Eat right, drink right
Help protect your heart by eating foods low in fat, cholesterol and salt. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products help protect your heart. Legumes, low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish also can reduce your risk of heart disease. Most people should add more fruits and vegetables to their diet—with a goal of five to 10 servings a day. Eating fruits and vegetables helps prevent heart disease and cancer, too.
Limiting certain fats is also key. There are four kinds of fat—saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans fat. Saturated fat and trans fat increase the risk of coronary artery disease by raising cholesterol levels in your blood. Sources of saturated fat include beef, butter, cheese, milk, and coconut and palm oils. Trans fat may be worse than saturated fat because it both raises your low-density lipoprotein (LDL—or “bad” cholesterol) and lowers your high-density lipoprotein (HDL—or “good” cholesterol). So stay away from deep-fried fast foods, bakery products, packaged snack foods, margarines and crackers. Watch for the term “partially hydrogenated” on the label to avoid trans fat. Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, may decrease your risk of heart attack, protect against irregular heartbeats and lower blood pressure. Some fish are a good natural source of omega-3s as are flaxseed oil, walnut oil, soybean oil, canola oil. However, pregnant women and women of childbearing age should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish because they can contain levels of mercury high enough to pose a danger to a developing fetus. For others, the health benefits of fish outweigh the risks.
Drink alcohol only in moderation—no more than 1-2 drinks a day for men, 1 per day for women—to protect your heart.