The link between diet and heart health is important. Over 30,000,000 people have been diagnosed with heart disease in the U.S. Risk factors for the development of heart disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
You are what you eat. You’ve likely heard that phrase before, which traces its origins to French lawyer Anthelme Brillat-Savarin who made that astute observation in 1826 linking what you eat to your overall health.
A new study affirms that premise finding red meat and highly processed foods contribute to chronic inflammation and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Lifestyle modification through diet and exercise can help prevent the development of heart disease, according to Dr. Anthony Locurto, a cardiologist with Aurora Medical Center in Kenosha, WI
“I usually approach discussions with my patients regarding diet and heart disease with an emphasis on limitation of salt in the diet, and increasing fiber, fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Locurto. “The DASH diet is good for patients with high blood pressure. The Mediterranean diet is good for high blood pressure and or heart disease. It is important to eat healthy.”
He recommends choosing baked, grilled, broiled or steam foods lower in fat. Increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet will add the vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants you need to stay healthy.
“Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation,” explains Dr. Locurto. “Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals leading to damage in cells and tissue.”
Top foods with high antioxidants:
- Dark chocolate
- Red cabbage
Adding fiber to your diet is important too, he says. That includes focusing on whole wheat bread, eating berries and nuts, and adding beans to your diet.
“Also important is keeping blood sugar under control, weight loss and regular exercise,’’ suggests Dr. Locurto. “All of these things put together will help ensure heart health and limit chronic inflammation and heart disease.”