September is Heart Month so we decided to focus this week’s blog on dietary changes that you can make to ensure you look after your heart and it stays healthy!
There are several factors that lead to poor heart health, some of these we can control and change including smoking, low levels of physical activity, poor diet, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Despite the fact we can change all these things, it’s not always easy to make that change! Never fear! We’re here to point you in the right direction of some dietary changes that can support the health of your heart.
1.Choose wholegrain carbohydrates
Carbohydrates can have different effects on our heart depending on the type you choose. Wholegrain varieties have been associated with reduced risk of CVD, with the greatest reduction seen at 3 or more 30g servings per day.
Wholegrains are a great source of dietary fibre which has been found to lower LDL cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Including plenty of wholegrains as well as plant based foods can ensure you reach the recommended 30g fibre per day which your heart will thank you for!
Some tips to increase your intake of wholegrains:
- Have oats for breakfast- why not try our Oatmeal with Greek style Yoghurt, Fruit and Nuts for a filling, heart healthy breakfast!
- Opt for brown rice, brown pasta at dinner instead of the white varieties such as our Beef Spinach and Chickpea Curry with Brown Rice. Save any leftovers for lunch the following day!
- Choose wholegrain snacks such as cracker or oatcakes or as a healthy treat try our lemon and chia seed mini muffins.
- Sprinkle nuts, linseed, flaxseed, and chia seeds on your breakfast, in cereal or on stir-frys/casseroles for a high fibre boost.
2.Swap saturated for unsaturated fats
The amount and type of fat we include in our diet influences our heart health and the risk of developing high cholesterol or CVD. Swapping saturated fats for unsaturated fats can help to reduce cholesterol and improve our heart health.
Saturated fats are found in animal foods such as red meat and processed meats as well as cream, butter, cakes and biscuits. Eating too much of these foods can cause an increase in LDL cholesterol. which is bad for your heart.
In contrast, omega 3 is a family of fats that helps to keep your heart healthy and lower the risk of heart disease! We should aim to eat two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily fish as oily fish is rich in omega 3. Other foods high in omega 3 include nuts, seeds, soya and soya products, e.g. beans, milk and tofu and green leafy vegetables. Walnuts are the VIP of nuts when it comes to heart health as they are the best plant-based sources of omega 3s.
3. Eat lots of fruit and veg!
Evidence supports the link between high fruit and vegetable intake and a reduced risk of CVD. This beneficial effect is, in part, due to plant chemicals known as polyphenols which have antioxidant properties.
Aim to get your 5-7 portions of fruit and veg a day. Our 300kcal sides are a great way to add some vegetables into your main meal, such as the Asian Green Vegetables, Green Superfood Salad or Sweet Potato Mash with Spinach & Green Beans. Choosing fresh or dried fruit as snack or throwing berries into your breakfast are other low-calorie way of introducing more portions of fruit into your day.
Book in for a nutrition consultation if you'd like to speak to one of our registered nutritionists about how to best implement these dietary changes for improved heart health!