In a fast-paced world, it can be easy to prioritize convenience over quality - overlooking the role that good nutrition plays in overall wellbeing - and in heart health. Studies have shown that people who follow a healthy diet have a 31% lower risk of heart disease. By embracing good nutrition as a lifestyle, you can proactively protect and improve your heart’s health. And the best part? Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated or boring – it can be a fun and exciting journey.
Let’s introduce the heart-healthy superstars that will rock your plate
First up, fibre! Found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes; fibre lowers cholesterol and keeps your digestion in check. High cholesterol over time can reduce blood flow through your arteries, contribute to heart disease, and increase your risk for a stroke - making fibre one of the unsung heroes of heart health.
Next, meet the fatty acid warriors - omega-3 oils! These polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in wholefoods such as fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. They are an integral part of our cell makeup, and work hard to control inflammation and blood clots, providing vital protection for your heart.
Fat can often get a tough wrap, but remember that healthy fats aren’t the villains. Unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and provide essential fatty acids that are beneficial for overall health. Saturated fats on the other hand can raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems when consumed in excess. Embrace the unsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts to help keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Don’t forget the antioxidants! Research has shown that antioxidants work to shield your heart from oxidative stress and inflammation and can help prevent coronary heart disease. These superheroes can be found in all fruit and vegetables, but particularly high concentrations are in berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and nuts.
Last but certainly not least, the heart’s secret weapon– micronutrients! Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals from fruit, vegetables, and other whole foods. Consuming enough of these essential nutrients support healthy development, prevent disease and general wellbeing. Micronutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium benefit the heart by eliminating free radicals and reducing inflammatory activity. It is important to incorporate diverse micronutrients into your diet to promote and maintain a healthy heart.
Now, let’s follow the recipe for a happy heart
Say goodbye to boring and hello to flavour! Embrace a vibrant plate filled with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to instantly transform your meals into exciting culinary adventures. Channel your inner chef and opt to whip up homemade meals instead of eating out. You can take control of the ingredients and portion sizes while having a blast in the kitchen.
Whole grains are your new best friend. Nutritious, hearty and filling, swap refined grains for the wholesome goodness of brown rice, whole wheat bread, oats, quinoa and bulgar wheat.
Watch out for sneaky salts and sugars. Instead of filling up on processed foods loaded with sodium, bring flavour to your dishes with herbs and spices. Your taste buds will thank you, and your blood pressure will stay under control. To cut back on processed sugar, opt for naturally sweetened fruit with yoghurt, or choose to use natural sweeteners like honey.
Remember, good nutrition isn’t just about restrictions and sacrifices - it's a celebration of life, flavour, and vitality! By making conscious choices to prioritize wholesome, nutrient-dense foods, you'll not only give your heart the love it deserves, but also embrace a healthier lifestyle.