When it comes to heart health, the main focus should be on maintaining a healthy weight and being selective when it comes to the types of carbohydrate and fat you eat. Weight loss of as little as five to ten percent of body weight is, on its own, associated with significant improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, all risk factors for heart disease.
By following these basic guidelines, you’ll lay down a strong foundation for a healthy heart:
- Eat less refined carbohydrate/added sugar (this includes all the highly processed foods, confectionary items and those foods with ‘sugar’ listed in their top three ingredients).
- Avoid trans-fatty acids (think deep friend and baked foods). These fats raise LDL cholesterol (the not so good one) levels and reduce HDL cholesterol levels (the good one).
- Eat more of the healthy fats, examples being raw nuts, seeds, avocado pear, olives, olive oil, flaxseed oil and fatty fish (sardines, tuna, salmon).
- Limit red meat and processed meats to no more than twice per week.
- Limit the amount of salt you add to your food during cooking and at the table – rather add herbs and spices to the mix to enhance the flavor.
- Eat more whole, unprocessed food (the type that doesn’t last forever – think fresh fruit, vegetables and whole-grains). By doing this, you’ll ensure a good intake of fibre and heart-protecting vitamins and minerals.
- Focus on foods that have anti-inflammatory properties, including berries, oranges, tomatoes, leafy greens (kale, spinach), nuts (almonds, walnuts) and fatty fish.
No one likes the feeling of a broken heart, so look after yours the way you would your most treasured possession.