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What is a “Cardiac” Diet?

Important Information Your Heart Will Thank You For!

By Paige Preston



According to the CDC, 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. The term “heart disease” can refer to several types of heart conditions such as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Arrhythmia, Atherosclerosis or Cardiomyopathy. However, regardless of your condition, there are several risk factors that puts you at risk for developing heart disease. These risks include:

• High Blood Pressure

• High Blood Cholesterol

• Diabetes

• Obesity

• Smoking

• Excessive Alcohol Intake

• Physical Inactivity


For those recovering from a heart attack, heart failure, heart surgery or for those who are at risk for developing heart disease, cardiac rehabilitation is an essential part of getting you back on track! Cardiac rehabilitation often includes incorporating physical activity into your routine, being educated and counseled to make heart healthy food decisions, and finding ways to relieve your stress levels.



My doctor prescribed me to a “Cardiac Diet”. What does that mean?

Creating better eating behaviors is an essential part of recovery. Often times, a physician will prescribe a cardiac or heart healthy diet for those who have suffered from or are at risk for heart disease. Making changes to dietary practices is often one of the first steps in the cardiac rehabilitation process. What should you look to limit on a Cardiac Diet?


Fats

Having a good understanding of the healthy and unhealthy fat within your diet is a critical component of a heart heathy diet. Trans fats, saturated fats and unsaturated fats all effect our health differently and we want to be cautious about the kinds of fats we are consuming. Although eliminating all fats from your diet is unnecessary (and not recommended!), choosing the right kind of fat is critical!

The good kinds of fat are the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that are found within our food. They are often the fats that are found in fish, nuts, and legumes. Not only can they help lower rates of cardiovascular mortality, but they are known to decrease triglyceride and cholesterol levels as well. They are essential for proper growth, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and provide our bodies with energy.

Aiming to lower your consumption of saturated fats and completely eliminating trans fats should ultimately be the goal! Saturated fats are found in things such as butter, fatty beef, or cheese, while trans fats are found in many processed foods such as baked goods, frozen pizzas, or fried foods. These kinds of fat can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and can increase the bad cholesterol within the body.



Sodium

According to the American Heart Association, 9 out of 10 Americans consume more than double the amount of the recommended amount of sodium per day. Sodium is a mineral that is essential for proper nerve impulses, muscle function and fluid balance within the body. However, too much sodium can be detrimental to our health. Excessive amounts of sodium within the diet increases our blood volume by pulling water into the blood vessels. With this added volume of blood flowing within the arteries, our blood pressure increases as a result. If blood pressure is not controlled, it can lead to an overworked heart, causing severe damage and can lead to heart disease. Although eliminating table salt from the diet is a great place to start, more than 70% of sodium we eat is hidden within our food.


Sugar

Like fat, not all sugars are bad. Natural sugars are the sugars that are found within fruits and dairy products. However, the addition of sugars, like the sugars found in sugary drinks, candy bars, or baked goods are the ones that you want to aim to eliminate in you diet. Unlike sodium, our bodies do not need added sugars to function. Consuming high levels of added sugars have been linked to an energy-dense diet, which often leads to weight gain and obesity. Obesity is one of the risk factor associated with heart disease so it is advised to limit added sugar in our diet.


Cholesterol

Cholesterol is naturally found within the body and it plays an essential part in building and maintaining cells and in vitamin and hormone production. Our liver naturally produces the cholesterol our bodies need, however we also consume cholesterol through meat, poultry, and dairy products. Consuming high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats from the diet can increase the cholesterol circulating in the blood. High levels of low-density-lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol) can build up within the arterial walls, causing restricted blood flow, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke.



How Can Shore Nutrition Associates Help You Become Your Best Self?


Working with the Registered Dietitians at Shore Nutrition Associates will be an essential part of your recovery! Together we can make meal plans that are not only healthy but carter to your food preferences, lifestyle, and financial means. We can help guide you to a healthier lifestyle, while being your biggest advocate, mentor, and cheerleader!

For more information on Cardiac Management, contact us at (732)-539-3584 or get in touch with us via email at shorenutritionassociates@gmail.com and we can help start the healing process!






Picture Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-heart-disease-affects-body


https://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/heart-healthy-foods-fuel-cardiac-diet



References:


1. About Heart Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm. Published January 13, 2021. Accessed June 25, 2021.


2. Get the Scoop on Sodium and Salt. www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/sodium-and-salt. Accessed June 25, 2021.


3. What is Cholesterol? www.heart.org. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/about-cholesterol. Accessed June 27, 2021.