If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with vascular disease, you’ve probably read up quite a bit about treatment plans and success rates. You probably also have read tips on making lifestyle adjustments to boost the chances for a good outcome, including changes to your diet.
Food for Vascular Health Should be Heart Healthy
When you go grocery shopping, focus on what foods are good, OK in moderation, and frankly not helpful for vascular health. You want to identify heart-healthy foods because a vascular disease is closely related to heart disease. After all, the veins and arteries are the heart’s lifelines. Anything that props them up benefits the heart as well. Think about what you need to created heart-healthy diets and meals: more fruits and vegetables and less salt, sugar, and saturated fats.
Understanding Foods With Saturated and Unsaturated Fats
Some fat is essential to the diet and most foods include fats So let’s talk instead about what to keep or add to your diet:
- Poultry with the skin removed
- Low-fat dairy products
These foods have unsaturated fats, which includes polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. Unsaturated fats are chemically different from saturated fats. You’ll find saturated fat in beef, pork, lamb, and virtually all dairy, which is why low-fat dairy is preferable. They are also in processed meat and dairy products that can be kept at room temperature. They have higher amounts of LDL cholesterol (the “bad kind). Limit meals with saturated fats to say, once or twice a week and in smaller servings, as you transition to foods with unsaturated fats:
- Whole grains
When you buy cooking oil, remember that tropical oils like coconut oil are pretty high with saturated fat, while vegetable oils have little to none. Olive oil, the center of the Mediterranean diet, is beneficial in the extra virgin variety and not in the processed “light” versions. The best way to get used to and stick with a low-saturated fat diet is to cook for yourself. You’ll save money, and if you’re so inclined, enjoy a glass of red wine—which contains antioxidants that boost heart health— as you bake, barbecue, and sauté your way to healthier and possibly tastier meals!
The Challenge of Sugars and Carbs
Carbohydrates are also present in many foods. They include natural sugars we need to create glucose for energy. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. The sugars that come from complex carbohydrates are produced naturally. They’re in foods like:
- Whole grains like oatmeal (not the instant kind) and quinoa
- Dairy products
As you know, dairy products (except low-fat ones) contain saturated fats. As we said above, it’s ok to contain a small amount of saturated fat. Dairy is usually consumed in small amounts anyway, so it’s a good one to include in your “allowance” for this fat. Simple carbohydrates are in foods that are super convenient to eat at your desk, in the car, or when you’re hungry and pressed for time. You’ll also find them in sodas and fruit juices. You want to avoid them because the added sugars are more than most people need. They create excess glucose that can clog the arteries and destabilize insulin levels. A heart-healthy diet is essential to conquering vascular disease. Consider it part of a newer, healthier lifestyle in which you are more in charge of what goes into your body. Our website has more information about peripheral artery disease, a type of lifestyle changes to boost treatment success.