A well balanced diet is of the utmost importance for a healthy heart. For optimum heart health, a diet that is low in saturated fat is a must. Saturated fat can raise your blood cholesterol levels as much as two times higher than normal dietary cholesterol. Cholesterol and saturated fat is found mainly in animal based products, so it is important to find lean meats and stick to smaller portions. Good fats to consume are Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flax seed oil.
Fiber is also very good for a healthy heart. Soluble fiber, found in ingredients such as oat bran, can help to lower cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber helps with digestion, and can also lower blood sugar levels. Beneficial fiber can be found in whole grains and vegetables. Refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour, can spike your blood sugar levels and increase your appetite. These simple carbohydrates should be eaten in moderation, and eaten along with fiber rich carbohydrates to lessen their impact on the body's blood sugar levels.
Processed foods that claim to be heart healthy often contain ingredients that are counter- productive to a healthy diet. High fructose corn syrup can be found in 'healthy' foods such as granola and 'high fiber' cereals. This food additive is widely used to sweeten processed foods, and should be avoided at all costs. In addition to spiking blood sugar, and lessening the beneficial effects that the other ingredients have, it also increases appetite when blood sugar levels rapidly fall. High fructose corn syrup makes the palate dull and makes naturally sweet, high fiber, fruit seem less sweet and thus less desirable.
A healthy heart diet is essential to overall health and will also reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity. A diet high in fiber in the form of whole grains and vegetables, moderate amounts of lean animal protein, and omega 3 fatty acids, could help add years to your life.