What reasons can you think of that might make someone think it’s too late to start a heart healthy diet?
“I already have heart disease. Diet can’t change that.”
“I don’t need to eat heart healthy foods because my cholesterol and blood pressure lowering meds take care of that.”
“I’ve been eating a certain way my whole life; I don’t want to change my habits and even if I did, it’s too hard to eat heart healthy.”
Well…good news! Studies show that it’s never too late to start a heart healthy diet. Older people with established heart disease who eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts can significantly lower their risk of dying from a cardiac event.
Patients, and even a few physicians, think if medications are effectively lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, there is no need to modify diet. Or they may recommend the old standard “everything in moderation.” Not enough emphasis is made on the impact that a heart healthy diet—which is mostly plant-based—can have on reducing risk for heart disease and in some cases, reversing heart disease
There are those who think if they have been eating a certain way most of their life, it would be too hard to make dietary changes now. However, they might feel less overwhelmed if they knew that even small changes and substitutions can add up to big benefits in reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Some examples of simple, heart healthy changes you can make today!
- Incorporate more whole grains by swapping out cereals like corn flakes or Rice Krispies for whole-grain cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber. Or, mix your favorite cereal with a more fiber-rich cereal.
- Take some time on a weekend (20 minutes or less!) to cut up some veggies to add to salads, sandwiches or just to have for snacks throughout the week.
- Have nuts like walnuts and almonds chopped and readily available for snacks, oatmeal, salad or trail mix.
- If you’re a “steak and potatoes” fan, opt for lean cuts of meat like tenderloin. Instead of a baked potato, try a baked sweet potato. They have great flavor and more nutrients and fiber than regular potatoes.
- Puree beans and add to soups, stews and sauces for a richer taste and more fiber.
- Replace sticks of butter with other spreads made with olive oil, canola oil, or other monounsaturated fats.
- Let fruits and vegetables take up half of the plate at mealtimes.
- Eat fish at least twice a week.
- Instead of salt at the table, add dried herbs and spices for seasoning.
Talk to an RMH dietitian for more information on heart healthy diets, recipes, heart healthy snacks and meal plans.
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