Having a healthy heart in the future requires some small sacrifices today. Our future will depend on the choices we make today.

When it comes to preventing diseases of the heart, the most important choice you will have to make is to control what goes into your stomach.  Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women and it kills more than cancer or HIV.

Changing your diet to a healthier one is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease or to reverse heart disease if you have been diagnosed with one.  Here are some tips to prevent diseases of the cardiovascular system or heart disease.

1 stay away from salt  
Salt contains sodium. Sodium is responsible for raising our blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor heart diseases. In order to improve the taste of your food, use natural spices like garlic, ginger or celery to improve the taste of your food instead of using salt. 

The American Heart Association has recommended that an adult should not consume more than a teaspoon of salt in one day.

2 Reduce your consumption of canned and processed foods

Canned and processed foods are very high in sodium. It is preferable to buy fresh foods and use them for cooking instead of canned foods.

3 Eat more healthy fats and reduce unhealthy fats
When protecting yourself from diseases of the heart, beware of trans fats. Trans fats are otherwise known as unhealthy fats. 

Trans fats raise your level of Low density lipoprotein (LDL) which is commonly known as bad cholesterol.  LDL is responsible for increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Trans fats are found in the following:
  • Fried foods such as fried chicken, donuts
  • Baked things such as biscuits, cakes, cookies
  • Fats which are solid at room temperature like hydrogenated margarine

Th next thing to do is to avoid eating too much saturated fat. It is not as dangerous as trans-fat but eating large quantities of it has been linked to an increase risk of diseases of the heart.

 Saturated fats can be found in tropical oils, dairy products such as cheese or animal products such as red meat and chicken.

Healthy fats will include all unsaturated fats (mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated). Unsaturated fats help to prevent diseases of the heart and improve the level of good cholesterol in our blood. 

Healthy fats are found in foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids like trout fish, salmon, sardine, spinach, flaxseed or kale. Pear (avocado) is also a good source of unsaturated fats.

4 Cut down on your sugar

Sugars have been found to increase our blood pressure which in turn damages the health of our heart. The American Heart Association has recommended that women should not eat more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and men should not consume more than 9 teaspoons of sugar a day. It is important to know that even though we may not consume sugar physically in teaspoons, sugar is also found in sweet drinks, and foods such as cakes, ice cream or cookies.

5 Eat foods that contain fiber such as fruits and vegetables 

Fiber can prevent heart disease because it is able to lower blood pressure and reduce the level of bad cholesterol.  Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and nutrients that help in the prevention of many diseases.

Fibers are also low in calories. Foods that contain fiber include orange, banana, peanut, pear, apple, cooked grains, beans, whole wheat bread, carrots, broccoli, spinach, cereals etc.

References: Heart healthy diet tips Added sugars add to your risk of dying from heart disease
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