In North America, we have been struggling with an increase in the prevalence of Cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease. Scarily, it is the number one leading cause of death in North America, for both men and women. Despite this, chronic diseases take many years to develop, and it’s never too late to change your lifestyle and diet! Here are some foods and tips to help with your heart health.
One thing that can help with heart health is to eat more fibre-rich foods. There are two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre is found in fruits and vegetables, along with certain grains. This type of fibre absorbs water in the digestive system, slowing down digestion. This can help to lower blood cholesterol levels and slow down carbohydrate digestion to prevent blood sugar spikes. Insoluble fibre is found in whole grains, wheat bran and various vegetables. Insoluble fibre helps with your gut health and to keep you regular. Below are some fibre rich foods:
Vegetables and fruits
- Especially dark, leafy vegetables, butternut squash, celery, broccoli, and carrots to name a few. For fruits, stock up on: avocados, bananas, apples, pears and raspberries
- Brown rice, wild rice
- Whole wheat bread or multigrain bread, oats, quinoa, barley
- Beans, especially white and navy beans
Other food changes that could be made can include increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a fatty acid that may reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. However, please consult a health care professional regarding Omega-3 supplements for heart health.
Omega- 3 Rich foods
- Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel
- Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts
Red meat has been shown to contribute to heart disease, due to the high amounts of saturated fats. Instead of regularly eating red meat, stick to eating more poultry or plant-based protein choices, or eat smaller portions of red meat once in a while.
Poultry and Plant-based proteins instead of red meat
- Tofu or soy products, tempeh, seitan
- Chicken, turkey
- Nuts, seeds
Other lifestyle tips you can implement to help with your heart health:
- Find something active you love to do and do it regularly!
- Discover ways to manage stress by talking to someone you trust, practice self-care regimens, stay positive and don’t forget to relax and breathe
- Try to drink no more than once a day, and stop smoking (this can be hard, your heart will thank you!)
I know that it can be very overwhelming to have so many options, start slow and work your way to a healthier lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance or more nutrition tips!