The power of a healthy diet on health and disease should not be underestimated. Yet, if so many cardiovascular diseases can easily be prevented by diet, why is it that heart disease remains the No. 1 killer in Australia?
Take action today by following these steps:
- Learn about fat- The good, the bad and the evil.
THE GOOD: Increase heart healthy fat. Eat fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines, nuts such as almonds and walnuts and choose olive oil. Eating oily fish is good for your heart.
THE BAD: Control and reduce saturated fat. This is the fat found in fatty animal products such as high fat beef & pork, cream, butter, cheese, baked foods and ice cream. Instead, choose low fat dairy products and lean meats for examples fillet beef, pork or chicken and trim any fat off. Try to eat vegetarian meals once or twice a week or reduce your portion sizes of meat.
THE EVIL: Cut out trans fats. Read labels to make certain that there is no hydrogenated fat, shortening, coconut or palm in the product, as well as the ingredients list, in order to be sure. ‘Trans fat free’ claims have loopholes so ensure you read all labels. Trans and Saturated fats increase your cholesterol which can cause accumulation of plaques in your arteries- called atherosclerosis. This can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Increase fibre
Recommended daily intakes are at approximately 25 grams per day. While this seems a lot it can be easily achieved by beginning with a high-fibre breakfast cereal, and later eating some whole grains or whole grain bread for lunch with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Legumes, chick peas, kidney beans, black beans, soups are great sources of fibre.
- Reduce salt
High salt intake can be a factor to high blood pressure, and in turn, cardiovascular disease. Recommend daily intakes are less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day which is about a teaspoon.
The most obvious cut back seems to stop reaching for the shaker at the dinner table, but look out for processed foods. Much of the salt comes from canned or processed foods, for example soups and frozen dinners. So start eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews and always opt for reduced sodium if you have to eat processed.
- Exercise more
There are endless benefits to exercising regularly. One benefit is it reduces your risk of heart disease and two it reduces other conditions which affect your heart such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Exercise in combination with other healthy lifestyle habits will greatly reduce your risk of fatal heart disease.
Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. Start of with as much as you can and work your way up.
- Loose weight
The risk of heart disease increases with weight, especially if you are an ‘apple’ shape as oppose to a ‘pear’ shape. Reduce your portion size, make healthy food choices by reducing saturated fat and increasing fruits and vegetables and exercise more.