Eat better, lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking — each of these two-word suggestions can go a long way toward improving your heart health, but they’re much easier said than done.
The fact is that the general state of cardiovascular health in the United States isn’t all that great — nearly half of Americans have cardiovascular disease (CVD). And this is very concerning if you consider that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US.
Here at Upper East Side Cardiology, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and our team focus on preventive cardiology as much as possible. Whether we’re trying to prevent CVD in the first place or prevent the complications that come from CVD, diet can play an enormous role.
Instead of simply asking you to undo years and years of nutritional habits by directing you to, “Eat better,” we’re going to share five specific steps that are easy to implement.
1. Look for the heart label
Trying to decipher nutritional information on packing can be difficult, to say the least. To help, the American Heart Association has created the Heart-Check mark, which can be easily spotted on packages. If you look for packages that have this mark, it takes the guesswork out of shopping because you know the food is certified to support your heart health.
For more information and a good visual of the Heart-Check mark, click here. (Please note that most foods outside of packaging, such as fruits and vegetables, are heart healthy and don’t need a check mark!)
2. Swap out one snack or side at a time
A great way to transition into healthier eating habits is to start with a snack or side dish and build from there. For example, swap out the bag of chips for a handful of nuts. Or, instead of diving into the cookies, eat two small squares of dark chocolate (85% cacao or higher).
When it comes to your dinner, you can lose the side of cheesy potatoes in favor of a few carrots or crunchy celery sticks. Or, take the cream out of your spinach and simply sautee the vegetable in some olive oil instead.
These small changes can make a big difference and, once they become part of your eating habits, you can build on them.
3. Practice portion control
There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to food. Swap out that large plate for a smaller one so you can limit the food you eat. And have a no seconds rule.
4. Don't plow through your food
A great way to support portion control is to slow down your eating and to eat more mindfully. We often rush through our meals, and we don’t stop to savor the flavors and textures. If you eat slowly and really endeavor to taste each food, you’ll be more satisfied with what you eat.
5. Get rid of white carbs
Processed carbs are unhealthy, so this is a good place to make some changes considering that processed carbs are everywhere. But, so are alternatives. Instead of white rice, opt for brown rice. Swap out your white bread for 100% whole wheat or whole grain bread. Skip the chips and crackers and munch some popcorn instead.
Pasta choices are broadening these days and you have many healthier options than white pasta, such as pasta made from whole wheat or even veggies like carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas. You can even forego pasta in favor of something healthier, like couscous or quinoa.
If you can eliminate white carbs from your diet, you’re making a huge step toward improving your cardiovascular ehealth.
These five tips will put you on the road to a healthier heart, and we’re happy to share more with you — tips that are more customized to your needs and circumstances.
To get started, simply contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to set up an appointment. You can also call (212) 752-3464.