Heart healthy diet
Did you know every 40 seconds, someone dies due to heart disease? As the number one cause of death in the United States, many of my patients ask me how to live well. I tell them to picture wellness as a pie. Each slice has a purpose for balance and wellness. The slices I discuss include nutrition, physical activity, spirituality, community, and mindfulness.
In order for your heart to beat 115,200 times per day, it has to work without breaks. It doesn’t have the ability to stop and think about what it should be doing. To support this functionality, we can choose to be mindful in what we provide this essential organ. Fuel (food) is one of the most important items.
While many diets promote or have evidence for weight loss, there is one that data shows consistent support of our cardiovascular systems. This is what is known as the Mediterranean diet.
The essential components of this dietary regimen include:
- Limiting animal sources of protein and fat
- Consuming a diverse collection of vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains and seeds
- Beans, legumes and plant-based sources of food
Our bodies, specifically our liver produces all the cholesterol we need to support vital functions. Excess dietary cholesterol, particularly saturated fats, lead to atherosclerosis, inflammation and heart disease. In fact, did you know that for every 100 mg of cholesterol in our diet, it increases our cholesterol levels by 5 points? This amount is the same as a 4 oz. piece of beef or chicken, half an egg or 3 cups of milk. As our cholesterol increases, our risk for heart attack, stroke and cancer rises.
Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In other words, if you can be mindful about what you put on your plate, then you can shift your risk for heart disease.
Are you intrigued by how you can use food to nourish your body and prevent disease? Here are a few resources:
- Watch the documentary called ‘Forks over Knives” on Netflix
- Read “Savor- Mindful Eating, Mindful Life” written together by a Tibetan monk and nutritionist.
DISCLAIMER: The contents and opinions expressed by Everett Clinic teammates and providers on “A Healthier You” blog and those providing comments are theirs alone and are not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your own provider for personal health recommendations
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