Many people are concerned nowadays about heart disease. It seems nobody is immune to it. It becomes especially frightening when we realize that all our body functions depend on the heart.
Health authorities worldwide now say that heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men.
One of the very best ways to make your diet a heart-healthy diet is to avoid food that increases the chances of heart illness related symptoms like high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, overweight, and obesity.
Such a diet can also help control these conditions even if they’re already present in you.
To make your planned heart-healthy diet, you need to know more about fats.
The Fat Files
As stated earlier, cholesterol is needed for healthy body functions. The body, especially the liver, produces varying amounts of cholesterol, but many foods contain cholesterol, especially animal-derived fatty foods.
Now here’s the key point: your body makes all the cholesterol you need, so you don’t gain it from outside sources.
Some of the excess cholesterol you get from eating is removed from the body through the liver, but cholesterol and other fats can’t dissolve in the blood. That’s why the fat build-up in your body is something you should avoid.
By this time you should have a good understanding of what fat is and how detrimental it is to your body, but you can also see that there are good fats along with not-so-good or bad ones.
If you’re confused by all the different kinds of fats found in cholesterol-rich foods, read the guide below. The fats detailed here either increase or decrease your LDL or bad cholesterol level and your HDL or good cholesterol level:
- Monounsaturated fats – these are found in foods like olive oil, peanut oils, and avocados, these raise your HDL cholesterol level
2. Polyunsaturated fats – these are found in foods like sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and many other nuts and seeds, they also help raise your HDL cholesterol levels. Together with monounsaturated fats, these are generally the safest kinds of fats.
3. Saturated fat – it’s LDL – friendly so avoid it. These are mostly animal-derived food like meat, poultry, butter, cream, whole milk dairy products, and cheeses. It can also be found in tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils (which are used in commercially baked products and snack foods).
4. Trans fatty acids (TFAs) – avoid these, too. TFAs can be found in many cooking oils, margarine, and shortening as well as commercially-fried and baked goods.
The process of manufacturing of margarine involves heating oils to very high temperatures. That high temperature unfortunately guarantees that the oils will be converted into free radical forms.
Margarine is made by rapidly adding hydrogen atoms to liquid vegetable oil in a process called hydrogenation. This creates hydrogenated fat, which is one of the worst foods for your body.
Commercial media has made fatty foods so enticing that it seems you simply cannot live without such things as French fries while working or potato chips while watching TV.
The plain and simple truth is that you can live without them. If you really want to stay young and healthy, then you should have the willpower to develop a disciplined diet.
Here are some very good tips for heart-healthy eating:
- Go for low – or no-cholesterol food – eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy products in increasing quantities. Consume moderate amounts of lean meat, poultry ( avoid the skin, which is loaded with cholesterol) and fish.
Go also for oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, and citrus fruits. They all contain soluble fiber, which helps lower your blood cholesterol. Eat also whole wheat breads, kidney beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans.
These are all rich in insoluble fiber, maintain healthy bowel function.
- Decrease your fat intake – you don’t have to eliminate your favorite crackers or cookies during snack time. Just remember to eat fatty foods (especially commercially deep-fried and/or baked products) in moderation.
A moderate diet of fat, after all, gives enough calories to keep you satiated, lower your blood cholesterol level, and maintain an ideal weight. Go for food with unsaturated fats.
These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products.
SUGAR: THE SWEET KIND OF POISON Refined white sugar, the most common sugar in the market, is devoid of any vitamins or minerals.
Believe it or not, one tablespoon of white sugar can destroy all of the vitamin B-12, the myelitis health (which protects nerve endings) starts to erode.
Consider adding a B complex vitamin to your daily vitamin and mineral regimen-and cut down on those sweets!
- Watch your weight – reducing fat intake helps you lose weight and improve your blood cholesterol. Over-weight or obese people actually have higher blood cholesterol than people who maintain a healthy weight.
By reducing your fat intake, you cut down on your calorie intake as well.
- Avoid using salt – salt is sodium chloride, an element needed for good health. In a normal healthy person, the kidneys help rid of excess sodium to keep the correct balance of sodium and water.
Although your body needs sodium, too much salt in your system is harmful because it leads to high blood pressure, which in turn causes heart disease and stroke. Try using herbs instead of salt for seasoning.
Be sure to read the labels of seasoning mixes because some of them contain large quantities of salt. Avoid also processed foods such as instant soups, processed meats, and canned vegetables as these are all loaded with salt.
- Choose your fish well – try to have at least two servings of fish a week, and go for fish with omega-3, an essential fat necessary for good health that can’t be manufactured by the body.
The best sources of omega-3 are oily fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring. Omega-3 can help lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels, and prevent blood clots.
If you have an aversion to scaly stuff, well, you can try getting omega-3 from tofu, soybeans, and walnuts, but still, fish is the best of it.