Eat Smart for your Heart

Your heart is an essential part of your body that works hard to support you. Ditch the greasy food, and return the favor with some heart-healthy options instead.

Healthy Food

By Nancy Snyder, M.S., R.D.


We are all well aware of the harmful effects of fat – especially saturated fat and trans fat – and cholesterol on our arteries over time; foods that contain a lot of these “unhealthy fats” not only increase the levels of LDL (the “bad cholesterol”) and decrease HDL (the “good cholesterol”), but over time, they form a plaque in our arteries that can lead to heart disease and stroke. But did you know that high-fat foods can actually have an immediate negative effect on blood vessel function?

In a recent study conducted by researchers at the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta in Canada, blood vessel function dropped by about 15-20 percent just two hours after subjects consumed two fast-food breakfast sandwiches containing roughly 900 calories and 50 grams of fat.

With less room for blood flow, the heart has to work extra hard to pump blood throughout your body, thereby increasing blood pressure.

Skipping breakfast altogether can be a potentially health-damaging behavior over time, but so can eating a high-fat breakfast.  So the next time you’re pressed for time or on-the-go, aim for dishes with heart-healthy ingredients, such as oatmeal, whole grain cereal or bread and egg white omelets.  Eat smart for your heart all day long and choose tofu, leaner meats or fish, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables more often.

Even if you are taking medications, eating a lot of foods high in cholesterol, saturated or trans fats – such as red and processed meats, pastries and sweets – may still cause harm to your heart and blood vessel function. Consider food as medicine, and try to be just as dedicated to heart-healthy eating as you may be with taking prescribed medications.