A cardiac diet menu is an eating plan to help you lower your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. The three main risks a cardiac diet menu will help you control are high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high body weight. A good menu offers incentives, too: great flavors and great results.
All meats contain cholesterol, but most fish contain less than land animals. Fruits and vegetables contain no cholesterol at all.
Diets low in fat alone don't guarantee low cholesterol. Cardiac diet menus advise using cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats like canola, sunflower and olive oil for cooking and salads. Diets with two or three servings of tuna or salmon each week, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and occasional snacks of almonds, peanuts and pecans, also help keep blood cholesterol levels down.
Cardiac diet menus avoid saturated and trans fats found mostly in red meats, dairy products, most commercial snacks and fast foods.
To help control high blood pressure cardiac diet menus agree with the National Institutes of Health's Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan on a daily sodium or salt intake of less than 2,300mg, preferably as low as 1,500mg.
A cardiac diet menu minimizes canned and baked foods, which are usually high in sodium. Many fresh fruits and vegetables, more healthful alternatives, are not only low in sodium but are rich sources for potassium, a nutrient important for maintaining healthy blood pressure.
A cardiac diet menu balances a day's food calories against calories burned by exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 1,200 and 1,500 daily calorie diets for women and men, respectively, for a weight loss not to exceed 1 lb. a week. For people less than 20 percent overweight, AHA recommends low fat intake and exercise, but advises more restrictive diets for people more than 20 percent overweight.
A cardiac diet menu is rich in fresh, unprocessed foods. Canning, preserving, dehydrating and long-term storage are famous for deadening and flattening flavors, often rely on added salt or chemical agents, and tend to degrade food's vitamin and nutrient content. The words garden fresh, right off the vine, organic and just picked are menu toppers for taste buds and healthy hearts.
Cardiac diets are created to keep hearts healthy and strong. The cardiac diet menu is part of an overall fitness program. In addition to a dietitian or nutritionist, a doctor, exercise trainer and other health care professionals complete the healthy heart menu planning team. A cardiac diet menu is different from a restaurant menu because it serves up a full plate of exercise, healthy living and expert advice--all the right ingredients for long life, vigor and health.