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Dinner's Ready! Heart Disease Nutrition

family eating dinner

America is reeling from a number of recent high profile deaths all linked to a common culprit- heart disease. Music icon, Michael Jackson, died at the age of 50 after reportedly suffering from cardiac arrest. TV pitchman, Billy Mays, likely died of a heart attack in his sleep. And last year renowned journalist, Tim Russert, collapsed at NBC's Washington News Bureau from a heart attack.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. It's a heavy-handed predator that has more than likely affected you or somebody that you know. But the silver lining on this otherwise bleak overview of heart disease is that there are measures that can be taken to prevent this disease. One of the most important things you can do to combat heart disease is to learn about heart disease nutrition and start eating a heart healthy diet. It's been proven that changing your diet can help stop or even reverse heart disease. So even if you're known to consume hotdogs and ice cream like they're going out of style, adapting your nutritional intake now can aid in preventing disease in the future.

By implementing a heart-happy nutrition strategy you can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol (this is the "bad" cholesterol), lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, and reduce overall body weight. If you already have heart disease you can reduce your chance of developing atherosclerosis (blocked arteries that cause heart disease) by simply paying closer attention to what you're feeding your body. If you've been effectively clogging your arteries for a while no, you can also slow the rate at which it progresses.

But rather than focusing on what we can't eat lets discuss what you can eat. In fact, according to WebMD heart disease research has shown that adding heart-healthy foods is just as important on cutting back on others. So what exactly can you eat?

  • Eat more fish or other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and high fiber foods
  • When eating fat, consume fats high in monounsaturated fats like olive and peanut oil

Below are a few items you may want to eliminate from your diet:

  • Limit total fat grams and eat only a bare minimum of saturated and trans-fats like butter, margarine, sweets and fried foods.
  • Limit salt-sodium
  • Eat a variety and not too many protein-rich foods. Commonly eaten protein foods (meat, dairy products) are among the main culprits in increasing heart disease risk. Reduce this risk by balancing animal, fish, and vegetable sources of protein.
  • Limit cholesterol consumption. Get energy by eating complex carbohydrates (whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, whole-grain breads) and limit simple carbohydrates (regular soft drinks, sugar, sweets).
  • Stay at a healthy weight by balancing the calories you eat with your physical activity.

You may also want to try some of the best foods for you that you're probably not eating posted by MSNBC. These foods include beets, cabbage, guava, swiss chard, cinnamon, purlane, pomegranate juice, goji berries, dried plums, pumpkin seeds

So next time you're mulling over your dinner menu, keep these guidelines in mind. You could be saving a life.