and red and processed meats in your diet helps keep your heart healthy.

The American Heart Association also recommends limiting your sodium intake to between 1,500 and 2,300 mg (1 teaspoon of salt) daily.  

It’s important to note that many foods contain sodium in their natural state. A large egg, for instance, contains about 62 mg of sodium while still in the shell. Check food labels carefully for sodium, fat, carb, and calorie content.

Otherwise, the DASH diet, which was developed to treat and prevent high blood pressure, is a popular plan that research shows can reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and stroke.

For a comprehensive evaluation and specific heart-healthy recommendations, schedule a visit at Premier Cardiology Consultants today.

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