Monday, February 20, 2012

Creating A Heart-Healthy Diet

We have all probably been inundated with information that our country is becoming dangerously obese, meaning that individuals are carrying around 20% or more heavier than their ideal weight. Even more distressing is the fact that this has begun to affect not only adults, but also children, some of whom are very young. Here are some startling statistics:
Carrying all that extra weight is hard on our bodies, and it is especially hard on our hearts. In a previous post we discussed ways to incorporate heart-healthy exercise into our daily life, so the other area that we need to look at is that of our eating habits. There has been no shortage of documentaries lately showing the harmful effects that food can have on our bodies overall (for example, Forks Over Knives and Fat Sick & Nearly Dead). However, it is not really necessary to go to extremes (such as an all juice diet!) to make dietary changes that can benefit your health. (Also, please note that you should always consult with your doctor before making any kind of extreme dietary changes!) 

So, what are some easier ways that we can incorporate healthy eating into our everyday lives? Most of the information out there seems to agree on a few similar foods that are heart-healthy:
  • Salmon or other oily fish: these contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help with blood pressure and prevent blood clotting. (If you are concerned about the type of salmon to purchase, sockeye salmon are still generally raised in lakes and not on farms.) Canned salmon is fine, as are other oily types of fish such as mackerel, sardines, and tuna.
  •  Avocados: these contain healthy, monounsaturated fat that is, in reasonable amounts, actually very good for your system.
  • Olive oil: this is also full of monounsaturated fats. When choosing an olive oil it is good to look for one in a dark bottle, and to try to store your olive oil in a cupboard away from the light, since exposure to light can cause oxidation, which leaches some of the healthy benefits from the oil.
  • Nuts: high on this list are almonds and walnuts, and nuts are also full of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Oatmeal: this grain is a wonderful source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Usually steel cut oats are recommended as the best, but regular oatmeal has good qualities to it, as well.
These are just a few of the most commonly cited foods that can be incorporated into your diet to help fight heart disease. For more information and ideas on foods, here are a few articles that I found helpful: 
So, now that we have a food list all we need are some recipe ideas! Do you have a heart-healthy recipe to share? We would love to have you share your heart-healthy recipes with us! 


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kaney said...

How stressful do you find dieting on a scale of 1 to 10? Everyday life causes you plenty of stress, plus there's a lot of pressure from TV, the news, tabloids, magazines, and well meaning friends, family, and society in general to diet and look great - lean, sexy, fit, and healthy. Add the fact that dieting, itself, is very stressful, you can easily fall into a Circle of Stress that leads to overeating and weight gain. Learn how to release yourself from the Circle of Stress and how to lose weight easier and more successfully than ever before.