Healthy Heart Diet – The time has come!
Time to adopt a Healthy Heart Diet …
The need for us all to maintain a healthy heart diet and increase physical activity has become more important than ever before. Obesity is now pandemic in our society: – If you are overweight, you should seriously consider bringing your weight down to within the optimal range for your height and age.
Which Foods to Avoid?
- Refined, processed foods should be eliminated and a large intake of alcoholic beverages, cheese, butter, margarine, sugar, salt and coffee should be avoided. These are considered high risk foods for sudden on-set heart disease, when taken in excess.
- Saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and dietary cholesterol in cheese, butter, margarine and red meat, can raise blood cholesterol and can be detrimental to heart health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of saturated fat to below 7 % and trans fat to below 1 % of total daily calories. Always check the food packaging for details. For a healthy heart diet Cholesterol intake should be limited to below 300 mg per day for most people.
Which Foods to Include?
- Eat a healthy heart diet which includes at least 5 to 6 cups of vegetables and fruits a day, as well as plenty of whole grains.
- Eating fatty fish at least twice a week is recommended by heart health experts
- Red meat should be eaten no more than 3 times a week. White meat ie chicken and turkey is a better alternative
- Walnut, cashew, whole grain (whole wheat flour, brown bread), barley, fresh fruits and vegetables juices, onions, peach and mango are all good additions to a healthy heart diet, particularly when eaten raw and fresh. These foods contain phytochemicals* that help to dilate the blood vessels, thin the blood and improve blood circulation. They also help to remove clots from the blood. They are rich in minerals like potassium and magnesium , vitamins and antioxidants, which help to neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals.
- Those who engage in a healthy heart diet plan reduce the risk of developing some cancers as well as coronary heart disease. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals, fibre, omega 3, iron, and low in saturated fat, salt and alcohol will promote a healthy heart, and in turn a healthy body.
- However, An eight year study by Harvard University showed that red wine and a healthy heart are linked to a type of antioxidants called flavonoids. Some of the ways these contribute to lowering the risk of coronary heart disease include: Dropping low density lipoprotein (ldl) ‘bad’ cholesterol and boosting high density lipoprotein (hdl) ‘good’ cholesterol. They have also been shown to improve the way food is digested also providing benefit to the heart.
- A list of vitamins and minerals contributing to a healthy heart include: chromium, selenium, vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin C, and calcium. In addition, you may want to consider taking co-enzyme q10 supplements. Co-enzyme q10, is found in every cell of the body and is required for energy production. Large concentrations of co q10 are found in the heart muscle as the heart requires the most energy. A nutritionist can advise on this, as they will know to what extent the body may need more of certain kinds of nutriants and less of others as we get older, to meet the body’s changing needs.
A Diet for a Healthy Heart is part of a Healthy Lifestyle
- People who smoke are at a far greater risk of having heart attacks than non-smokers. People who have quit smoking have found that they feel much healthier and less out of breath within the first one year of quitting. Giving up cigarettes is a small price to pay in order to avoid cardiac problems.
- Exercise can help to control weight, increase good cholesterol, and reduce blood pressure. It will als o reduce the risk of diabetes and other illnesses. Exercise can also offer a sense of inner balance and psychological well-being that instills confidence and self-esteem.
- Walking is one of the best exercises for a healthy heart and it doesn’t cost a cent. Every step you walk helps to build heart fitness and prevent heart diseases. Fast walking is the king of exercise and 30 to 40 minutes a day can do miracles for your body.
It can be seen that adopting a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy heart diet plan and regular exercise immediately improves the prospects for heart health. This includes not smoking, drinking in moderation and not abusing drugs and assuring sufficient sleep. This provides benefit by improving the management of stress. Heredity can be an important indicator to future heart health. Even families with generations of heart disease can prevent or slow it down with these positive habits and healthy heart diet.
*Phytochemicals & Cardiovascular Disease: – American Heart Association