There are a few heart-healthy choices you can easily make to lower your risk of heart disease and not all of them include healthy activity if you are pressed for time in your hectic life.
1. Portion Control
The size of your servings, or calories consumed, is an easy way to directly impact your heart health. If you find that you are bad for this then a simple tip to trick your mind and stomach is to use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions. Eat larger portions of low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and smaller portions of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed or fast foods. This strategy can shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline.
2. Increase the vegetables and fruits in your diet,
These foods are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and fruits are also low in calories and rich in dietary fibre. Vegetables and fruits, like other plants or plant-based foods, contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you cut back on higher calorie foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.
TIP: Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you'll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredients, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads. If you are a grazer of food, replace the bag or chips or package of cookies that you leave on the counter, with something more healthy. If you absent mindedly eat during the evening, at least it will be doing you more good than harm.
3. Cardio or Aerobic exercise is great for the heart.
Many people think that the heart is just a "thing" that pumps blood, but it is also a muscle. As such it needs exercise. Heart-healthy exercise is called cardio. You don't need to jog. But you should aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity (such as brisk waking). That amounts to about 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week. If you're just getting started, you can slowly build up to that.
In time, you can make your workouts longer or more challenging. Do that gradually, so your body can adjust.
Heart Healthy Foods
Fruits and vegetables were mentioned earlier, but there are a few other heart healthy foods and choices you can decide on.
1. Whole grains
These are good sources of fibre and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.
2. Limiting how much saturated and trans fats
This is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. But it is important to remember that not all fats are bad. In fact some are very useful when it comes to heart health.
When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in certain fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.
Omega-3s work to lower triglycerides by removing them from the blood and encouraging these fats to be used for energy by your muscles. Supplementation for 6-weeks with clinical grade omega-3s was shown to lower triglycerides by 14%.
3. Eat low fat protein foods.
Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and eggs are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.
Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You'll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring.
Beans, peas and lentils also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat.
Heart Healthy Diet
Dr. Evan is very creative for ways to eat healthy. He shares some of his favourite heart healthy recipes exclusively to newsletter subscribers. If you can change one meal a day then you can change your life without too much of a shock to your system. Then progress from there and choose to make a change to a healthier lifestyle, through exercise and heart healthy meals.