Good Health for Your Heart
Eating healthy for your heart can be easy once you know the facts! Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, encompasses many different diseases that affect the heart including high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both of which can be prevented or improved by eating the right foods for your heart.
Sodium, saturated fat and fiber are three important nutrients you want to look for on nutrition labels when eating heart healthy. You want to limit your intake of sodium and saturated fat, and be sure to eat plenty of fiber. In addition to these nutrients, some foods can help support heart health providing benefits such as lowering cholesterol or blood pressure.
To begin eating healthy for your heart, follow these three steps in regards to sodium, saturated fat, and fiber.
- Start by reading the nutrition label. Saturated fat and sodium are the two main things you want to consider for heart health. For saturated fat, choose a product that has <2 g of saturated fat per serving. Limit red meats, butter and full-fat dairy products as these foods are high in saturated fat. For sodium, choose a product that has <140 mg of sodium per serving. Limit canned beans and vegetables, breads and processed foods, as these are high in sodium.
- Second, compare the amount of saturated fat or sodium to the serving size and how much you are eating. The label may pass the test for only one serving, but if you are eating multiple servings of the product that increases the amount of saturated fat and sodium you are consuming. If you are comparing two products and are unsure which one to choose, choose the one that has less saturated fat and sodium.
- Third, look for fiber! Find products that have >3 g of fiber per serving. Fiber helps reduce cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. Whole grain products such as whole-grain breads, oats, brown rice, and whole grain pastas and cereals are good sources of fiber.
In addition to a heart-healthy diet, regular exercise is key to good cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, along with additional recommendations for weight loss or managing health conditions. Learn more about the recommendations on their website.
If your Network Provider determines you are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease or you're diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi has designated Centers of Excellence which specialize in treating cardiac disease. The Blue Distinction+ designation is part of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi's statewide Cardiac Care Collaborative with its Network Providers that provide cardiovascular disease management. The collaborative focuses on best practice care coordination with the goal of healthier outcomes through an emphasis on quality and prevention.
For more about heart health, you can find a variety of other helpful information from the American Heart Association.