Looking for heart healthy diet guidelines?
Through corrective dietary action, it is possible to achieve and maintain a healthy heart with the aid of nutrition.

It is the primary organ in our bodies, and although the body works as a complete system the heart is the one organ which, if it ceases to function, all others will too. A healthier heart can be achieved, no matter what shape we are currently in. There are nutritional guidelines that can help one attain a healthier heart as well as keep it that way for a very long time.

The main culprit when it comes to heart trouble or heart disease is high cholesterol. A diet that is consistently high in saturated fats raises cholesterol levels in the blood. Eventually this excess cholesterol forms plaque deposits on artery walls, which eventually chokes off the blood supply to the heart. Lack of oxygen-rich blood to the heart leads to damaged muscle tissue and even full heart attacks.

So the first obvious change to make when working toward a healthy heart is to cut the cholesterol, especially that found in meats and dairy foods. Another way to cut cholesterol is to cut saturated fat consumption, as the body converts saturated fat into cholesterol. Instead of whole milk, have skim milk. Instead of cooking with butter or shortening, try olive or vegetable oils. Instead of fried foods, have baked or steamed. Reducing all fat intake reduces saturated fats automatically. Fats should not comprise more than 10% of your daily calories.

Another way to cut out excess fats is to switch to lean meats. If you wish to continue to eat beef, choose only the leanest grade. Other wise choices are fish and chicken and turkey without the skin. When eating poultry, try to stick with the white meat as the dark has a much higher concentration of fat.

Sugar should also be restricted in the diet, as excess sugar in the bloodstream is converted and stored as fat. Fried foods should also be eliminated, as should coffee, black tea, colas (even diet) and any other stimulants in the diet.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy heart through nutrition is not only about giving up certain foods, but it is also about adding other wise choices.

Try adding garlic to your daily menus. Raw is preferred, but even baked cloves can be beneficial and make a great tasting side dish. If you find the cloves too much to swallow, try supplementing with capsules. Studies show that garlic can reduce artery clogging cholesterol and keep clots from forming.

Increasing your fiber intake is also essential for a healthy heart. Scientists believe that as fiber moves through your system it bonds to bile acid (which is a fluid that contains cholesterol) and carries it out of the body. Once it is excreted, the liver takes cholesterol out of the blood stream to make more bile acid. Excellent sources of fiber are oat bran, beans, apples, grapefruit, berries, whole grains and raw or steamed vegetables, and raw nuts (except peanuts).

Adding raw nuts to your diet not only adds fiber, but they also contain essential fatty acids that are needed for good health. Almonds are some of the most highly recommended nuts to add to your intake.

Spices such as cayenne, ginger and gingko biloba also help strengthen the heart.

Beverages should include green teas, "fresh" vegetable juices and steam-distilled water.

A daily supplement should be added to the diet to ensure you are getting necessary amounts of vitamins and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and beta-carotene, as these have all been found to lower the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

Although dietary changes can greatly improve your health and decrease your chances of heart trouble, it is important to see your doctor regularly if you feel you may be at risk for hich cholesterol, heart disease or heart attack. Also, nutrition is only one part of the healthy heart equation. It should be combined with other factors such as exercise, smoking cessation and stress reduction.