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Diet plans that boost heart health

By: Jo Linsley | health enews

Changing the way you eat can change your life for good. Adopting healthier eating habits can improve your heart health and reduce your risk of coronary artery disease.

Making healthy swaps like having low-calorie, fiber-rich apple slices instead of potato chips with your sandwich can also help you manage diabetes and blood pressure – two conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease.

Barbara Melendi, manager of clinical nutrition at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says, “Diabetes and hypertension are risk factors for a variety of conditions, including coronary artery disease, stroke and kidney disease. Adopting a few new healthy food habits can help manage these common conditions and have countless positive impacts on overall health.”

Melendi notes that one good option for healthy eating is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) plan. She says it’s practical, family-friendly, affordable and sustainable. The guidelines for DASH are readily available for free online. “You won’t need to buy expensive supplements or foods. You can gradually switch to familiar foods that will replace previous food choices,” she says.

The DASH eating plan was originally developed to address high blood pressure. It focuses on decreasing sodium intake while encouraging eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

According to the American Diabetes Association, the DASH eating plan also helps lower blood glucose levels, which helps control diabetes. DASH has also been rated highly by U.S. News & World Report for many years. The diet is also good for the planet since it recommends eating more plant-based foods and fewer meat products.

The Mediterranean diet, which is recommended by the American Heart Association, and the Ornish diet are additional plans that help manage diabetes and blood pressure. A medical weight loss expert can offer nutritional guidance and make suggestions on how to tweak the meal plans to focus on coronary artery disease prevention.

“These healthy eating plans may also be adapted by your dietitian to promote weight loss,” says Melendi. “Some studies have shown that losing even 5 to 7% of body weight has benefits for reducing your risk of certain diseases.”

This article originally appeared on health enews.

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