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Five Ways to Protect Your Heart in 2024

Discover five dietary approaches to show your heart love by reducing risk of heart disease.

Five Ways to Protect Your Heart in 2024

The heart. It's a fantastic organ that leads the body in almost every function. The heart is the primary organ responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. In addition to this, the heart also controls heart rate and helps in the maintenance of blood pressure. If your heart isn't working well, the rest of the body may suffer. Due to its importance in general health, it's no surprise that a heart-healthy dietary pattern is an attractive choice for better health.

Consider these five dietary approaches to reduce your risk of heart disease and make the most out of loving your heart.

  1. Consume more fruits and vegetables.

It may be rather evident that fruits and vegetables benefit health. After all, hundreds of studies show the benefits to plants and health. The heart, in particular, loves fruits and vegetables and all the benefits of consuming them. A 2023 study found that leaving fruits and vegetables out of your diet may increase your risk for heart disease. The study further suggested that individuals should aim for 2-3 servings each for better cardiovascular health. A great way to view servings is to count colors. For example, if you aim for six different colors from plants each day, you are more likely to get the servings you need (as well as a wide variety of nutrients). In addition to consuming more fruits and vegetables, the study assessed the benefits of legumes, nuts, fish, and whole-fat dairy. If you lack plants in your diet, start small by adding in a piece of fruit for a snack, or some broccoli as a side to protein at dinner.

  1. Get to know the DASH approach.

The DASH diet is a diet that was created to assist individuals with high blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. A 2022 study from The American Heart Association found that utilizing the DASH diet for stage 1 hypertension ( systolic ranging from 130 to 139 or diastolic ranging from 80 to 89) could prevent 26,000 cardiovascular disease events and 2,900 deaths. The DASH diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, beans & and legumes, and vegetable oils. Swap chips for nuts and seeds for snacks and utilize more beans and legumes as a source of plant-based protein in place of red meat.

  1. Grow to love bananas, avocados, and salmon.

Many studies have demonstrated the impact of excess sodium on cardiovascular health. A 2022 study in women found that consuming foods rich in potassium may help offset the cardiovascular risk associated with higher sodium diets. Great potassium-rich foods include things like bananas, avocados, and salmon. Add bananas and avocado to smoothies, or consider grilled salmon as a topper to salads and vegetable bowls.

  1. Wake up with eggs.

Eggs are often referred to as some of the most conceivably packaged nutrient-dense foods, but for many years, eggs were seen as food that should be avoided in a heart-healthy diet. Why? Because eggs are high in cholesterol, experts believed that cholesterol in food was linked directly with cholesterol in the body. Subsequent research has demonstrated a different side to the cholesterol coin; and now, eggs have been found beneficial to heart health. A 2022 study found that moderate egg consumption led to an increase in healthy metabolites in the blood associated with better heart health. Consider scrambled eggs with vegetables or hard-boiled eggs as a snack a few days a week.

  1. Slash the sugary drinks.

The old thinking in the world of heart-healthy diets was that saturated fats were to blame for worsening heart health, but newer research has shown otherwise – sugar is a much more offensive culprit to the heart. It is estimated that about 63% of youths and 49% of adults drink sugary beverages on a given day. These numbers are alarming, given the results of a 2015 study showing that just two weeks of drinking sugary beverages can increase cardiovascular disease risk factors in young adults. Start limiting any drinks with added sugar (think cola, juice, and sports drinks) and opt instead for plain water with lemon, or naturally flavored seltzer water.

Diet is a significant factor in better heart health. Still, studies show that managing stress, getting adequate sleep, limiting sedentary behaviors, and engaging in physical activity will also play a significant role alongside healthy eating habits. Eating more plants, moving more, and stressing less may all lead to a healthier ticker and a longer life!