It goes without saying that you become what you eat. The food we eat directly affects our health, especially the well-being of our hearts. There is no way around that unhealthy foods tend to please our taste buds as compared to healthy foods. None among us would prefer eating a bowl of chickpea salad over the loaded fries. Eventually, poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles are resulting in an increase in non-communicative diseases (NCD), including heart problems.
Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases
Heart health problems are one of the most common and prevalent health issues globally associated with several risk factors. Some of these risk factors are:
- Race and ethnicity
- Family history of cardiovascular diseases
- High blood pressure/ hypertension
- High cholesterol
- Inactive lifestyle
Food and heart health
Among all other factors, unhealthy eating is blameworthy for several cardiovascular diseases. It is difficult to ensure healthy eating if you are living in a country like Pakistan, a country known for the most delicious and tempting foods. People here keep enjoying spices and sugar-infused oily foods and they end up looking for the best heart surgeon in Peshawar or Lahore after getting problems. However, the right and clean eating can be your powerful weapons to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Do magic drinks or super pills work?
Well when we talk about healthy eating, let’s make it clear that eating or avoiding a certain nutrient cannot make you a healthy eater. Furthermore, there exists no superfood that detoxifies your body. No matter how frequently you are consuming omega-3 fatty acid supplements or using coconut oil to cook your food, it will do no wonders to your body unless you adopt healthy eating as a lifestyle.
Tips for a heart-healthy diet
Now the question arises: what is actually good for your heart health? Let’s begin your way to a heart-healthy diet with the following tips;
1- Portion size
When we talk about healthy eating tips, the first one is proportion control. The amount of food you are eating is equally important as what you are eating. Generally speaking, the amount of food you eat as a single meal is basically considered as a single proportion. Most of the time, people are not into the habit of measuring their food proportions or counting calories. Large proportions or considering food as serving can eventually provoke them to eat more.
Some of the tips for effective proportion control are
- Use a small plate to eat your food
- Have estimated serving size
- Split your plate and split it into parts reserved for different foods
2- More fruits and vegetable
Adding more fruits and vegetables is good for your heart health. You have probably heard about the benefits of the cabbage or apple diet from the digital health experts. Apparently, it might seem to be healthy for having fruits and vegetables in it but can do more harm than good. Although vegetables and fruits are good sources of minerals and nutrients, there is still the right way to consume them.
Some of the tips for rightly incorporating the fruits and vegetables in your food are
- Avoid frying and dipping your veggies and fruits in creamy sauces and sugar syrups
- Reserve half of your plate for fruits and veggies
- Try drinking them as juices
- Use fresh and frozen fruits and veggies
3- Prefer whole grains
Unlike refined grain, whole grains are generally considered healthier and nutritious. Whole grains can significantly lower the cholesterol and sugar levels in the body. Thus, for a heart-healthy diet, you should clearly prefer an oatmeal bowl over quick bread.
Here is how you can add whole grains to your diet
- Start your first meal with the whole grains
- Consume them as snacks; you can replace the crackers with popcorns.
- Practice advance meal preps to minimize your dependency on a ready-made product containing refined products.
4- Avoid unhealthy fats
All of us heard about butter and coconut oil as an alternative for cooking oil. However, the facts are challenging for conventional wisdom. You can replace saturated fats in your diet with unsaturated fats by giving up on unhealthy foods.
Alongside following these tips for a heart-healthy diet, you need to visit a cardiologist if you already display signs of heart disease. For instance, if you are based in Peshawar, you visit any nearby healthcare facility i.e., Mission hospital, Rehman Medical Center, Khushal Medical Center, etc. Nowadays, finding a good physician has become even easier due to the availability of online search tools.
Regardless of how good a physician is, you are the first person who can understand and listen to your heart better. Start today with a heart-healthy diet, because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.