Avoid Heart Disease and Stroke Through Healthy Nutrition

By Kristin Burgess, RD

Avoid Heart Disease and Stroke Through Healthy Nutrition

We continue to hear less and less about the importance of having a heart-healthy diet. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for over 650,000 deaths per year. Is it because we have many different pharmaceutical drugs to manage risk, such as high cholesterol? Is it because we often say to ourselves “it is hereditary?” Could it be from the food companies putting less emphasis on heart health marketing and more on weight loss? Any of these reasons are possible. However, heart disease continues to be the main cause of death across the entire globe. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools at your disposal for preventing it, with good nutrition being THE most effective one.

Here is a list of dietary tips from Club Greenwood’s certified nutritionists that can help to prevent and manage heart disease:

Avoid vegetable oils

  • Avoid cottonseed, vegetable, canola, sunflower, or any other vegetable oil
  • Choose olive oil (best), peanut, avocado, coconut, grapeseed
  • Avoid processed foods with these oils in them

Avoid cooking at high temperatures

  • Cooking at high temps causes a chemical reaction in fat molecules creating a trans fat
  • Avoid:
    • Adding oil to your food in general, but especially meat because there is already fat in the meat
    • Cooking over 350 degrees – if you are going to, use grapeseed, peanut, or avocado oil
    • Limit your portion of marinades and/or also cook at a low temperature
  • Cook SLOW with low heat as much as possible

Avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oil

  • Our bodies do not break down trans fats, therefore they “collect” in our circulatory system and never leave
  • Trans fats are no longer allowed by the FDA but there are many products on the shelf that were produced before this became a new law

Avoid white, processed carbohydrates

  • Avoid foods that are “enriched” or have vitamins and minerals added to them
    • These foods have been highly processed
  • Breads, pastas – look for 100% whole grain
    • Super healthy and awesome to have, as long as they are 100% whole grain or 100% made from beans/legumes
  • Choose:
    • 100% whole grains
    • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa

Avoid foods with added sugars

  • Four grams of sugar on a food label = one teaspoon of sugar
  • Limit foods/drinks with less than eight grams per serving and be sure to stick to the portion listed on the label

Avoid processed meat and limit red meat

  • Limit sausages, bacons, lunch meats
  • Grass fed beef is worth the cost if it fits your budget
    • The type of fat in the meat is a different fat and less detrimental to our heart health than conventional

Limit high saturated foods

  • Any food with less than three grams of saturated fat per serving should be evaluated and portion controlled
    • Cheese – limit to one serving per day (one ounce, ¼ cup shredded, 1 cheese stick or better yet avoid!)
    • Coconut oil – research shows because of it’s high saturated fat content, it still raises bad cholesterol  – limit
    • Chocolate – no matter how dark it is, it still doesn’t fit in a heart healthy diet more than once or twice a week

Limit Alcohol

  • Or better yet, avoid
  • Limit to no more than 3 drinks a week
    • One drink = one ounce hard alcohol, 12 ounces light beer, four to five ounces of wine

Add to your day!

               Foods that have high monounsaturated fat which helps to lower “bad” cholesterol. Your goal is to change the ratio of “bad” fats to “good” fats in your day

  • Avocados – aim for half an avocado per day
    • Loaded in nutrients – I consider this a superfood
    • Spread on your toast, eat on the side, spread in a whole grain burrito…
  • Raw nuts – aim for one quarter cup per day
    • Raw is best – limit roasted and salted- Any nut is good but almonds, walnuts and pistachios have the healthiest fat profile
    • Nut butter is great too – Two tbsp = one quarter cup nuts
  • Olive oil – one to two teaspoons per day
  • Vegetables – aim for at least three different per day and two cups each time
  • Fruits – aim for at least two different

WATER. Possibly the most important nutrient. 

  • At least half your body weight in ounces EVERY DAY
    • this does not include workout water. If you exercise regularly, add 20 or more ounces to your day
  • Begin your day with 20 ounces upon waking – before breakfast
  • Aim to be finished with your goal by 5:00pm
  • Aim to drink 10 ounces every time you drink!
    • Don’t put the lid on and set your reusable bottle down until you have finished 10 ounces
  • Water optimizes blood flow = more oxygen to your cells = more nutrients to your cells = tissues are able to function correctly!

Work With the Experts!

  • Sustainable nutrition can be a difficult journey to begin, but you never have to do it alone!
  • Working with an experienced fitness nutritionist can help you find the best nutritional profile for your unique needs.

If you have questions or concerns about how you can manage your heart disease, contact Kristin Burgess, RD.


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