Your diet impacts your heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following dietary guidelines:
Your body needs some fat. However, like anything else, too much can be dangerous. Foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat are very bad for your circulatory system. Saturated fats become solid at room temperature. This buildup of fatty deposits in the body will eventually force the arteries to narrow and may even cause a heart attack.
Animal fats are the main source of saturated fatty acids (beef, lamb, veal, pork, and poultry fat). Saturated fatty acids can also come from certain types of plants, such as coconut oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil, and cocoa butter. The best fats to ingest are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. They are both liquid at room temperature. These fats are found in sesame and sunflower seeds, corn and soybeans, canola, olive, and peanut oils, and avocados. While poly and monounsaturated fats are better for you than saturated fats, they should still only be eaten in moderation.
Just as it needs fat, the human body also needs cholesterol. It is used to form cell membranes, certain hormones, and other needed tissues. And, like fat, too much cholesterol can be harmful. Cholesterol actually comes from two places. It is produced naturally in the liver and it's found in foods that come from animals, such as meats, poultry, seafood, fish, and dairy products. Your liver produces enough cholesterol for your body -- any more is considered too much. A high level of cholesterol in your blood may eventually cause coronary heart disease.
Sodium, or salt, is essential for your good health. You need the right balance between sodium and water in your body fluids and tissues at all times. Water and sodium work well together -- a certain amount of salt maintains the right amount of water in the human body and vice versa. When working properly, your kidneys eliminate excess sodium to keep the correct balance. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and people with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease. The average person does not need more than 2.4 grams of sodium per day. A teaspoon of table salt contains 5.5 grams of sodium.
An unhealthy diet can lead to obesity. Extra weight places an excessive workload on the heart. Hence, the risk of heart attack is much greater in overweight individuals. Maintain a healthy weight to keep your heart healthy.