Diet alone may not be able to prevent atrial fibrillation, but what you eat definitely counts. In fact, when researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health analyzed a group of studies on diet and atrial fibrillation, they found evidence that making smart food choices can help reduce your risk. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, the right diet may help reduce your symptoms.
Boost Heart Healthy Diet Tips
Do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. One way to achieve this target is by doing 30 minutes of activity on five days a week. Fit it in where you can, such as by cycling to work.
Give up Smoking
Smoking is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. A year after giving up, your risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker.
Manage your weight
Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease. Stick to a well-balanced diet low in fat and high in fruit and vegetables, combined with plenty of physical activity. Download the 12-week weight loss plan.
Ditch the salt
To maintain a healthy blood pressure, stop using salt at the table and try adding less to your cooking, or cut it out completely. You'll soon get used to it. Also watch out for high salt levels in processed foods. Check the food labels – a food is high in salt if it has more than 1.5g salt (or 0.6g sodium) per 100g.
Get your 5 A DAY.
Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Add dried fruit to breakfast cereal, and add vegetables to your pasta sauces and curries.
Eat Oily Fish
Eat oily fish twice a week. Fish such as mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna and salmon are an excellent source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.
Walk Off Stress
If you're feeling under pressure, clear your mind with a walk. It will help put your ideas in order and reduce tension. If it's a brisk walk, it will also count towards your daily activity.
Cut Saturated Fat
Small changes to your diet can have positive health benefits. Choose semi-skimmed over full-fat milk, leaner cuts of meat, and steam or grill foods rather than frying.
Alcohol Drink Less
Alcohol can be fattening. If you added three or four gin and tonics to your usual daily diet, you could put on nearly 2kg over four weeks.
Read The Food Label
When shopping, look at the label on food packets to see what the product contains. Understanding what is in food will help you make healthier choices.
Tips for Avoiding Heart Disease
Tips for Avoiding Heart Disease
Omega-3 fatty acids; magnesium; potassium; folate; niacin; calcium; soluble fiber.
Top hot oatmeal with fresh berries. Oatmeal-and-raisin cookies are a hearty treat.
Black or Kidney Beans
B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.
Give soup or salad a nutrient boost -- stir in some beans.
Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols.
Mix a few almonds (and berries) into low-fat yogurt, trail mix, or fruit salads.
Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber; heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats; phytosterols.
Niacin; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.
Tasty tofu is easy: Thinly slice "firm" tofu, marinate several hours, grill or stir-fry.
B-complex vitamins; fiber; niacin; magnesium, fiber.
Microwavable brown rice makes a quick lunch. Stir in a few chopped veggies (broccoli, carrots, spinach).
Isoflavones (a flavonoid); B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate, calcium; magnesium; potassium; phytoestrogens.
Soy milk is great over oatmeal or whole-grain cereal. Or, make a smoothie with soy milk.
Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); anthocyanin (a flavonoid); ellagic acid (a polyphenol); vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber.
Cranberries, strawberries, raspberries are potent, too for trail mixes, muffins, salads!
Alpha-carotene (a carotenoid); fiber.
Baby carrots are sweet for lunch. Sneak shredded carrots into spaghetti sauce or muffin batter.
Pick spinach (not lettuce) for nutrient-packed salads and sandwiches.
Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); Vitamins C and E; potassium; folate; calcium; fiber.
Chop fresh broccoli into store-bought soup. For a veggie dip, try hummus (chickpeas).
Beta-carotene (a carotenoid); vitamins A, C, E; fiber.
Microwave in a zip-lock baggie for lunch. Eat au naturale, or with pineapple bits.
Red Bell Peppers
Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.
Rub with olive oil, and grill or oven-roast until tender. Delicious in wraps, salads, sandwiches.
Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber.
Grill or steam slightly, then dress with olive oil and lemon. It's a pretty side dish.
Beta-cryptoxanthin, beta- and alpha-carotene, lutein (carotenoids) and flavones (flavonoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.
Got orange juice? Check out the new nutrient-packed blends.
Beta- and alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein (carotenoids); vitamin C; potassium; folate; fiber.
For a flavor twist, try oil-packed tomatoes in sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizzas.
Beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium; fiber.
Baked squash is comfort food on a chilly day. Serve with spinach, pine nuts, raisins.
Alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); B-complex and C vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.
A fragrant ripe cantaloupe is perfect for breakfast, lunch, potluck dinners. Simply cut and enjoy!
Beta-carotene,beta-cryptoxanthin,lutein (carotenoids); Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.
Serve papaya salsa with salmon: Mix papaya, pineapple, scallions, garlic, fresh lime juice, salt and black pepper.
Reservatrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids).
A truffle a day lowers blood pressure, but choose 70% or higher cocoa content.
Catechins and flavonols (flavonoids).
Make sun tea: Combine a clear glass jar, several tea bags, and hours of sunshine.
Bagel Bigger isn't always better
Use measuring spoons to help with portion control and don’t always go for the biggest when it comes to choosing individually portioned foods. These little choices can really add up: we know that by choosing the smallest bagel at breakfast rather than the largest each day you could save enough calories over a year to mean you lose 5½lbs.
Eat More Vegetables And Fruits
Whole-grain bread, preferably 100% whole-wheat bread or 100% whole-grain bread
High-fiber cereal with 5 g or more of fiber in a serving
Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat
- Whole-grain pasta
- Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
- Ground flaxseed
- White, refined flour
- White bread
- Frozen waffles
- Corn bread
- Quick breads
- Granola bars
- Egg noodles
- Buttered popcorn
- High-fat snack crackers
Limit Unhealthy Fats And Cholesterol
Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet:
Fats To Choose Fats To Limit
Margarine that's free of trans fats
Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise Activ or Smart Balance
Hydrogenated margarine and shortening
Cocoa butter, found in chocolate
Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils
Low-fat dairy products such as skim or low-fat (1%) milk, yogurt and cheese
Egg whites or egg substitutes
Fish, especially fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon
Soybeans and soy products, for example, soy burgers and tofu
Lean ground meats
Full-fat milk and other dairy products
Organ meats, such as liver
Fatty and marbled meats
Hot dogs and sausages
Fried or breaded meats
Low-salt items to choose/High-salt items to avoid
Low-salt items to choose/High-salt items to avoid
- Herbs and spices
- Salt substitutes
- Reduced-salt canned soups or prepared meals
- Reduced-salt versions of condiments, such as reduced-salt soy sauce and reduced-salt ketchup
- Table salt
- Canned soups and prepared foods, such as frozen dinners
- Tomato juice
- Soy sauce
Choose Low-Fat Protein Sources
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and egg whites or egg substitutes are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.
Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You'll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.