When it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, it is essential to be mindful of what you eat. The ideal diet for prevention is one that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish, poultry and vegetable oils; that includes alcohol in moderation, if at all; and that does not include red and processed meats, refined carbohydrates, foods and beverages with added sugar, sodium and foods with trans fats. Consumers should be cautious of drinks labeled “dietary” as they may contain zero sugar and zero calories but still be sweeter than a chocolate bar. Studies have linked the consumption of diet soft drinks to an increased risk of stroke and vascular disease.
In a nine-year study of more than 2,500 people, those who drank diet soft drinks daily were 48 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke or die from those events, compared to those who rarely or never drank soft drinks. Red meat should be avoided in favor of heart-healthy proteins such as poultry or fish, or even non-animal products such as beans, nuts and tofu. Even foods labeled as low in fat may contain trans fats. When looking for foods low in sodium, be aware that sea salt has the same nutritional value as common salt.
By understanding which foods to consume the most and which to limit, you can create a heart-healthy diet that will reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.