Eating for a Healthy Heart
When it comes to health and nutrition advice there can be a focus on all the things we should be avoiding – saturated fats, sugary foods, processed meat. While it is important to portray this message, sometimes focusing on the negative does not necessarily encourage people to make changes. Instead, it can be much more motivating to talk about all the delicious and beneficial foods we can add in to our diet.
On that note, here is a list of foods proven by science to be beneficial for our heart and vascular systems:
- Fats and Oils
Fat is one of the 3 main essential nutrients therefore it is important that we consume some fat on a daily basis. Consuming unsaturated fats can have a beneficial effect on our cholesterol and therefore our heart. These healthy fats can be found in avocado, olive oil, rapeseed and sunflower oil.
Nuts are contain a powerful mix of unsaturated fat, protein, fibre and antioxidants. Research has shown that eating a small handful (30-50g) of nuts each day can reduce risk of heart attack and heart disease. Choose unsalted varieties where possible.
- Plant Sterols
Plant sterols are substances which are added to certain foods such as yogurts and margarine. They work by reducing cholesterol absorption in the gut and can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Just make sure to follow the manufacturers instructions as you need a minimum serving daily to obtain the benefit.
- Soya products
Consuming soya products such as tofu, soy milk and soy yogurt can help to improve cholesterol levels. They are a rich source of protein yet naturally low in saturated fat making them a heart healthy alternative to meat. Try adding some tofu instead of meat to your next stir fry.
Oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackeral and fresh tuna are a great source of omega 3 polyunsaturated fats. Regular intake of oily fish can reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. Aim for 2 x 140g portions of oily fish per week.
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