Lifestyle choices and a healthy diet can keep diseases at bay (Photo credit: Pexels)
Choosing healthy fats, controlling sodium levels, portion control can help keep your heart healthy
The heart plays a very vital role in the well-being of an individual. It supplies oxygenated blood to all organs of the body and also carries nutrients, fuel, hormones and other components. Its tremendous work pressure is never-ending but meritorious.
But sometimes, just because of negligence and ignorance, we cannot pay attention to the well-being of our hearts. Lack of proper diet, eating fried foods, inactive lifestyle, smoking, and infections give rise to malfunction of the heart.
Neha Sharma, Lifestyle Coach at GOQii shared that changes in lifestyle and modification of diet are the key factors in improving the functioning of the heart and its long life. She shared 8 simple steps to have a healthy heart and a healthy life!
Include more fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. They also keep a check on cholesterol levels as they are very rich in dietary fiber. A diet rich in dietary fiber maintains weight as well as the gut.
You need to select whole grains over refined grains as whole grains are rich in complex carbohydrates and control blood pressure and are good for the heart. Include quinoa, broken wheat, barley, oats, and whole wheat flour.
Keep a check on foods containing sodium
Sodium plays an important role in elevating blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease. Limiting salt intake is very important as in every meal, sodium is introduced and the total count increases unknowingly.
Canned food, pickles, chutneys, sauces, soups, and market mixtures are all loaded with salt and increase the total intake of salt. It’s always advised to keep an eye on evening snacks too, which are generally filled with biscuits, cookies and mixtures.
Salads and fruits should be taken without salt and as they are rich in potassium – which can help keep sodium on the lower front. The habit of table salt should be discouraged.
Choose healthy fats
Healthy fats should be an integral part of a heart-healthy diet. One should limit fat intake to 2-3 tsp per day including visible and non-visible fats. Butter, mayonnaise and cheese can be replaced with homemade healthy spreads.
Poly and mono-unsaturated fats are good choices over saturated fats but all should be taken in limited amounts as all fats are high in calories. Nuts, seeds, and olive oil are good choices.
Make portion control a habit
Quality and quantity both are important while having meals. Portion control is the practice of managing the quantity of food you consume to maintain a balanced diet.
It involves being mindful of serving sizes and eating in moderation. Portion control is very important as it maintains and controls calories and weight. Utensils are selected for portion control and all food groups should be included to make it a balanced diet.
Never skip breakfast
Skipping breakfast and having unhealthy foods for breakfast is not at all good. As breakfast is the first meal of the day, it should be healthy and should contain a combination of proteins & complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal with nuts and seeds, scrambled eggs with multigrain toast, quinoa bowl with fruits, peanut butter and banana smoothie to name a few.
Skipping breakfast lowers the metabolism and makes the next meal heavier. A healthy breakfast makes a healthy heart and mind too.
Choose low-fat sources of protein
Try to incorporate protein in every meal as it maintains weight and as the body is made up of protein, the requirement of protein is more. Pulses, seeds, and nuts are good low-fat sources of protein and should be included in daily routines.
Toned milk & milk products are preferred over whole-fat milk to keep a check on cholesterol levels. Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are also some of the best sources of protein that you can take.
Menu planning should be done prior and keep one day for a treat
A menu can be made so that all options are at your doorstep and you don’t need to think daily about what to have in meals. Include all veggies, fruits, pulses, grains, nuts, seeds, milk & milk products.
Any one day, you can add a little cheat meal so that overindulgence will not happen and your taste buds will be satisfied as a little fun is as important as well.
Set a 30 min physical activity goal
To maintain proper functioning of the heart, one should do daily 30 minutes of physical activity that could be anything including brisk walking, yoga, cardio or strength training.
Walking is an overall exercise that improves blood supply, improves lung capacity and is also good for the gut. Take out 30 minutes of time to walk either in the evening or morning.
The above points, if kept in accordance with the daily routine, will make the heart stronger and happier for a long period of time. If your heart is happy, you are happy.