Categories
General

The Beginner’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy Diet

Keeping your heart healthy is important to your overall health. Your heart is one of the most important parts of your body. It works throughout the day and night to pump blood that’s essential to keep everything else functioning smoothly. But you shouldn’t take your heart’s health for granted as other unhealthy lifestyle choices can start to have an impact on your heart too. It’s never too late to start caring about your heart health and when you do, one of the best ways to look after your heart is with diet. 

Your diet has a big role to play in how well the heart functions so as soon as you start eating healthier, your heart’s health is going to improve too. While there are some foods that are better for your heart than others, if you’re trying to keep your heart healthy and prevent cardiovascular diseases in the long run, there’s more to do. A heart-healthy diet doesn’t just mean adding heart-healthy foods to your meals, you also have to take a holistic look at your eating habits. 

Limit your sodium intake 

Studies have shown that reducing your sodium intake is great for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels as well as reducing high blood pressure. Adults with high blood pressure are recommended to have no more than 2000 mg of sodium per day and reducing it can help lower your blood pressure. Since sodium mostly comes from salt added to your food, it’s possible to easily reduce how much you consume. If you still find yourself tempted to add the extra pinches of salt, consider switching to a low-sodium salt. 

Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains 

Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are packed with nutrients that are good for your body. You can replace many high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables. For example, if you find yourself craving a snack, instead of grabbing some chips, have some fresh cucumbers instead. Whole grains such as oatmeal, barley, corn, whole wheat, rice, millet, quinoa, and sorghum are easily digested by your body. 

Add more potassium, calcium, and magnesium to your diet 

Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are key minerals which play a critical role in regulating & maintain blood pressure. They help blood vessels tighten and relax when they need too, thus maintaining normal blood pressure throughout the body.

Include low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, banana and nuts as a part of your diet as they’re rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. 

Eat less sugar 

It’s possible that sugar is already a part of your daily diet – from a few spoons with tea or coffee in the morning to desserts consumed after a meal or some biscuits in the evening. Sugar is also present in high amounts in many processed foods, even savoury ones. Ingredients like glucose, fructose, galactose, or dextrose all add up to your total sugar consumption. A high intake of sugar has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular diseases so try to reduce the amount of sugar you consume. Prefer eating at home, reduce sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages in your diet. 

Cut out saturated and trans fat 

High consumption of trans fatty acids and saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart diseases. Saturated and trans fats are commonly found in fast food and processed foods – what is commonly referred to as junk food. Clinical trials have found that replacing trans fatty acids with monounsaturated (MUFA) or polyunsaturated fatty acids(PUFA) can help reduce your cholesterol levels. 

Use the right cooking oils for a healthy Diet 

Using the right cooking oil is an important part of a healthy diet. Vegetable oils such as palm and coconut oil are high in saturated fat, whereas oils like olive, peanut, canola contain less saturated fat and more monosaturated fats, and oils like sunflower, corn, soybean, safflower are rich in polyunsaturated fats. Monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are better for your health and are known as good fats.  One of the easiest ways of maintaining a balance of both these fats in your diet is with blended oils. Blended oils such as Saffola Gold have a mix of oils rich in MUFAs and PUFAs so you can get the benefit of two types of oil with one.  

Count your calories 

Lastly, eating a heart-healthy diet also includes eating the right amount of calories. The ideal amount of calories you should be consuming varies depending on your gender, age, and level of activity. The rule of thumb is to balance the number of calories you eat with the calories that you burn. You should consume a lesser amount than you burn if you want to lose weight or an equal amount to maintain your weight. Check the calorie count of any packaged foods you eat and for dishes cooked at home, you can look up the approximate amount of calories they contain. Tracking your calories can help you get a better idea of whether you need to modify the foods you’re eating and their portions.

These are just a few simple suggestions for eating healthier and you can start making changes from today. Eating a heart-healthy diet is can be an important preventive measure against cardiovascular diseases and it can also show benefits such as lowering your blood pressure So, even if you’re not at risk for heart diseases, you can be confident that adopting a heart-healthy diet will help you get healthy and stay healthy.

References: 

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17268422/

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/01.cir.0000019552.77778.04

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.043052

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *