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SURESH_AK SparkPoints: (4,943)
Fitness Minutes: (3,618)
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1/20/13 12:58 A

he heart is one of the most important organs because it is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells in the body via the blood. It is also one of the most vulnerable organs because any damage to the muscle tissue in the heart is permanent. People who are at risk of developing heart disease can tweak their diets in several different ways to take better care of their hearts.
A diet designed to protect the heart aims to prevent two health problems: high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. High blood pressure forces the heart to pump harder to keep blood moving, which can lead to heart failure. Atherosclerosis, on the other hand, is caused by cholesterol building up in the walls of the arteries, which can cause them to become narrow. If atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart tissue, a heart attack can result.
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Diet and Atherosclerosis
There are a number of dietary guidelines that can be followed to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Less than 30 percent of all calories should come from fat, according to the Franklin Institute, and less than 10 percent of calories consumed should come from saturated fat. Polyunsaturated fats should also be limited to less than 10 percent of the total caloric intake and cholesterol consumption should be limited to 300 mg per day. This will help keep cholesterol levels low, which can limit atherosclerosis. A diet high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids can also help prevent atherosclerosis, the Mayo Clinic explains. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber; omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, as well as walnuts and soy products.
Diet and High Blood Pressure
One of the main ways in which high blood pressure can be prevented is through limiting sodium. Eating a diet high in sodium can cause elevated sodium levels in the blood. To compensate for the increased sodium concentration, the kidneys will retain more water, causing there to be more liquid in the blood. This increased blood volume increases blood pressure. People with high blood pressure should try to consume less than 2400 mg of sodium each day, HealthCentral explains.
Following a diet to care for your heart can require some dedication. Planning out daily menus can make it easier to follow the basic dietary guidelines needed to protect the heart. Advance menu planning can also make it easier to limit the portions of foods that are eaten. The Mayo Clinic also advises allowing for the occasional treat, such as a candy bar, or potato chips, as long as these occasional breaks from the diet do not overwhelm the underlying dietary goals.
Although many people can help prevent heart disease by changing their diet, lifestyle changes alone may not work for everyone. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis are serious medical conditions that require a physician's supervision. In some cases medications may also be prescribed to help prevent heart disease.

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