Have you ever heard of a greasy burger and fries referred to as a “heart attack on a plate?” Although a single high-fat meal probably won’t immediately send you to the emergency room with a heart attack, it’s clear that your diet has a huge impact on your cardiovascular health. If you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease (or know you’re at risk for it), it’s smart to be mindful of the foods you eat.
More specifically, it’s smart to keep in mind What is the price You are Eating. Of all the recommendations for a heart-healthy diet, the one that might have the greatest impact is Keep your stakes under control. While other diet tips — such as consuming more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats — are all worth following, a heart-healthy diet starts with eating the right amounts.
In fact, when the American Heart Association released 2021 Guidelines To improve cardiovascular health, her first dietary recommendations were related to adjusting calorie intake. In their words, to promote heart health, people should “modify energy intake and expenditure to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight”. Controlling the portions you eat at meals and snacks is a sure way to keep your weight in a healthy range.
You may be wondering what’s so important about eating moderate amounts and watching the number on the scale. For heart disease, isn’t it important to keep your arteries free of harmful saturated fats or sodium that causes high blood pressure? Granted, these nutritional strategies are important parts of your heart health toolkit — but maintaining a healthy weight may be even more important.
According to Kabir Study 2018Excess body weight significantly increased the risk of cardiovascular disease (especially at an early age). Carrying extra pounds increased the risk of death from heart disease.
The relationship between how much you eat and your chances of developing heart disease is due to the ways your weight affects cardiovascular risk factors. Experts have long known that a high BMI can happen Causes high blood pressure, for example. Being overweight increases your likelihood of developing high cholesterol and diabetes, two other major contributors to heart disease. Meanwhile, obesity can Cause myocardial injury—Even in the absence of other risk factors.
So how exactly do you divide your meals for a healthier heart? There are so many ways – and some are even kind of fun (we promise)! For example, eating plates and small plates can provide visual cues that give the impression that a portion is satisfying. Try investing in a set of attractive, deflated plates that you love to look at. Some dishes come pre-divided, bento style, with sections for each food group or macronutrient.
Keeping a food diary or keeping track of food can also help you keep track of how much you’re eating. If you’re the pen and paper type, consider writing down the foods you eat each day in approximate amounts. Or, if you prefer a digital experience, check out tracking apps like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal.
Some people also benefit from being familiar with a file Hand-sized portion control strategy. The idea is that parts of your hand can act as a visual aid. An appropriate serving of meat is the size of your palm, for example, and the tip of your thumb is a good indicator of fat splitting like butter or mayonnaise. The more portion control you have as a habit, the more results you’ll see for your weight — and your heart.
Sarah Garon, NDTR
Sarah Garon, NDTR, is a registered nutrition and diet expert, and health, nutrition, and food writer. Read more about Sarah
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