Swapping dairy fat for healthier kinds of fat: This step is recommended by a Harvard study to correct the balance of fats in your diet. Reducing your intake of dairy products. The Mayo Clinic explains meat and dairy “are the primary contributors of saturated fats in most diets.” The saturated fat in dairy products might not be as strongly linked to risk for heart disease as red meat. That might be because the other nutrients in dairy have preventative effects. Another group of Harvard researchers found dairy products, such as full-fat dairy milk, yogurt, butter, cheeses, and cream, don’t increase heart disease risk. But they don’t reduce your risk either. So their recommendation is to replace some of the dairy fat in your diet with calories from vegetable fat or polyunsaturated fat. That swap results in a significant decrease in your heart disease risk.
Reducing your sodium intake: We all know processed foods are pretty unhealthy. But what most of us don’t realize is it’s not just the fat in those foods that make them bad for us. Their high levels of sodium are also at fault. Researchers report that reducing your sodium intake will lower your blood pressure. A lower blood pressure, in turn, will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. The upshot? You should stay mindful of how much sodium you’re consuming, and do your best to find ways to cut extra salt out of your diet.
Consuming more fish: The American Heart Association notes you should eat fishonce or twice a week. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids that reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids can decrease your triglycerides, lower your blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, reduce irregular heartbeats, and decrease your risk of stroke and heart failure. And the Mayo Clinic explains it’s not just the omega-3 fatty acids that might help your heart health. Other nutrients contained in fish can help, too. Plus, you don’t have to worry as much about mercury and other contaminants as you might think. The Mayo Clinic reports the heart-healthy benefits of eating fish outweigh the risk of exposure to contamination.
Eating less red meat: Everybody loves their burgers and steaks. But experts say you should eat less red meat if you’re trying to prevent heart disease. The reason why? Red meat contains saturated fat. That’s the kind that can build up on your artery walls. According to a nutritionist from the Harvard School of Public Health, the kinds of fat you eat are more important than how much fat you eat. Trans fats (such as vegetable shortening or margarine) have adverse effects. So do saturated fats, which you should replace with poly- and mono-unsaturated fat. Still with us? In practice, what you need to do is reduce your intake of red meat. That will tip the balance of fat in your diet away from the bad kinds — and reduce your chances of developing coronary heart disease.
Eating more nuts: You might think reducing your risk of heart disease would be all about things that you can’t eat. But it’s not all bad news. The Harvard study also recommends increasing your intake of nuts, fish, soy products, and nonhydrogenated vegetable oils. The Mayo Clinic explains nuts make a great snack. They benefit your heart and reduce your chances of dying early from heart disease. That’s because they lower your levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. And eating nuts leads to lower levels of the inflammation that’s linked to heart disease.
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