Eating a heart healthy diet is often the goal of patients who have discovered they have coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or another of the heart conditions. Unfortunately, although a heart healthy diet will help to delay the inevitable, if they had begun earlier they may be eliminated the condition in the first place.
Sometimes combining weight loss and a healthy heart diet will accomplish several goals at once. The patient will gain more energy, increase the ability to remain active, decrease the risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke and decrease the risk of stress related illnesses.
The American Heart Association believes that weight loss and a healthy heart diet is so important that they have guidelines for selecting a weight loss and weight maintenance programs.
They believe the food plan should be worked into the person’s current eating habits and preferences and set realistic goals for weight loss. Using a plan that cuts calories too quickly will cause the patient to lose motivation and confidence as well as cut necessary vitamins and minerals from the diet. People who want to attempt weight loss and a healthy heart diet should receive some nutritional education and physical activity to increase the likelihood they will achieve and maintain a healthier weight.
There are some red flags if you chose to use a diet ‘plan’. Does the plan promise more than it can deliver? Does the program use physical activity? Are you encouraged to be screened for health risks and given a consultation to set realistic weight loss goals?
To be clear, the plan should set realistic goals, encourage physical activity, encourage you to be screened for health risks that may impede your progress and give you a consultation to assist setting realistic weight goals.
Popular diets are just what they seem. Popularized by books, reports of rapid weight loss or celebrity endorsements, they often lack the research to back up their claims. In the end, if you eat more than you burn, you’ll gain weight. You lose weight by decreasing calorie intake and increasing calorie burn. You can maintain the same amount of food intake and decrease calorie intake by eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting out processed foods and fats.
A healthy heart diet is one that incorporates all of the principles of a balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, moderate amounts of protein through natural sources and low to no alcohol intake.
We literally are what we eat. If our intake is mostly hydrogenated oils and fats we can’t pronounce, that is the food that builds the cells that run our bodies. A living body will function best on living food. That means raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Amazingly research is bearing this concept out.
One pound of weight is equal to 3,500 calories. A diet plan may promise a 5 pound weight loss in one week but the only way to achieve that would be to cut your calories by an astounding 17,500 calories. If you normally ate 3,000 calories per day (a high amount) and cut to 1,500 calories you would only have a 10,500 calorie deficit in one week.
Instead a healthy weight loss that people have a better chance of maintaining is 1 –2 pounds per week. To achieve this you should cut your calories by 500 per day. This can be done by a combination decreasing calorie intake and increasing calorie burn.
Weight loss and healthy heart diet plans often include increasing the amount of fiber intake. This accomplishes several things. Fiber will help to decrease your cholesterol, lower your triglycerides, and make you feel fuller longer using less calories. Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains such as couscous.
Weight loss and healthy heart plans will help you to decrease your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Using appropriate plans and maintaining your motivation it won’t be long before your cholesterol is down and your energy level up!
American Heart Association: Losing Weight
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Healthy Eating PLan
US Department of Health and Human Services: Heart-Healthy Reduced-Calorie Diets Promote Long-term Weight Loss
University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart Healthy Diet
University of California SanFrancisco Center for Prevention of Heart and Vascular disease
Family Doctor: Coronary Artery Disease