We are what we eat, especially when it comes to our heart health. Smart decisions you make now about what you eat and drink can lead to better health well into your senior years.  While it is true that heart conditions can be hereditary, modifying your lifestyle can contribute significantly to better health and offset unmodifiable risk factors to a certain degree.

One of the easiest ways to prevent heart disease or prevent it from getting worse is to adopt a heart-healthy diet.  There are a few basic rules to keep in mind that will make it easier to take care of your heart, and your health in general.

1 – Limit animal-based products

Meat, milk and eggs all contain cholesterol which is important for making hormones and maintaining cell membranes, but too much is well, too much.

2 – Incorporate more  plant-based proteins

Try tofu (organic), beans and legumes such as lentils and peanuts as your sources of protein,

3 – Eat fatty fish twice a week

Salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines can not only take the place of the meat you will be giving up, they can also add heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

4 –  Eat a rainbow every day

Aim for at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables, and try to eat different colors, since each will offer different plant nutrients (phytochemicals) that are a valuable part of a balanced diet.

5 – Aim for antioxidants

The best sources are berries and green tea. They help fight disease and the wear and tear of aging on the body, a process known as oxidation.

6 – Eat whole-grain breads, rice, and pasta

Stay away from white, processed grain products, which have been linked to heart issues, Type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.

7 – Choose fat free dairy

When choosing milk and dairy items, buy 0% or try soy versions of milk, yogurt, cheese and so on. Almond milk is also a good alternative and helps boost healthy cholesterol while cutting bad cholesterol.

8 – Steer clear of convenience foods

Any item in a box or can will have a lot of salt (sodium) in it, which adds flavor and is also a cheap preservative. Deli meats, hot dogs, and sausages are also bad for heart health

9 – Avoid deep-fried foods

Try to bake your chicken instead.  Don’t use salty breadcrumbs, but seasoned rolled oats.

10 – Eat plenty of fiber

It will help you feel full and lower cholesterol naturally.

Try one or all of these and see what a difference it can make to your cholesterol and blood pressure.