We all know by now that exercising and physical activity is good for your heart, but let’s face it – some of us enjoy opening the fridge much more than throwing on those running shoes. The good news is that with a few changes to your diet, you can help your heart get healthy – deliciously!
Choose Heart-Healthy Foods
Good heart health starts with what you’re putting in your shopping cart and ordering off the menu. Here are some great foods to include in your diet.
- Fats – Interestingly, fats are very important to heart health, but they have to be the right kind. Rather than eating trans fats and unsaturated from fast food, meat and deep-fried foods, which increase bad cholesterol levels and clogs up arteries, eat more healthy fats that can lower your cholesterol. These fats actively lower levels of bad cholesterol, fight inflammation, and lower blood pressure as well as keeping your hair and skin hydrated and looking good. You can find these fats in raw nuts, olive oil, avocado, tuna, mackerel and soy.
- Leafy greens – Fresh vegetables with deep green leaves like spinach, kale, mustard greens, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have an exceptionally high nutrient content while being low in calories, helping to control weight loss as well as support your health. The high levels of dietary nitrates are reported to reduce blood pressure and improve cell function in blood vessels, while regular intake of these tasty vegetables can decrease heart disease risks.
- Wholegrains – Tastier and more enjoyable than processed grains, whole grains are essential to everyday health. Whole wheat, brown rice, oats, quinoa and barley, are great whole grains to include in your diet, helping to soak up bad cholesterol and lower heart disease risks. It also helps you feel full, making it easier to lose excess weight and improves digestive function. Just 3 servings per day can significantly decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Blueberries and strawberries – All fresh fruit is considered heart-healthy, but blueberries and strawberries are the best of the bunch! The high levels of anthocyanins and flavonoids help to decrease blood pressure and relax the blood vessels to help improve blood circulation. Easy to eat and snack on whenever you like, just 3 servings per week can help cut your heart attack risk by as much as 33%.
Follow a Healthy Eating Plan
The other side of the coin is to follow a healthy eating plan. This doesn’t mean cutting out your favourite foods completely, but it does mean:
- Controlling portion size – Don’t overload your plate, go back for seconds or eat until you feel you can’t eat another bite. Use a smaller plate, bulk up on low calorie, nutrient-rich foods and reserve treats and fatty foods for the smallest portion of your meal.
- Snack right – Don’t let yourself get hungry, as this is usually when we make poor eating choices rather than healthy ones. Make sure your home or office is stocked with easy, nutritious treats to snack on during the day, like fresh fruit, carrot sticks, air-popped popcorn, Greek yogurt and wholegrain bread.
- Plan ahead – Similarly, make sure you make a meal plan for the week and plan ahead by shopping in advance. This will make cooking and meal preparation easy and help ensure that you get a variety of foods throughout the week rather than too much of one particular thing.
- Treat yourself – Allow yourself to have the occasional treat! Once a week, treat yourself to your favourite meal, an indulgent dessert or a quick-and-easy takeaway. Being heart-healthy in your diet isn’t about punishing yourself or making mealtimes miserable – they’re about balance.
Heart health is a priority at DefibsPlus, and we’re passionate about helping lower heart disease, heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest risks for everyone. We’re a leading HeartSine AED supplier offering defibrillator training through our FREE HeartSmart program, and we can also assist you with AED parts, batteries, storage cabinets and First Aid kits.
We have a generous subsidy in place to help make this investment more affordable. With over 75% of SCAs happening out of hospitals in our homes and workplaces, we all need to work together to save lives.