Every January, US News comes out with its big annual list of best (and worst) diets. As of late, diets with a heart-healthy emphasis tend to bubble to the top of the pack, and it’s no wonder; heart disease takes the cake for leading cause of death in the US. We like heart-healthy eating plans because the focus is generally more on health and wellness and less on numbers and what the scale says. In theory, if you consistently follow a heart-healthy plan, the numbers will go in the right direction.
Regardless of which book you’ve picked up or which heart-healthy diet plan you think works best for your lifestyle, there are a few things every plan has in common:
Eat Whole Grains
An emphasis on whole grains instead of processed grains is usually at the top of the list for most heart-healthy diets. Here’s a hint: if it’s white, it’s probably not whole grain. (But read the fine print. When in doubt, look for fiber in the nutritional information.)
Get Your Five a Day
Ample fruits and vegetables daily are also heart-healthy foods. Packed with fiber, they bulk up your meals and help you feel full for longer. While most foods should be taken in moderation, when it comes to fruits and veggies the more the merrier! Simply switch up and rotate which fruits and vegetables your eating.
What about meat?
Meat is on a downward trend when it comes to heart-healthy diets. Less is more seems to be the name of the game. Some eating plans recommend no meat, some recommend mostly no meat (like the Flexitarian diet) and some recommend sticking to leaner meats in moderation. All heart-healthy diets suggest cutting back on processed meats, like bacon and sausage, as well as red meat and meat cuts that are particularly fatty. Fish is generally acceptable (assuming you’re not going vegetarian).
Across the board, limiting your intake of saturated fats and trans fats is part of a heart-healthy diet. What does this mean? Mostly, it means sticking to low-fat or fat-free dairy as well as limiting your intake of fatty meats (see above). Plant-sourced fats, however, aren’t completely out of the clear. While coconut oil does have a lot of nutritional benefits, it is also a source of saturated fat so it’s something to keep an eye on.
One of the biggest challenges in following a diet with an emphasis on heart health boils down to two things: cooking and time. Since the majority of your dietary intake should come from whole foods, there is little room for those processed, pre-prepared microwave dinners or “quick fix” meals. It can be difficult to adhere to a plan when you have to cook every single night and make the meals palatable to your whole family. We’ve been specializing in delivering healthy meals prepared by professional chefs for nearly two decades. With our services you have it all – more time with your family and the knowledge that you’re not only providing healthy nutrition but also helping your family build those healthy habits. These are tools that last a lifetime. For more information on our heart-healthy meal delivery plans, fill out our food questionnaire and we’ll be in touch for a consultation!