What is the Cardiac Diet?
The cardiac diet is often implemented to help individuals with heart disease maintain good health. The cardiac diet is most successful when combined with regular activity and the avoidance of all foods deemed unhealthy.
Applying the cardiac diet to your lifestyle
Reduce the unhealthy fats and cholesterol found in the diet
While some fats are good, patients should try to avoid saturated and trans fats. By eliminating these fats from the diet individuals can lower their blood cholesterol and the risk of dying from heart disease. This can be achieved by cooking with less butter, margarine and/or shortening. Solid fats tend to be higher in saturated fats and trans fat, as in the case of margarine and should, therefore, be used sparingly. Additionally, opt to eat only lean pieces of meat.
Eat low fat protein
Protein sources like lean meat, poultry, egg whites and low fat dairy products are preferable. When drinking milk choose skimmed milk which contains all the nutrients in milk but with less fat.
Fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to lower triglyceride levels. Salmon, mackerel and herring are the best sources of this nutrient.
You may also obtain some of your protein requirement from beans, peas and lentils. These are high in vitamins and minerals and do not contain fat or cholesterol.
Eat a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables daily
Vegetables and fruits will provide essential vitamins and minerals in the diet. They are also low in calories and contain substantial amounts of dietary fiber. Filling up on vegetables, will help you to reduce your food intake from meat, snacks and cheeses.
Eat whole grains
Whole grains are essential to the diet and will help to regulate blood pressure and keep the heart healthy. Increase the amount of whole grains in your diet by replacing refined grain products with whole grain food items. Eat flax seeds which also contain whole grain and omega-3 fatty acids that will help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Reduce salt intake
Eating foods that are high in sodium will increase blood pressure and also put you at risk for developing heart disease. Decreasing your salt intake will be vital. Adults should not eat more than 1 teaspoon of salt daily. You may however need to cook your own meals to achieve this objective. Canned and processed foods tend to be high in salt content and should, therefore, be avoided. You should be able to find reduced sodium products that are specifically tailored to promote heart health in your local supermarket.
Eat smaller portions
Ensure you are eating a balanced diet that contains adequate levels of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals. However, do not eat excessively as this may lead to the over-consumption of calories, cholesterol and fats. Your aim should be to maintain a healthy weight.
Create a meal plan
Follow a meal plan carefully. Create menus that you can use daily to ensure you are getting the right amounts of nutrients. Make your diet varied while sticking to the list of foods to avoid and foods you should consume.