It is no secret that the Western World is facing what can only be described as an epidemic of obesity and heart disease. The reasons for this are myriad, but at the heart (excuse the pun) of this problem lie a few core issues. The first of these is that we are today more pressured than ever before when it comes to our time. This has led to many becoming increasingly reliant on fast foods – with inevitable health consequences. High sodium and saturated fat levels of the widely available convenience and fast food are only one component of just why this diet is killing more people than ever before. The second is stress. Not only do we have less time to prepare healthy meals – but our fast-paced lifestyle increases stress levels – again with worrying health consequences. Then there is an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Many people today spend much of their time in front of a screen of some kind – for increasingly long periods. We have neither the energy nor the freedom to enjoy the benefits of regular exercise.
Fortunately – even given limited time there are some steps that we can take in order to enjoy a heart-friendly diet.
Here are seven simple strategies to ensure that heart disease is kept at bay.
1. Portion Control.
Unfortunately, the portions that we consume. whether in the comfort of our own homes or at a dining establishment are too large. Avoid larger portions – and do not eat until you simply cannot anymore. Select a smaller plate. Try and focus on high energy foods that have the nutrients that you will need to maintain energy levels. fruits and vegetables are great choices. Avoid refined foods.
2. Vegetables and Fruit.
As mentioned both of these are great choices when it comes to enjoying a heart-friendly diet. they supply essential vitamins and minerals – and many of them have properties that have been proven to fight heart disease. They also make great snacks to stave off those hunger pangs. simple as cutting up and storing in the fridge for snack purposes. The Internet also has huge repositories of recipes that allow for quick and easy veggie-centric meals to be prepared. If time is an issue then low salt canned or frozen vegetables are perfectly acceptable.
Another way to get all your necessary vitamins and minerals is to eat fortified foods like they did in this amazing school feeding scheme.
3. The Importance of Whole Grains.
These grains are an excellent choice of fiber. That fiber is essential for controlling blood pressure and avoiding cardiac issues. The best news is that you can by and large cut out refined grains and substitute healthy whole grains. The simple choice of using whole-wheat flour is a great place to start. Try some wholesome barley soup as an intro to your meal – it’s delicious and nutritious – and is easy to freeze so you will always have access to a heart-friendly option. Brown rice is another great addition to any meal. Whole grain pasta is also widely available.
4. Watch the Fats.
Saturated and trans fats have been widely implicated as contributing to heart disease. Protein that contains these fats should make up no more than between five and six percent of your daily diet. Trim excess fat from the meat that you consume. Use less butter (and margarine) while cooking. A great habit to make part of your shopping is to check the labels of the food that you will be purchasing. If it is marketed as ‘low fat’ it may not be as healthy as you think. Once again – there are great guides on the Internet. Choose Olive Oil and Canola Oil.
5. Choose your Fats Carefully.
Poultry and fish (omega-3 fatty acids help cut down on heart unfriendly triglycerides in your body) are great choices. Cut down on the red meat. Reduced fat milk is another great choice. If you want to try some meat substitutes (think soy burger) go ahead. Some of the modern products are extremely tasty.
6. Cut Down on Sodium.
Reduce your salt intake. Shop for reduced sodium products – especially in products like canned soups and frozen ‘convenience foods’. There are also some fabulous seasonings available that feature little or no salt.
7. Plan Ahead.
This is essential. It reduces the stress of meal preparation, as well as reducing the temptation to go the fast food route. Plan your daily meals. That allows for variety and the conscious choice in selecting ingredients. Remember to prepare ahead of time where possible and make use of your freezer.
A heart-friendly diet is not only essential – it is tasty – and can be extremely convenient. A bit of thought and planning and you will be leading a healthier lifestyle in no time at all. Happy heart health.