Adopting a well-rounded diet is just one aspect of the process of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is vital to know what each component of your plate does for your body. While each diet is tailored to the individual’s needs, the core of each meal plan is to ensure that your heart is healthy and strong.
Why is heart health so central to a healthy life? The obvious answer is that our hearts are responsible for keeping all our organs functioning. However, we often forget that our hearts never rest. They are constantly beating for every second of each day – which means the amount of care and nutrition they need is relatively more. Additionally, good heart health can also prevent high blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiac failures, all of which are leading of causes of death around the world.
Heart-related illness or malfunctions tend to occur as a result of plaque build-up. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and other substances that can be found in your blood. When formed, it tends to clog up the arteries and disrupt the flow of blood. And if there’s not a steady and smooth flow of blood from your heart to the rest of your body and back, one can experience fatal complications such as cardiac arrests and strokes.
Here are a few key tips you can keep in mind when tailoring a diet plan for better heart health:
There is such a thing as ‘good fat’: The most common piece of advice someone might receive with regards to their heart health is that they should cut down on fatty foods. But not all fat is bad for you. The goal should be to eliminate or minimize trans fats, which are quite likely to raise your cholesterol levels and cause cardiovascular complications. It is necessary to incorporate healthy fats and small portion of saturated fats in your daily diet. Healthy or ‘good fat’ (Omega-3 fatty acids) can be found in spinach, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and flaxseeds. Saturated fats can also be consumed through eating dairy products and eggs.
Opt for fibre-rich foods: Fibre-rich foods can help lower plaque related complications and cholesterol levels. Additionally, they’re excellent supplements that aid in weight loss and the movement of fat in your digestive system. Ensure that you have a balanced mix of insoluble and soluble fibres. Insoluble fibres can be found in carrots, tomatoes, millets like ragi, and whole grain foods. Soluble fibres are found in citrus fruits, nuts, whole or rolled oats, and kidney beans.
Aim for a diet low in refined carb and sugar: A common mistake many people do is that they replace fats with sugary and carb-heavy foods. The objective is to find healthy alternatives to trans fatty foods. Reduce the amount of ‘white’ foods you have on your plate as they tend to contain high levels of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Instead, start incorporating whole grain alternatives such as brown rice, multigrain bread, rolled oats, and buckwheat pasta. By also cutting out high sugar foods and beverages such as soda, processed sweets, bakery goods, you end up improving your body’s insulin resistance.