Eating single foods will not make your heart healthy but there are certain foods (or types of food) which are ideal to include as a healthy heart diet
Oily fish contains omega 3 which can help reduce blood clotting and so it’s good to include.
How much oily fish should we have? The recommendation for fish is to have 2 portions a week, one of which should be oily. A portion is 140g. Salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are examples. Fresh, frozen and tinned all count.
Don’t overload though, women should limit their consumption to 2 portions, men to 3 portions due to the heavy metals which can accumulate in fish.
Studies show that oats can help reduce cholesterol making them a great cheap breakfast choice – for example as porridge or overnight oats. You don’t have to limit them to breakfast though, add them to stews, use them as a topping for savoury crumbles and make low sugar flapjacks as a quick snack.
Be careful you don’t undo the heart health benefits by adding too much fat, salt and sugar to your oats though.
A heart healthy choice mainly because of their fibre content. They also release their sugar more slowly into the bloodstream than white or refined carbohydrates helping to reduce the development of insulin resistance over time which can lead to diabetes. The high sugar levels in the blood stream with diabetes, damage the blood vessels and can cause heart disease and strokes – so it’s definitely something we want to prevent if we can.
Making the switch to wholegrain bread, couscous, noodles and pasta is quick and affordable. Brown rice takes longer to cook but if you are cooking a sauce to go with it; it’s just a case of putting the rice on a bit earlier. Quinoa, pearl barley and buckwheat are other, more expensive, wholegrains you might like to try as rice alternatives or in salads.
A rainbow of fruit
Each colour of fruit contains a different range of vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals which are great for heart health. Eating a range of different colours help.
The recommendation is to have at least 5 different portions of fruit and veg each day (in total not 5 each). It can be quite fun to try and get all the colours. How are you doing this week?
Soya not something most of us eat very often but soya has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and also, because it is lower in fat than most meat which it replaces in meals, it can be a good way of reducing how much saturated fat we eat.
So whether it is cooking some tofu with a stir fry, adding soya milk to your cereal or soya beans to a salad or sauce, including soya is a heart healthy option.
It’s not that other foods aren’t good too but these foods are great additions to your diet to help protect your heart. Increasing physical activity, getting a good night’s sleep, stopping smoking, regulating alcohol intake and reducing stress are also important.
Sometimes we need a little extra help to work out what to do around our own routine. Get in touch if you would like to do just that. I would be happy to help you, and your heart, be as healthy as can be.
Disclaimer: This is not intended as individual dietary advice. Please seek the support of a Registered Nutritionist or dietitian for personalised advice.