Eat Right for Better Heart Health

At AllergyEasy, we think of food in terms of the allergic reactions it may cause and an appropriate food allergy treatment, but the food you eat can affect all aspects of our health. Your diet has a particularly profound influence on heart health.

Better Heart Health

(Pixabay / cocoparisienne)

February is a good month to focus on the heart—and not just because Valentine’s Day is coming up. February also hosts American Heart Month. Research shows that eating heart-friendly foods, combined with a healthy lifestyle, can cut your risk for cardiovascular disease by a stunning 80 percent. We consider that to be a pretty compelling reason to eat right.

What Your Heart Wants You to Eat

For optimal heart health, eat a diet that is:

High in unsaturated fats. Saturated fats are bad for the body. However, the body needs plenty of “good fats,” including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good fats include Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in foods such as salmon, soybeans, chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.

Full of fiber. High-fiber foods can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). Fiber also takes longer to digest, so you feel fuller longer after eating foods with a lot of fiber.

Low in sodium, saturated fat, sugar, and cholesterol. High-fiber foods include split peas, lentils, black beans, broccoli, avocados, oatmeal and bran flakes.

Alcohol-free (or low in alcohol content). Alcohol has a toxic effect on the heart. It can lead to high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and stroke.

Loaded with fruits and veggies (particularly veggies that are brightly colored). Fruits and vegetables are great in general, but those that are bright red, yellow, orange, green, and purple are loaded with vitamins that are helpful for your heart. Leave the peel on when appropriate to maximize health benefits.

Just as some foods can boost your heart health, others can markedly detract from it. Avoid foods that are high in trans fats as they can elevate bad cholesterol levels and obstruct heart arteries. Limit salt as it has been linked to high blood pressure. And finally, stay away from added sugars found in many foods such as pastries, dairy desserts, and sugary drinks (such as soft drinks, juice drinks, etc.)

Heart disease is the leading killer in the U.S., taking more lives than all types of cancer combined. Show your heart some love this February by changing your diet to include at least one heart-healthy eating habit.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.