Articles and Information from GA Foods

The Cold, Hard Truth About Heart Disease

Posted by Levinia Clark, RD, LDN on Jun 2, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Levinia Clark is the Manager of Nutrition Services at GA Foods.  This is the third of a series of articles about managing chronic diseases with medical nutrition therapy. 

According to the American Heart Association, or AHA, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of illness and death in the United States. In fact, the AHA reports that an astounding 81.1 million American adults have at least one type of cardiovascular disease, which includes people with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and congenital heart defects.

What are the causes of heart disease?

The United States National Institutes of Health ( warns that a diet high in saturated fat is a major risk factor for heart disease. Consuming a lot of saturated fat will elevate the body's cholesterol levels, cause cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries, and increases the chance of becoming obese due to the high caloric intake.

Improving diet and lifestyle is an essential part of the strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in the general population. 

EKG Patient


Proper diet reduces risk of heart disease

Since high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure increase the risk for heart disease, reducing your daily intake of cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium can help prevent serious heart complications. Following these dietary restrictions reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, and other serious heart conditions. Discuss your diet with your doctor to determine the right combination of foods for your heart health.


What is the cardiac diet?

The cardiac diet limits the amount of total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium you eat each day. If following the cardiac diet, total fat intake should be limited to no more than 30% of total calories consumed each day, and saturated fat should make up less than 7% of the calories eatten on a daily basis. If you have no significant health proplems, the Mayo Clinic recommends eating less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day. However, if you have high levels of "bad cholesterol" or take medication to reduce your total cholesterol level, then you should limit your cholesterol intake to 200 mg per day.

While the body does need sodium to absorb major nutrients, maintain normal balances of water and minerals, and control the nerves and muscles properly, excess sodium causes fluid retention, which increases the volume of the blood. Increased blood volume makes the heart work harder, increasing blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and other cardiac complications. The cardiac diet limits the amount of sodium you consume each day based on your personal risk factors.

Consult with your doctor to determine how much sodium you should consume.

The importance of screening

The lipid profile blood test helps your doctor determine if your cholesterol levels have decreased in response to adhering to the heart healthy diet. This screening test determines the levels of low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides and total cholesterol in your blood, and helps your doctor decide if you need to make any adjustments to your cardiac diet. A simple blood pressure check will determine if the diet has reduced your blood pressure, or if you need to further reduce your sodium intake.

GA Foods’ meals are all DRI-compliant and low in sodium, fat, cholesterol, and sugar, making them suitable for individuals needing modified diets for cardiac disease and diabetes. For more information, click here

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The above information is intended for an education aid only. It is not intended as medical/nutritional advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor before following any regimen to see if it safe and effective for you.


Topics: Chronic Disease Management, Cardiac Diet, Heart Disease

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