Delicious foods to kick start your healthy heart diet
If like 30% of UK adults you decided at the start of the new year to make healthy eating one of your resolutions for 2019, it’s important to think about food choices you can keep up all year round – not just in the early months of the year.
A healthy balanced diet offers many advantages such as controlling weight, reducing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood pressure. So what foods can we choose to help boost our heart health?
Start your day the best way
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, kick starting your metabolism; giving you energy and helping you concentrate throughout the day.
Try: Oatmeal with honey and flax seeds
- Oatmeal contains soluble fibre from whole oats, which reduces the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by the body and has therefore been proven to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Honey contains a natural sugar called trehalose which activates a protein which can help immune cells to remove fatty plaque from arteries. Minimising plaque build up can help avoid conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and even heart attacks, according to the study.
- Flax seeds – seeds contain healthy fat, providing fibre and protein along with antioxidant properties. Flax seeds benefit from Omega-3 fatty acids, a ‘good fat’ which has been known to help promote heart and joint health. Sprinkle the ground seeds on your oatmeal or cereal to reap the rewards.
Lunch at your desk doesn’t mean you have to ditch your healthy eating routine. With great portable lunch boxes available for salads and soups there are plenty of tasty options that will fill you up and keep your healthy heart diet on track.
Try: Lentil soup with a wholemeal bread roll
- Lentils are a healthy protein. They are full of fibre, folic acid and potassium, all of which can boost heart health. Fibre is associated with lowering cardiovascular disease, while potassium has shown to reduce blood pressure naturally.
- Wholemeal bread roll – choosing wholemeal over white bread offers the healthiest option of starchy carbohydrates due to the high fibre and vitamin B content, which offers anti-inflammatory properties and helps to give the feeling of fullness. Studies have shown wholemeal products to reduce hypertension by 21% and cardiovascular disease by 25%.
Choosing your ingredients wisely will mean you can put together a delicious meal the whole family will enjoy while also boosting your heart health.
Try: Salmon with broccoli, kale and baked potatoes
- Salmon. For a heart healthy diet it’s recommended to include fish on the menu at least twice a week. Choosing an oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and trout, offers the highest amount of Omega-3, which can help to prevent heart disease. Enjoy your fish baked, grilled or poached for the healthiest option.
- Broccoli and kale. We know vegetables are important to a healthy diet and these two are some of the most nutrient rich we can get. Packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, broccoli and kale help to bind bile acids and stop them being reabsorbed into the body, which aids in lowering cholesterol and over time leads to a reduced risk of heart disease. Try steaming your broccoli and kale to get most nutrients.
- Baked potatoes contain many nutritional benefits including fibre – which aids in lowering cholesterol and heart disease, potassium – more than a banana in fact! – which helps to naturally lower blood pressure and vitamin C – which contains antioxidants that help to reduce artery inflammation.
Sticking to a healthy heart diet doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every now and again. Besides the usual fruit, nuts and vegetable snacks there are some more indulgent delights that are actually good for your heart too!
Try: Dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, an antioxidant that helps reduce inflammation. Research suggests that eating a small amount of dark chocolate, around one to three ounces a day, can have beneficial effects in reducing heart disease – just be sure to check that it is at least 70% cocoa in order to gain the greatest health benefits.
Making healthy eating part of your routine doesn’t have to be un-appetising, there are many ingredients that will not only provide a delicious menu for you and your family but will also have a positive long-term impact on your heart health and blood pressure – helping to kick start a healthy and happy new you!