Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most prevalent form of heart disease. According to the CDC, it was responsible for 375,476 deaths in 2021, with 2 in 10 deaths occurring in adults under 65.
At Northwest Houston Heart Center, cardiologists Dr. Adnan Aslam and Dr. Roy Norman understand how frightening it can be to be diagnosed with CAD, which is why they offer complete cardiac care for their patients in Tomball, Cypress, Magnolia, and The Woodlands, Texas.
They also know how lifestyle changes, such as eating for a healthier heart, can make a huge positive difference in your life. But what does that diet look like? Here’s what they have to say.
What is coronary artery disease?
Coronary artery disease occurs when major blood vessels supplying the heart (coronary arteries) become narrowed by a buildup of cholesterol, fat, protein, and cellular debris on the arteries’ walls. The narrowing makes it harder to push blood through and to send enough blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.
In addition, the reduced blood flow to the heart can cause angina (chest pain) and shortness of breath, while a complete blockage can lead to a heart attack.
CAD often develops over decades, and you may not realize you have it until you sustain a significant blockage and the resulting heart attack. A heart-healthy lifestyle, though, can help prevent or slow down the progression of the disease.
A diet to promote better heart health
A healthy diet is a balanced diet, and knowing what to eat and what not to eat (at least, not in large quantities) can keep you on track.
Foods to consume:
- Fruits and vegetables: leafy greens, broccoli, bananas, and oranges
- Whole grains: includes brown rice and oatmeal
- High protein foods: eggs, lean meats, fish, nuts, and seeds
- Low or no-fat dairy products: yogurt and cheese
- Foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: canola oil, olive oil, nuts such as walnuts, avocados, and tofu
- High-fiber foods: apples and lentils
Your doctor may suggest a heart-healthy eating program known as Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Studies show that following the DASH diet may reduce the risk of CAD and other forms of heart disease.
Foods to avoid:
- Those high in saturated and trans fats: processed meat products, fried foods, fatty cuts of meat, butter, and cream
- Those with high sugar content: sweetened soda, energy drinks, cakes, cookies, and candies
- Those with high salt content: processed foods, premade sauces, and instant products such as noodles
You should also try to do away with foods that will most likely increase your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, or risk of obesity, all of which factor into CAD.
Want more tips on how you can eat for better heart health? Are you having pain in your chest or shortness of breath? Northwest Houston Heart Center can help. To get started, give us a call at any of our locations, or book online today. You can also text us at 832-402-9518.