If you want to give your family's daily diet a "heart health makeover," start with your kitchen. It stands to reason that how we fill our kitchen -- in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer -- sets the pattern for what we eat.
If you stock your kitchen with nutritious but flavorful whole foods, you and your family are more likely to eat a heart-smart diet and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis starts early and progresses throughout life. You can't see
or feel it, but in most of us the process is already under way.
The plaques of atherosclerosis can grow to become blood vessel blockages. If
a plaque ruptures, the sudden blood clot causes a heart attack or stroke.
Atherosclerosis is common, unpredictable, and potentially deadly. Is there
any good news? Because atherosclerosis takes decades to progress, the process
can be slowed down at any point, reducing the risk.
The American Heart Association recommends these tips for a heart-healthy diet:
Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits.
Choose whole grain and high fiber foods.
Consume fish, especially fatty fish such as mackerel, trout, salmon, or herring, at least twice a week.
Choose lean meats that are prepared in a way to limit intake of saturated fat and trans fat.
Choose fat-free, 1% fat, and low-fat dairy products.
Limit high cholesterol foods with a goal to eat less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day.
Limit sugary drinks and foods with added sugars.
Choose and prepare foods with little or no sodium. Aim to eat less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.
If you drink alcohol, drink no more than two drinks a day if you are a man and one drink a day if you are a woman.
Those suggestions may sound like a lot to think about. But it adds up to one guideline: Eat a diet rich in mostly whole foods.
Think about the most wholesome foods you know: fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, etc. Most of these foods we buy whole, not in a processed package. And while whole foods don't carry a nutrition label like package food does, we all know that whole foods are naturally healthy.
When you do buy packaged foods, be sure to read the label. Look for foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, yet high in fiber.
Here are my top 8 tips to make over your kitchen for a healthy heart!