Coronary heart disease risk increases by 24 percent with high intake of saturated fats. Foods rich in saturated fat include butter, red meat, lard, and palm oil. The researchers suggest that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat could help lower the risk of coronary heart disease.
Senior author Qi Sun explained, “Our findings strongly corroborate what the current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend. This includes reducing saturated fat intake to no more than 10 percent of total calories, and eating an overall healthful diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, vegetable cooking oils rich in polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, nuts, legumes, fish, and low-fat dairy.”
The researchers looked at data from 73,147 women who were part of Nurses’ Health Study and 42,635 men who were in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The researchers found that higher intake of major saturated fatty acids was associated with a 24 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease. Replacing one percent of saturated fat intake with monounsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, or plant proteins could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by four to eight percent.
Coauthor Frank Hu added, “This study dispels the notion that butter is back. Individual saturated fatty acids share the same food sources, such as red meat, dairy, butter, lard, and palm oil. Therefore, it is impractical to differentiate the types of saturated fatty acids in making dietary recommendations, an idea that some researchers have put forth. Instead, it is healthier to replace these fatty acids with unsaturated fats from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and seafood as well as high quality carbohydrates.”
Hu concluded, “Replacing sources of saturated fat in our diets with unsaturated fats is one of the easiest ways to reduce our risk of heart disease.”
Stop smoking: Smoking increases your risk of coronary heart disease. Although smoking cessation may be difficult, it’s important that you quit, no matter how many years you’ve been smoking for.
Watch what you’re eating: A healthy diet can go a long way in promoting heart health. Eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, limiting saturated and trans fats, and eliminating processed foods can provide your body with essential nutrients it needs in order to keep your heart healthy. Not only that, but a healthy diet can also help control many risk factors that contribute to coronary heart disease, helping to maintain a healthy weight, reducing LDL cholesterol, and even managing your diabetes or blood pressure.
Manage cholesterol: Reducing your LDL cholesterol is an important step in coronary heart disease prevention, because this type of cholesterol is what forms plaques along the arteries, causing them to become stiff and narrow. When this occurs, blood flow gets reduced, contributing to a coronary heart disease. Ensuring your cholesterol is in check can help keep your heart healthy and save it from damage.
Lower high blood pressure: Blood pressure is the amount of pressure exerted against the artery walls. High blood pressure signals that your heart is working too much. An overworked heart becomes weak over time, which is conducive of damage. This damage can lead to a coronary heart disease. Many lifestyle changes that work to prevent a coronary heart disease can also work to control healthy blood pressure levels. Reduce salt from your diet, exercise regularly, and, of course, don’t smoke.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise keeps your heart strong, helps you maintain a healthy weight, reduces blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol. It only takes a few sessions a week doing anything active really, from brisk walking to more vigorous activities. Consistency is the key. Numerous studies have shown the detrimental effects of living a sedentary lifestyle, including early death. Therefore, it is highly important that you move as much as possible.
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese has been tied to various health problems, from diabetes to heart issues. Following these lifestyle tips can help maintain a healthy weight, too.
Manage diabetes: Diabetes is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is a result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Unmanaged blood sugar can lead to complications, from nerve damage to vision problems. Following these healthy lifestyle tips can help you better manage your diabetes all the while preventing a coronary heart disease.
Reduce stress: Numerous studies have shown a link between heart disease and stress. When we are stressed, cortisol is released. In the short term, this is a natural “fight or flight” response to help the body get out of dangerous situations. In the long term, excessive levels of this hormone can have detrimental effects on the heart and bodily functions. Finding healthy ways to minimize and reduce stress can help promote a healthy heart.
Limit alcohol: Although some studies have shown the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, many more point to the fact that it is harmful to the heart. Drinking too much alcohol has been linked to higher blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cancer, and stroke, among other diseases. If you do drink, limit your daily consumption to two glasses for men and one glass for women, but for some people, even drinking the allowed dosage every day can be too much. Also, if you are going to choose an alcoholic beverage, stick with red wine, as that has been shown to offer some benefits.
When it comes to natural remedies for a healthy heart, the most important thing you can do is commit to lifestyle changes. Although you lack the power to change some risk factors for heart disease, such as family history, sex, or age, you should try to control modifiable factors to the best of your ability.