What to Put on Your Plate for a Healthy Heart at Any Age
Chances are you know someone who is affected by cardiovascular disease. That’s because more than four million Australians have some form of it. Yikes!
Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to keep your ticker in top notch, especially when it comes to food. So, be sure to pop these items on your shopping list.
Remember this: not all fats are created equal.
Sure, the saturated kind (read: the type found in deep fried foods, fatty meats and Mars bars) should be limited, because it can increase bad (LDL) cholesterol. On the flip side, unsaturated fats can reduce LDL cholesterol and improve your level of good (HDL) cholesterol.
But, ‘what is a healthy fat?’ I hear you ask.
Well, you want to be sure to include fish, particularly oily fish like salmon or mackerel, two to three times a week. Nuts and seeds are a great choice as well and make for the perfect snack or salad topper. Another winner (and my go-to) is avocado. Thank god it’s healthy, because #avotoast is the best thing since sliced bread.
The oil you cook with can also provide healthy fats, so I recommend a quality extra virgin olive oil as a pantry staple. But before you go all Jamie Oliver on me, note these fats still contribute a lot of energy, so although they’re exceptionally healthy, they should still be used in moderation.
A lot of people know that fibre is important for a healthy gut, but it’s important for a healthy heart, too. Not only can fibre help to reduce LDL cholesterol, high fibre diets are linked to protection against heart disease.
So, how do you get enough fibre?
As always, it’s important to load up on fruit and veg. Aim for two serves of fruit and at least five serves of veg a day and you’re off to a good start in terms of your fibre intake.
Legumes (think beans, chickpeas and lentils) are also excellent sources of fibre, but most of us don’t eat these very regularly. Do your best to incorporate more legumes in your diet – whether that be through delicious baked beans for breakfast, a chickpea salad for lunch or a lentil curry for dinner. Whatever tickles your fancy, your body will thank you for it.
Wholegrains provide valuable fibre too, so be sure to include plenty of them in sensible portions. Some great options are oats, wholemeal/grainy breads and brown rice.
Low fat dairy
Dairy (and alternatives) is an important source of many nutrients – not just calcium, but protein and micronutrients like Vitamin B12, Vitamin A and potassium.
The catch is that we’re recommended to have low fat varieties, thanks to the saturated fat found in full cream alternatives that is bad for our hearts.
So, load up on low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese. For women between the ages of 19-50, you’re recommended to have two and a half servings of these foods per day.
In case you’re stuck on ideas to include these foods, try making overnight oats with yoghurt, enjoy fruit and yoghurt for a healthy dessert, or cheese and crackers for afternoon tea. Some other options include a homemade fruit smoothie when you’re on the run for breakfast, or a simple glass of milk over your morning muesli.
And the flavour makers
With heart health in mind, it’s key to limit your intake of salt as it contributes to high blood pressure.
To start with, do your best to minimise the amount of salt you add during cooking and ditch the salt shaker at the dinner table. It might be easiest to gradually reduce your intake rather than going cold turkey, because you’ll get used to less and less salt over time.
But…passing on salt doesn’t mean passing on flavour.
I love to use citrus, herbs and spices for a salt-free flavour boost. A squeeze of lemon juice over a salad, fresh or dried herbs on veggies before roasting, and spices on proteins and in soups work a treat.
So, go on – load up your shopping trolley with these ingredients. Your heart will thank you for it.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can follow her @honest_nutrition.
Story Credit: https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition-tips/what-to-put-on-your-plate-for-a-healthy-heart-at-any-age/news-story/ff0061f4070167a8bfb72b810ccbecfb