Healthy eating for a healthy heart has become more elusive with the proliferation of all the “great tasting” junk food out there. Our taste buds have been held hostage by companies like McDonalds that care more for their profits than about the health of their customers. Our health has been sacrificed for the sake of profits and although we are living longer, cancer rates and cardiovascular related diseases are still on the rise.
So what are we to do? The only thing we can do is to continue to strive to eat healthier by watching our bad diets along with all the bad cholesterol that bad diets have within them. This is certainly not an easy thing to do as we continue to struggle with all the bad eating habits most of us have accumulated throughout our lives.
But if we wish to avoid hospitals and the physical and mental anguish that goes along with it, we need to start eating healthier if only for our heart’s sake. Because when it comes down to it, a healthy eating regimin along with an effective exercise program is still one of the best ways to reduce the risk of having a heart attack or even a stroke.
Some Facts about Food and Your Heart
So far we know that diets that are high in saturated fats will raise your cholesterol levels which in turn will increase the risks of having a heart attack. Obesity in large segments of the population has turned this risk into an epidemic. Obese people are much more prone to heart disease than someone who has a healthy diet. Many of these bad diets compound the risk of heart disease due to high amounts of sodium within the ingredients. High levels of sodium can lead to elevated blood pressure as well.
So How can we reduce the risk of heart attack and improve our health?
There is plenty of information available online that you can research. Offline, you can check with your own doctor or go to the local library. Here are a few other tips that can help:
1. Eat more fish
– Omega 3 essential fatty acids can help reduce your cholesterol levels and are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients as well. Good fish sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include Salmon, sardines and herring.
2. Incorporating healthier fats and oils in your diet
– Many sources of saturated fats including meat, butter and coconut oil increase your risk of heart disease. These foods, among others, should be reduced. Better sources of fats and oils are seafood and nuts. These two food groups are also a good source of protein as well. You can still enjoy red meat for the iron, but limit it’s intake for better health.
Of all the cooking oils used in our kitchens, olive oil is a healthier choice. This monosaturated fat is excellent for cooking or for use in salads or dipping sauces. All fats and oils used in excess is no good for your heart. The key word to use here is “moderation”.
3. Put fiber in your diet
We all need a bit of roughage in our diets. Fiber found in foods like whole grain products like cereals not only help to reduce cholesterol levels but can help to control sugar absorption too. A diet with a healthy dose of fiber will help to keep your digestive system healthy.
4. About Carbohydrates
Some carbohydrates are better than others. Sources such as candy, cookies, cakes and other deserts should only be consummed in moderation if at all. High sugar levels can also lead to other health problems which will be discussed in other articles. Better and certainly more healthier sources of carbohydrates include whole grain breads, cereals and pasta. Brown rice or wild rice is much healthier than white rice. Vegetables are another good source. When it comes to sugars, your main source should be from fruits instead.
5. Healthier Cooking Methods
How you cook your food can determine how healthy you are as well. Deep-frying french fries rather than baking in an oven for instance can have an impact on your health. Some foods can be modified somewhat to increase its health aspects. Removing skin from chicken or turkey before baking can have a dramatic effect on the amount of cholesterol we injest. However removing skin can also have an effect on its taste as well. It’s a matter of balance.
Rather than frying fish, try baking it or putting it on your BBQ instead. By steaming vegetables rather than boiling it in a pot of water will help to retain most of its nutrients. Even the use of condiments should be controlled. Rather than using store bought salad dressings, try making your own using lemon juice and vinegar and add some seasonings to it.
Changing bad eating habits into good eating habits takes time and some patience as well. Before opening your mouth to consume your favorite food, think about its consequences first. Think about what’s in it and how it was prepared. At the same time think of your lifestyle and how you can improve on it. Your health is all important and should not be compromised no matter how good your favorite junk food may taste.