What does your heart-healthy diet look like? Is it filled with leafy greens, tomatoes, and other low-fat foods?
If it is, that’s great. Well, except for the low-fat part. Fats can contribute to heart health, provided you’re getting the right ones.
Healthy fats found in nuts, fish, avocado, olive oil, and other natural sources are all linked to improved heart health and a lower risk for heart disease.
Meat, however, can get a bit of a bad rep. But if it’s unprocessed meat, the rep is underserved.
Meat has saturated fat, but that doesn’t mean it has to harm the body. There is plenty of research suggesting that fat and cholesterol from fresh meat have a neutral effect on the body – meaning it might not be “good,” but it has no negative effects.
Further, meat may help your body boost nitric oxide, which promotes better blood flow, relaxed veins, and improved circulation.
How does it do that? Meat, poultry, and seafood are all great sources of coenzyme Q10, which is a nutrient that may play a big role in nitric oxide levels.
Heart-healthy food takes many forms. The only exclusions are processed foods. Processed meat like packaged lunch meat, hot dogs, bacon, jerky, fast food burgers, etc. is no good for you. Neither are sugary snacks, refined grains, or greasy side dishes.
But when food is fresh and unprocessed, all of it possesses some value.
Now, there are some conditions to consider when choosing to eat meat as part of a heart-healthy diet. If you’ve got an existing heart condition or are borderline, you might not want to start eating a rib-eye steak three times per week. Stick with salmon.
If you’ve got a pretty healthy diet to begin with – one rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains – including a variety of fresh meats is likely to benefit you even more. Meat is a rich source of protein and other nutrients that promote better health.
Heart-healthy might not always look like you think it does, or the media suggests. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and there is a significant value and potential benefit to including various fresh meats in your quest to get a healthy heart.