Heart disease refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation. Some common types of heart disease include coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure, arrhythmias, and congenital heart defects.
Risk factors for heart disease include:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- physical inactivity
- unhealthy diet
- and a family history of heart disease.
To prevent heart disease, it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques, as well as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. If you have been diagnosed with heart disease, your doctor may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes, such as changing your diet.
How does changing my diet improve my heart disease?
Diet plays a crucial role in the development and management of heart disease. A diet that is high in saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugars can increase your risk of heart disease, while a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help lower your risk. It sounds overwhelming but luckily, our dietitians are here to help.
A dietitian can be a valuable resource for individuals with heart disease, as diet and nutrition play a key role in both the prevention and management of heart disease. A dietitian can help you develop an individualized eating plan that meets your specific nutritional needs and health goals.
Here are some ways a dietitian can help with heart disease:
- Assess dietary habits: A dietitian can evaluate your current dietary habits and make recommendations to help improve your heart health.
- Develop a heart-healthy eating plan: Based on your individual needs, a dietitian can create a personalized eating plan that incorporates foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium, and high in fiber, antioxidants, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
- Recommend nutrient-rich foods: A dietitian can provide recommendations on nutrient-rich foods that can help support heart health, such as fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.
- Address weight management: If you are overweight or obese, a dietitian can work with you to develop a healthy weight loss plan that will not only benefit your heart health but also your overall health.
- Manage medical conditions: If you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, a dietitian can help you manage these conditions in conjunction with heart disease through diet and nutrition.
By working with a dietitian, you can learn how to make healthier food choices and develop a diet that supports your heart health and overall well-being.
What if I have high cholesterol but not heart disease?
High blood cholesterol is a condition in which there is an excessive amount of cholesterol in the blood. High blood cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, as excess cholesterol in the blood can build up in the walls of the arteries, forming plaques that can narrow or block blood flow to the heart and brain.
To lower high blood cholesterol, it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet low in saturated and trans fats, regular physical activity, and stress management techniques, as well as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
A diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and salt, and high in fibre, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help lower cholesterol levels. A dietitian can provide individualized dietary recommendations and help you make the necessary changes to support heart health and manage high blood cholesterol.
Do I need to see a dietitian if I have high blood pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a condition in which the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is too high. This can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so many people with the condition don’t know they have it.
There are many factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, including genetics, diet, stress, and lifestyle factors such as smoking and lack of physical activity. High salt intake can also contribute to high blood pressure.
Seeing a dietitian is a good step for managing high blood pressure. A dietitian can help you develop a healthy eating plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals, including reducing your blood pressure.
There are several dietary changes that have been shown to help lower blood pressure, including:
- Limiting salt intake: Too much salt in the diet can lead to an increase in blood pressure. A dietitian can help you reduce your salt intake and choose low-sodium options.
- Increasing potassium intake: Potassium can help counteract the effects of sodium and lower blood pressure.
- Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein: A dietitian can help you include these nutrient-dense foods in your diet, which can help lower blood pressure and improve overall health.
A dietitian can also help you make other lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, increasing physical activity, and managing stress, that can contribute to reducing high blood pressure.
It’s important to remember that dietary changes take time to have an impact on blood pressure, so it’s important to stick with the plan and be patient. Regular check-ins with a dietitian can help you stay on track and make any necessary adjustments to your diet and lifestyle.