As the British Heart Foundation’s ‘National Heart Month’ comes to an end in February, it is worth highlighting that the integral connection between diet and heart health. Strategies such as watching your weight, keeping your total fats and saturated fats down and cutting down on salt intake have all become well known dietary approaches to promote heart health.
These strategies are all good advice; a high-fat diet can increase weight, saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol levels, and too much salt has been linked with driving up blood pressure – all of which can increase your risk for heart disease. However, the foundations of a heart-healthy diet are also just as simple – it’s about balance with a healthy diet. The following are ten easy tips you can pass onto your employees to help them maintain a healthy heart all year round …
Eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans, which deliver vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.
Enjoy healthy low-fat proteins such as chicken breast, lean cuts of red meat, and plant proteins such as beans, lentils and tofu. These will help keep your total fat and saturated fat intake in check.
Keep your total fat intake low – ideally, you want to eat only the amount that you need to add flavour to foods.
When you do eat fats, you’ll want to focus on the healthy ones that are provided by foods like fish, nuts, avocado and olive oil; since they are rich sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Seafood should be on your menu as often as possible.
Limit your added fats by cutting out or going easy on dressings, spreads, sauces and fried foods from your diet whenever you can.
Choose healthy carbohydrates, which include whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Stay away from processed starchy foods, and instead fill your plate with foods rich in soluble fibre – beans, sweet potatoes, berries, plums, broccoli and carrots – that help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
If you are unable to include important ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables or fish, consider augmenting your diet with targeted supplements, multivitamins or omega-3 fish oils.
Lower your stress. If you think activities like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing aren’t for you, think again. Stress management is an important part of heart health and these stress-relieving activities can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Regular exercise of any kind not only helps reduce stress, but also improves blood flow to the heart.
Shed the extra pounds. A healthy weight lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and has an overall positive impact on total health.