Heart nutrition

11 August 2013


Altering dietary habits will help to prevent the development of heart disease (and all chronic diseases).

Of all the possible improvements you can make to your diet, limiting saturated fats and cutting out Trans fats entirely is perhaps the most important. Both types of fat raise your LDL, or “bad” cholesterol level, which can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. There are many ways to control how much saturated and Trans fats you take in. Keep these culprits in mind as you cook and make food choices—and learn how to avoid them.

Heart healthy diet tips: Cut out saturated and Trans fats (common name for unsaturated fats with trans-isomer fatty acids)

Limit solid fat. Reduce the amount of solid fats like butter, margarine, or shortening you add to food when cooking or serving. Instead of cooking with butter, for example, flavour your dishes with herbs or lemon juice. You can also limit solid fat by trimming fat off your meat or choosing leaner cuts of meat.

Substitute. Swap high-fat foods for their lower-fat counterparts. Top your baked potato, for example, with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine. When cooking, use liquid oils like canola, olive, safflower, or sunflower, and substitute two egg whites for one whole egg in a recipe.

Be label-savvy. Check food labels on any prepared foods. Many snacks, even those labelled "reduced fat,” may be made with oils containing Trans fats. One clue that a food has some Trans fat is the phrase "partially hydrogenated.” And look for hidden fat; refried beans may contain lard, or breakfast cereals may have significant amounts of fat.

Change your habits. The best way to avoid saturated or Trans fats are to change your lifestyle practices. Instead of chips, snack on fruit or vegetables. Challenge yourself to cook with a limited amount of butter. At restaurants, ask that sauces or dressings be put on the side—or left off altogether.

Not all fats are bad for your heart. While saturated and Trans fats are roadblocks to a healthy heart, unsaturated fats are essential for good health. You just have to know the difference. “Good” fats include:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Fish like salmon, trout, or herring and flaxseed, canola oil, and walnuts all contain polyunsaturated fats that are vital for the body.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids. Vegetable oils, soy nuts, and many types of seeds all contain healthy fats. Hemp seeds contain gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), the active omega-6 form and are often referred to more recently as the seed to use more of than pumpkin/ sunflower & sesame which have the inactive form of omega-6.

Mono-unsaturated fats. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and butters made from these nuts, as well as avocados, are all great sources of “good” fat.