Thursday, 29 November 2012 10:12

Say yes to a healthy diet; say yes to a healthy heart

Written by Bioharmony
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Dean Ornish, M. D., a clinical professor and author of the Program for Reversing Heart Disease, says that 99% of heart disease is preventable by simply making changes to diet and lifestyle. In other words, a healthy diet can lower your risk of heart attack.

Start off by having a chat to your GP regarding your family history of heart disease, have your blood pressure checked every year and cholesterol tested at least every five years (if you are at a high risk of heart disease, you will have to check more often than that).

Then start making some positive changes to your diet. Here’s how:

Eat more fish, less meat

Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation throughout the body, lowers blood pressure and reduces blood clotting.

Try not to eat more than one serving of meat a day. Consider replacing a few servings of meat with hummus and legumes as they are also a good source of protein.

Increase your fruit intake

Especially berries and bananas. Berries are known to boost levels of good cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Bananas are high in potassium, which also helps to lower blood pressure. These are your “super fruits” when it comes to beating heart disease, but really, any fruit is good for your heart.

Eat lots of vegetables

Again, all vegetables are good for you, but spinach, kale and sweet potatoes are particularly high in potassium.

Monounsaturated fats are good

Don’t ban all fat from your diet – just stick to the good ones. Olive oil and avocados help to lower bad cholesterol and they reduce your risk of heart disease.

Swap simple carbohydrates for complex carbs

Think whole grain foods, like whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, brown rice instead of white bread, white rice or baked goods.

What we’ve just described above is basically a healthy, well balanced diet, one that any dietician would recommend if you were trying to lose weight. However, a healthy heart lifestyle is more than just your diet and unfortunately there’s no escaping another key element: Exercise.

Physical inactivity and obesity are risk factors in heart disease so to keep yourself heart healthy, try to exercise for 30 minutes at least five times per week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy, strenuous exercise but you must get your heart rate up at least a little.

Lastly, if you are at risk of heart disease, learn to recognise the signs: pressure in the chest, neck, shoulders, arm or stomach when you’re physically active. Get tested if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Last modified on Thursday, 29 November 2012 10:21
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