With all the convenience food that surrounds us these days, it’s all too easy to grab a quick lunch or evening meal with more focus on how quick it will be to prepare than how healthy it is. So it’s always good to step back from the ready meals and fast food and cook a delicious meal that’s based around health as well as taste.
The good news is that loads of different kinds of food are good for your heart, so getting the healthy stuff doesn’t mean compromising on taste.
A couple of examples of the kind of thing that’s healthy for the heart:
Fish – we’re encouraged to eat two portions of fish a week, with one o f those portions being oily fish. It’s the omega 3 in the oily fish that’s believed to contribute to heart health. Oily fish include sardines, mackerel and salmon – all of which are easy to make in to a tasty treat. Or if you’re in a big hurry, tinned sardines are always a tasty snack.
Chickpeas – these legumes are tasty, versatile and contain loads of good things including soluble fibre (helps lower cholesterol) and are low in saturated fat. The fact that they’re also really tasty is an excellent bonus.
But it’s not about specifically eating certain things for your heart. According to the British Heart Foundation website the thing to do is eat a balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, while avoiding stuff that’s fatty, salty and/ or sugary.
The great thing about getting in to the habit of eating fruit and vegetables is that they’re not just helping you eat healthy for your heart – they’re also packed with other nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamins. So eating healthy for your heart may in fact have additional benefits – meaning that if you’ve been carrying around a few extra pounds you might even shed them.
The reason for avoiding salty food is simple: too much salty can lead to high blood prerssure, which itself can lead to other health problems.
One of the easiest ways to keep your salt intake down is to avoid processed foods – it’s incredible just how full of sodium things can be. Even a tin of soup or a biscuit can have hidden amounts of salt – and of course if we’re not aware of how much salt is in processed foods then it can be very easy to consume more than the recommended amount.
Of course, your heart needs more than just heart-healthy foods. It also needs you to be active and get enough exercise. This doesn’t mean that you have to suddenly turn into an Olympic athlete – but it does mean getting out and about and using your body a bit. Walking, swimming, even some of your more strenuous chores like mowing the lawn or some energetic vacuuming can help.
Much of keeping a healthy heart is really just about some small changes to our diet and activity. But if you decide to make these small changes, the health benefits can be huge.
Jen Jones writes for a number of health and wellbeing websites on behalf of AXA PPP International health insurance