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Preventing Heart Disease: What to Eat

About 12.6 million Americans currently have heart disease.

1.1 million Americans will experience a serious heart event this year.

One in four Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease. Every 34 seconds one American will die as a result of cardiovascular disease.

No other disease claims as many women's lives as cardiovascular disease. One American woman dies each minute as a result of cardiovascular disease.

Around 700,000 Americans will have a stroke this years. That's one stroke every 45 seconds.

HEART DISEASE IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST KILLER OF AMERICANS. IT KILLS AS MANY AMERICANS AS THE NEXT 5 LEADING CAUSES OF DEATH.

One important step in reducing your risk of heart disease is to change your diet.

These are what you should consume more of:

1. Vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and fish.

These foods contain monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are good for the heart.

Monounsaturated fatty acids help increase the level of good cholesterol.

There are three chemical subgroups of unsaturated fatty acids called essential fatty acids. These are omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils (docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaneoic acids), plants and seeds (alpha-linolenic acid) and have significant benefits. For example they improve your good cholesterol levels, reduce your overall heart disease risk and may reduce your chances of developing an irregular heart rhythm.

The American Heart Association and other experts recommend that you should get most of your unsaturated fats from omega-3 fatty acids

Omega 6 fatty acids are found in corn, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oil. However a high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids will result in weight gain and will give you a higher risk of getting certain cancers and some chronic diseases.

Omega-9 fatty acids are found in canola and olive oil. They may also contain chemicals that block the harmful affects of omega-6 fatty acids.

Eating fish twice a week will improve your good cholesterol, lower your chance of dying from heart disease, and improve your blood pressure. Choose oil fish like salmon, mackerel, or sardines as they are the most healthy and are high in omega-3. Avoid fish that are high in mercury like shark, king mackerel, tilefish or swordfish. Fish is the best source of protein and is better for your cardiac health than chicken or lean meat.

The amount of polyunsaturated fat that you eat should be up to 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. The amount of monounsaturated fat that you eat should be up to 15 percent of your daily calorie intake.

2. Oats, lentils, potatoes, apples, pinto beans, citrus, black beans and barley.

These foods contain soluble fiber that helps increase your levels of good cholesterol. Soluble fiber may also reduce blood pressure.

When you increase the amount of soluble fiber in your diet you should also increase the amount of water that you drink.

3. Wheat bran, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and fruit and vegetable peels

These foods contain insoluble fiber. Eating insoluble fiber may help with weight lost and lower your risk of heart disease.

4. Soy products (not soy sauce).

Soy products are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as providing all essential proteins.

5. Green tea.

Green tea is rich in chemicals that protect against bad cholesterol.

6. Coffee.

Coffee contains phenol, a chemical that helps stop oxidation of bad cholesterol.

7. Potassium-rich food like bananas, oranges, pears, prunes, cantaloupes, tomatoes, dried peas and beans, nuts, potatoes, and avocados.

A potassium-rich diet can help you achieve healthy blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of you having a stroke by 22 to 40%. However too much potassium can cause stomach pain, muscle weakness and in rare cases, dangerous heart events.

8. Water

Many heart risk factors are made worse by dehydration. In a 2002 study it was found that if you drank five or more glasses of water a day you had lower risk of a fatal heart event than if you drunk two or fewer glasses a day.

9. Alcohol.

One or two glasses of alcohol a day will help protect your heart. However heavy drinking will harm your heart.

The DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

The DASH diet is a diet that is clinically proven to significantly reduce blood pressure. It emphasizes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. It recommends:

- Avoiding saturated fat and choosing monounsaturated oils such as olive or canola.

- Choosing whole grains over white flour or pasta.

- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day.

- Eat nuts, seeds, or legumes daily.

- Eat modest amounts of protein, preferably from fish, poultry or soy products.

To get the DASH diet click here or point your web browser to :

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf

You can also find information on lowering your blood pressure here or by pointing your web browser to:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/hbp_low/hbp_low.pdf

Kevin Davies is webmaster of preventingheartfailure.com and author of "Preventing Heart Failure" eBook. In this eBook you'll learn how to significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. To buy "Preventing Heart Failure" please visit http://www.preventingheartfailure.com

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