Whether you're trying to prevent or you currently have heart disease, some basic changes in your diet can make a world of difference. According to HelpGuide, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and complications by up to 80 percent just by changing the way you eat and cook. With the support of your doctor, start an exercise program alongside your dietary changes for best and faster results lowering cholesterol and improving cardiovascular fitness.
Increase your intake of healthy fats and reduce saturated fats. According to MayoClinic.com, nuts, seeds and olive or canola oil can help protect your heart, while red meat and full-dairy products will increase cholesterol, increasing your risk of developing or worsening a heart condition.
Eat more fish. Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect your heart and lower triglycerides, according to MayoClinic.com. Walnuts and flaxseed also contain omega-3. Other healthy sources of lean protein include soybeans and soy products, beans and lentils. While these don't contain omega-3, they are low in cholesterol and a good addition to a diet rich in fish and seafood.
Increase the amount of fruits and vegetables you're eating. According to MedLine Plus, you should be aiming for a minimum of five servings per day, but more is even better. Green leafy vegetables are especially important because they are high in fiber, which can help lower cholesterol.
Choose foods low in calories. Avoid highly-processed meals and fast food. Not only are these options high in calories and fat but they're also likely to be low in nutrients such as vitamins and minerals essentials to protecting your heart. If you're overweight, cutting a few hundred calories from your diet every day can help you lose weight and decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
Eat more whole grains. According to MayoClinic.com, whole grains can help regulate blood pressure and improve the health of your heart. Whole grains also contain lots of fiber. Good choices for whole grains include whole wheat, brown rice, ground flaxseed, oatmeal and buckwheat.