Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. However, there is a bright side: it can be avoided, and it all has to do with the health of your arteries and your care for them.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. The buildup causes the arteries to become narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow properly. Blood clots can develop and completely stop blood flow, which causes a heart attack or stroke.
Bad cholesterol and triglycerides, produced in the liver after high consumption of calories, can be harmful to arteries and cause damage. High blood pressure and blood sugar, along with smoking, stress, and blood vessel inflammation, can also cause severe damage to the inner layer of the arteries and lead to plaque buildup.
Although plaque buildup is not completely irreversible, you can help the situation by changing your diet and lifestyle.
7. The Mediterranean Way
The Mediterranean diet is often regarded as the best route to follow when planning to support your heart, as it contains an abundance of unsaturated fats and antioxidants. Those that live in the Mediterranean are known to enjoy a rich diet consisting of olive oil, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, seafood, and small portions of lean meat and chicken, with a limited amount of red meat, eggs, butter, and sweets. The diet is naturally high in fiber and includes significantly more fruits and vegetables compared to a typical American diet. The Mediterranean diet lowers cholesterol and triglycerides, stabilizes blood sugar, and helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
6. Focus on Your Fats
The American Heart Association recommends restricting saturated fats and trans fats to 5-6% of your daily calories, which is about 13 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet, while consuming more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. That means cutting back on butter, cheese, cream, and baked goods like cakes and cookies that are full of trans fats. Instead, try eating unsalted nuts and seeds, and fish like salmon and sardines. If you can’t resist eating red meats, try to go for the leanest cuts.