Eating a balanced diet supports your heart health | Columnists

The new updated dietary guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) focus more on your overall eating habits rather than a list of no-nos. Taking in sufficient nutrients will support your heart health and general well-being over your lifetime. Research on dietary patterns has found that U.S. adults who follow a high-quality diet can lower their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 14% to 28%.

Filling your diet with whole, unprocessed foods brings the most benefit – fruits and vegetables, fish and seafood, low- or non-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, lean meat, and poultry. Lower your salt intake and added sugars, especially those frequently found in processed foods. Too much salt can increase blood pressure, and too much sugar can lead to excess weight.

Abdul Basit, M.D., and Tyrus Frerking, D.O., board-certified cardiologists at Lake Granbury Medical Center, appreciate the message of balance in the new AHA guidelines.

“Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and healthy exercise has a big impact on your heart health. Indulging in a dessert or packaged food is fine on occasion; the important thing is making these only an occasional, small part of what you eat overall,” say Drs. Basit and Frerking.

Beginning with our mother’s diet before we’re born, the food and drinks we consume from infancy through adulthood have an impact on our health over time. Helping your child develop healthy eating habits early gives them a strong foundation. Prevention of childhood obesity is key to preserving and prolonging ideal cardiovascular health.

Focus on consuming calories that bring value to your body. Adjust how much you eat or drink based on your level of activity; reduce portions and calories if you are less active.

Simple changes can add up. Eat a piece of fresh fruit rather than drinking packaged, processed juice with added sugars. Buy bread or pasta made with whole grains rather than refined grains. If you regularly eat pasta, eat a smaller amount and add another vegetable to your plate. When you eat crackers, choose low-salt versions made from nuts, rice or whole grains.

To find a physician or learn more about Lake Granbury Medical Center’s Heart Care services, visit or call 817-579-3970.

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