A lot can be said for a healthy lifestyle. Not only can it help you feeland look good, it can go some way to prevent the development of heart disease and other chronic illness. As well as staying active (it's recommended adults complete around 150 minutes of exercise each week) and limiting stress, good dietary habits also pay dividends.
Limiting saturated fats and cutting out trans-fats entirely is one step towards a healthier heart. Both these types of fat raise your LDL (deemed the bad cholesterol) that can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Trans fats are often found in processed foods – think biscuits and cakes. Luckily, there are many ways to control the amount of saturated and trans-fats you take in. Here are some heart healthy diet tips to help you cut out the 'bad' fats:
1. 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, how about flavouring your dishes with herbs or lemon juice? You can also trim the fat off your meat or choose leaner cuts to limit solid fat.
2. Make swaps
Substitute high-fat foods for their lower-fat counterparts. For example, top your baked potato with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter. Or use healthy spreads 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.
3. 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, as might salad dressings.
4. Change your habits
Instead of crisps, snack on fruit or vegetables. Challenge yourself to cook with a reduced amount of fat. At restaurants, ask that sauces or dressings be put on the side- or left off altogether.
5. Remember the good guys
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. Companies like Linwoods make packets of milled organic flaxseed, which are easy to include in smoothies or juices.
- 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 and sesame, which have the inactive form of omega 6. Sprinkle seeds on top of yoghurt, soup or salads for an easy way to boost your healthy fat intake.
- Mono-unsaturated fats: Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and nut butters, as well as avocadoes, are all great sources of 'good' fat. Why not try spreading some on slices of apple for a delicious, but healthy, treat?