3 Ways Your Diet Affects Your Heart Health

3 Ways Your Diet Affects Your Heart Health

All too often, we neglect the importance of good nutrition until we’re faced with a diagnosis of high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

At HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, our team of heart specialists understand that what you eat – or don’t eat – impacts your cardiovascular health. That’s why we offer customized nutrition programs and weight-loss services to get you back on track with a heart-healthy diet.

Our physicians also provide resources that help you make better food choices now, so you can prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases later.

3 key ways your diet plays a role in heart disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of premature death in the United States. While some underlying contributors to heart disease are out of your control, one of the biggest known factors is your diet.

Here are three ways a poor diet can significantly increase your risk for chronic heart disease and other serious health complications:

1. Too much fat

Your body requires a certain amount of fat to function optimally. However, too much fat can have a profound effect on your physical health.

Trans fats found in many processed foods like doughnuts and packaged cakes can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes. Eating too much saturated fat in things like beef, pork, butter, and cheese can lead to elevated cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol can eventually build up on your blood vessel walls and affect how well blood can flow to and from your heart.

Mono and polyunsaturated fats are the healthier fats you should incorporate into your diet in place of saturated and trans fats. These fats are found in salmon, avocados, olive oil, and sunflower seeds and can help reduce high cholesterol.

2. Too much sugar

Your body uses the sugar it gets from your diet and converts it into the energy your cells need to function. Consuming too much sugar can throw a monkey wrench in this process and increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and obesity-related complications.

The natural sugars found in fruits are much healthier than processed sugars in soda and cookies. However, to protect your heart health, it’s important that you follow a well-balanced diet that also incorporates leafy greens and other non-processed, no-sugar ingredients.

If you already have diabetes, you really need to stay on top of your diet to lower your risk for heart disease, nerve damage, and other diabetes complications. To keep your diabetes well controlled, be sure to take your medications as directed by your doctor and regularly check your blood sugar levels.

3. Too much sodium (salt)

Your body needs some amount of salt to maintain a proper balance of fluids, transmit nerve signals, and relax muscles in your heart and throughout your body.

Too much salt can lead to excess fluid buildup that puts pressure on your heart, increases your blood pressure, and increases your risk for chronic heart disease.

Following a low-sodium diet means eliminating prepackaged foods, processed meats, and salty snacks. Learn how to read labels when grocery shopping to ensure what you buy isn’t loaded with sodium, and opt for fresh vegetables and fruits as much as possible.

If you need to make changes to your diet but aren’t sure where to start, schedule a consultation at HeartCare Associates of Connecticut, LLC, today. Call the office nearest you or book an appointment online. 

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