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A Guide to Introducing Your Patients to Heart Healthy Eating

Heart disease is the number one killer in the USA and helping your patients to improve their diet and lifestyle can help prevent this according to the American Heart Association. Even if your patients already have heart disease they can still benefit a lot from a healthy diet and regular exercise. According to The American Heart Association, many major risk factors for heart disease are controllable and often preventable through diet and lifestyle. These risk factors include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactive lifestyle, high stress, smoking, unhealthy eating and more. Getting your patients to start with small but consistent changes in their diet and lifestyle can make a big difference.

Basic guidelines for a heart healthy lifestyle:

  • Obtaining/maintaining a healthy weight
  • Increasing physical activity every day
  • Obtaining/maintaining a healthy balanced diet
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Managing diabetes
  • Managing high cholesterol
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Eliminating smoking and exposure to second hand smoke

Health professionals should have the basic knowledge to help guide both healthy & at-risk patients toward a diet of heart healthy eating and cardiovascular disease prevention. The following tips should provide the basic understanding of what a heart healthy diet involves during recent times of nutritional controversies and misconceptions.

Guide your patients toward a heart healthy diet by following these tips:

  • Add more fruits and vegetables to the diet
  • Swap out refined grains for whole grains
  • Pick out lean meats over fatty meats
  • Eat a variety of fish at least 2x per week
  • Limit processed meats like bacon, sausage, deli meats and hot dogs
  • Use fewer frozen and over-processed products
  • Choose reduced-salt versions of canned vegetables and processed foods
  • Rinse all canned vegetables before cooking
  • Limit use of high-salt condiments such as ketchup, steak sauce and soy sauce
  • Increase fiber intake – to help a sluggish digestive system
  • Add more Omega 3 foods in the diet

Reduce calories each day by following these simple behavioral tips:

  • Use Portion control – prepare smaller portions at meal times.
  • Read food labels and know the amounts of calories per serving
  • Leave snack plates of vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator
  • Choose foods that do not have added sugars
  • Eat mindfully – savor each bite and chew slowly
  • Exercise for 45 minutes each day

Reduce fat intake by following these simple tips:

  • Use liquid vegetable oils in place of butter, margarine, palm oil and shortening
  • Use low-fat dairy products like 2% milk or skim milk
  • Remove visible fat from meat and poultry
  • Use fewer commercial snacks like cookies, cakes, high calorie bars, and doughnuts
  • Limit processed meats like bacon, sausage, deli meat and hot dogs.

Reduce fat intake by following these simple tips:

  • Use liquid vegetable oils in place of butter, margarine, palm oil and shortening
  • Use low-fat dairy products like 2% milk or skim milk
  • Remove visible fat from meat and poultry
  • Use fewer commercial snacks like cookies, cakes, high calorie bars, and doughnuts
  • Limit processed meats like bacon, sausage, deli meat and hot dogs.

Reduce sugar intake by following these simple tips:

  • Limit sugary soft drinks like soda, fruit juice, sweet tea and café style coffee drinks
  • Use less jellies, honey and candied products
  • Eat less cake, cookies, pies, high calorie bars and doughnuts
  • Eat fruit for dessert instead of choosing other high sugar options

Helping your patients change & improve their diet and life style can eliminate many conditions that prelude heart disease. Small and consistent diet and lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your patients’ health and well-being. Download our pdf on changing the environment to eat less.

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Sources: Nutrition411.com/Heart Healthy Eating; American Heart Association; www.health.harvard.edu/blog/healthy-lifestyle-can- prevent-diabetes-and-even-reverse-it; www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/first-steps-to-prevent-heart-disease-and-be-heart- healthy/eat-well-prevent-heart-disease/ JACC – A Clinician’s Guide for Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies –
http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/72/5/553?_ga=2.206687507.1405331300.1537286741-1717513157.1537286741

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