Diet & Nutrition
Making small changes in your diet can add up to big changes in your health.
Smart Steps: Improve Your Diet
Limiting saturated fat in your diet is the most important measure you can take to
reduce your blood cholesterol level. High levels of cholesterol can lead to "plaque
deposits," which can narrow your arteries, making it more difficult for blood to
circulate through your system.25
There are certain foods you can incorporate into your diet that may actually contribute
to your heart's overall well-being. Choices that may protect against heart disease
Experiment with tofu, soy milk, soybeans, textured soy protein, etc. Incorporating
soy products into your diet can help raise your level of HDL cholesterol (also known
as the "good cholesterol").26
When included in a low-fat diet, fiber may help lower your blood cholesterol levels.
There are 2 types of fiber: soluble fiber, which can reduce blood cholesterol and
blood sugar levels, and insoluble fiber, which may lower your risk of heart disease.27
Foods high in soluble fiber include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley,
citrus fruits, strawberries, and apple pulp. Insoluble fiber can be found in whole-wheat
breads; whole-wheat (bran) cereals; grains such as rye, rice, and barley; cabbage;
beets; carrots; Brussels sprouts; turnips; cauliflower; and apple skins.
Some fish, particularly salmon, mackerel, and herring, contain high amounts of omega-3
fatty acids. Omega-3s are also found (but in smaller amounts) in flaxseed oil, green
leafy vegetables, soybeans, nuts, and canola oil. Research has shown that the benefits
of omega-3 fatty acids may include:
- Lower blood triglyceride levels
- Reduced risk of blood clots
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of abnormal heart rhythms and sudden death
In addition to eating for a healthier heart, it is also important to ensure that
you are drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. If you are dehydrated, your
blood can thicken and increase your risk of clotting.