Traditionally, our western diet has been high in meat and animal fats. It is also lacking fruit, vegetables and grains. What this means is that people eating a traditional western diet are vulnerable to heart disease and disease affecting our blood vessels. However, the good news is that it is possible to make a difference to both the health of our heart and our general health just by making some changes. Given the choice, everyone wants a healthy heart. As with any changes we try to make in our life, the way to make a change stick is to change one thing at a time. By starting gradually, we can add many of these changes into our daily diet. Baby steps, as they say!
Instead of eating a take away or microwave dinner, discover the benefits of cooking a simple nutritious meal. Pick one of the many recipe books, or search online. Even have a search around for some family recipes.
There are some simple ways to improve your diet for a healthy heart.
For a change choose a selection of wholegrain breads instead of white. Most supermarkets stock a wide choice of wholegrain rolls and breads. Try different ones; you may find some you love.
Eat more wholegrain cereals such as rice, pasta and other grains.
Legumes such as dried peas and beans are a great choice as a side dish or can be added to stews, casseroles and soups and make for a filling winter meal.
All of us can benefit from one meat free meal a week and it will help towards getting a healthy heart. Embrace the Meat Free Monday concept. When you do eat meat, make lean meats a part of your diet. There are wonderful assortments of cuts to utilise in different dishes. Try to use small amounts of very lean meats and bulk the meal up with vegetables and legumes. Eat poultry without skin (yes that is a hard one for me!).
Choose low-fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. High fat foods such as a chocolate bar or cake should be an occasional treat, not the norm. Rather than have high fats every day, be imaginative and see what low fat recipes and alternatives are available. Use monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils such as olive oil for cooking. Use small amounts of margarine spreads or olive oil instead of butter. Grill, boil, steam, bake or microwave rather than fry. Fish is another excellent option! Eat it fresh or canned twice a week,
In addition to the simple changes above, take steps to reduce your salt intake. Ensure you drink plenty of water. Try to discover the joy of cooking wholesome meals at home and you will gain pleasure and a healthy heart.