Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in many countries. Excess weight and obesity are among the major contributing factors in heart problems. It is extremely important to have a heart smart diet such as one that is low in cholesterol, sodium and trans fats.
A Heart Smart diet works by helping you reduce your consumption of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. These two are replaced with lots of fiber-rich foods that are famous for lowering LDL. Foods such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and cereals are great for heart smart options. Also, heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from food such as olives, fish, avocados, and nuts are great for eating heart smart. Equally important is the low amount of salt to help defend the health against high blood pressure. This diet ensures 50-65% of calories from carbohydrates, 20-25% of calories from protein, and less than 30% of calories from fat. Out of the fat content, saturated fat makes up less than 10%.
Here’s some tips on eating heart smart:
- Eat complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and rice. They fill you up, help increase your fiber intake, and make you less prone to eating sugary desserts and fatty meats. They also do not clog your arteries.
- Chicken and turkey skins contain a lot of saturated fat, and should definitely be avoided if you do not want coronary artery disease.
- Grill, Broil or Steam your food. Avoid frying your meat.
- Eat less egg yolks and organs. Egg yolks are more that 50% fat and have high amounts of cholesterol. Organ meats, like liver, may be rich in iron and protein, but they are extremely high in fat and cholesterol. Limit these items in your diet.
- Reduce meat portions and eat more fish. Eat 3-ounce of meat instead of 6-ounce or choose a fish option instead of steak.
- Pastries should be only a once in a while treat. They are usually high in saturated fat because they are made with shortening or butter. Choose healthier heart options such as whole grain breads or rolls.
Here’s a delicious heart smart sample meal plan for a day:
Breakfast: cinnamon banana toast, served with 125ml of low-fat yogurt, 1 tbsp of raisins, and 1 chopped apple.
Lunch: roasted beef pita with mango chutney and yogurt, cucumber, mixed salad leaves, and 1 small granola bar of about 21g.
Dinner: grilled fish with lentils and rice, 75g of steamed broccoli, and 1 apple.
Take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you for years to come. It is the starting point to a healthy you.
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