General cardiovascular dietary guidelines.
When it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease and keeping your heart healthy, the best preventative medicine, isn’t medicine at all. It’s a healthy diet. Doctors and researchers have long advised that making healthful, long-term changes to your lifestyle can improve your cardiovascular health and lessen the risk of heart disease.
One of the crucial metrics of heart health is maintaining a healthy weight. While there is no single ideal weight for an individual, there is typically a healthy range determined by the body mass index (BMI). BMI is not a perfect tool, but it does offer a good starting point for assessing your current weight. The American Heart Association offers a BMI Calculator BMI calculator, which calculates your BMI and also estimates the potential risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
In addition to knowing your BMI, knowing the measurement of your waistline can help determine if you are at risk of developing heart disease or other diseases associated with being obese or overweight. For women, a waist measuring over 35 inches and for men, a waist measuring over 40 inches could indicate a higher risk for developing heart disease.
There are clear links that carrying around excessive weight negatively affects a person’s overall health and, specifically, a person’s cardiovascular health. When a person is overweight their heart and entire cardiovascular system has to work harder to do its job. Excess weight can also increases your cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase your blood pressure. Losing just 3% or 5% of your excess weight can noticeably reduce these risks.
Diet is a critical component to losing weight. At NYMA, we do not promote fast weight loss in most cases. Instead, we recommend lifelong sustainable changes to diet and lifestyle that our patients will be able to maintain. If you need to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your use. The number of calories you consume is most important, but the types of food you eat matter as well. Nutrient-dense foods that are low in saturated fat, calories and high in fiber are great options. In general, a healthy diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, skinless poultry, nuts and legumes. A healthy diet limits the amount of saturated fats, trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils in your diet. One of the best studied heart-healthy diets is the Mediterranean Diet, which incorporates these dietary principles.
In addition to the kinds of foods you should eat, it is important for patients to also be educated on proper portion sizes of food. According to the American Heart Association’s report “A Nation at Risk: Obesity in the United States,” Americans eat an average of 300 calories per day than they did in 1985. Eating an additional 300 calories per day has the potential to lead to to a 31 pound weight gain in one year.
Overall, one of the cornerstones of good health is following a diet that has the correct amount of calories, contains nutrient-dense food and is measured into sensible portions. At NYMA, we will work with you to set guidelines to create a heart healthy diet that will improve your overall health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.