Heart Diet

Create a heart healthy diet plan

Your heart is responsible for your overall health, and your diet and lifestyle are responsible for the health of your heart. Many people live with diets that are unbalanced, favoring meat and fat much more than high-fiber vegetables and grains. Everyone knows that a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can quickly lead to weight gain, but have you thought of the stress that it puts on your heart? Surprisingly, a healthy heart diet is not so hard to live with—discover what the heart diet is based upon and why it's your best move toward better overall health.

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Who Should Adopt a Heart Diet

Whether you suffer from heart disease, are at risk of developing heart problems or simply want to improve your health, a heart-healthy diet will lower your risk of illness and premature death. Closely related to a low cholesterol diet, a heart diet will include foods that keep your LDL cholesterol low, your weight in check and your sodium intake at a reasonable level. This diet is appropriate for everyone in the family above two years of age, so you shouldn't have to juggle multiple meal plans in order to ensure everyone gets the nutrition they need.

While any heart-healthy diet, whether it is the Dean Ornish diet or the American Heart Association Diet, will stress the importance of low-fat foods, the specific amount of saturated and unsaturated fat you should consume will depend on your overall caloric intake. You may want to begin by consulting a doctor to assess your cholesterol levels, and then determine how many calories you will need based on your body, your goals and your level of activity.

Creating a Heart-Healthy Diet Plan

A heart-healthy diet plan begins with whole foods that combat cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and help you shed excess weight. The American Heart Association Diet is a good standard, which recommends combining smart food choices with physical activity to reach the three goals listed above; fruits, vegetables and whole grains should make up the majority of your diet, but fish and lean meats should also be included.

Unfortunately, some other "heart" diets have misleading terms that make them seem healthier than they really are. For instance, a Sacred Heart diet recipe has little to do with ongoing heart health; instead, it closely resembles the cabbage soup diet, and while low in cholesterol and fat, it's designed for quick weight loss and not meant for extended use. Beware of the 3-day heart diet as well—any meal plan that promises significant weight loss in such a short amount of time is suspect and almost certainly bad for your heart in the long run.

Ultimately, a heart-healthy diet is one of the best diets you can adopt, as it insists on a healthy balance of foods instead of eliminating those that don't conform to a strict list. Moderation is the central element, so construct a diet plan that is suited to your particular lifestyle, activity level and taste without completely denying yourself the things you like.

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