Whether you have been diagnosed with atherosclerosis or are at a high risk for developing it, one great way to treat and prevent this disease is by controlling what you eat. However, it can be difficult to know how to transition from bad eating habits to a heart-healthy diet. Here are some tips to make it a little easier.
Practice portion control.
How much you're eating is equally as important as what you're eating. For this reason, you should learn how to keep track of the number of servings that you eat. Serving sizes will vary depending on how many calories a specific food contains. Some examples are one serving of pasta is typically one half cup, while a serving of meat shouldn’t exceed two or three ounces. Don’t be afraid to use measuring cups or scales to help you until you are comfortable with your ability to judge serving sizes on your own.
Incorporate more fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of minerals and vitamins and are rich in fiber while also being relatively low in calories. For this reason, eating more fruits and vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis. However, the way you prepare them can also impact their nutritious value. For example, steer clear of fried or breaded vegetables or fruit that has excess sugar added. However, any fresh or frozen vegetables are always good.
Eat more whole grains.
Whole grains a good source of fiber and will help regulate your blood pressure and improve your overall heart health. Whole-wheat and whole-grain products such as brown rice and oatmeal are more beneficial than products that use refined grains.
Limit unhealthy fats.
Trans and saturated fats play a role in increasing blood cholesterol and increasing your risk for atherosclerosis. Therefore, you should try to limit your intake of these kinds of unhealthy fats as much as possible. The best way to do this is to decrease the amount of solid fats such as butter, margarine, or shortening that you use in your cooking.
Choose low-fat proteins.
The best sources of protein include chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs. However, reduce the amount of fat you get from these foods by choosing skim milk instead of whole milk and skinless chicken breasts instead of fried chicken strips. Additionally, legumes are a good source of protein and have almost no fat or cholesterol, so they can stand as a substitute for fatty meats.
Reduce your sodium intake.
Sodium contributes to your risk for high blood pressure, so reducing sodium intake is a critical part of beginning your heart-healthy diet. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, healthy adults should consume no more than a teaspoon (2300 mg) of salt per day, while people who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes should consume even less than that (1500 mg). It is easy to reduce the amount of salt you add to food at the dinner table, but you should also be checking the labels of canned and processed foods for their sodium content as well.