“Heart-healthy eating” is consuming foods to reduce the risk of heart disease. This diet, combined with lifestyle changes (stress management, exercise, smoking and alcohol cessation) aids in the prevention of heart problems. If most people know this, why is heart disease still the number one cause of death in most countries? This eating method is a simple way to make changes towards your diet.
Five Tips for Heart-Healthy Eating
- Change processed grains to whole grains
- Eat at least 3 fruit portions that are high in fiber such as apples, oranges, tangerines, guavas, pineapples, or berries.
- Consume abundant vegetables in breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes, in all 3 main meals!)
- Have at least a handful of raw nuts and/or seeds a day.
Limit the sugar you eat
- Instead of desserts, have fresh fruits or dehydrated fruits (with no sugar or syrup added).
- Replace the sweetened juices or sodas by natural vegetable juices, herbal tea or water.
- Avoid adding sugar to coffee or other drinks.
- Consume fruits over drinking fruit juice.
- Avoid all processed sweets and cakes (leave them as a treat once in a while).
Be careful with the type of fat you eat
- Use olive oil as dressing (avoid processed salad dressings).
- Avoid dairy, or consume low fat milk.
- Cook with coconut oil and only in small amounts.
- Avoid fast food and processed snacks such as fries, chips or crisps, and biscuits.
- Take out chicken skin or the fatty parts of beef and pork. Eat only the lean parts of animal meat.
- Eat more oil-rich fish than other type of meats.
- Try to be more plant-based with your daily or weekly food. There are many ways of eating a complete plant-based dish.
- Instead of adding butter or margarine on your toasts or crackers, use nut or seed butter, olive oil or avocado.
Reduce sodium intake
- Reduce table salt intake.
- Choose Himalayan salt instead of regular table salt because it contains small amounts of other important minerals (calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium) and lower amounts of sodium.
- Sodium is found in most of the processed foods, even the ones that don’t taste salty. Check the nutritional facts for each processed product. It shouldn’t say more than 20% of your daily value per portion.
- Season your foods with more natural herbs and spices and less salt.
- If you are overweight, start changing your habits.
- By losing 5 percent of your weight, you are reducing the risks of heart diseases by 10 percent.
- Play sports at least 30 minutes per day, 5 times per week.
Our chefs recommend two recipes high in Omega-3. A popular “brain” food, Omega-3 keeps the heart healthy and prevents strokes. If you’ve had a stroke before, adding it to your diet may aid in preventing them altogether. Omega-3 slows down artery blockage and arrhythmias. We recommend to add this to your daily diet as the body does not produce Omega-3 on its own. Great sources of this supplement can be found in oily fishes and plant-based foods such as flaxseeds, avocados, walnuts, chia seeds, and olive oil.
Heart-healthy eating recipes
Grilled salmon with flaxseed and mushroom
- 100 g Salmon
- 50 g Rocket
- 80 g Orinji mushroom
- 30 g Porcini mushroom diced
- 10 g Pomegranate
- 5 g Flaxseed
- 2 g Pumpkin seed
- A pinch of Himalayan salt
- A pinch of pepper
- 2 g Garlic
- 3 g Pepper
- Grill the salmon first, with the garlic, pepper, onion and slat, then add the mushrooms and keep in the griller for a while
- Take out of the heat and add it to a bed of the rocket
- Add the pomegranate and the seeds
For plant-based snacks, flaxseed is one of the richest sources of Omega-3.
- 4 cups of rolled oats
- 1 cup wheat germ
- ½ cup of flaxseeds
- ½ cup of coconut sugar
- ½ cup of sunflower seeds
- ½ cup chopped cashews
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp of Himalayan salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup of coconut syrup
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- ½ cup of water
- Preheat the oven to 300 F (150 C)
- Mix together the oats, wheat germ, flax seed, coconut sugar, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, cinnamon and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, honey, vanilla and water
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and mix until evenly blended. Spread in a greased baking pan
- Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes until toasted.
- Cool down and you can eat or store for later.
It takes mindfulness to be aware of what to eat and what to avoid. While some will perceive this as being “boring” or “restrictive” in food options, seeing this as a delicious challenge will help you get one step closer to avoiding heart disease.
About the Author
Marcela is a Nutritionist and Dietitian, with a specialisation in Sports Nutrition. She earned her undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition at the University of Costa Rica in 2008, then completed her master’s degree in Human Movement and Integrative Health with emphasis on Athletes and Sports Nutrition in the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica in 2010. Marcela dedicated the past ten years to Muay Thai and holds the WBC Asia World Championship.