Heart attacks can be caused by a number of things. Atherosclerosis, angina, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol all play a role in the onset of a heart attack. For those at risk, diet can be a key player in protecting the heart from future attacks.
A healthy, balanced, nutritionally-packed diet can help to lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, and minimize the build-up of plaque in arteries.
But many people don’t turn to a heart-healthy diet to protect themselves — even after the scare of having a heart attack. According to a recent study, only a small percentage of those who had experienced a heart attack switched to a healthier diet after the event.
A team of researchers surveyed 555 patients averaging 61 years of age. All of the participants had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease and had already experienced a heart attack, angina, or arrhythmia.
The patients were asked about their dietary habits for one year following their heart condition.
The researchers found that only eight percent met daily fruit intake levels and only 12.4% ate the recommended amount of veggies. The numbers were equally low for fiber: only eight percent were getting enough.
Only five percent were limiting their intake of unhealthy fats such as trans fats and saturated fats. And 80% of patients do not get any sort rehabilitation help after having something as serious as a heart attack.
The researchers hope this will shed light on the need for doctors to refer heart patients to professionals that can help with diet and cardiac rehabilitation.
A registered dietician can help heart attack patients make the necessary changes to their diets. A heart-healthy diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, as well as proteins such as beans and fish.
You can start a heart-healthy diet right now, without waiting for something as drastic as a heart attack for encouragement. Eat fresh fruit every morning at breakfast and include unsweetened yogurt and a few nuts or seeds.
Lunch can include salad and slice of whole grain bread along with some lean protein. Dinner can be a bean dish, or a chicken or turkey breast served with vegetables and brown rice. A heart-healthy diet is not difficult to follow and will also help to keep the rest of you healthy, too.