A Heart Healthy Diet - Health Channel


A Heart Healthy Diet |

A Heart Healthy Diet

Diet vs. exercise, which is more important for heart health? To get to the bottom of this, on an episode of Health Insiders on the Health Channel they interview heart expert Dr. Armando Garcia, cardiologist for Baptist Health South Florida. Dr. Garcia says that heart health is 60% determined by diet and 40% by exercise. 

So, what does that mean? What constitutes a heart healthy diet? Well, Dr. Garcia defines a heart healthy diet as any diet that prevents chronic inflammation and provides antioxidants. It is a diet that doesn’t challenge your blood vessels by reducing their inflammation. Inflammation is linked very closely with vascular disease, so if you develop a condition like arthritis, you are more likely to develop diseases that affect the blood vessels as well. 

So, to prevent inflammation, Dr. Garcia says that a heart healthy diet would be one that focuses on vegetables and lean meats. The doctor says that red meat is fine too but that it should be eaten in moderation, eating red meat once a week is not anything to worry about. Dr. Garcia says he is more concerned about the extraneous things people eat, like excessive carbohydrates, desserts, and continuous snacking.

Some of the main types of foods Dr. Garcia says we should be limiting sugary drinks, saturated fats, foods that are high in sodium, and sweets. The doctor emphasizes the danger that excessive sugar intake poses to vascular health, “it leads to an increased insulin secretion. Insulin secretion is the greatest enemy to the integrity of the blood vessels.” To organize your diet, Health Insiders recommends ChooseMyPlate.gov, a site that shows you what a healthy plate looks like according to the USDA recommended guidelines. 

Dr. Garcia says that the key to getting people to eat healthier is not to take away things they like to eat, but to educate people. He says it’s important to act as the patient’s coach and explain to them how they can eat healthily anywhere, at any place, in any situation. That way the patient does not feel trapped by their diet. Some things Dr. Garcia mentions that he thinks people should know that, “you need one gram of protein per pound of body weight and you need to eat most of your complex carbohydrates before four o’clock. The simple carbohydrates should be in between your meals to maintain your energy levels and after four o’clock, only simple carbohydrates.” Simple carbohydrates are carbs that have a lot of fiber and have a low glycemic index, so things like leafy greens. The higher the glycemic index of the food is, the more insulin is required to process it. Dr. Garcia says that simple carbs after four are preferable because you do not need as much energy for sleeping. 

Dr. Garcia mentions the Mediterranean diet as a diet that focuses on foods high in antioxidants and low in saturated fats such as olive oil. The diet promotes eating nuts, white meats, and fish while limiting dairy products. Fish is especially good because it is a great source of Omega-3s, which lowers cholesterol and supports heart health. Dr. Garcia also says that plant-based diets are great for building healthy cholesterol. He explains that there is healthy cholesterol, which is high density and unhealthy cholesterol, which is low density. Low density cholesterol can stick to your arteries but high density cholesterol does not stick and can actually move bad cholesterol away from the blood vessels. 

It might be difficult, but Dr. Garcia says that it is possible for everyone to achieve a healthy diet. Having a cheat meal like pizza or fast food is not a problem unless you are eating that all the time. It is possible to substitute those foods in your life with other foods that you will still enjoy. 

To watch the full segment of Dr. Armando Garcia breaking down what a heart healthy diet is and some recipes you can try out, visit: https://youtu.be/Mrxm3OilBaI 

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