Three Tips for Better Heart Health

Heart disease has a huge impact on Americans. In fact, half of us are at risk for heart disease and, as the leading cause of death in the United States, it causes one in every four deaths.

There’s good news, though.

What we eat can help decrease our risk of heart disease or help us manage an existing condition. One organization that supports this approach to better heart health is the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation. As part of its Healthy Hearts initiative, the foundation partnered with Project Angel Heart to fund deliveries of medically tailored meals for Coloradans living with cardiovascular disease.

Our heart-healthy meals help people with heart disease manage their symptoms and improve their health. Want to improve your health and/or decrease your risk of heart disease? Keep reading for three simple guidelines that can help.

Eat Plenty of Fiber

Fiber acts like a sponge in your intestines, absorbing cholesterol from your diet so it won’t be recirculated in your bloodstream. Whole grains, beans, and fruits and vegetables (with the skin on) are good sources of fiber. There are a several good options, including:

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Berries
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Beans and legumes
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Carrots

Eat Heart-Healthy Fats

Unsaturated fats and Omega 3s can decrease inflammation and cholesterol. They’re found in:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Nuts & natural nut butters
  • Fatty fish like salmon and sardines
  • Flaxseeds

Eat Less Salt

Eating too much salt can increase blood pressure, which puts unnecessary stress on our hearts.

Nearly 75 percent of the sodium found in a typical American diet comes from processed foods, so the easiest way to reduce the amount of salt you consume is by eliminating processed and packaged foods. When you do buy processed food, look for low sodium or salt-free versions.

And when you cook at home? A good pinch of salt is certainly okay every now and then, but take advantage of other ways to create flavor, too. You’ll use less salt when you cook with:

  • Fresh and dried herbs
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard
  • Lemon/lime juice
  • Salt-free seasoning blends