Prevention of Heart Disease and Strokes

Make sure that your diet is “heart-healthy.” Meet with a nutritionist or registered dietitian to help plan a diet that meets these goals:

Try to consume at least 14 grams of fiber daily for every 1,000 calories consumed. Be sure to increase the amount of fiber in your diet gradually to avoid digestive problems.

Foods high in fiber are plant based and are naturally low in cholesterol, which may also help lower blood cholesterol. In addition, the body metabolizes them more slowly, which can also be of benefit to maintaining target blood glucose levels.

Whole grain foods such as oatmeal, barley and brown rice, as well as legumes (dried beans and peas) such as kidney, pinto and navy beans, lentils and, of course, fruits and vegetables are all good sources of fiber.

Keep the cholesterol in your diet to less than 300 milligrams a day. Cholesterol is found in meat, dairy products and eggs.

Cut down on saturated fat-it raises your blood cholesterol level. Saturated fat is found in meats, poultry skin, butter, dairy products with fat, shortening and lard. Your dietitian can figure out how many grams of saturated fat should be your daily maximum amount.

Fortunately, food manufacturers have got on board and eliminated most trans fats from our processed foods (but only because they are really, really bad for you). However, small quantities still lurk in some crackers, cookies, snack foods, commercially prepared baked goods, cake mixes, microwave popcorn, fried foods and salad dressings. In addition, some kinds of vegetable shortening and margarine’s have trans fat. Be sure to check for trans fat in the Nutrition Facts section on the food package.

Aim to eat less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day to prevent high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease and kidney disease. Read labels: Watch for both natural and added sodium content. Ordinary table salt is sodium chloride. Watch for the words “soda” (soda refers to sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda) and “sodium” and the symbol “Na” on labels. These products contain sodium compounds.

Note: When dining out, be specific about what you want and how you want it prepared. Ask for your dish to be prepared without salt.

To illustrate, the following are sodium equivalents in the diet:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1200 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1800 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2400 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000 mg sodium

Note: The Diabetic Friendly Recipes on the Defeat Diabetes Foundation website include all the nutritional content and are lower in sodium.

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