Did you know that heart health depends, among other things, on what you eat? Here are a few tips on how to keep the organ of love—and of life—healthy!
The heart and nutrition
A source of sensory and emotional enjoyment, food is both a vital need and a social act. People’s food choices, both in daily life and on special occasions, are influenced by their personal tastes, particular situation, education level, values and beliefs. Therefore, nutrition has economic, practical and cultural dimensions.
Health is closely linked to the quality of nutrition. You don’t really have heart problems for now? Well, good for you! However, did you know that long-term heart health depends on your eating habits? That’s another excellent reason to eat healthy.
Ten dietary tips to promote cardiovascular health
Here are some thoughtful tips to maintain your heart health.
Reduce your fat consumption
A high-fat diet increases “bad cholesterol” and decreases “good cholesterol”. This contributes to the development of heart diseases.
It is preferable to limit your consumption of foods containing saturated and trans fats and to favour the ones containing unsaturated fats.
Reduce your sugar consumption
An excessive consumption of sugar poses a risk to health and predisposes one to certain chronic diseases, such as hypercholesterolemia, heart disease and cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke).
Sugar consumption should not exceed 10% of total daily calories. To reach this objective, avoid high sugar foods, such as pastries, chocolate, soft drinks, etc. Various foods naturally contain sugar, but remain excellent for health (e.g., fruits and milk products).
Reduce your salt consumption
North-Americans generally consume too much salt each day, usually without knowing it. The average individual Canadian salt intake is roughly 3400 mg a day, which represents a little over double the recommended amount.
High-salt foods are many and varied: chips, soups, crackers, cold cuts, canned vegetables, etc. Many items could still be added to this list. If you are drawn to salty foods, it’s time to review your eating habits.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are excellent allies for cardiovascular health. They contain heart healthy nutrients, like fibre and antioxidant vitamins.
Try to eat between 7 and 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reap the cardioprotective benefits.
Eat plenty of fish
Do you like fish? That’s a good thing, because it is the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that are highly beneficial to heart health.
Other foods contain significant amounts of omega-3: seafood, flaxseed or linseed oil, walnuts, soybeans, eggs, margarine, etc.
Eat plenty of fibre
Most Canadians do not get enough fibre. It is estimated that a healthy adult should get between 21 to 38 g a day; in practice, the Canadian average is of roughly 14 g a day.
Fibre has a number of health benefits. Among other things, it promotes better cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Choose a "healthy diet"
These diets focus on high-fibre foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, legumes, nuts, etc.) and protein (fish, seafood, lean meats, etc.).
Drink alcohol with moderation
According to certain studies, moderate alcohol consumption, especially red wine, could have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. However, it is important to note that excessive alcohol consumption, on the other hand, is a threat to heart health.
By following the Éduc’alcool guidelines, you can enjoy alcohol without compromising your health.
Read the labels
The labels of commercially packaged foods provide very interesting information. Among other things, the nutrition facts table indicates calorie content, carbohydrates (sugar), sodium (salt), fibre and fats. You will also find the list of ingredients.
Reading the nutrition label can help you to make better dietary choices.
Maintain a healthy weight
It is a well-known fact that being overweight is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease. Do you want to live a long and healthy life? Put the odds in your favour by maintaining a healthy weight!
Speak to your pharmacist to get excellent advice on how to maintain a healthy weight.