The food choices we make every day not only influence our present quality of life, but can also be a contributing factor in our susceptibility to diseases and illnesses that may develop later in life. That’s why it is important to develop and maintain healthy eating habits for ourselves and our families, that will last a lifetime.
There are a number of factors contributing to heart disease and stroke, that are in our power to control. By making healthier food choices, being physically active and not smoking, we can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The following information is provided courtesy of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check™ program.
High blood cholesterol and high blood pressure are risk factors for heart disease and stroke. When blood cholesterol is too high it settles on the inside walls of blood vessels. As it builds up, blood vessels become clogged and the blood vessels become clogged and the blood can’t flow properly to the heart and brain. When this happens the chances of having a heart attack or stroke are greatly increased.
You can help maintain a healthy blood cholesterol level by keeping your diet low in fat, especially low in saturated and trans fat. This will help reduce dietary cholesterol because saturated fat and cholesterol are found together in many foods. Adding more fibre to your diet will also help lower blood cholesterol particularly if it’s too high. Eat more foods high in complex carbohydrate and fibre such as whole grains, legumes, all vegetables and fruit.
Some people may be salt sensitive, which means that dietary salt can help to raise their blood pressure. It is difficult to tell whether one is salt sensitive, however, most people consume more salt than they need, particularly from processed or packaged foods. Try to limiting your salt and/or sodium intake by using fewer convenience foods; avoiding highly salted chips, cheeses, pretzels, nuts and crackers; reducing amounts used in recipes; cooking without salt; using other seasonings like pepper and herbs to flavour unsalted foods.
Here are some tips to help you and your family achieve and maintain healthy hearts:
Try to eat food closest to its natural state – enjoy fresh raw fruits and vegetables instead of buying them canned. Frozen fruits and vegetables are also a healthy and less expensive alternative, when fresh produce is not in season.
Explore the exciting varieties of flavour that fresh herbs and spices offer, instead of relying on salt to add flavour to your food. Grow your own herbs year round in a window planter, or find fresh flavourful herbs like dill, cilantro, basil and rosemary in the produce section.
If you love butter, but are concerned about your cholesterol intake, try using non-hydrogenated margarine as a healthier alternative. Margarine is not made from animal fat and therefore contains no cholesterol.